Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Response to blog post about Del. LeMunyon's comments

Following my recent blog post about Del. LeMunyon's comments on the transportation funding, I received this email from Jenifer Joy Madden, a local transportation blogger and Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Transportation Advisory Commission (although her comments here are her own and not made in an official capacity):
As you note in your blog, some significant statements have been made in the past few weeks about bicycle transportation in the DC area.

First, on May 21 at the Greater Washington Board of Trade Regional Policy Forum on Transportation, host Jim Dinegar stated:

“Bike lanes have caused more heartburn in the business community than I ever anticipated,” apparently referring to the way bike lanes are being installed in the District in place or in lieu of car and/or bus lanes.Yet we know from the latest research presented by the League of American Bicyclists that cyclists and pedestrians can actually generate more revenue for local businesses than customers who drive.

A day later, Martin Nohe - a Prince William county district supervisor who heads the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority – when asked at a Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance forum about how funds will be allocated in the new Virginia transportation funding scheme, answered with this: “I can envision a day when VDOT builds the road, but NVTA can build the interchange and the locality adds ped and bike paths.”

At the same forum, as you have noted, Delegate LeMunyon was quick to say that he had in mind “a vision that the first year funding would result in the number of hours being put back into lives of the people of Northern Virginia that we could point to. I’m concerned where the Working Group is going on the NVTA regional list - for 70% funding for bus shelters, pedestrian bridge and lighting on a trail. That’s not why I voted to raise taxes. Of 34 projects, there is no information about how it will expand capacity or reduce congestion. That needs to be made available so we can say this is worth the effort.”

(On the current draft NVTA funding list, the city of Falls Church is asking for $1.7 million for design of pedestrian access to transit, funding for bus shelters, a pedestrian brige and lighting on the W&OD Trail.)
Nohe stressed that the current list is a draft and that there would be an open house and a public hearing in June after which the Authority would take action on a list of projects. Nohe also expressed concern that “a number of projects aren’t congestion relievers and that the data hasn’t yet been pulled" about how projects would add capacity and relieve congestion. LeMunyon then stated that information should be made available before the June meeting.

Following that exchange, Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada jumped in with “a word in support of trails,” saying that “in densely populated areas, our bike lanes and trails become increasingly critical.” He cited Arlington bike counts that are “off the charts – thousands and thousands, especially in warmer months.” He says his county will continue to focus on trails and lighting which are “important in urban setting. Imagine all those thousands of people in cars.”

Meanwhile, back on May 2 after Virginia Deputy Transportation Secretary David Tyeryar explained the new transportation bill at a Committee of One Hundred dinner in Vienna, I asked him point-blank about how bicycle and pedestrian facilities would be funded and he answered: “Talk to your Board of Supervisors.”

All things considered, it appears there are two fronts on which to act:

1. FABB and other multi-modal transportation advocacy groups must use the latest economic data to prove to officials and business owners region-wide that cyclists and pedestrians bring big business to local retailers and restaurateurs. Political leaders also need to understand that cycling projects produce a big bang for a minimal buck and that bike and ped projects can generate real jobs. Statistics to cite could include the National Building Museum's Intelligent Cities Initiative which notes that the reduced use of autos in DC has resulted in $128,275,000 being retained in the local economy each year. In Portland, Oregon, residents drive 20% less than other US cities which adds up to $1.1 billion of savings each year equalling 1.5% of the total personal income earned in the region, which is then spent mainly on local recreation, entertainment, food and drink. (See p.29-31, Walkable City by Jeff Speck)

2. Since it appears the last-mile buck will stop with Fairfax County in the form of "the 30%" of NoVA-only NVTA dollars, the Board of Supervisors must face up to their responsibility to the community. If they are the only authority which will fund our county’s bike and ped projects, then those projects must have a MUCH HIGHER PRIORITY than they have had in the past, especially when it comes to creating "last mile" connections to transit and to schools. To do that, the BOS and FCDOT will need to devote what looks like a disproportionately large amount of money to bicycle and pedestrian projects and staff because there will be no other funding from the state, while copious funds for roads projects will be forthcoming from "the 70%" that the NVTA will distribute for regional projects that "reduce congestion and increase capacity.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Contact FABB via email:

Subscribe to the
FABB e-newsletter

Subscribe to posts:
[Atom 1.0] or [RSS 2.0]

  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

  Transportation choices

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?