Monday, January 30, 2012
 

Volkswagen teams up with BikesBelong

Volkswagen, which has their U.S. headquarters in Herndon, VA, recently teamed up with Bikes Belong:
At Volkswagen, we recognize that two wheels are sometimes as good a choice as four. That’s why today at the Washington Auto Show, we announced a new two-year partnership with Bikes Belong, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for biking.

Not only is biking fun and healthy—it’s also good for the environment. For these reasons and more, the sponsorship is a perfect fit with Think Blue, Volkswagen’s initiative to promote eco-friendly mobility and motivate employees and customers to practice environmental responsibility in their everyday lives.

As part of the agreement, Volkswagen will donate vehicles and funding to support three Bikes Belong initiatives: Peopleforbikes.org, Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP) and Bicycling Design Best Practices. The partnership also aligns with our long-term commitment to encourage active lifestyles by endorsing cycling, running and triathlon events. Until the quadrathlon is restructured to include auto racing (we can dream, can’t we?), we’re happy to support organizations like Bikes Belong.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012
 

I-66 public meeting Thursday

VDOT is studying "potential multimodal improvements that will address existing and future transportation needs in the Interstate 66 corridor from U.S. Route 15 in Prince William County to Interstate 495 in Fairfax County." Inside the Beltway the Custis and W&OD Trails provide good bicycle access to major destinations in that corridor. No such accommodation exists outside the Beltway.

A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2 from 5-8 p.m. at VDOT NoVa Headquarters, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030. This is just south of I-66 off West Ox Road.

Cyclists are encouraged to attend the meeting and speak out for bike access along the I-66 corridor. In 2002 the Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors approved plans for a major trail along I-66 similar to the Custis Trail, but it has never been implemented. Now is the time.

Bicyclists also need to be able to safely cross I-66, which forms a major east-west barrier in many areas of western Fairfax Co.

Please either attend the I-66 meeting to email comments to the study team's leadership (reference "I-66 Tier 1 EIS: Public Comments" in your subject line) at CG.Collins@VDOT.Virginia.gov or Stephen.C.Walter@Parsons.com.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
 

Bill to require drivers to exercise due care defeated in VA House subcommittee

The Virginia House Transportation subcommittee 2 today voted to pass by indefinitely, in other words to kill, a bill that would have drivers of motor vehicles exercising due care to avoid crashing into a pedestrian or bicyclist. Here's the full text of the bill:
§ 46.2-923.1. Drivers to exercise due care.

Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or the operator of a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary. Every driver shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person on the highways.
Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) cast the deciding vote to kill this bill. Unfortunately we have not been watching the session closely and did not ask cyclists to send messages to members of the subcommittee. This is an important bill that would help protect cyclists by requiring motorists to exercise due care to avoid hitting them. Four out of the 7 members of the committee, all Republicans, voted against the bill. We wrote the following note to Delegate Comstock:
Dear Delegate Comstock,

I was very disappointed to hear that you voted to pass by indefinitely the bill (HB 784 Exercise due care; requires drivers to avoid colliding with pedestrian) that would help protect pedestrians, bicyclists, children, and incapacitated pedestrians. It's hard to believe that 4 of the 7 members of House Transportation subcommittee 2 voted against this bill. It doesn't seem to be too much to ask motorists to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or a bicyclist. Please reconsider your vote and have this bill heard by the full Transportation Committee and House as a whole.

Sincerely,

Bruce Wright
See a summary of what Virginia Bicycling Federation considers bicycling-related bills in the 2012 General Assembly. They are also posting regular Legislative Updates.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
 

Good turnout for the Burke-Springfield bike plan meeting

Around 40 60-70 cyclists attended the Burke-Springfield bike plan meeting tonight at the West Springfield Governmental Center. Bob Patten of Toole Design Group gave an overview of the planning process. Bob noted that the average commute to work trip for the Burke-Springfield area is 14.2 miles which means that commuting by bike is not going to be an option for many people. However, the average length of approximately 75,000 other trips is less than three miles and could easily be taken by bike.

Bob mentioned the idea of having a mini bike share system connecting the north Ft. Belvoir area with the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.

A cyclist in the audience noted that when he rides his bike to the store there's often no place to park his bike.  Another cyclist said that Arlington, Alexandria, DC and many other cities around the U.S. have somehow found the funds to make their communities more bike-friendly and we should be able to do the same. We're often forced onto major arterials and we need better bike connections.

Another cyclist said that kids should be able to ride to school. In many cases kids live directly across the street and can't even walk there because they need to cross a major arterial. Using buses to cross barriers was suggested as one solution that needs to be publicized and made easier.

A woman noted that she likes to ride with her 7 year old around Lake Accotink but she's encountered archers hired to kill deer in those areas. She refuses to ride there and ends up going to other, less dangerous areas outside the county. We've heard about this from a FABB member who has the same concern along the W&OD Trail between Reston and Vienna. If you aren't aware, Fairfax County has opened up many parks to archers this year.

After the group discussion people gathered around large scale maps and made comments on where they ride, where they want to ride but can't, and where they'd like to see improvements. They could also comment on other aspects of the plan including bike education, enforcement, and encouragement.

The next bike plan area meeting is for the Annandale area on February 15 at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale starting at 4:30 p.m. Since that is on the same night as the FABB meeting, we plan to hold the FABB meeting after this meeting at the same location in Annandale.

DancesWithCarsDC has posted videos of the presentation and Q&A session:

http://youtu.be/K2G37vhY46o
http://youtu.be/izN9DHhaZbs
http://youtu.be/ZKthIKeP8sY
http://youtu.be/jzbnU91WH8M

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Monday, January 23, 2012
 

DRAFT VDOT Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan

The VDOT Safe Routes to School coordinator just released the DRAFT Virginia Safe Routes to School Five-Year Strategic Plan 2011-2016. Comments are being collected until February 17.

We have not yet had a chance to read the details. This is from the one-page summary at the beginning of the report:
In the short term,
  • The Program Structure will remain as is, with all program elements managed by VDOT’s Central Office.
  • Outreach and Education efforts will focus on aggressive outreach with existing resources, guided by an annual communication plan (developed separately from the Strategic Plan), and by optimizing partnerships with other state agencies.
  • Project Application and Selection will focus on re‐instating the non‐infrastructure application program.
  • Project Implementation and Management will become more streamlined and include clearer guidance.
  • Project Close‐out will become a more reliable and predictable process for the State SRTS Coordinator and grantees.
  • Evaluation and Measurement will include processes to generate information about project effectiveness.
  • SRTS Program Sustainability will provide greater support for VDOT staff working on SRTS projects and begin to identify ways to create self‐sustainable local SRTS Programs.
Beyond 12 months, the anticipated changes include:
  • A revised Program Structure that expands the SRTS Advisory Committee’s role, especially with respect to project selection.
  • A more flexible Outreach and Education plan, according to demand by local SRTS Programs and within existing resources.
  • Program Sustainability efforts that focus on making SRTS a part of standard operating procedures for VDOT and participating localities.

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Alliance for Biking and Walking 2012 Benchmarking report released

The Alliance for Biking and Walking recently released their 2012 Benchmarking Report, a report on bicycling and walking in the U.S. that includes "bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure; bike-transit integration; bicycling and walking education and encouragement activities; public health indicators; and the economic impact of bicycling and walking."

Highlights from the report include:
Bicycling and Walking Levels
  • 12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
  • From 2000 to 2009, the number of commuters who bicycle to work increased by 57%.
  • In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car. Residents of the largest U.S. cities are 1.7 times more like- ly to walk or bicycle to work than the national average.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
  • 14% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are bicyclists (1.8%) or pedestrians (11.7%).
  • In the 51 largest U.S. cities, 12.7% of trips are by foot and 1.1% are by bicycle, yet 26.9% of traffic fatalities are pe- destrians and 3.1% are bicyclists.
  • Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians. Adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities and make up 6% of bicycling trips, yet account for and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012
 

Burke-Springfield area Bike Plan meeting Tuesday

Cyclists in the Burke-Springfield area are invited to hear about the county Bicycle Master Plan and how they can help to improve bicycling conditions in the county. The Burke-Springfield area meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 24 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the West Springfield Government Center, 6140 Rolling Road, Springfield, VA.

A presentation on the planning process will be given after which cyclists will be able to mark up maps and leave comments about what is needed to make Fairfax more bicycle-friendly. Besides indicating possible bike routes, cyclists can discuss the need for better bike parking, better bicycle education opportunities for adults and kids, better enforcement, and ways to encourage more people to take short trips by bike.

One reason more people don't use bikes for transportation is the poor condition of our bicycle infrastructure. If you care about having a connected bicycle network, come to the meeting let your voice be heard.

See the Burke-Springfield meeting flyer.

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Eric Cantor and bicycling

Tom Bowden, advocacy chairman with BikeVA, has an opinion article in today's Post about Congressman Eric Cantor of Virignia and bicycling. Congressman Cantor is well-known among cyclists for supporting cuts to bicycle funding from the transportation budget, including cutting funding for the very successful Safe Routes to School Program. In the Post article, Welcome to the bike path, Mr. Cantor, Bowden, a conservative Republican, makes a good argument why other conservatives should support bicycling:
Then I’d remind him of the economic benefits of cycling — not just for cyclists, but for the community at large. Lower health-care costs benefit all of us. Fewer cars reduces the need for expensive new roads and parking lots, and it means fewer deaths and injuries from vehicle-related accidents. And jobs? Bike projects create jobs, all right — more than 11 jobs per million dollars vs. 8 jobs per million for highways.

Plus, bikes and a safe bike-commuting environment help people get to work even if they don’t have a car. In Richmond, some 18 percent of households can’t afford a car, and 60 percent of households share a single car among several adults. Bikes can help them get and keep jobs. Right now, biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the United States and cost about 2 percent of transportation dollars. Yep, there are plenty of strong economic arguments for bikes that should appeal to thoughtful Republicans. I’ve got plenty more where these came from.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012
 

Snow tires needed today

Hunter ready to roll
FABB member Hunter McCleary came to our place today to help with some FABB bookkeeping. We weren't sure if he would be able to ride from his house in Vienna to ours in Reston.

Here he is getting ready to leave our place. His hybrid bike has studded snow tires but Hunter said that the W&OD Trail, which he used for most of his route, was mostly clear of snow. At the usual spot just west of Hunter Mill Road it was snow/ice covered but other than that he had no real problems. It sure helps to have snow tires.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
 

WABA offers free bike commuting seminar to local bike shops

WABA recently held a bike commuting seminar at The Bike Rack, a bike shop in DC. It was an opportunity for customers to learn about bike commuting from WABA's Daniel Hoagland, who teaches these seminars on a regular basis. The event was a success and now WABA is offering to hold similar seminars at other local bike shops.
But one class isn’t enough…we want to extend this opportunity to other bike shops throughout the region. We want to give you the opportunity to bring your friends out so they can learn about bike commuting in a fun, easy way. So let your local bike shop know that you would be happy to see a class offered there. Let them know that they can get in touch with us to set it up.

Contact info for Bike Commuter Seminars:
Daniel Hoagland
202-518-0524 x200
daniel@waba.org

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Monday, January 16, 2012
 

Road to the future: Bike-friendly communities

To some people, bicycling is a fringe activity in which only a few, dedicated people participate. That may have been true in the past but it's no longer the case, especially in vibrant, urban communities. Most of our major cities are trying to transform their streets into more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly places. And most of the growth that is now occurring is in urban and inner suburban areas with access to transit and stores and workplaces that are within biking and walking distance.

In the article Road to growth is out of the exurbs Post columnist Steven Pearlstein discusses this trend. When discussing the future of suburban office parks he notes that
Workers no longer prefer to work in them, companies no longer want to occupy them, banks no l onger will finance them, real estate trusts no longer want to own them band planning boards have become reluctant to approve them. In the future, developers say, offices will be part of mixed-use developments, with shops, restaurants, schools, day-care centers, and doctors' offices, preferably within walking or biking distance of condos, townhouses and Metro stops.

Across the region, a generation of baby boomers is getting ready to sell three-bedroom suburban colonials to Gen Xers who either don’t want them or can’t afford them. Add to that a wave of foreclosures and excess inventory left over from a speculative housing boom that has driven home prices in many submarkets to levels below the cost of new construction.

For exurban developers, the implication is pretty clear: The raw land they’re holding isn’t worth much and in any case, and there’s not much point trying to build on it until the excess inventory is worked off. Perhaps that is why developments that were started during the boom but were never finished are selling at 35 cents on every dollar invested in land, roads, street lights, sewer and water lines and half-finished golf courses. Even when the market clears, exurban development is likely to focus on low-cost starter homes.

All that contrasts sharply with what is going on in the District and inner suburbs, where prices have held steady and a construction boom is under way for new and remodeled townhouses and apartments. Despite the absence of bank lending, speculative condo developments have even begun to spring up in the hotter neighborhoods, almost all of them equity financed. This market is driven by singles, young-marrieds and empty-nesters, plus a growing number of families with children, all looking for a more urban, less car-dependent lifestyle.
This has major implications for Fairfax. Those areas that are more dense, with a mix of land uses near transit and that are more bike and pedestrian-friendly will thrive. Unfortunately, after years of catering to our car culture, we have few of these areas. Reston, Herndon, Vienna, Burke, and Alexandria have some of these characteristics. Many of our other more densely populated areas like Tysons, Springfield, and Annandale have not developed with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind and are in a transition period.

Bicycling has become part of the mainstream and the sooner our leaders recognize the need to accommodate them the better off we will all be.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012
 

Guide to grocery store bike parking in Arlington

BikeArlington has teamed up with bike blogger Brian McEntee of Tales of the Sharrows to present the Ultimate Arlington Grocery Store Bike Parking Guide. Brian visited 16 grocery stores in Arlington, took photos and rated the bike parking. It's a great way for utility cyclists to check out what the parking situation is before shopping at a specific store.

It seems that Arlington has many of the same problems with substandard bike parking as Fairfax, despite having good bike parking standards. Several of the racks shown are either incorrectly installed or not the recommended type of rack indicated in the standards.

We need a similar guide in Fairfax but given our size and the number of grocery stores in the county, it will be a challenge to put it together. It would also be nice to have a group like BikeArlington to support cyclists in Fairfax.

From the guide:
Sixteen grocery stores in Arlington County were surveyed to assess their bike parking (both bike parking provided by the store and bike parking facilities placed by the County) in terms of quantity, quality (type of rack) and location (proximity to entrance). Each store is rated on a scale of 0 to 5 "gold bikes" with 0 gold bikes being worst and 5 gold bikes being perfect. Those three categories scores are added up and averaged for an overall score.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012
 

BikeWalk Virginia now Bike Virginia

Many cyclists are familiar with Bike Virginia, the annual bike tour of Virginia. The event is organized by BikeWalk Virginia, a statewide advocacy organization that until this week was focused on bicycle and pedestrian advocacy. They recently changed their focus is concentrate solely on bicycle advocacy and events:
Effective January 1, 2012, BikeWalk Virginia changed its name to Bike Virginia. This name change reflects the statewide, non-profit organization's desire to focus its resources on bicycling and making Virginia a more bicycle-friendly state.

"There were three key reasons behind the decision to change our name," said Dr. Kimberly Perry Executive Director. "First, we came to realize that because of the success of our Bike Virginia Tour event, most people here in Virginia, as well as bicyclists across the country, already knew us as Bike Virginia. Second, over the years we've learned that advocating for bicycle and pedestrian issues often led us down different paths and there simply was not as much synergy in addressing both interests as we originally thought. Third, many towns and cities already have well-organized bicycle clubs and advocacy groups and we felt we could accomplish much more by focusing our work with and through them."

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Fairfax Co School Board modifies bike to school policy

On Thursday the Fairfax County School Board modified the policy on biking and walking to school. The new policy clarifies that parents make the final decision as to whether their children bike to school. It also added language that encourages kids to walk and bike to school

Prior to their action, the school system did not have a clear policy regarding whether kids were allowed to bike to school. At some schools students were banned from biking:
Recognizing the health benefits, FCPS encourages parents to consider having their children walk and/or ride a bicycle to and from school using existing infrastructure. This parental decision is not subject to review by the principal. Ultimately, parents have the responsibility for selecting their children’s routes to and from bus stops, schools, and home. Parents are also responsible for providing supervision that is appropriate for the student's age, maturity and conditions of the chosen route. The unique procedures for kindergarten students are addressed in the current version of Regulation 8617.
The second part of the change relates to retaining bike and ped safety education, which is part of the Grade 1, 5, and 7 curriculum. Until a few years ago School Education Officers rotated through the elementary schools and taught bike safety classes. The classes were dropped when the program was cut.

It's critical that kids are taught how to safely walk and bike along our streets. We can't advocate in good faith to get more kids on bikes unless we ensure they receive safety education. We also think they will be better teen drivers if they learn the rules of the road at an early age.

The old policy was outdated and needed to be replaced. It didn't include bike safety and it referenced the school education officers. Here's the new policy:
Safety Education: The school system will ensure that programs of walking, bicycling and bus safety education shall be established and maintained for students in the elementary schools. Such programs shall be conducted in accordance with Virginia Department of Education curriculums and guidelines. Staff members will provide general safety information to school communities and respond to requests for specific information and advice when practicable.

FABB has been advocating for these changes for the past two years. Thanks to Jeff Anderson, a member of FABB who leads Wolfie's bike train (see photo above), who lead this effort.

Thanks to the School Board and the Facilities and Transportation staff for their support for the Safe Routes to School Program and for encouraging more kids to walk and bike to school. Much more needs to be done but we're setting the foundation for the future.

The challenge now is how to find the resources to ensure that bike safety is taught in all 138 elementary schools. Safe Routes to School grants would help as would reinstatement of the School Education Officers, as was recommended by the School Health Advisory Committee last year.

Read more details about the policy changes. Now, about bikes being a prohibited student activity...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
 

WMATA proposes to reduce locker fee to $120

In the Proposed FY2013 Operating and Capital Budget one of the recommendations is to reduce the bike locker rental fee from $200 to $120. From the Fare Recommendations section: "Encourage bike access to rail system by decreasing bike locker rental annual fee to $120." This is good news for Fairfax cyclists.

There was a significant price increase a few years ago. According to TheWashCycle:
Two years ago, the annual fee was tripled, and Metro predicted that the price hike would bring in an extra $200,000 per year. Metro assumed that the demand for bike lockers was so inelastic that locker rentals would decline less than a 10%.

Cycling advocates suggested that the tripling would cause a sticker shock leading to widespread non-renewals, possibly enough to cause a net loss in revenues. I recommended to my then-Metro board member (Elizabeth Hewlitt) that increasing the cost to $100 would have made more sense and brought in more revenue. But Metro board members paid scant attention to this issue, possibly because of the small magnitude of revenues involved. (Nor was it a high priority for WABA, coming during the transition as Eric Gilliland moved on.)

I predict that this 40% price cut will cause a small increase in revenues, both because more lockers will be rented, and because having a bike locker will lead a few more cyclists to take Metro more often.

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Safety infographic from BikeArlington

The folks at BikeArlington recently created an excellent traffic safety graphic. It's part of their PAL campaign
As more people go on Arlington's Car-Free Diet, there are more cyclists and walkers sharing the street with drivers. Whether you're on two feet, two wheels or four wheels, everyone needs to be a PAL to safely share the streets.

Being a PAL means being:
  • Predictable - travel in a predictable way; don't make sudden unexpected moves
  • Alert - pay attention to your surrounds and to others
  • Lawful - obey traffic laws, whether in a car, on a bike, or on foot
I like the info about Sharrows (or Shared Lane Markings). FABB has discussed the need for educating everyone about their use. Here's how it's shown on the graphic:


We'll try to get printed copies to use at our events this year. Good job BikeArlington!

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Monday, January 9, 2012
 

2011 bike crash data finalized

Fairfax County Police released the final stats on bike crashes in the county in 2011. The good news is that there were no bicycle fatalities last year. You may recall there were four in 2010. There were 84 crashes reported to the police, down 2 from last year. There were probably three times that many crashes that went unreported.

Citations were issued in 30 of the crashes. Of those citations, motorists received 73%. That's the way we would characterize the crash data. Police had a different take:
In 51% of the crashes, the bicyclist was held at fault.
and
Fairfax County had an estimated 10,612 total crashes in 2011. Crashes involving bicycles in this same period represent less than 1% of this total. [emphasis by police].
I guess we're supposed to feel good about this small percentage. The statistics can be found on the county 2011 Bike Crash page. Try to ignore the photo of the goofy looking bike and the very poorly produced safety video on the page.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012
 

Winter?

Whatever happened to winter? It was like a mild spring day on the W&OD trail today. It was great to see so many people out on their bikes. It wasn't so great seeing the same bad behavior on the trail; joggers and walkers making u-turns without looking, which is the best reason there is to warn pedestrians when you're passing; dogs (and children) on long leads; people stopped on the trail; fast cyclists, some in pacelines, passing dangerously; etc. It's rare to have so much traffic on the trail this time of year.

We were on our way to the Falls Church Farmer's Market. It's one of the only nearby markets that is open year round. I attached a milk crate to my rear rack. It's a great way to carry lots of groceries. The jury is still out on whether it will stay.

We admired the two bikes you see in the photo on the right. One is an old Nishiki mite frame in great condition with nice leather grips, Brooks saddle, fenders, and a folding grocery-getter pannier. The other bike had an old lugged steel frame with equally impressive accessories, including a very nice, large leather bag on the front rack.

It's relatively easy to run errands on bikes on the weekends. It's also a great way to get some fresh air and exercise in the process.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
 

Bicycling section in Environment Report

The Environmental Quality Advisory Commission (EQAC) released their 2011 Annual Report on the Environment in December. It includes a section on the Bicycle Initiative that includes a summary of program activities in 2011.

The county has made much progress this year, especially with almost no operating funds and the loss of a very valuable staff person, whose position was not filled. The Tysons Bike Plan was completed and the Countywide Bike Plan was started. Phase II of the Gallows Road bike lanes, extending from Idylwood Rd north to Old Courthouse Rd, was finalized and should be completed in 2012. The county is working much more closely with VDOT's repaving program and bike lanes were added to segments of the following roads: Soapstone Dr, Lewinsville Rd, and Sleepy Hollow Rd.

However, the Tysons Bicycle Plan, still has not been reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors. The Bicycle Parking Guidelines are still in draft form. The Bike the Sites project, a tour of historic sites in the Sully District, is incomplete, and there are still no wayfinding signs on the Fairfax County Parkway. Only so much can be done with limited resources and staff. A great deal has been accomplished, but much more needs to be done which means the program needs dedicated funding and more staff.

The Transportation recommendations in the report are disappointing. We agree wholeheartedly that the county needs to conduct "Holistic Land Use and Transportation Planning." However the recommendations are very general and include no mention of the need for increased resources for non-motorized transportation planning and implementation.

It's worth spending some time browsing the report; it's a good look at the state of the county's environment.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
 

Proposed change to law regarding cyclists at traffic lights

In an article in the Post on "oddball bills" in the Virginia legislature (Pickle sellers, crank calls could get a hearing in Va. General Assembly), there is mention of a bill (House Bill No. 7) that would "free bicyclists who approach red traffic lights from the need to — who knew? — wait two minutes before pedaling on." At first we and others thought this might be an implementation of the Idaho Stop, in which cyclists can treat a stop light as a stop sign. However, upon reading the proposed bill, it appears it is only an attempt to separate the treatment of motorcyclists from bicyclists.

Last year a bill was passed (46.2-833, Traffic lights; penalty) that would allow motorcyclists and bicyclists to proceed through a stop light that doesn't change to green if they stop and wait for "two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter."

The proposed bill would change the wording of the existing bill to remove bicyclists from one section and add a new sections just for bicyclists. The downside is that the new wording excludes the "two complete cycles two minutes" phrase, making conditions worse for bicyclists. According to the Post, "The gen­esis of a bike measure from Del. James E. Edmunds II (R-South Boston) is less certain. He did not return e-mail and phone messages seeking comment."

Here are the proposed changes:
B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a driver of a motorcycle or moped or a bicycle rider approaches an intersection that is controlled by a traffic light, the driver or rider may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the driver or rider (i) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter, (ii) exercises due care as provided by law, (iii) otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, (iv) determines that it is safe to proceed, and (v) yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a rider of a bicycle approaches an intersection controlled by a traffic light, the rider may proceed through the intersection on a steady red light only if the rider (i) comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light, (ii) exercises due care as provided by law, (iii) otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign, (iv) determines that it is safe to proceed, and (v) yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction.

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