Saturday, January 26, 2013

Video of bike ride from DC to Tysons

I happened across a video of a ride from Pennsylvania Ave. in DC to Tysons, mostly using trails, posted on The WashCycle. It was recorded about a year ago by Greenbelt Bike Videos.

I'm very familiar with most of this route which primarily consists of the Custis Trail to W&OD Trail. Part of the last section to Tysons is on a route that's new to me, the Beltway crossing on Barbour Rd.

Where the W&OD Trail crosses Shreve Lane the rider takes a right and quick left to follow Pinecastle Rd to Barbour Rd which crosses the Beltway. The rider continues on Barbour then turns left on Idylwood Rd. I am often harassed along this stretch of Idylwood Rd where drivers seem very aggressive and intolerant of bicyclists.

The rider then stops at the intersection of Idyl Lane and Idylwood Rd (see the sign for Idylwood Towers in the background) to check directions. After a short pause they head down Idyl Lane only to turn around and climb back up to Idylwood Rd, a fairly steep climb, and turns right on Idylwood. This is a really bad section that's narrow with lots of aggressive traffic. We've lobbied for better bike facilities here. There is funding for paved shoulders but there are many physical challenges to implementation. Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs were installed by VDOT last year.

The rider continues on this bad stretch of Idylwood toward Gallows Rd. There's lots of traffic and many close passes. Surprisingly the rider makes a U-turn and passes through this same section back to a left on Idyl Lane, a relatively bike-friendly road. Wayfinding signs indicating good routes to major destinations are definitely needed in Fairfax.

At Route 7 the rider turns left on the service road headed west toward Tysons. They then make their way through the parking lots and services roads parallel to Route 7, a route identified on the Tysons Master Plan as a possible bike route given a few improvements.

Where the service road ends the rider follows the sidewalk past Marshall High School. Past Marshall HS there is a service road that could have been an alternative. At Lisle Ave the rider crosses Route 7 and rides to the Westin Hotel.

While the Westin may have a Tysons address, it's on the periphery. To reach Tysons one would have to continue on Route 7 and cross the Beltway, which in the past has been one of the more dangerous places to ride. A cyclist was killed riding there in 2008 and a pedestrian was killed in the same location in 2010. Since the Route 7 bridge was rebuilt there is now a wide side path that cyclists can use.

It is possible to ride to Tysons and it's gradually getting better. With over 100,000 people working there, direct, safe bike routes with good wayfinding signs, are desperately needed.

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From idylwood Rd the rider could've cut through the shopping center (left) and could've taken the south sidewalk to their destination. That route us very familiar to me since I take it as my way to work. He/she could've taken the WO&D trail to Virginia lane, then right on Hurst to idylwood, as well.

Glad to see the improvements to the area as construction as continuing.
Barbour rd crosses 66, not the beltway. Idylwood rd is not bicycle friendly especially at rush hour and I would not recommend any cyclist go this route as part of their commute. Take W&OD to gallows and make a right. Gallows runs parallel to rt 7 and brings you into tysons
The problem with going to Gallows is that the Westin is outside the Beltway. With the new sidepaths across 495 on Route 7 you could ride north on Gallows as you said, then ride east on Route 7 but that's going the long way to get to the Westin.
there are some places that I would just consider unsafe for regular bicycle commuting. unfortunately most of tysons seems to fall into this category, especially the westin which is sandwiched right between rt 7 and 495. A lot more work needs to be done to make these area rider-friendly especially when it comes to these Virginia Megaprojects. I wholly support bicycle commuting yet I also value my life and the family which depends on it, and some things are just not worth taking the risk.
There are some bike-friendly routes into Tysons, especially from the south. The heart of Tysons does present many challenges but accessing locations along the periphery is not bad. There are a number of regular bike commuters in Tysons.

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