Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making Reston Metro station areas less pedestrian and bike friendly

Fairfax County DOT recently presented the results of a traffic mitigation study conducted by Cambridge Systematics. According to the Fairfax Times article Reston rail panel focuses gaze on traffic mitigation, "Discussion focused on possible improvements to five intersections: Wiehle Avenue and Sunrise Valley Drive; Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road; Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive; Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills; and Fairfax County Parkway and Sunrise Valley."

The planned improvements call for several "free turn lanes" where motorists can turn right without stopping. An example is the southbound lane on Wiehle Ave at the the Sunrise Valley Dr intersection. Motorists rarely stop for pedestrians at this location, which is a adjacent to the future rail station entrance. A second free turn lane for westbound Sunrise Valley Dr traffic is being recommended at this intersection. If implemented it would be nearly impossible for pedestrians and cyclists who are on the adjacent sidepath to cross Wiehle Ave. These are definitely not improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

A similar treatment is proposed for the Wiehle Ave/Sunset Hills intersection which is adjacent to the northern station entrance. At one time this location was the site of the highest number of ped/bike crashes in the county. Cambridge is proposing a free eastbound turn lane for Sunset Hills traffic.

The W&OD Trail is nearby and there's a major paved trail along Wiehle Ave that will be used by many pedestrians and bicyclists when the station opens. Eastbound traffic now barely stops and we've had many, many close calls from motorists looking left and turning right on red, despite signs prohibiting that behavior. A while back we took a 30-second video of vehicle behavior at this light when it was red, showing that almost none of the vehicles actually came to a stop. It's doubtful that this behavior was factored into the analysis.

Instead of making conditions worse for pedestrians and bicyclists, the opposite should be happening. We discussed these intersection changes with FFX DOT staff and they are well aware of the negative consequences of these recommendations on non-motorized travel. At some point the community has to decide whether it's more important to move cars or move people, especially around Metro stations that are planned as mixed use areas.

The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force will likely discuss this topic at their next meeting on Tuesday, September 13th, at 7pm at the Lake Anne Community Center.

See the Dulles Corridor Special Study Transportation Analysis Update and Mitigation Strategies Discussion presentation.

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If you put it that way, they are going to choose "move cars".
Shouldn't we always be moving people, in a way that allows our communities to be vibrant places for everyone, not just those making conditions better for those who choose to drive cars? Fairfax was built around cars, and it's hard for most people to think that there is any other way to get around. Transitioning from a car-dominated culture to a culture where there's more emphasis on quality of life issues will be difficult but we've got to start somewhere. Some of us already do get around mostly without cars; it's possible but not yet very easy. We need to make it easier so that more people can make that choice.
who been smoking what? Make transportation for those that choose to do other than driving? It sounds good, until you realize people have moved more than an hour drive from work, trying to have a better life. Let's all live in a Utopia. Where everyone won't need a car, can telecommute to work and get nothing done. Oh Yes an Utopia, where everything is bright and green, sounds like a candidate for the nut huts. Lets not have individuals, let's all dress the same, act the same and be the same. It's your rights over my rights.
Don't try and run me over with your bike when I am walking, and just maybe I can see your point. A driver still doesn't have the right to hit someone in a cross walk. That is why the cross walk is there. The bicycle is still considered a toy. Toys don't belong on roads.
Anonymous, unfortunately you can't decide which laws you want to obey, and in all states bicyclists have a right to the road. Not providing bike facilities leading to the Reston Metro stations is a good way to create conflicts between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Now is the time to plan for those conflicts with proper facilities.

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