Friday, March 30, 2012
 

National SRTS training course in Herndon

Join community leaders, school officials, health and transportation professionals, law enforcement officers, parents and neighbors for this opportunity for Herndon Middle School.

The course provides participants with the knowledge and skills to develop sound SRTS Programs based on community needs and conditions, best practices and responsible use of resources. The day concludes with participants developing an action plan.

The course is offered free of charge with lunch and snacks provided. Course size is limited so register early. Online registration available. See a copy of the SRTS training flier.

See an earlier FABB blog post about the bicycle program at Herndon MS.

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Central Fairfax bike plan meeting

The last of the eight bike plan subarea public meetings was held at Daniels Run Elementary School in the City of Fairfax last night. The school is fortunate that there is an extensive trail system leading to both the front and rear of the school. Several bikes were locked to sign posts in front of the school.

Even though the City of Fairfax is technically not part of the Fairfax Co Bicycle Master Plan, it is located in the center of the county and many county routes traverse the city including the Vienna Metro to GMU route. Several City staff were present and received a round of applause when introduced.

It was noted that the City is working to become more bike friendly, helping to establish the GMU to Vienna Metro route and recently publishing the very nice Fairfax City bike route map. There will be a ride of the GMU-Vienna Metro route on April 7 at 9:30am leaving from Oasis Bike Works. It's great that the City can take advantage of the work being done on the county bike plan. Recommendations for possible routes in the City will be included in the plan recommendations. It was suggested that the City Planning Commission and Council be briefed on the plan.

There was a brief discussion of what data are being used to develop the plan. It was noted that options such as the road diets on Lawyers Road and Soapstone Drive in Reston have proven to be very effective for calming traffic and creating space for bicyclists. Four lanes were reduced to two lanes and a center turn lane with bike lanes.

The bike plan contractor, Toole Design Group, and the county will now synthesize all the data collected during the eight public meetings and prepare the final draft route network that will be presented to the Bicycle Advisory Committee at their April 11 meeting. The next major phase of the process is to hold several thematic and technical focus group meetings to gather policy and programmatic recommendations. Those meetings will occur in April and May. For more info see the Bike Plan website.

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Chantilly/Centreville meeting article

The Central Fairfax meeting last night was the last of eight public meetings held to gather community input on the Fairfax Co Bicycle Master Plan.  We'll post a summary of the meeting soon, but in the meantime, see this report on the Chantilly/Centreville meeting, Fairfax County’s Creating Bicycle Transportation Plan:
"We’re focusing mostly on biking for transportation," he said. "We started in June 2011 and will finish this June. Then we’ll recommend a proposed bike-network plan to the Board of Supervisors in June or July. We hope to have it incorporated into the [county’s] Comprehensive Plan and into the City of Fairfax’s plan."

"Using bikes for transportation is an important part of our vision for the future," said Goodman. "We know Fairfax County is competing with other cities for jobs, and these are the types of things that could reel in potential employers."

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
 

Bike racers and advocacy

At the National Bike Summit there was a session entitled Finally the racing and advocacy worlds collide. See a report of that session at examiner.com, Bike advocates and pro cyclists bridge the gap at National Bike Summit.
Johnson suggested to specific ways that the USA Cycling race clubs could be involved in advocacy and promoting bicycling. First, he suggested that each USAC club adopt a school, "and it doesn't have to be an underprivileged school," to go and talk to kids about bike safety and show them the fun side of bike riding. He said,"When you're a kid, your not riding a bike to train or commute, you're riding because it's fun!"

Second, he suggested that amateur cyclists talk to other parents informally about advocating for bike lanes and Safe Routes to School, "just talk to people on the sidelines of your kid's soccer game," he suggests.

Self-described Bicycle Evangelist and Bikes Belong member Richard Fries noted that the President of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clarke was in the audience, then bombastically asked, "Where are all the other bike advocates, why aren't they here?" He gave examples of advocates not wanting to talk to him about racing.

Gary Fisher stood up, removed his hat, and interrupted Fries: "Advocates are the ones working hard the ground, the pros are WHOOSH, just flying overhead. We racers need to RESPECT the advocates." The audience erupted into spontaneous cheers for Fisher. Fries hadn't realized how many grassroots advocates sat in the audience from places like Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, California, and many other states.

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Fairfax County Parkway repaving meetings

Parkway trail south of Rt 29
VDOT will be repaving 24 miles of the 32-mile, six-lane Fairfax County Parkway between Route 7 in Dranesville and Rolling Road in Springfield. While the road has been repaved several times, the paved sidepath has never been repaved.

The trail is in very poor, dangerous condition and should be repaved. Cyclists should attend the repaving meetings to ask that the trail also is repaved, either as part of this project or concurrnetly as a separately project.

The meetings starts at 7pm at the following dates and locations:
  • April 11: Armstrong Elementary School, 11900 Lake Newport Rd, Reston, VA 20194
  • April 17: Robinson Secondary School, 5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, VA 22032
  • April 24: VDOT District Office, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030
  • May 2: West Springfield High School, 6100, Rolling Rd, Springfield, VA 22152
Three FABB members recently rode the length of the trail and identified the many sections like the one above where there is cracked and crumbling asphalt wide horizontal gaps, raised utility covers, and other problems with the trail. We collected GPS points and photos and submitted that data to VDOT so they could prioritize repaving locations. It's our hope that major sections will be fixed this summer. Attending the above meetings will help get that message across.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
 

Central Fairfax area bike plan meeting on Thursday

The last of eight bike plan meetings focusing on different parts of the county will be held in Central Fairfax on Thursday, March 29 starting at 6pm at Daniels Run Elementary School, 3705 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax. Technically the planning area does not include the City of Fairfax, but given it's central location and the fact that several countywide bike routes pass through the city, it makes sense that the city be included in the process.

While there will be additional public meetings, this is one of the last chances to make detailed comments on the bicycle route network, on bike parking needs, and on any bicycle-related policy recommendations. Comments need not be limited to just the Central Fairfax area.

As a side note, the photo that has been used for most of the fliers advertising the bike plan meetings (the center photo in the flier on the right) was taken in the City of Fairfax on a ride organized by city residents to review possible bike routes between the city and the Vienna Metro station.

George Mason University is located nearby and the potential for future bike use is significant. We just need better, safer bike facilities and having a good bike plan is a critical part of the process. See the Central Fairfax meeting flier and the Bike Plan website for more details.

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Is bike sharing feasible in Reston?

I think the answer is yes. First let me explain what bike sharing entails. The concept refers to having a group of bicycles that are available to the general public, either for free or rented by the hour. The best example in our area is Capital Bikeshare. You may have seen the red three-speed bikes that are now very common in DC.

Users must first become members of Capital Bikeshare. Memberships are available for a single day, three days, 30 days, or a year. The first half hour is free, after which hourly fees apply. This pricing encourages shorter trips.

Once a bicycle is checked out it can be returned to any of the 140 stations scattered throughout the DC/Arlington area. In order to be a useful transportation alternative, a sufficient number of stations located relatively closely are needed. Users don't want to walk long distances from the stations to their destination. Ideal spacing is about 1,000 feet between stations.

With the coming of rail to Reston, many people will be traveling short distances to and from the Wiehle Ave and Reston Parkway rail stations. The "last mile" is a term used to refer to these short trips to/from transit. Bike sharing is an ideal solution.

Where would the bike stations be located? A start would be to have stations on the north and south sides of the Metro stations. The Reston Pkwy station is a long walk from the Town Center so a couple of stations could be located in parts of the Town Center. Other obvious locations include the USGS, Reston Association, Hunters Woods Village Center, the International Center, South Lakes Village Center, Newton Square, Plaza America, Stratford House, and other high density residential and commercial locations.

How would the system be funded? The Capital Bikeshare system is funded through federal, state, local and private funding. The Paris Velib bike share system is funded using advertising at the stations and on the bicycles. We currently fund other forms of transit, and bike sharing can be envisioned as a small-scale transit system that need not be self supporting. Even so, the Capital Bikeshare system is now taking in enough funds to pay for all operating expenses.

The next time you plan a short trip, think about how that trip could be taken by bike, and if a shared bike were available, would you use it? Bike sharing could be a real option for many people in Reston, but we'll need safer, more direct on- and off-road bike facilities for it to be successful. That's the topic for a future article.

Cross-posted on Reston Patch.

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Biking to Herndon-Monroe metro station

One of the most crowded park and ride facilities in Fairfax is the Herndon-Monroe parking garage. Renovations to the garage begin this week, which means there will be a lot of disappointed motorists looking for a place to park.

We've got just the solution. Why not bike there? Bike parking is plentiful and under cover. There are several bike lockers there as well, available through Fairfax County.

Bicycle access to the station could be better. There is a paved trail to the east but it turns into a narrow concrete sidewalk leading to Fairfax Co Parkway. To the west the trail ends abruptly before reaching Monroe Street. While we usually have no major problems riding on the four lane road leading to the station, during rush hour motorists can be very impatient and aggressive.

The sooner the county improves access to transit, including the future Silver Line stations and busy park and ride lots, the better off we will all be.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012
 

New attitude at National Park Service

David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington writes in today's Post about how the Park Service is becoming more accommodating to bicyclists: A thaw at the Park Service opens up possibilities in D.C.
Today, however, you can pick up a Capital Bikeshare bicycle in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, Petworth or Crystal City and ride to the Washington Monument or the FDR and MLK memorials. Once there, you can drop off the bike, enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms, then grab another bike for a ride home, to the Metro or to a restaurant. It costs just $7 for a day pass and is free with a longer-term membership.

The BikeDC community ride found that it could use Rock Creek Parkway for its May event, after being turned down in the past. Apparently the new Rock Creek superintendent didn’t get the memo about being hostile toward people recreating in a beautiful valley on weekends. When cyclists gathered in the District last week for the National Bicycle Summit, Park Service head Jon Jarvis agreed that “we haven’t been all that bike-friendly in all our parks over the years” and pledged to change that.

The Park Service deserves a great deal of credit for this refreshing change in attitude, but a long list of tasks remains undone. Capital Bikeshare is a great start, but there are still many more steps to make bicycling safe and convenient on our parkland. Try to bike from the Washington Monument down to the 14th Street bridge, and you either have to use a narrow sidewalk and dodge tourists on foot (who have a greater right to the sidewalk than you) or brave a road designed like an expressway.

The paths alongside the George Washington and Rock Creek parkways are too narrow and winding, and especially on weekends, all the walkers, joggers and bikers have to wrangle over small spaces while light traffic zooms past. Why not make just one of the four lanes on each parkway a bike-pedestrian pathway on weekends?

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Saturday, March 24, 2012
 

Fairfax County 2050 Transit Study

Fairfax County is conducting a transit study that includes a survey of residents "to determine how public transit system expansion plans can best serve the county's long-term economic growth objectives. Transit systems can be designed to serve many different objectives. This survey will help us understand your needs and preferences for traveling within or through Fairfax County and how your travel needs are connected to other elements affecting your quality of life."

It's a wide-ranging survey that asks about quality of life issues such as living in walkable, mixed use communities, the importance of access to transit, and the importance of providing better biking facilities. Is it more important to be able to walk to local destinations or would you rather have a short drive?

While a few of the questions mention biking, it isn't really treated on the same terms as walking, driving and transit. An example is the questions that asks "How far would you be willing to walk on a regular basis from home" but no mention of biking from home to cover much greater distances. There are also no questions about the importance of bike parking at transit centers or about the integration of bicycling and transit.

We suggest you take the survey and weigh in on these topics.

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FABB ride to Udvar-Hazy Center

Entering the Udvar-Hazy Center
FABB plans to hold some social rides this year. Tom Wyland is our ride coordinator and today he led a "dry" run of the planned Udvar-Hazy Center ride. As you can imagine, the ride was not so dry but it wasn't that wet either despite the forecast.

The group met at the Reston Town Center then we headed out on the W&OD and Fairfax County Parkway trails to Franklin Farm Rd, a busy cut-through route. Even though traffic was light, it wasn't a pleasant ride given the impatient motorists. At Centreville Rd we turned right on the paved side path to Wall Rd. Here we discovered there are no crosswalks across Centreville Rd and the traffic signal only works on the other 3 legs of the intersection, which required us to dash across when traffic cleared.

We then took a left onto Air and Space Museum Parkway, a wide, multi-lane road with almost no traffic. There are also no bike or ped facilities. It's an incredibly expensive, wide road and bridge across Route 28 that probably handles a couple of thousand cars a day; imagine what bike facilities could have been built for the cost of just that stretch of road.

Bike parking a long walk from the entrance
It was a short ride to the Udvar-Hazy entrance where we rode past the booths where parking attendants were collecting $15 from motorists. In front of the center is good bike parking in a not so good location. The U racks are well spaced but are not covered and are a long walk from the entrance. Closer to the building entrance there is an overhang with plenty of space for the racks.

We spent about an hour going through the museum and then we headed back to Reston. On the return trip we decided to check out another route using mostly neighborhood streets. We headed north on Centreville Rd to Kinross Circle to L on Cobra Dr. Near the end is a paved trail in Horsepen Run Stream Valley Park that leads under McLearen Rd using a viaduct, one of the only examples of this type of crossing in the county.

The trail continues along a utility right of way to West Ox Rd where we got onto New Parkland Dr to Farthingdale Dr to Pinecrest Dr across Fairfax Co Parkway and where we crossed our outbound route. We continued on Pinecrest to L on Magna Carta, L on Keele Dr to L on Fox Mill Rd where there's a paved shoulder to R on Bedfordshire Circle. We turned R on Rosedown to L on Glade to L on Sunrise Valley Dr back to the FFX Co Parkway trail and then back toward the Town Center.

We learned a lot about the logistics of doing this type of ride. We hope to hold the first ride this Spring and several others over the Summer and Fall. The rides will be open to WABA members.

Update: Here's a google map of our route to Udvar-Hazy.

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Friday, March 23, 2012
 

Popularity of cycling in DC

As bike-riding population grows, D.C. tries to keep pace is the title of an article in the Metro section of today's Post.
By some indicators, it has never been a better time to travel by bike. Gas prices are soaring, spring has arrived, and the District is already one of the most active cities in the country, second in biking and walking only to Boston, according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking. But there’s a downside to the region’s cycling growth: Authorities and advocates are struggling to keep up with a crowd of riders whose skills range from expert to novice in an already congested city.
One way that WABA is trying to help is by providing bike education classes for these new riders. See their full calendar of upcoming classes, although none are available in Fairfax. I occasionally teach for WABA and so I attended a session for WABA instructors held last night at WABA's offices in Adams Morgan. To get there I rode my beater Metro bike to a nearby bus stop, parked and took the Connector bus to West Falls Church where I caught Metro to Foggy Bottom.

When not traveling with my own bike I prefer to use CaBi once in the District. The SpotCycle mobile app is a great way to find stations and check availability of bikes. Unfortunately the apps wasn't working while I was riding Metro in the city. After arriving at the station I quickly found that there were no bikes available at the CaBi station near Foggy Bottom. According to the app, almost all nearby stations were empty. The one station with bikes was near Farragut North, but after walking there I discovered that the one bike at the station wasn't working.

I continued walking toward Dupont Circle in hopes of finding a bike. At M and 18th St the station had two bikes and three people wanting to rent. It was a race to see who could check out a bike first. Fortunately two more bikes arrived and there were bikes for everyone.

It was impressive to see how many people were using bikes last night to get around. DC is making great strides by providing new bike facilities all over town. The ride to Adams Morgan on Columbia Rd is now a little easier where the center turn lane was recently replaced with two 5-foot bike lanes. At the CaBi station near the WABA office I had a different problem; that station was full so I rode on to find an empty stall at a nearby station. Needless to say I was late for the meeting. I'll try to remember to check SpotCycle earlier next time.

See the GreaterGreaterWashington article What's better: More CaBi stations or bigger ones? on the challenges of making bikes available to everyone.

See another recent article on CaBi District homeless get help renting bikes.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
 

Women Cycling Forum report

Jenifer Madden, a vice chair of the Fairfax Co Transportation Advisory Commission and a friend of FABB, attended the National Women Cycling Forum and filled a report on her blog The Durable Human:
Riding my bike to a meeting the other day, I suddenly realized how happy I felt. Being so close to nature was wonderful, amid crimson cardinals darting through the underbrush and the sound of rushing creeks, but there was more to it than that. I had an exhilarating sense of freedom.

Apparently, that’s not a new feeling for women who bike. In fact, we have enjoyed that special kind of autonomy since the late 1800s, when the bicycle was introduced in America. As suffragette Susan B. Anthony put it, having the ability to ride away from the protective atmosphere of the home “changed women.”

Those and other fascinating tidbits from the history of women and bikes were provided by Sue Macy, author of the book Wheels of Change and keynote speaker at the first-ever National Women Cycling Forum, held this week in Washington, D.C.
Read more on her blog.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012
 

FABB at the National Bike Summit

Several members of FABB plan to attend the National Bike Summit that starts today in DC. Bike advocates from around the country will gather to learn about the latest strategies for promoting bicycling. Attendees will convene on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress on Thursday. You don't have to attend the Summit to join advocates on the Congressional visits. If you can attend and live in Congressman Wolf's district, more advocates are needed for that meeting. Contact Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation for details.

I am able to attend thanks to a generous donation from the Reston Bike Club, sponsors of the popular Tues/Thurs rides in Reston and Herndon and the annual Reston Century. After the Summit I'll give them an overview of the Summit and will relay the latest news about the Transportation Bill.

FABB's Fionnuala Quinn helped organize one of the kick-off events, the Women's Cycling Forum, that is being held today from 2-4pm.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012
 

Petition to repeal Metro's ban on bikes during rush hour

Bicycles are not allowed on Metro during rush hour. While most trains are very crowded during this period, but many are not, especially reverse commute trains. Not being able to use Metro during the time when many of us travel is a real disincentive to using bikes for those last mile trips to and from Metro, especially with the high theft rates at Metro stations.

A petition is now available on Change.org to "Repeal the ban on bikes/ bicycles on the Metro during rush hour." Other transit systems have figured out how to accommodate bikes on their train systems during rush hour.

The operators of the Los Angeles system have developed a set of rules that apply to bicyclists to accommodate them during rush hour and all other times. The main rule covers the major objection to bikes on Metro during rush hour: "If an arriving train is full, please wait for the next train. Never force your bike into a crowded train." The LA Bike Metro site provides lots of great info for cyclists. It's an example for others.

As an aside, I learned about being able to take bikes on the LA Metro systems while reading the excellent interview with actor Ed Begley Jr. in Bicycle Times. Ed uses his bike for most trips around the city. He extends his range using Metro buses and trains. Unfortunately I couldn't find the interview online. See our blog post about riding with Ed when he was in town a few years ago.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
 

Cyclist harassment

Today Kerie and I took advantage of the great weather and rode to Tysons to drop off some FABB rack cards at the Performance bike shop there. We've been taking the cards to all Fairfax bike shops. It's a chance to discuss with shop owners and/or staff the work of FABB if they don't know us already. We know many of the people involved in the retail bike business but it's a big county and we don't know everyone.

Our route to Tysons is one used by many bike commuters riding into Tysons from Vienna and Oakton. From the W&OD Trail in Vienna there are various routes that come together at the entry to Tysons on Old Courthouse Rd. The pinch point is headed uphill past Freedom Hill Park where the road is narrow, a place where many cyclists are harassed by impatient motorists. At Gosnell we headed L toward Route 7. 

After dropping rack cards at the shop we headed back on Gosnell up a long incline toward Old Courthouse. This is where the harassment began. First two snot-nosed kids on screaming mopeds honked their high-pitched horns and buzzed us within a foot or so. As they passed they motioned as if we should be on the sidewalk. That got our attention. 

Shortly afterward a red Jeep came up behind us very close and revved his engine. He continued to do that to the Old Courthouse intersection even though he could easily have passed us.

This type of harassment happens on a regular basis. When we complain to the police we are told there's nothing they can do, even when we have a tag number and description of the motorist. 

This week we've heard about two other similar incidents; both cyclists had video evidence and reported to the incidents to the police, and both were basically ignored by the police. Maybe Delegate Comstock, who cast deciding votes in the defeat of two measures that would benefit cyclists in these situations, the following too close bill and the due care bill, should try riding along with these cyclists for a day or two to get a feel for what we encounter on a regular basis. Maybe that would change her mind.

There are several roads in the greater Tysons/Merrifield area where cyclists have frequent conflicts with motorists. These are usually narrow or very busy commuter routes. Examples include the above two sections of Old Courthouse Rd and Gosnell Rd. Others include Idylwood Rd near Idyl Lane and Gallows Rd at the I-66 bridge. These roads need better accommodations for cyclists. A start would be placement of Shared Lane Markings and Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012
 

Who pays for "free" parking

We all pay the hidden cost of free parking. Today's Post has a good Opinion piece entitled Why should my bike subsidize your car? by Dillon Klepetar:
The upscale grocery store near my home in Tenleytown is a popular spot for foodies. Most of these “diehard” environmentalists roll up in their cars because the store has made it quite convenient to do so. I choose not to drive, and I don’t fault those who do — as they’re paying for their choices. But at this grocery store, and many others across the nation, drivers do not bear the true economic costs of their choices, let alone the environmental ones. Instead, the supermarket takes the cost of providing the parking and, since we all pay the same prices for grocery items, redistributes it among everyone who shops there. In effect, cyclists, walkers and those who take public transit subsidize the parking of those who don’t.
We not only pay for free parking but we also subsidize most roads, since user fees such as gas taxes and registration fees pay only about half the cost to build roads. The other hidden costs of driving such as air and water pollution and all the negative health impacts are also paid by society as a whole.

See The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup for more on this topic. For a list of the many hidden costs of driving and how to calculate them see The True Cost of Driving.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012
 

No bike program funds in the Fairfax County budget

Fairfax County is in the process of developing the budget for the coming year. One of the Board of Supervisors main priorities is an "Efficient transportation network: Fairfax County makes it a priority to connect People and Places. We will continue to plan for and invest in transportation improvements to include comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian initiatives, bus and para transit, road and intersection improvements and expansion of Metrorail and VRE."

Despite this goal, the bicycle program funds were cut in half in 2010 and eliminated in 2011. During County Executive Tony Griffin's online chat session on the proposed FY2013 budget we asked about funding for the program:

Bikecommuter : Two years ago the operating funds were cut from the Bicycle Program. It's not possible for the county to have an effective program without operating funds. More and more people are choosing to use bicycles for transportation, especially as the price of gas hovers around $4/gallon. Were the Bicycle Program operating funds reinstated this year and if not, why not?

Anthony Griffin : No, we have not had the capacity in our budget to fund the restoration of previously cut programs and services.

What could be done with Bicycle Program funds? Installing signs on and repaving of the Fairfax Co Parkway Trail, placement of Shared Lane Markings on bike routes on narrow roads, support for events like Bike to Work Day, a bike sharing pilot project, basic functions like printing the bike plans and the draft bike parking guidelines, striping bike lanes, installing bike parking; the list could go on. We can't have a Bicycle Program without funds.

The Tysons Bicycle Plan was completed over a year ago and still sits on a shelf. Actually it hasn't even been printed because of a lack of funds. We paid $14 to print our copy at Kinkos. The Countywide Bicycle Plan will be finished this summer and could meet the same fate. Despite all the good work that is going into developing these plans, they mean nothing if there are no funds for getting them approved and implemented.

Your voice can be heard. If you think Fairfax should have a funded bicycle program, please consider attending one of the upcoming budget town hall meetings in your district. If the Board does not hear from us, there will be no funding for the bike program or bike projects. You can also write to the Board of Supervisors and ask that Bicycle Program funds be included in the budget.

Town Hall Meeting

Location

Date

Mason District Spring Town Meeting Mason District Government Center – Main Community Room – 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale Wednesday, March 14 - 7:00 p.m.
Braddock District Kings Park Library, Braddock Hall Wednesday, March 14 - 7:00 p.m.
West Springfield Government Center - conference rooms 9/10 Thursday, March 15 - 7:00 p.m.
Braddock District Canterbury Woods Elementary – Cafeteria – 4910 Willet Drive, Annandale Monday, March 19 - 7:30 p.m.
West Springfield West Springfield Governmental Center Monday, March 19 - 7:00 p.m.
Providence District Council Dunn Loring Center - 2334 Gallows Road Tuesday, March 20 - 7:30 p.m.
Sully District Rocky Run Middle School - Cafeteria - 4400 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly Thursday, March 22 - 7:00 p.m.
Hunter Mill Budget Meeting Reston Community Center (Rooms 3 and 4) Saturday, March 24 - 10:00 a.m.
Dranesville District Ingram Council Chambers (Halls B and C) - 765 Lynn Street, Herndon Monday, March 26 - 7:00 p.m.
Braddock District Robinson Secondary School – Gold Cafeteria – 5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax Wednesday, March 28 - 7:30 p.m.
Sully District Council Sully District Governmental Center - Front Meeting Room - 4900 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly Wednesday, March 28 - 7:00 p.m.
Lee District Association Franconia Governmental Center Wednesday, March 28 - 7:30 p.m.
Dranesville District Great Falls Library - 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls Thursday, March 29 - 7:00 p.m.
Hunter Mill Budget Meeting Vienna Community Center (Multi-Purpose Room) Saturday, March 31 - 11:00 a.m.
Dranesville District McLean Community Center - 1234 Ingleside Avenue Monday, April 2 - 7:00 p.m.

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Friday, March 9, 2012
 

Spokes Magazine celebrates 25th anniversary

Spokes Magazine is available for free at most local bike shops. It's a great resource for cycling information in the Mid-Atlantic area. The magazine was started 25 years ago by Neil Sandler, the editor and publisher, after he saw similar magazines on a trip to California.

Neil pays tribute to the many local bike shops that have supported him over the years, including Northern Virginia shops Spokes, Etc., Revolution Cycles, A-1 Cycling, Bonzai Sports, WheelNuts, bikes@vienna, and The Bike Lane. Most of these shops have also supported FABB. Congratulations to Spokes and thanks for the many informative articles over the years.

The current issue has some good ones:
  • The Making of "Where to Bike, Washington DC" - How Matt Wittmer, in DC after spending two years in Peru, happened across an ad for a write and photographer to put together a guidebook for DC area cyclists. He spent the next two years writing this very informative and attractive guide to local bike rides.
  • New Year's Salute to Paul Rossmeissl - Paul, an avid local cyclist, lost his life in a tragic crash on the W&OD Trail in 2006. Paul's Ride for Life, starting in Reston on Saturday, April 28, is held in his honor.
  • The Carless (Not Careless) Suburban Mountain-bike Ride - Mike Miller discusses the benefits of riding to his ride instead of fighting traffic and burning gas. He mentions several good mountain bike rides here in Fairfax and his experience riding to them from his home in Arlington.
  • Be a PAL - Chris Eatough of BikeArlington discusses being a PAL: Predictable, Alert, and Lawful. Whether biking, driving or walking, everyone needs to exhibit due care, awareness and courtesy.
  • Calendar of Events - Check out the many rides coming up this spring and summer.
Look for copies of Spokes at your local bike shop.

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Tysons Bike Group hears about feasibility of bikesharing in Tysons

On Tuesday Charlie Denney of Alta Planning & Design/Alta Bike Share discussed the feasibility of a bike sharing system in Tysons, similar to the very successful Capital Bikeshare in DC run by Alta Bike Share. The presentation was sponsored by the Tysons Bike Group, an informal gathering of bicycling enthusiasts formed by FABB and TYTRAN. See our earlier post about the talk.

According to Charlie, the DC system cost $6.4 million, mostly from Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funds matched by 20% local funding. It consists of 140 stations and 1200 bikes. Arlington's system cost $800,000 and consists of 26 stations in Crystal City and Ballston/Rosslyn Corridor. There are 19,000 members which is double the projected number. There have been over 1.5 million trips that average about 1 mile in length. There have been 20 reported crashes and 10 bicycles have disappeared and not recovered.

Charlie said there are four major considerations when thinking about implementing bike sharing in Tysons:

  • Connections to Silver Line stations
  • The need for better bicycle infrastructure
  • Promotion of bike sharing
  • Partnerships and sponsorships

The bike share system would be focused around the four Metro stations which are located along Routes 123 and 7. These wide, pedestrian and bicycle unfriendly streets present major barriers for bicyclists. Bike share stations would need to be located on each side of the Metro station. Other stations would be located near major residential, employment and retail/commercial destinations. Using a bike for short lunchtime trips would reduce congestion and save employees time.

There is currently no dedicated on-road bicycle infrastructure in Tysons. While many cyclists do ride there, most people will be reluctant to use bicycles without some dedicated space such as bike lanes, cycle tracks, or indications of shared use such as sharrows and "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs. The Tysons Bicycle Plan needs to be approved and implemented, and the planned redevelopment projects need to include bike infrastructure.

The bike share system would need to be promoted by TYTRAN, FABB, the Tysons Bike Group, VDOT and DRPT, and others. Major land developers are logical sponsors as are Fairfax County, VDOT, the Tysons Partnership, and major Tysons employers such as Booz Allen, SAIC, Freddie Mac, PwC, etc.

Bike sharing in Tysons is an exciting prospect but major changes are needed before it could become a reality. The fist step is implementation of the Tysons Bicycle Master Plan.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
 

Centreville/Chantilly Bike Plan meeting recap

We had a lively discussion about bike conditions during the presentation at the Centreville/Chantilly Bike Plan meeting held last night. About 25 people were on hand to mark up maps showing barriers, gaps, destinations, and roads that need bike facilities.

Dan Goodman of Toole Design Group gave the presentation, noting that 60% of the county field work is completed. After the area meetings, several focus groups will be held based on thematic areas. FABB provided a list of groups in Fairfax that are or could be bike-related. Examples include health community/hospitals; law enforcement agencies; business/Chambers of Commerce/developers; bike industry; visitor’s bureaus/tourism; or ethnic/cultural groups.

This was the seventh of eight area meetings. The Central Fairfax area meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, March 29, location TBD.

Major points from the discussion after the presentation:

  • Harassment by motorists - Cyclists are tired of being harassed by motorists. We need better enforcement and education. Motorists need to know that bicyclists have a right to ride in the road, and if the lane is not wide enough to share, they can take the lane. It's the law. Horn honking, shouting, and other aggressive actions are illegal. Several cyclists noted that this type of harassment is common. One cyclist said he was hit by a motorist in the presence of a policeman who did nothing.
  • Dedicated funding for bicycle programs and facilities is critical. The plan will not be implemented without funding, and the Board of Supervisors determines which programs are funded. There is dedicated funding for storm water management, ball fields, parks, and other activities, but almost none for bicycling. The county budget public hearings are April 10-12 and we need to speak out for bike funding. FABB is signed up to speak and we'll be sending out an alert asking cyclists to contact the Board of Supervisors (but you don't have to wait until then).
  • Trial maintenance - While there are many paved trails in the county, many don't connect and most are in need of repair or sweeping. There is almost no money for routine maintenance. If there are severe problems, they can be fixed, but the system is rapidly deteriorating and the future is bleak for additional funding. The bike coordinator is trying to overcome lack of funding and administrative hurdles to establish an adopt-a-trail program.
Thanks to the cyclists who turned out to provide valuable input into the Bike Plan. We'll need everyone's help to get the plan approved and funded.

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Monday, March 5, 2012
 

Test drive an SUV to school day

The National Education Association and Mazda have teamed up to convince kids they should tell their parents to test drive a Mazda to raise money for public libraries. As part of this ad campaign Mazda reps are allowed to give a sales pitch to groups of kids. According to the Post article about an event in Alexandria, The Lorax helps market Mazda SUVs to elementary school children nationwide:
“I track school advertising for a living,” said Josh Golin, associate director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “This is among the most outrageous examples of any school advertisement program I’ve ever heard of.”
At Polk Elementary on Tuesday, more than 100 kindergartners and fourth- and fifth-graders crowded into the multipurpose room for a rendition of Seuss’s classic environmentalist tale.


The kids listened as the little furry Lorax tried, furiously and fruitlessly, to defend his beloved Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots from being destroyed by the Once-ler, that greedy Thneed magnate.


Afterward, a Mazda representative — Dan Ryan of the government relations office — stood up.
He unveiled an oversized $1,000 check meant to help beef up the school’s library collection. “We think reading is very important,” Ryan said. The audience cheered.
Ryan then told the kids they could help raise up to a million dollars for other schools’ libraries — and qualify for a sweepstakes entry (trip for four to Universal Studios).
All they had to do was persuade their parents to go to the nearest Mazda dealership for a test-drive.
For every person who test-drives a car — and brings in a special certificate, which students received at school Tuesday — Mazda will donate $25 to the NEA’s foundation for public schools.
Ryan told his rapt audience that Mazda’s latest models get great gas mileage — at 35 miles to the gallon, the CX-5 is the most efficient SUV on American highways, he said.
One of the more dangerous places for kids to bike is around school entrances due to the number of parents driving kids to school, kids who have a seat on a bus or who live close enough to bike or walk. Let's hope Fairfax doesn't allow Mazda to pitch SUVs to our kids.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012
 

Centreville/Chantilly bike meeting on Tuesday

The Fairfax Co Bicycle Master Plan process has been underway since last summer. There are only two more subarea bike planning meetings left. The Centreville/Chantilly meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 6 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Sully District Governmental Center, 4900 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly. If you're familiar with the western area of the county it's a good chance to provide input to the plan.

FABB's Fionnuala Quinn was interviewed by the Centreville Patch for the article Building a More Bicycle-Friendly Centreville:
“We have many suitable and enjoyable areas to ride in Fairfax County and it would be wonderful if more residents realized how many trips are already very bikeable,” said Fionnuala Quinn, vice chair of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB). “Biking on some of our beautiful trails and using our lovely neighborhood streets to get around can really alter your perspective about Fairfax traffic woes.”

“That said, we have very few dedicated bicycling facilities and the county hasn’t developed a ‘bicycling culture’ yet,” Quinn added. “There is certainly much to be done to create a safe and comfortable bicycling environment countywide.”

The Countywide Bicycle Transportation Plan provides recommendations in major areas Quinn calls “the five E’s.” They are engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation. Within these areas, the study assesses bike lanes and other on-road bike facilities, bike trails and parking, Bike to Work and School Day, community bike rides, bike safety classes, bicyclist counting and rules of the road, just to name a few.

“FABB has been advocating for a bicycle master plan from their initiation [in 2005] as it was recognized that in a large, complex county, a detailed plan was necessary,” Quinn said. “The county has been very supportive of developing the plan. Once it is adopted, adequate funding will be required for it to be implemented.”

Developing the Sully District

“This is everyone’s big chance to let their county officials know about specific safety problems in their neighborhoods or to alert them to connections that should be added to create better internal access and shortcuts for getting around,” Quinn added.

One specific topic residents are open to address at Tuesday night’s meeting is how new and improved bike paths can lead to safer, more convenient ways for locals to commute to work and school. For example, many area schools, like Bull Run Elementary on Route 29/Lee Highway, do not allow any students to bike or walk to school because there is no safe route that allows them to do so.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Coordinator Charlie Strunk has big plans for the Sully District.

“The Centreville area does present challenges … but it also offers opportunities,” Strunk said. “I want to focus on two projects currently in the design phase. One is the Bobann Drive Bikeway. This old roadbed runs parallel to I-66. We plan to improve this shared-use path providing a direct connection from the Centreville area to Stringfellow Road and the adjacent park and ride lot. The new Stringfellow Road will have wide outside curb lanes for bikes and we’re adding secure covered bicycle parking at the park and ride lot.”

“The second project that we’re excited about is a new bike map which we’re calling ‘Western Fairfax Bike the Sites,’” Strunk continued. “This map will layout a family-friendly bike loop that passes by many of the historical sites in the area. It will be fun, educational and a healthy way to explore some of Sully’s history.”
County residents who are unable to attend public meetings in their district can give input on the project through an online survey, open through Saturday, March 31.
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Friday, March 2, 2012
 

Phoenix Bikes used bike sale on Saturday

Phoenix Bikes, a community bike shop located in Barcroft Park in Arlington, will hold a used bike sale this Saturday from 10-2pm at Big Bear Cafe in DC. All proceeds will go to support the work at Phoenix Bikes.

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March-April FABB Newsletter


MARCH-APRIL 2012 FABB News
A bi-monthly publication of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
County Bicycle Master Plan Subarea Meetings
The County is halfway through the bicycle planning process, which is expected to end in June 2012. The final two subarea meetings are planned for March. The Centreville/Chantilly/Bull Run/Oak Hill/Fair Oaks/Fair Lakes/Westfields meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday March 6 at the Sully District Government Center, 4900 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly. The Central Fairfax meeting, which includes the City of Falls Church and George Mason University, will be scheduled for later in the month.  
Most subarea meetings have been well-attended. FABB members serve on the master plan advisory committee and have attended each subarea meeting. To see presentations and read a summary of comments made at the meetings visit the Bicycle Plan Materials & Resources page. See also FABB blog entries about the bicycle plan. A draft bicycle route network is being developed and will be finalized over the next couple of months. A countywide public meeting to present the draft plan is slated for May or June. Please provide input on the plan by attending one of the remaining public meetings or by filling out the online survey. Deadline for filling out the survey is March 31. The plan will set the stage for bicycling in the County for the next 30 years and getting projects into the plan is extremely important.
Disappointing 2012 Virginia Legislative Session
Bicycle-related legislation proposed this year for Virginia was modest. The two major bicycle-related bills would have required motorists to exercise due care when approaching a bicyclist or pedestrian (HB 784) and would have prevented motorists from following bicyclists too closely (HB 785). Unfortunately both bills were defeated by a House Transportation Committee. Northern Virginia’s member of the committee, Del. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean), cast the deciding vote in each case. Cyclists can write to Del. Comstock to express disappointment with her votes.
Biking to School
One of FABB’s major goals is to increase the number of children who can bike and walk to school. Until recently the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) system did not have a clear policy regarding whether kids are allowed to bike to school. Some school principals banned students from biking even if parents wanted their kids to bike. FABB, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), and Trails for Youth worked with FCPS officials and the School Board to change the policy. In January, the School Board modified the bike-to-school policy so that parents, not principals, can decide whether their kids can bike to school. Another positive development: Two local elementary schools (Terra Centre in Burke and Cunningham in Vienna) have received 2012 funding from VDOT’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.
FABB member Jeff Anderson was instrumental in changing the FCPS bike policy. Jeff founded  Wolfie's Bike Train at Wolftrap Elementary School in Vienna and was recently profiled in the VDOT SRTS newsletter. Stay tuned for Bike to School Day opportunities on May 9.
New Bike Racks in Vienna
Last year FABB received funding from the Transurban Community Grant Program to conduct bike commuter seminars, hold bike light giveaways, and install bike parking. After hard work by FABB, the Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee, and others, the first 3 racks were installed in Vienna in February. Red Mango, a frozen yogurt shop located at 431 W Maple Ave, received two U-racks, and Maple Ave Market, located at 128 E Maple Ave, received one. Check out the racks and thank these businesses for being bike-friendly.
Fairfax County Parkway Trail Assessment
Proper maintenance of facilities is a critical safety issue for cyclists who are vulnerable to uneven pavement and potholes. Over the past few years we've documented the deterioration of the Fairfax County Parkway trail. There are many sections where large cracks have appeared and grass grows through the cracks. Contractors have unearthed sections of the trail without repaving them properly. The trail has subsided in some places where it abuts concrete bridges, leaving large gaps that can pop a tire. The trail also diverts from the Parkway, most notably at I-66 and Route 123, without proper way finding signage.
The Parkway will be repaved in the near future. Repaving and signing the adjacent Parkway trail has been a priority for FABB for several years. We've been told that VDOT may have the funds this year to repave at least some sections of the trail.
FABB volunteers are conducting a reconnaissance of the trail. We're documenting degraded pavement, muddy areas, subsided asphalt at bridges, and other problems by riding the trail, taking pictures, and collecting GPS points. We hope to complete the work in the next couple of weeks, in time for VDOT to develop priorities for repaving. Ideally the entire trail should be repaved. If that is not possible, our work should ensure that sections in most need of repair will be repaved first.
Support FABB via Road ID
FABB now is a member of the Road ID Affiliate Program. If you access Road ID via the FABB website, FABB earns a 10 percent commission when you buy a Road ID product online. Also, the FABB logo is available for engraving on the Road ID dog tag. For more details see the FABB donation page.
FABB Fact: “Cities with a greater supply of bike paths and lanes have significantly higher bike commute rates even when controlling for land use, climate, socioeconomic factors, gasoline prices, public transport supply, and cycling safety.” (from “Cycling to work in 90 large American cities: new evidence on the role of bike paths and lanes” by Ralph Buehler and John Pucher.)
Events
March 6, Tuesday—Is Bike Sharing Feasible in Tysons?
At the Tysons Bike Group meeting Charlie Denney of Alta Planning will discuss what is needed for bike sharing to be successful in a place like Tysons. Alta Bicycle Share, an affiliate of Alta Planning, runs Capital Bikeshare in DC. The meeting is at noon at PwC. All are welcome but space is limited. RSVP to chairman@fabb-bikes.org.
March 6, Tuesday—Centreville/Chantilly/Bull Run/Oak Hill/Fair Oaks/Fair Lakes/Westfields area bike plan meeting
Help set the course for making Fairfax County a bicycle-friendly community. The meeting is at the Sully District Government Center, 4900 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly. The meeting is 6:30-9:00 p.m. with a presentation at 7:00 p.m. This is your chance to let the County know what improvements are needed in your area.
March 20, Tuesday—National Women's Cycling Forum
In the United States in 2009, women accounted for only 24 percent of bike trips, a much smaller percentage than men. But that trend is shifting. The National Women's Cycling Forum will be the first national gathering specifically dedicated to raising awareness about and discussing how to engage more women in bicycling. Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street, NW, Washington, DC, 2-4:00 p.m.  Free, but registration is required.
March 21, Wednesday—FABB Monthly Meeting
Monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Ave E, Vienna, near the W&OD Trail. Cindy Engelhart, VDOT NoVa District Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator is scheduled to be our speaker. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at chairman@fabb-bikes.org.
March 21-23—National Bike Summit
A few members of FABB will be attending this gathering of bike advocates from around the country. For more information visit the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit page.
March 31, Saturday—Senior Transportation Summit
FABB Chairman Bruce Wright will speak about how to get around Reston by bike, with an emphasis on senior cycling. Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, 9:00 a.m.- noon. The event is sponsored by Reston for a Lifetime.
April 10-12—Board of Supervisors Budget Hearings
FABB will ask the Board to reinstate operating funds for the bike program. These funds were cut two years ago and have not been replaced. We also will ask for more staff support for the bike program and for funds to implement the Tysons and Countywide Bicycle Master Plans. FABB urges you to contact your County supervisor to request that operating funds for bicycling projects be restored.  You can find contact information for your supervisor at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/about-the-board-of-supervisors.htm
April 18, Wednesday—FABB Monthly Meeting
Monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Ave E, Vienna, near the W&OD Trail. Tom Biesiadny, Director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, is our invited guest speaker. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright atchairman@fabb-bikes.org.
Come see us at these community events:
April 19, Thursday—Vienna Green Expo, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Vienna Community Center.
April 24, Thursday—USGS Earth Day Expo, 10:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., Reston.
April 28, Saturday—Paul’s Ride for Life (7:00 a.m. start)  and Cyclefest, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Reston Town Center.
Plan ahead for Bike to School Day (May 9) & Bike to Work Day (May 18)!
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Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, aiming to make bicycling an integral part of Fairfax County's transportation network. Visit us on the web at www.fabb-bikes.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter. FABB News provides periodic updates on Fairfax County bicycling issues, along with occasional updates and action alerts on breaking news. We encourage all FABB supporters to join WABA at www.waba.org. Donations to FABB are tax deductible. If you would like to support our advocacy work in Fairfax, you can donate online or send a check made out to FABB/WABA to FABB, PO Box 3752, Reston, VA 20195.

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