Thursday, June 7, 2012

South County public meeting summary

Annandale meeting participants
The final Bicycle Master Plan public meeting was held last night (Wed.) in Annandale. About 40 cyclists learned about the proposed bicycle network and other recommendations. Most people had attended other bike plan meetings.

During the meeting Cindy Engelhart, VDOT NoVA District bike coordinator, noted that that due to new legislation (see 15.2-2223, item B.4.), any changes to the county Transportation Plan must be approved by VDOT. This would delay approval of the plan since VDOT has 90 days to submit comments. The current goal is to have the bicycle plan approved by the end of this year.

An audience member asked about the possibility of a bond referendum to fund bike improvements. The answer was that some projects are being funded by the 2007 transportation bond and another transportation bond is planned. However, we think a bike-specific bond would be feasible. Why not ask residents if they would support a bike projects through a bond?

Results of the earlier survey were discussed. In a report of the Tuesday meeting we mentioned the top reason that people say keeps them from biking. The graph on the left shows the top six reasons. It was pointed out that the top 3 reasons, gaps in the bike network, barriers to travel, and continuous facilities don't exist for local trips, all relate to gaps in the system.

The top initiatives chosen by the meeting attendees were:
1. Form a countywide bicycle advisory committee.
2. Begin a trail maintenance program.
3. Focus attention on the VDOT resurfacing program.
4. Strengthen the existing bike program.
5. Launch a law enforcement initiative.
I think the most controversial recommendation is the treatment of what are referred to as "Big Roads." These are the major arterials such as Routes 1, 7, 50, 236, Braddock Road, etc. These are also the roads that create major barriers for most bicyclists. Most bike-friendly neighborhood streets don't connect to destinations. They feed into the big roads which have very few connected bike facilities. The off-road connections usually have many conflict points. Well-designed cycletracks are a good solution but are costly to implement and usually require additional right of way.

The recommendation for these roads is a table of possible treatments based on surrounding land use. Our concern is that unless the county holds to a strict policy of requiring the most appropriate facility, some developers may only implement the most low-cost solution. It could also be difficult to have a continuous, consistent design if there are options. There will likely be much discussion of this recommendation at the BAC meeting next week.

The next step in the process is for the Bicycle Plan Bicycle Advisory Committee to discuss the recommendations at our June 13 meeting. While the committee has previously seen most of the route network, the public meetings were the first chance to learn about the policy recommendations and the top initiatives. We'll need to discuss them at length, review the public meeting feedback, and develop a consensus.

Update: See the Fairfax City Patch article on the meeting, Cyclists Make Suggestions to Bike Master Plan.

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Sorry I missed this and haven't gotten around to commenting on the US 1 plans.

You hit the nail on the head regarding connectivity.

I am increasingly concerned with trails that have "Dismount Bikes" or "Walk Bikes" signs posted. These should be changed to "We don't know about bike design." If at any point the county is considering using signs such as these, they need to stop and redesign the trail.

The same goes in spades for bollards that obstruct bike paths. The recent serious accident on the MVT near Rosslyn is example enough. Bollard was removed soon after. Days later 10 bollards were isntalled on the MVT at the Woodrow Wilson bridge. Planners need to know not to spec these things.

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