Wednesday, May 4, 2011

VDOT Six-Year Plan public hearing tonight

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP or Six-Year Plan) tonight, Wednesday, May 4 at the new VDOT District Office, Potomac Conference Center, 4975 Alliance Drive, Suite 1N201, Fairfax, VA 22030 starting at 7 p.m. This is a chance for cyclists to ask for better bicycle facilities in Northern Virginia.

There is bike parking at the new VDOT location. Unfortunately it's a large wave rack located across the road from the main building. (Does anyone else think the bike community should start a campaign to get ride of wave racks? Capacity is always overstated, there's only one contact point with the bike, and they are awkward to use.)

Below are draft FABB comments on the plan that we will present tonight. If you would like to make comments send them to

Bruce Wright, Chairman, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
May 4, 2011

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Six Year Plan. We all know that maintenance of our roads and trails continues to be a problem. It's embarrassing how poorly our roads are maintained, with crumbling pavement and unswept debris that is a hazard to motorists and bicyclists, and vegetation blocking sight distance in many places. Bicyclists are affected more than most road users by these unsafe road hazards. When we hit a pothole, crack in the pavement, or  debris we suffer much greater consequences than a motorist in a heavy vehicle.

The FFX Co Parkway trail has never been repaved. It has grass growing in cracks and has no wayfinding signage in several places where the trail diverges from the parkway. Our group has asked that the trail be signed for the past 5 years without success.

VDOT’s number one priority should be to repair and maintain our existing roads and trails. Maintenance crews are not to blame; they are likely just as frustrated as the rest of us. They need adequate funds to get their job done.

In many areas, VDOT is not adhering to their bike/ped policy which states that bike lanes and paved shoulders will be repaired, replaced and cleared of debris and snow and ice. It also states that shared use paths in the department right-of-way will be maintained through replacement and repair. We need a better plan to fix the billion+ in structurally deficient pavement on our roads and trails.

Crash mitigation is another way to reduce congestion without building more capacity. According to AAA, “Forty to 50 percent of all nonrecurring congestion is associated with traffic incidents.” This should be obvious after listening to morning traffic reports on congestion and crashes in our area. From my reading of the SYIP, only $3M is devoted to this work in all of VA in FY2012, and nothing in FY13-17. We need to do a better job of mitigating these crashes by devoting appropriate resources to reduce their impact on congestion.

We also hope that you will fully fund multi-modal access improvements in the Tysons area (Tysons Metrorail Access Improvement project (UPC 100469). In the SYIP only $19M of the requested $56M is being funded through 2017. Only $4M of the needed $14M for preliminary engineering in 2012 will be funded even though the Silver line Metro stations will open in 2013. In order for Metrorail to be successful, access to the stations needs to be improved for all modes. The county now has a plan for future bike facilities in Tysons and these facilities should be funded before the stations open.

We agree with Governor McDonnell who said “Virginians must begin a fundamental shift in the way we travel to take greater advantage of the transportation options available to us today.” We do need better options, and bicycle facilities are an inexpensive, sustainable way to provide some of those options.

And finally, to repeat comments from last year, it's time VDOT hired a bike coordinator and finalized the State Bicycle Policy Plan. It's inexcusable that the coordinator position has been vacant for nearly a year and a half.

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Wish I could've been there, but that was the same night as the Alexandria Transportation Commission meeting.
I strongly agree with your parenthetical comments about "wave" (or "ribbon") bike parking racks. This poor design should never be used, and many reputable authorities and bicyclist organizations, including the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, have long advised against using them.

VDOT NoVA and Fairfax County bicycle program staff should be asked to ensure that local and state bicycle parking guidance requires using only bike rack designs, such as the inverted-U, that support parked bicycles in two or more places.

Arlington County has been specifying inverted-U (or functionally equivalent) bike racks for well over a decade, but it took staff many years to get private developers and other County agencies to comply with this standard and to site and install the bike racks properly.

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