Thursday, November 14, 2013

Public speaks out for bicycle and pedestrian facilities

If the $1.2 billion in new transportation funding were allocated according to comments at the Countywide Dialogue on Transportation meeting held last night in Reston, the majority would be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects. Nineteen of the approximately 20 speakers wanted better bicycle and pedestrian conditions. The other speaker wanted to know when the Silver Line start date would be announced.

There are over $3 billion in projects on the unfunded list. No one spoke out for new Interchanges ($1.2 billion) or Roadway Extensions ($790 million) or Roadway Spot Improvements ($128 million) or Roadway Widening ($1.7 billion). They want to be able to walk and bike safely in their communities.

See the complete list of projects.

The final Dialogue meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 21 from 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Spring Hill Elementary School, 8201 Lewinsville Rd., McLean, VA 22102.

Below are comments I made at the meeting:

Countywide Dialogue on Transportation
Bruce Wright, FABB Chairman
November 13, 2013

Thank you for seeking our input and for providing clear information on the proposed projects in the form of maps and text that's readily accessible online. It's very useful.

The new transportation funding is a once in a generation opportunity to solve some of our major transportation problems. With this funding we could create a first-class bicycle network around transit and Activity Centers to allow residents to take short trips by bike. While it's encouraging to see so many bicycle and pedestrian projects on the list, I'm concerned that the bike projects may not be the highest priority projects and that there are almost no on-road bike projects.

I have two recommendations:

1. The Draft Bicycle Master Plan was completed in July 2012. It identified improvements needed to increase the number of people who travel by bike. The Plan has not yet been adopted by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. It contains a number of major goals. We should fund bike projects that will allow us to accomplish two of those goals:

  • By 2020, triple the number of bicycle trips over current levels
  • By 2020 increase by five-fold the number of miles of on-street bicycle facilities, and minimize gaps in the bicycle network

Before finalizing the list of bicycle projects I suggest that we determine which projects will most readily accomplish these goals. A funding category could designated To Be Determined from Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan. The final decisions on projects could be made once the Plan is finalized and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, a recommendation of the Plan, has had a chance to weigh in on the priorities.

2. The Bicycle Route Map shows existing bike routes in the county. On the map are several blue dashed lines showing critical on-road routes where connections are needed. The most dangerous of those routes are colored orange, warning cyclists to use extreme caution. I suggest we determine which projects will help fill those gaps. Examples of relatively low cost projects that will fix these dangerous connections include: Extending the Lawyers Rd bike lanes to Twin Branches and Reston Parkway, improving the FFX Co Pkwy crossings at Spring St, Rt 50, and others, and connecting the multiuse trail on Baron Cameron Ave. The Baron Cameron trail is complete between Fairfax Co Pkwy and Route 7 except for about 300 meters along two properties.

This is an excellent opportunity to make major progress in making the county more bike-friendly and I think we should spend the time to ensure we are funding the right projects.

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