Fairfax not among CDC grant finalistsWe are sad to report that Fairfax County did not receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control anti-obesity grant program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work. We had hoped there would be funds for the Bicycle Master Plan, which were included in the county grant application. The results were announced a while back; we were too depressed to mention it. No Virginia applications were accepted.
Applications that included bicycle projects were:
- Boston Public Health Commission—Increased active transit through a new bike share program and implementation of Complete Streets policies.
- Philadelphia Department of Public Health—A citywide pedestrian and bike plan will be completed.
- Miami-Dade County Health Department—The department plans to enhance signage for bike lanes, boulevards, and walkable neighborhoods to encourage physical activity such as biking and walking.
- Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government—Creating an initiative to enhance infrastructure to support bicycling and walking.
- Multnomah County Health Department, Oregon—To promote physical activity, CDPP will work to increase the proportion of bike, pedestrian, public transit, and other active transportation projects rather than road-widening and expansion projects.
- Healthy Portland, Maine—Increasing physical activity opportunities and signage in walkable/mixed-use neighborhoods and public transportation (e.g., through bike lanes/boulevards).
Labels: bicycle master plan
Encouraging More Women to Cycle More PlacesThe free webinar entitled Writing Women Back into Bicycling: Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often will be held today from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. FABB's Fionnuala Quinn is one of the panelists who will discuss "Women's Cycling History, Resources & Preliminary APBP Survey Results." Visit the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals website to register. See our earlier post for more information.
Labels: women bicyclists
Recent FABB events - Advocates Workshop and Regional Advocates Get TogetherThe Bicycling Advocate's Engineering Workshop—Fionnuala Quinn of FABB conducted this workshop designed to assist those who would like to play a constructive role, and make suggestions for better bicycle facilities during the design of new road projects in Virginia. Fionnuala gave an overview of the road design process and the participants in that process. She also briefly discussed bike facility design standards, guidelines, policies and rules. The group spent some time looking at sample project design plans.
FABB received a grant from the Alliance for Biking and Walking to develop the Virginia Bicycling Advocates Guide for Reviewing Public Road Projects. The workshop is an outgrowth of that project. The document is in final draft with an expected June publication date.
Bicycling Advocates Get Together—FABB got together with members of BikeLoudoun and a representative from the Winchester/Frederick County area to discuss common goals. We met over wine and cheese at the Village Winery in Waterford. We discussed the important role that bicycle tourism could play in promoting bicycling in Northern Virginia. Fairfax received funding this year to develop a bicycle tour map of Civil War sites that could be a template for bicycle route maps of historically important sites in Northern Virginia.
We also discussed the Safe Routes to School program as a way of getting more kids walking and biking. Parents who have tried to generate interest have had little support from the county or local schools. A goal of the group is to grow existing SRTS programs in the counties.
WABA has funding for a regional bike summit where we hope to continue the conversation with local bicycle advocates.
LAB responds to attacks on Sec. LaHoods new policy guidanceAs we reported a while back, U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood recently issued new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. As he said at the time, "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."
Given that this is a major change, one that finally could help change the view that "transportation" too often meant "motorized" transportation, there has been some pushback from the trucking industry and the National Association of Manufacturers. The President of the American Trucking Association stated that
Let me be clear. We need roads; we need highways. We need cars and trucks. But they don’t work for everything and everyone all the time. We need choice, we need alternatives, we need balance. That’s what the Secretary's new policy gives us a chance to achieve. The most vibrant, livable communities in the world - which also happen to be economic powerhouses - are those in which there is an equitable and rational balance between car, truck, transit, bike and walk modes. That's a vision we need to achieve together.
FABB blog to move soonWe've been using the blogging service Blogger since we started doing the FABB blog in Feb. 2007. We store the files on our server and use FTP through Blogger to upload new files. Starting on May 1 Blogger will no longer provide provide the ftp service so we need to migrate from our current blog url to a new one (I suppose we could hand code everything from now on but that's too much trouble).
We don't have the new URL yet; once we do the migration, probably in the next week, we'll post an entry that we've moved and will try to notify as many people as possible about the change (not sure how this will be handled by Google Reader and other RSS readers). The old URL will still work for a while, redirected to the new one.
Labels: fabb blog
W&OD Trail closure near Route 28Pacific Blvd. is being extended over the W&OD Trail just west of the Route 28 bridge. Many cyclists who commute to AOL and other businesses to the south of the trail have been using a dirt trail to connect to Pacific Blvd. which dead ends at the trail. According to the VDOT public notice below, despite the fact that there is clear evidence of use along the dirt rail, there will be NO access during 3 months of construction. "During construction of the bridge, no access will be provided between the W&OD Trail and existing Pacific Boulevard to the south."
Also, between April 6-8, (Tues-Thurs) the trail will be closed for up to 30 minutes at a time from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. It is rare that the trail is closed completely without any detour or suggested alternative routes. If the Trail were a road I doubt that it would be closed completely during the day for up to 30 minutes at a time with no detours provided.
The full text of the VDOT Public Notice is below.
BEGINNING TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010
- From 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. April 6th – 8th, trail traffic can expect flagging operations and intermittent stoppages (30 minutes or less) as crews erect bridge beams for the Pacific Boulevard Extension over the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The future overpass and trail connection for Pacific Boulevard is about 1/8 mile west of the W&OD trail bridge over Route 28.
- On weekdays throughout the months of April, May and June, trail traffic should expect flagging operations and intermittent stoppages (no longer than 10 minutes) for construction on the bridge deck.
- During construction of the bridge, no access will be provided between the W&OD Trail and existing Pacific Boulevard to the south.
- In observance of Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21, 2010, no construction will be performed that would interrupt trail traffic. On behalf of the project team, we appreciate your cooperation during construction and look forward to a major improvement in traffic congestion and public safety once the project is complete.
WABA Executive Director Job AnnouncementThe job announcement for the WABA Executive Director position was recently posted on the WABA website. As we reported on March 8, Eric Gilliland, the current ED, is leaving for a position at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
Please help spread the word about this position. Eric did a great job with WABA and it will be difficult to find a replacement.
Labels: waba executive director
Speak out for bike funding at budget meetingsThe last three budget meetings will be held on Wednesday night. Please consider attending and speaking out for funding for the Fairfax County bike program:
- Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:00 pm, Hunter Mill District, James Madison High School, Warhawk Hall, 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna, VA 22181
- Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Braddock District, Little Run Elementary School Cafeteria, 4511 Olley Lane, Fairfax, VA 22032
- Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Lee District Association, Lee District Community Room, 6121 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310
VDOT survey on zig-zag markingsIn April 2009 VDOT placed experimental zig-zag pavement markings on Sterling Blvd. and Belmont Ridge Rd. where the roads intersect the W&OD Trail. The goal was to encourage motorists to slow down at these high-volume ped/bike crossings.
VDOT is conducting a survey of trail users about the effectiveness of the pavement markings. From VDOT:
Update: There are actually two surveys, the one above for bicyclists, and a second survey for motorists.
Respect for all transportation modesWe attended the Board of Supervisors Snow Summit last week and listened as VDOT discussed the logistics of plowing the roads of Northern Virginia. By most accounts, clearing the roads after the historic snowfall was handled well, but as we all know, one of the side effects was that snow and ice were dumped on sidewalks and trails, blocking access for people who don't drive. Walking to schools, bus stops, or just about anywhere else was nearly impossible, and made much worse by VDOT snow clearing. There was no mention of this problem by VDOT; they only discussed clearing snow for cars, trucks, and buses.
We're pleased that today's Post contains our letter to the editor (Virginia's other snow routes) suggesting some ways that VDOT could avoid this situation in the future.
New bike connection in Tysons areaA new bridge that connects two dead-end segments of Wolftrap Road in the Vienna/Tysons area was recently completed (map). Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator, worked with county Park Authority staff to get the bridge funded and built over the winter.
It's a great addition to the bicycle network in that area, connecting the very bike-friendly Wolftrap Road and residential areas in Vienna to Kilmer Middle School, the Dunn Loring Fire Station, and businesses along Gallows Road. Bike lanes on Gallows Road from Old Courthouse Road to the W&OD Trail are funded and should be completed in the next year or so. There is also an easy connection to Oak Street. Once the HOT lanes are completed, Oak Street will be a good bike route leading to Idylwood Rd, Pimmit Hills, and Route 7 and the West Falls Church Metro station.
Thanks to Charlie and the Park Authority for making this happen.
Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More OftenFABB's Fionnuala Quinn will be a panelist in a free webinar sponsored by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals to discuss women and bicycling. The title of the webinar is Writing Women Back into Bicycling: Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often. The session will be held on March 31, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. and is open to everyone.
From the APBP:
- Connect with others interested in healthy, livable, bicycle-friendly
- Learn about barriers, successes, international examples, what you can do
- Women and girls are invited to respond to the online survey through 5/15/10 (interim results reported at the webinar)
- Invite others to watch and listen with you - use this webinar as a springboard for local success as you encourage more people to cycle!
- Can't participate live? At your leisure, view the free archived webinar later (link posted after the webinar at www.apbp.org)
Thanks to Fionnuala for helping to make this session happen. According to APBP:
Special thanks to APBP member Fionnuala Quinn who raised the question of numbers of women cycling in the cities visited on the scan and who went on to spearhead a webinar and survey in record time.
FABB meets with Supervisor CookIs a bicycle a transportation device? At today's meeting with Supervisor Cook, he indicated that many, many cyclists had given him answers that question, in response to his statement that a bicycle is not a transportation device.
FABB wanted to meet with the Supervisor to discuss his views on bicycling, which he expressed in his letter of response to those who wrote to him. We were encouraged when he wrote: "I want to assure you that I am not opposed to cycling or to using bicycles as a mode of transportation for either recreation or commuting. To be clear, I support bicycling for both of these uses. In fact, my family owns several bicycles."
We agreed that not many people currently bicycle for transportation, in part because we have so few facilities for these cyclists. While we realize there are limited funds for transportation, many bike projects can be built with little to no extra cost when wide outside lanes or bike lanes are added during repaving cycles. Bike lanes can be created by narrowing lanes as on Gallows Road, and road diets can be used to slow traffic by removing a lane and adding bike lanes as was done on Lawyers Road in Reston.
We asked that operating funding be restored to the bicycle program, which the county executive has recommended be completely cut next year. While most programs are being cut by a few percent, it's unfair that the bike program operating funds be cut by 100%. Funds are needed for long overdue wayfinding signage on the Fairfax County Parkway, shared lane markings in several locations, support for Bike to Work Day which has grown each year, bicycle planning, and many other outreach and project activities. When other communities are expanding their bike programs, we should not be cutting ours.
It seemed very appropriate that prior to our meeting, the Supervisor met with VDOT and county staff and state delegates to discuss the need for traffic calming on Wakefield Chapel Road. One proposed solution is to reduce the lanes and create bike lanes. This would be another example of making conditions better for residents (slower traffic), motorists (safety), and bicyclists for very little additional cost.
We were encouraged that Supervisor Cook had joined Chairman Bulova and Supervisor McKay in asking citizens to help clear snow from sidewalks around schools after the snowpocalypse, and he is interested in improving biking and walking conditions around schools. We hope to work with Supervisor Cook in the future to try to obtain some of the $13 million in Safe Routes to School funding for the county.
We think we can work together to help make Fairfax a better place to walk and bike in the future.
Labels: supervisor cook
Hazard on Fairfax Co Parkway TrailThere is a new hazard for cyclists on the shared-use path along Rt 7100 Fairfax County Parkway at Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Sometime between snow falls, when most cyclists were kept off two wheels, heavy construction took place on the side path along the ramp connecting northbound 7100 Fairfax County Parkway to eastbound Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy (Google Map image). The path is an extension of the shared-use path that follows the right turn lane leading to the ramp until the ramp diverges from the Parkway, at which point, the shared-use path crosses the ramp in a poorly-designed fashion -- at a right angle to the ramp.
This warning stems from the fact that a trench was dug cutting the asphalt of the path, and the start of the trench at the top end severs the shared-use path right where it is most dangerous: cyclists must slow here both to make the 90o left turn to cross the ramp while at the same time looking over their left shoulder for cars entering the ramp, while one's bicycle tires risk being tripped by the sharp break in pavement, just as surely as running up against a curb. We strongly recommend any cyclist approaching this area, do so with extreme caution, and dismount, walking past the area.
VDOT has been notified of the problem, but they have no record of any permit issued for the work, and so they seem to be unable to pursue the offending party to restore the damaged public property. The Parkway trail is one of the few trails in the County for which VDOT is officially responsible. VDOT is facing approximately $10M in winter storm damage, along with a dire financial situation, but this trail is a critical part of their transportation system and we expect it to be fixed.
We suggest all cyclists call the VDOT hot line (800.367.ROAD -- though the waits can be interminable) or enter a complaint via the on-line form. Sometimes, this can make a difference.
For the general case, we urge ALL cyclists, when noting damage, particularly if the offending equipment is still on site, PLEASE make a record of the precise location, name(s) on the side of the trucks/equipment, time and date; let us know while letting the County and/or VDOT know.
FABB will discuss the possibility of setting up an online reporting system for tracking problems like this. The program SeeClickFix is being used by several communities for this purpose.
Secretary LaHood announces new Federal bike policyToday Secretary Ray LaHood announced new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized." The policy recommends that "bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on non-motorized transportation facilities."
From the blog entry My view from atop the table at the National Bike Summit
We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
* Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
* Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
* Go beyond minimum design standards.
* Collect data on walking and biking trips.
* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
* Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
* Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.
Now, this is a start, but it's an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.
Labels: transportation secretary LaHood
The Bicycling Advocate's Engineering WorkshopFionnuala Quinn of FABB will conduct a workshop designed to assist those who would like to play a constructive role, and make suggestions for better bicycle facilities during the design of new road projects in Virginia. Learn how to engage with the public hearing process and make the type of comments that can bring change. The workshop is on Saturday, March 20 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, VA near the W&OD Trail. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org. See a copy of the flier.
Labels: advocate's workshop
Give up your car for a year challengeThe Bike Lane has challenged area cyclists to go car-free for a year.
Applicants must agree to commit to using a bike for at least 80% of their transportation needs, to blog and use other social media to journal about their experience at least 3 times a week, and to track and report how many miles per week are used going by bike.
More Bike Summit coverageBikePortland posted two good articles about the final day of the National Bike Summit spent on Capitol Hill, A big day (and night) for Oregon on Capitol Hill and Ray LaHood rocks Summit crowd with tabletop speech. That's Zack Fields, Legislative Aide to Congressman Connolly (VA-11th District) on the right talking to Roger Geller, Portland Bicycle Coordinator. Congressman Connolly, when he was Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who initiated the Fairfax Comprehensive Bicycle Initiative which included funding for the Bicycle Program and the Bicycle Coordinator position:
Organized by Scott Bricker and Earl Blumenauer’s legislative aide Tyler Frisbee, the purpose of the panel was for Congressional staffers to learn how Portland got on the road to being a world-class biking city.
Zack Fields, a legislative assistant for Virgina House Rep. Gerald Connolly, said the presentation by Roger Geller could help him inspire and motivate traffic engineers in Northern Virginia to be more bike-oriented.
Chain Bridge work postponedAccording to Arlington Alert, the planned closure this weekend of Chain Bridge has been postponed because of expected heavy rain. The work will be rescheduled for next weekend, March 19-21.
Labels: chain bridge
Snow summitThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a Snow Summit to "focus on this winter's snow and assess both what worked well and what did not at the state - Virginia Department of Transportation - and county levels. The lessons learned from this summit will be invaluable not only for the next snow storm, but for any emergency."
If you have ideas about what local government can do to help bicyclists after the next big snowstorm, now is the time to send them to the Board. On the Snow Summit webpage you can "Write about your experiences with the storms and how they impacted your family, neighborhood and/or business." (tell us) or provide a "new idea." The top list of new ideas is:
- 48 (number of responses) - Require Sidewalk Shoveling
- 44 - Map with location of fire hydrants
- 37 - Better Web Information Services
- 34 - Come up with "snow emergency" parking and ticketing rules
- 30 - Clearing streets vs. clearing sidewalks
Update: Details about the Snow Summit:
- Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.
- Fairfax County Government Center
- Board Auditorium
- 12000 Government Center Parkway
- Fairfax, VA
Getting Tysons rightSome opponents to transforming Tysons from a suburban office park to a vibrant, livable, mixed use community say that until the "transportation infrastructure" is in place, we can't have any more density in Tysons. Yet with this type of thinking a place like New York City, San Francisco or just about any other dense urban area shouldn't work.
What most people mean by "transportation infrastructure" is usually more and wider roads. What makes dense urban areas work? Having a mix of uses that allows people to walk and bike to nearby destinations. Having a good transit system and bicycle network that provide people with choices for moving around. Having interesting streets people want to be a part of and not just to pass through on their way to somewhere else.
Clark Tyler, Chairman of the Tysons Land Use Task Force, understands this and discusses his concerns about people who demand more and wider roads in Tysons before allowing development in the article "More lanes in Tysons is not the answer":
Bike Summit wrap-upIt was inspiring to attend the National Bike Summit this week to hear about all the great efforts underway to improve bicycling in the U.S. Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org was there and his coverage of the event is probably the most complete. Here are some highlights:
Opening Reception: Bikes Belong announced People for Bikes:
The goal of peopleforbikes.org is to gather a million names of support, to speak with one powerful voice - to let policy makers, the media and the public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted.
Whether you're a commuter, a roadie, a mountain biker or just a casual rider, by uniting your voice with a million others, you can help build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country."
On Safe Routes to High Schools: "We know childhood obesity strikes between 12 and 19… We shouldn’t abandon high schools… We want to make sure there’s a bike culture to complete with car culture."
On Green Routes to Work: "This is a blueprint for how we’re going to end socialism for the car… We’re not anit-car but we want to stop titling the playing field dramatically in favor of them."
Google announces bicycle directions in Google Maps. As we mentioned earlier, it needs a little work in Fairfax.
Congratulations to The Bike Lane and Revolution Cycles who received Silver Bike Friendly Business awards.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams' chief of staff Tom Miller quoted Mayor Adams as saying that "you can't get a better return on investment than by promoting bicycling." Portland has spent approximately $60 million to build our entire bicycle network to date . This is roughly the cost of one mile of modem freeway. Portland has a goal of 25% bicycle mode share by 2030 (San Francisco wants to have a 17-18% mode share by then.)
New York City is transforming it's streets and documenting the effort in the NYCDOT Street Design Manual: "The Manual builds on the experience of innovation in street design, materials and lighting that has developed around the world, emphasizing a balanced approach that gives equal weight to transportation, community and environmental goals."
A major theme of the summit was livable and sustainable communities, and through the HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities the there will be $100 million available to encourage development of these communities.
Social marketing tools: Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org, Bryan Goebel, editor of editor for Streetsblog San Francisco and Sarah Stuart of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia discussed the importance of using social marketing tools to engage more bicyclists in advocacy efforts. The Coalition has two blogs, bikePHL, an educational blog, and their advocacy blog. These are all supported by paid staff and they are recognized by local government officials as a reflection of the community's voice. The Philadelphia Coalition uses SeeClickFix to allow cyclists to report road problems.
Congressional visits: FABB jointed other area cyclists to visit local Congressional offices including Congressmen Connolly, Moran, and Wolf. We asked them to support the ACT Act, Active Community Transportation Act of 2010, HR 4722; the Complete Streets Act of 2009, HR 1443; Safe Routes to High Schools, HR 4021; and the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, HR 3734. If they were not already members, they were asked to join the Congressional Bike Caucus.
Pictured outside Congressman Moran's office are Allen Muchnick, Virginia Bicycle Federation, Jim Harmon, EX2 Adventures, Anne Mader, The Bike Lane, Eric Gilliland, WABA, Fionnuala Quinn, FABB, Jakob Wolf-Barnett, Revolution Cycles.
Chain Bridge to close March 12-15Chain Bridge will be closed from 8 pm on Friday, March 12 until 5 am on Monday, March 15 [UPDATE: Closure Postponed; bridge remains open March 12-15]. Here are the details from the Arlington Alert:
Subject: Weekend Closure of Chain Bridge, 3/12-3/15
Weekend Closure of Chain Bridge. Work Delayed by Inclement Weather Now Rescheduled.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is advising motorists that it plans to completely close the Chain Bridge on the weekend of March 12-15 for reconstruction work on the bridge deck, approaches and structural steel beams. This work was originally scheduled for late January and early February but was delayed by multiple snow storms and sub-freezing temperatures.
Weather permitting, Chain Bridge will be closed from 8 pm on Friday, March 12 until 5 am on Monday, March 15.
There will be no access to the bridge from either the District or Arlington. That includes cyclists and pedestrians because the sidewalk will also be closed.
Thru traffic on Canal Road will not be obstructed, but motorists will not be able to turn onto Chain Bridge.
Motorists are advised to use alternate routes and river crossings including the American Legion, Key, Roosevelt, Memorial and 14th Street Bridges.
Variable Messages Boards will be in place to warn drivers of the work ahead and re-direct them to alternative routes.
Crews will be pouring new concrete and the bridge closures are necessary to give the concrete time to properly strengthen. Workers will also be replacing the expansion joints and streetlights on the bridge. To complete the work, additional weekend closures may be necessary later this month.
The project began on June 1, 2009. It was originally anticipated that the work on the bridge deck would be completed in late January, but the schedule has been significantly impacted by the severe weather this winter.
Sent by Arlington County OEM to All users (e-mail, cell phones) through
Labels: chain bridge
Bike Directions using Google MapsAt the National Bike Summit this morning Peter Birch, Google Product Manager, announced that bicycle routing will be included in Google Maps. A beta version of the product is now available at maps.google.com/biking. Along with directions "By car," "By public transit," and "Walking" you will now have the option to get "Bicycling" directions.
The application includes 12,000 miles of major trails from Rails to Trails Conservancy, which are shown as a dark green line. We tested the new application against Ride the City - DC and it looks like the Google app needs some work.
Directions from Reston to the County Government Center didn't include new bike lanes on Lawyers Rd or the shared use path along Reston Parkway. From Reston to Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park we were routed onto Baron Carmeron Dr and Route 7, two notoriously bad biking roads.
It will likely not be long before the Google app includes better symbology and data. If you find problems, they can be reported (see yellow box in image above). Users enrolled in the "Trusted tester program" will be able to edit the map data to improve routing results.
For more info see the Google Blog entry Biking directions added to Google Maps.
See a good summary at BikePortland.org of the unveiling of the new application at the Summit.
LAB Summit gets underwayThe annual League of American Bicyclists (LAB) National Bike Summit got underway today in DC. At this afternoon's LAB annual meeting Andy Clarke noted that a record 700 people registered for this year's summit, compared to 600 last year. Lance Armstrong appeared in a video welcoming everyone to the conference at the opening reception. The main part of the conference is tomorrow, with concurrent sessions held throughout the day. On Thursday, bicyclists from around the country will descend upon the Capitol to meet with members of Congress. Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation is organizing meetings for the Virginia delegation.
Reasons to go by bikeSupervisor Cook has received many emails from area cyclists concerned about his statement that "a bicycle is not a transportation device." Several of those emails were also sent to FABB. They all made a good case for why bicycling is a basic, important, low-cost form of transportation. We especially liked the letter from Phillip Troutman, Assistant Professor of Writing at George Washington University.
In this extract from Phillip's letter he outlines many of the reasons why biking is one of the best forms of transportation available:
I urge you to reconsider the importance of bike lanes and bike trail infrastructure—supported especially by Arlington and the District, and the NoVa Regional Parks (w/ the WO&D trail)—and help Fairfax continue incorporating bike infrastructure in its new projects (e.g., as it already is in Reston and in plans for Tysons). If you would like to know more about how easy it can be to ride to work, I would be glad to give you more information.
Phillip obtained the information about the impact of his bicycle commute on the REI Bike Your Drive webpage.
Who needs snow tires?When you have rims like these, you don't need snow tires. We could have used this bike a few weeks ago. This photo was sent by a friend who said he took it at a bicycle museum. We can just make out what's in the frame in front of the bike. It's from an entry from Ripley's Believe it or Not that mentions the Oldest Farm in the U.S.A. with a drawing of someone riding the bike.
After a little googling, the only reference I could find is to a history article about the Little family, but there's not mention of the bike or how it was used: "In 1940, 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' printed a drawing of the farm and a story telling that it is the oldest farm in the USA continually cultivated for 300 years by the same family—the Littles. At that time , it was owned by Seth Little, who was a member of the 10th generation of Littles to live there."
WABA Director to accept postion with NACTOEric Gilliland, WABA Executive Director, announced his resignation today, effective April 2, 2010. Eric has done a great job since he was hired by WABA back in 1999. In Fairfax he helped us set up the first Bike to Work Day event in the county, in Reston in 2002, attending some of our first meetings. He worked with FABB from the beginning, helping us get started and providing some seed money for promotional materials. His leadership and dedication will be missed.
The WABA Board of Directors has begun the search for a new executive director.
Action plan for dealing with snowTheWashCycle Snowmaggedon After-Action Report outlines what can be done in the future to recover from a major snowfall. TheWashCycle thinks we should 1) have a plan, that includes having a prioritized list of bike facilities to be cleared, 2) communicate with users about the plan and provide them status of conditions on trails and bike lanes, and 3) ask for help. If a reason for not clearing a trail is lack of resources, ask cyclists and others to help.
Even though roads have been cleared for a while, in Fairfax, some major trails are still blocked, mostly by snow dumped at intersections by VDOT. We just sent this message to VDOT using their Report a Road Problem page about the Fairfax County Parkway Trail:
Supervisor Cook respondsWe just received this message in response to our letter to Supervisor Cook. It's encouraging to see he believes in bicycling as a mode of transportation, despite his earlier comments. He even thinks that "Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life." Unfortunately he doesn't think they are a very high priority, even near Metro stations, since so few people currently go by bike.
We agree that the number of people who commute to work by bike in Fairfax County is relatively small, but commuting trips comprise only about 20% of all trips. As Supervisor Hudgins states in Region Forward 2050, "'We know that trips are taken for more than just going to and from work,' said Catherine Hudgins, Fairfax County Supervisor. 'People need transportation options for their everyday needs.'" According to that same report, 9% of DC area commuters go by foot or bike. Forty percent of all trips made are 2 miles or less and many could easily be taken by bike if we had better facilities.
Here is Supervisor Cook's response:
However, I do believe that the county needs to carefully consider its priorities for the use of limited transportation funding. According to the Washington Area Council of Governments, only 0.7% of D.C. area commuters bike to work even once a week, most of them residing outside of Fairfax County.
At the meeting where my comments were made, the Board was receiving a briefing on a study by the Reston Metrorail Access Group. That study was recommending $27.4 million for 33 pedestrian/bike improvements, including $12.7 million for projects associated with the Whiele Avenue Station on the Dulles Rail line. The Board had also just been briefed on a $15.6 million reduction in anticipated revenues from its locally imposed Commercial and Industrial Tax, which is the primary source of county funds for Transportation projects (most transportation projects are funded by the state, but that funding has been reduced significantly over the last couple of years). We do not have the funds to accomplish all our transportation goals. My comments were in the spirit of setting priorities for how to spend the shrinking available funding for a growing list of projects. Reasonable individuals may always disagree on how to spend limited public resources.
Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life. I believe we should continue to build and maintain bike trails and create on-road bike lanes. However, we need to carefully weigh the costs of these investments in light of difficult fiscal realities and determine their appropriate priority along with other transportation projects.
Thank you for reaching out and please keep in touch.
John C. Cook
Braddock District Supervisor
Response to funding cuts from Supervisor McKayLee District Supervisor McKay is a cyclist who has supported bicycling in Fairfax by sponsoring the Tour de Lee, encouraging kids to walk and bike to school, and offering a motion for the Board of Supervisors to endorse the concept of the Bicycle Master Plan, which was passed unanimously by the Board. Below is his response to letters requesting that funds be restored to the bike program.
He notes that there will be funds from the Commercial & Industrial tax administered by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and passed to the county for funding transportation projects, including bike projects. He also notes that the bike coordinator position will remain. However, there will be no operating funds for the program to support activities like Bike to Work Day or to fund the countywide bicycle master plan. It will be difficult to have an effective bike program without those funds, which the county executive says will be permanently cut.
Supervisor McKay's response:
As a longtime cyclist myself, I hate to see any cutbacks that would slow the progress we've made in bicycle and pedestrian initiatives. I believe the County Executive's proposed budget recognizes the Board's commitment to bicycling as a transportation alternative and makes the
best of a difficult financial situation. While he proposes to remove $213,641 in operational funding, he retains the staff position associated with the program.
The staff person will continue to serve as the point of contact for bicycle related issues, work on acquiring grant funding for bicycle programming, provide input on incorporating bicycles into capital roadway projects, and oversee the $5 million or so in commercial and industrial (C&I) tax funds for bicycle-related improvements.
Given our severe budget situation, I believe that this is prudent. We are keeping the infrastructure, institutional knowledge, and staff so that once we come out of this economic slump we will be able to relaunch our full bicycle initiative.
Jeffrey C. McKay
Lee District Supervisor