Friday, January 21, 2011

Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee

FABB attended the Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last night to give an overview of our work and to discuss the Guide for Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates. The committee meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 8:00pm in the Town Hall Conference Room. The public is welcome to attend.

Courthouse Rd bike route: After the FABB presentation the committee discussed the proposed Courthouse Rd bike route project. The original plan was for bike lanes between Locust and Nutley Streets. Because there is parking on the road, and the Town won't use 10 foot travel lanes, there isn't enough room for the bike lanes.

The latest plan is for an 11 foot travel lane with a white outer edge stripe, creating a paved shoulder. There will also be bike route signs with some wayfinding signs, although Shared Lane Markings will not be used. The plan works fine until a cyclist, riding in the paved shoulder, encounters parked cars and must navigate back into the travel lane. We think a 10 foot travel lane would work fine; it may reduce travel speeds, and if large vehicles need access, the original pavement is in place and for them the road should function the same.

The Town Council will likely hold a public hearing some time in March.

Safe Routes to School: The committee also discussed a Safe Routes to School grant application for Vienna Elementary School. The travel plan is complete and parents are in the final stages of completing the application. Now that a new SRTS coordinator has been hired, the grant process should begin again soon.

W&OD Trail safety: There was also a brief discussion of safety on the W&OD Trail. The committee received a letter from the Town Manager, relaying a concern expressed by Councilwoman Cole at the November 1, 2010 Town Council meeting. Councilwoman Cole
brought up a problem of bicyclists creating unsafe conditions on the W&OD Trail when they speed by walkers and other users of the Trail causing near and sometimes actual collisions. Since the W&OD Trail is not a "bike trail" but rather a trail for use by walkers, joggers and others not using two wheel transportation it requires that action be taken to protect the safety and rights of all persons on the trail.

Councilwoman Cole though [sic] perhaps the BACK [sic] might look into a program of education for bicyclists so that the Trail can be used by all people and not, in my opinion, by a select few. This suggestions [sic] goes along the lines of my previous comments to you about bicyclists ignoring traffic control signs and signals creating dangerous conditions throughout Vienna. It is my understanding of that law that when bicyclists are on the public streets they must obey all posted traffic control signs and signals, something that is NOT happening. Please review this matter and perhaps the TSC can request the BAC to come up with some ideas on how to solve these problems.
The committee is preparing suggestions. There is a problem with the W&OD Trail; too many people are vying for too little space. There is unsafe behavior on the part of many trail users, not just cyclists. One solution is to make our roads safer for cyclists. Fairfax has very few on-road bicycle facilities. To travel in the county cyclists are often forced onto major roads and without space for bicyclists, conditions can be dangerous. We're fortunate to have the W&OD Trail, but we need more options.

The Town and county should also do a better job of supporting bicycle education. There are almost no bicycle skills classes for adults, and the elementary school bicycle curriculum is not being taught. Hopefully the advisory committee recommendations will include some of these suggestions.

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