Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bicycle recommendations in EQAC Annual Report

The Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council submitted their Annual Report at today's Board of Supervisors meeting. The Land Use and Transportation section of the report contains strong recommendations (that we've highlighted in bold text) regarding the need for better bicycle conditions in the county:
3. Transportation

This year the General Assembly passed legislation raising additional revenue for transportation. As the county enters a community dialogue to prioritize the allocation of these funds, EQAC recommends that the county provide priority for non-motorized/multi-modal transportation options (emphasis added). The county has been developing a comprehensive bicycle master plan that is ready for implementation. This complements requirements for pedestrian facilities in mixed-use centers. Proper implementation of the non-motorized/multi-modal master plan needs to include:
  • Implementation of the bicycle master plan. Bicycle paths provide healthy and effective options to move about the county and between connected destinations.
  • Expanded bicycle parking guidelines modeled on successful programs such as the new secure bicycle parking facilities at Silver Line stations and other county park-and-ride/transit facilities. 
  • Funding for implementation of both capital and non-capital elements of the county’s bicycle master plan.
  • Implementation of an outreach and education program for encouraging/promoting bicycling as a transportation mode. This could be called “Bike Fairfax!”
  • Engagement of the private sector. One example of this can be seen in New York City, where CitiBank underwrites 100 percent of the cost of a bikeshare program. This could work today in several suburban and transit centers. 
FABB is mentioned in the report:
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is focusing on the need for good bicycle infrastructure in mixed-use, transit-oriented developments. The county is going through a difficult transition, in that it is promoting this type of development in the context of big suburban roads. A prime example is the Mosaic District surrounded by Lee Highway and Gallows Road. Both of these roads are not friendly for pedestrians or bikes. http://www.fabb-bikes.org.
There is also an interesting discussion of urban street design guidelines and the concept of a multimodal system plan for Fairfax County. Streets in urban areas should have slower speeds, narrower turning radii, have a grid of streets, and be Complete Streets that are safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other modes:
Urban vs. Rural standards

An example of decision making can be seen in the designation of urban street standards and applying them in county urban centers. EQAC supported such a principle in a formal memo earlier in 2013 (see Appendix B of this report). Overall, the community has been advocating for a series of improvements that include narrower lanes, pedestrian/bicycle paths on either side of the road, tree buffers between the street and path, reduced speed limits and safe crossings. The county has had success using road diets, which slim down roads to make them more appropriate for urban traffic. These were implemented on Lawyers Road in Reston.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has developed statewide guidelines for multi-modal planning and design at the regional, community and corridor scales.18 The guidelines are now in final draft form and can be downloaded from DRPT’s website at: www.drpt.virginia.gov/activities/MultimodalSystemDesignGuidelines.aspx.

Fairfax County staff has been meeting with VDOT and with DPRT for the past 13-14 months to develop formal urban street standards. VDOT created an appendix to its road design manual that will adopt state-wide urban design standards. Concurrently, DRPT is working towards adoption of its Multimodal System Design Guidelines.

VDOT is adopting the DRPT guidelines into the Road Design Manual by reference. The county is developing its multimodal system map and identifying urban activity centers in accordance with the draft DRPT guidelines. The end result will be a multimodal system plan for Fairfax County that will be reviewed by DRPT and approved by VDOT (emphasis added); this plan will allow for implementation of the VDOT Road Design Manual urban design standards for areas that qualify as urban activity centers per the DRPT guidelines. This work is expected to be completed by early 2014.19

19Transportation Information for EQAC 2013, Kris Morley-Nikfar, FCDOT & Updated June 8, 2011, Dan Southworth, FCDOT.

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