Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Loudoun Co. supervisor candidate Suzanne Volpe talks bikes

Republican Suzanne Volpe is running for the Loudoun county supervisor office in the newly created Algonkian district. She appears to be running unopposed. The Algonkian district is located north of Route 7 extending from Fairfax county to just west of Route 28. She made some interesting comments about bicycling in her campaign video (bike comments start at around 4:05):

"We're spending half a million dollars a year funding the Northern Virginia Bicycle Association to promote tourism. Now I have to ask some of you business owners out there; do you think someone riding a bicycle on the W&OD Trail is going to help your business? That our county is spending half a million dollars to encourage people to bicycle into the county."

Northern Virginia Bicycle Association? We're checking with the Volpe campaign to find out more about the association and the half million dollars being spend on bicycle tourism.

I think owners of restaurants and stores in Ashburn, Leesburg, Purcellville, and other places along the W&OD Trail might say that yes, cyclists do spend money in Loudoun County and we'd like to have more of them come here. Employers such as Orbital Sciences, AOL, and others would say that they encourage their employees to travel by bike for their health and to reduce congestion.

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One of our fav family excursions is to bike the W&OD. It is usually a two and from ride. Bike to a destination (like reston) with good food and drink. And then bike back. Does the W&OD result in us spending tourist/recreation dollars in Fairfax? Absolutely.

Given how quality the W&OD is and how it connects to Leesburg and the C&O and other great western trails, I have definitely heard many other long range bike vacationers utilizing the W&OD (and patronizing restaurants and hotels along the way).

The W&OD is a jem.

an Arlington Resident
A study of the W&OD Trail was conducted in 2004 that included the economic impact of the trail on local communities:

"An estimated 1.7 million adult W&OD users spent in total about $12 million annually related to their recreational use of the trail. Of this amount, about $7 million was spent directly in the northern Virginia economy by locals and nonlocals using the trail. The estimated 1.6 million local visits accounted for about $5.3 million of spending directly related to the use of the W&OD.

Nonlocal visitors spent about $199 per group trip and $74 per person to visit the W&OD. Of this amount, $41.50 per group and $15 per person was spent in the northern Virginia economy directly related to trail use. Overall, the estimated $1.4 million in nonlocal spending generated about $1.8 million in local economic impacts and supported 34 full time job equivalents and about $642 thousand of personal income.

Finally, while access to the trail is "free," there is nevertheless considerable economic value that accrues to W&OD users. This net economic value or consumer surplus is a dollar measure of the amount of welfare that users would lose if the trail were unavailable. Using conventional economic methods, it was determined that, on average, a trip to the W&OD was worth between $9 and $14 dollars per person more than the average cost to use the trail. Extrapolating this net economic benefit across 1.7 million adult visits, of which 93 percent were for the primary purpose of visiting the W&OD, leads to an annual net economic benefit of trail access to users of between $14.4- and $21.6 million. Because the W&OD is primarily a local resource (95% of visits are by locals) rather than a destination trail, the vast majority of these net economic benefits accrue to northern Virginia residents."
Ms. Volpe is not running unopposed. As of July 8, she has an official Democratic challenger, Denise Moore Pierce, a life-long resident of N. VA, 25+ in Loudoun County. My website is working but a work in progress at www.denise4algonkian.com.

Pat Turner, cofounder of Bike Loudoun and an expert on bike and transportation issues, is looking into the truth of Ms. Volpe's assertions with appropriate Loudoun government authorities. So far, she can find no evidence that her assertions are true. The bike organization Volpe refers to does not exist, and there are no expenditures for $500,000 for bike tourism.

Mrs. Volpe is clearly looking for a reason to make government look foolish while belittling a hobby and lifestyle that many people love.

I fully support organizations whose mission is to make bicycling safer and more available to citizens throughout Loudoun and especially in the Algonkian District which I hope to represent.

I am interested in your feedback (citizens4denise@gmail.com) on this issue.

Denise Moore Pierce

Thanks for letting us know about your candidacy and your support for bicycling in Loudoun Co and the Algonkian District. Many cyclists would like to spend more time riding in Loudoun and would do so if there were better bike conditions. I do not live in Loudoun Co but like many other cyclists who ride the W&OD Trail and other places in the county, I spend money there on a regular basis when cycling to restaurants, stores, and other places.
I contacted the Volpe campaign via email and telephone a month ago and never received a reply from them. Has anyone?
Suzanne responds to a reporter who asked the question we have all be asking...


Here is the response...
Volpe said she’s looking into the matter and suggested the name of the organization may have changed, but denies fabricated the information.

“I’m researching it with Supervisor [Eugene] Delgaudio right now,” she said, referring to the current Republican representing the Sterling District.

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