Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cyclist struck by motorist at W&OD Trail and Sunrise Valley Drive - Update

A woman cyclist was struck by a motorist at the intersection of the W&OD Trail and Sunrise Valley Drive today at around 5:45pm. We were contacted by the person who called 911. The cyclist was taken away in an ambulance.

We received the photo at the right from a FABB member who arrived a few minutes after the crash. The photo was taken from near the W&OD Trail looking toward the traffic signal at Cross School Road/Robert Fulton Drive. It appears that the cyclist was thrown forward a considerable distance after being struck by the black SUV in the photo.

This is a dangerous intersection. There are two lanes of traffic in each direction. What often happens on roads like this is that a motorist in the far right lane will stop for a cyclist, the cyclist proceeds into the intersection, and a second motorist does not stop and hits the cyclist. This has happened multiple times on Wiehle Ave at the W&OD Trail. In some states it is illegal to pass another motorist who is stopped at a crosswalk. Virginia needs such a law.

If you know more about the condition of the cyclist, please leave a comment.

Update August 6: Many people have asked for an update on the injured cyclist. Her name is Cat Freck. She is an amateur racer with an extensive list of race results listed on the USA Cycling website, including 19th place in the Air Force Association Cycling Classic in the Pro/Cat 1/2 class. Her family is maintaining a Caring Bridge site that includes updates on her condition.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Senator Tim Kaine visits Green Lizard Cycling today

Green Lizard owner Dave Meyer, Supervisor John Foust,
Senator Tim Kaine, and Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel
Just after the Friday Coffee Club convened at Green Lizard Cycling, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine stopped by the shop as part of a series of visits to local Virginia businesses. Senator Kaine is a cyclist who has participated in at least one BikeVirginia. Green Lizard owner Dave Meyer gave the Senator a tour of the shop. He later presented Senator Kaine with a t-shirt, water bottle, and a nice pair of Green Lizard sunglasses.

We pine for the days when Sen. Kaine was governor of Virginia. He actually thought more people should bike commute to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Governor's Commission on Climate Change report which appears to be no longer online) and to save fuel and reduce air pollution (Virginia Energy Plan which also appears to be no longer online).

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Construction on Mt Vernon Trail

According to Rootchopper, construction is underway on sections of the Mt Vernon Trail. Fortunately detours are provided and the trail is still passable:
The National Park Service is doing work on three bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail between Dyke Marsh and the stone bridge. Today, they closed off a short section of the trail in anticipation of replacement of a short bridge. Additional work is on-going on Northdown Road, which now has one layer of new pavement. West Boulevard Drive, which runs parallel to the MVT from the stone bridge at Alexandria Avenue and Collingwood Road, is being torn up and re-paved. Despite all the work, the trail is still passable.

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Supervisor Foust dedicates new McLean bike route signs

FABB recently joined Supervisor Foust and others to dedicate the new McLean bike routes signs. The signs are a great resource for McLean cyclists. I've discovered a couple of routes that are alternatives to major roads through McLean. Thanks to Supervisor Foust for his support of bicycling in McLean and to Marcia Twomey and the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce for helping to get 15 bike racks installed in the downtown area.

From the Connection article New Bicycle Signs Dedicated in Downtown McLean:
Photo by Alex McVeigh
The Connection
Fairfax County staff joined with bicycling advocates in downtown McLean Thursday, June 20, to celebrate the installation of several bicycle wayfinding signs. The signs give directions to bicyclists and pedestrians throughout downtown McLean to community landmarks such as the McLean Community Center, and W&OD Trail.

We’re hoping what they’ve done in McLean will set the standard for the rest of the county,” said Bruce Wright, chair of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.

More than 80 signs were installed around McLean, some of which indicate the bike route itself, while others point to specific locations, including the new Metrorail stations. Input from McLean area bicyclists was used in the creation of the routes, as well as from the county-wide Bicycle Master Plan.

“I live east of downtown, and like to bike west, toward McLean Central Park and Old Dominion Drive, and sometimes it can be hard to efficiently navigate all the side streets in downtown,” said Barry Williams, who first saw the signs Thursday afternoon. “These definitely make it easier for me, and I’d imagine they’d be very helpful for long range cyclists that are trying to get through as quickly as safely as possible, which I’m all for.”

Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) said this has been a priority since he took office. Shortly after his election in 2008, he appointed a Pedestrian Task Force that gave recommendations on making McLean more accessible on bike and on foot.

“I’m excited that McLean was the first area in the county to have the benefit of these signs,” he said. “Bicycle use is increasing and these signs will be useful to both community and recreational bicyclists in the area.”

The project was funded through the county’s Commercial and Industrial Tax revenues.

Further improvements for bicyclists in McLean will be coming soon. Marcia Twomey, president of the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, said that 15 bicycle racks will be installed downtown in the coming months.
See also the Post article Signs map out McLean bike routes.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Exploring Fairfax County by bike

The W&OD and Mt. Vernon trails are the two primary bike facilities in Fairfax. Both of those trails have become overcrowded. The W&OD Trail is one of the premier rail trails in the U.S. On busy summer weekends it seems that every cyclist in the county has decided to ride the trail. I think many of us are in a trail rut; we need to get off the trail and explore the county.

FFX Co Parkway Trail at Route 50
The county Bicycle Route Map contains hundreds of miles of bicycle-friendly roads where few cyclists ever ride. On Saturday we decided to take a long bike trip using the route map as our guide. We chose a route that included the Soapstone Drive and Lawyers Road bike lanes, the West Ox trail to Ox Trail/Rugby Road to the Fairfax County Parkway trail.

FFX Co Parkway Trail still unpaved between
Rt 50 and Fair Lakes Blvd
We wanted to check out the Parkway trail at Fair Lakes to see if it had been paved. Unfortunately the trail is still not paved. As we've reported several times in the past, the trail was closed for many months. After many requests to provide a detour VDOT finally opened the trail although it was still not paved. In April we were told it would be paved any day now. In general the Parkway trail is in bad shape. Fortunately there are plans to repave several of the worst stretches this year.

FFX Co Parkway Trail south of Lee Hwy
Bad news - The trail is in bad shape
Good news - The trail is not crowded
At Fair Lakes Parkway the trail diverts from the Fairfax Co Parkway but there are no wayfinding signs. We followed the Fair Lakes Parkway trail to West Ox Road toward Lee Hwy. At the entrance to Costco the trail crosses West Ox to the east side and continues across Lee Hwy to rejoin the Fairfax Co Parkway trail. At Braddock Road there is another detour that is partially signed.

We continued on the Fairfax Co Parkway trail all the way to Burke Centre Parkway where there is another FFX Co Parkway trail
Rt 123/Burke Centre Parkway
FFX Co Parkway detour signs
detour along Burke Centre Parkway and Route 123. We did see a couple of signs showing a detour route, but not enough for someone who isn't familiar with the area.

We had lunch in Burke where we saw two bike racks installed incorrectly, a common theme in the county. After lunch we returned to Route 123 where we headed north for a short stretch and then followed a route on the map along very quiet neighborhood streets, a good alternative to riding on the 123 trail that is in very poor condition as you approach Braddock Road and GMU.

We ended up on Sideburn Road where we headed north to Braddock Road and on to GMU. We rode the bike lanes along Patriot Circle to University Drive, through the City of Fairfax all the way to Route 50. We could have taken the wide sidewalk but we rode on 50 to Plantation Parkway. There's a connecting trail at the end of Plantation Parkway that leads to Five Oaks Road, which turns into Saintsbury Drive after crossing Blake Lane. We passed the Vienna Metro station and continued on Vaden Drive to the trail through Nottoway Park.
Incorrectly installed bike rack
at Burke Centre

From Nottoway Park there is a short cut-through trail to Tapawingo Rd. We followed neighborhood streets back to the W&OD Trail. Sometimes the W&OD Trail can't be avoided. Between Vienna and Reston the trail is about the only decent route. Usually later in the day the trail is less crowded.

During the 2 hours and 45 minutes we rode before reaching the W&OD Trail we saw a total of 15 bicyclists. It took less than 3 minutes to see that many bicyclists on the W
&OD Trail. There are many, many miles of roads and trails in Fairfax that are almost unused by bicyclists. It takes some effort to find them, but the bicycle route map is a great resource. We're told the new interactive route map is available as a smartphone app using ArcGIS. We'll write about that later.

Let's get out of our W&OD Trail rut and ride on some of the other bike-friendly routes in the county. Most county residents who are not familiar with the W&OD Trail have no idea how busy it is. They see almost no bicyclists. Why not get out and explore the county by bike?

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Do you think regional bike projects are "frivolous" or "cosmetic?"

A public hearing on regional transportation projects to be funded by new state transportation funds will be held tonight at City of Fairfax City Hall. The Northern Virginia Regional Transportation Authority is holding the public hearing. They will decide which projects will receive funds. See a list of proposed projects (appendix D) and more detailed info about each project.

There is definite opposition to using these funds for bicycle projects. At a VDOT hearing Delegate LeMunyon said bike facilities don't ease congestion and should not be funded with regional funds. It was reported that he and Del. Ramadan said that funding of bike facilities was "frivolous." 

At a Loudoun County public hearing on the NVTA projects, Leo Schefer, President of the Washington Airports Task Force, stated that funding for bike projects would not relieve congestion and are "cosmetic?" Any wonder that the 10,000 employees at Dulles Airport have no safe bicycle access? (Schefer's comments start at around 37:30 of the meeting video.)

Cyclists are encouraged to attend tonight's hearing and speak out in support of important regional bike facilities like the W&OD Trail, a continuation of the Custis Trail outside the Beltway, and bike access to transit centers and higher density commercial and retail centers. Well-designed, high quality bicycle projects do reduce congestion and should be funded.

From a news release about the hearing.
The Authority urges the public to get involved by learning about and commenting on the proposed first fiscal year FY2014 (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014) transportation project list during an Open House and Public Hearing on June 20, 2013 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers at City Hall in the City of Fairfax, 10455 Armstrong Street, Fairfax, VA. The Open House will be followed by a presentation and the Public Hearing. 

There will also be opportunities for public comment during local community meetings to be held in several Authority jurisdictions in June and July. More information about those local meetings will be available soon. The public may email their comments on the projects to: 

In addition to the June 20, 2013 Open House and Public Hearing a second Public Hearing will be held in July, 2013. Additional details will be provided in the coming weeks. 

“Our goal is to jumpstart those congestion relief projects in the region that give us the most bang for our buck. The Authority wants to hear what the public thinks about these projects,” said Martin Nohe, NVTA chairman. “However, this is only the first wave of projects. In the coming years The Authority will implement dozens of transit, rail and highway projects, all with the same basic goal: Getting Northern Virginia residents home from work faster. Through increased connectivity these projects will improve the ease of getting around the area and allow for greater opportunity for economic development.”


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Assaults on Reston paths

Over the past couple of weeks five people have been assaulted on Reston paths, including a cyclist who was severely beaten by a group of youths. From the report on NBC4, String of Assaults, Robberies on Reston Paths May Be Connected
Police say a series of four assaults and robberies along pathways in Reston, Va. during the past couple of weeks may be related.

A common thread between the incidents is that individuals walking or riding bikes along secluded paths were approached by several men, who assaulted them and demanded money.

"[They're] knocking people down, punching them, assaulting them, taking their belongings and then leaving. Sometimes running, sometimes walking away," Lucy Caldwell with Fairfax Police told News4's David Culver.
The incidents occurred near Moorings Drive and North Shore Drive, Southgate Community Center, Hunters Woods Park, and Hunters Woods Village Center. More info on Reston Patch and on the Fairfax police website.


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Automated underground bike parking

Check out this article about an innovative way to store bikes; Japan's Automated Underground Bike Storage. Because of increased demand for secure bike parking in congested urban areas, an underground solution was developed. There's a video showing how it works toward the bottom of the article:

1. IC tag fixed on front frame of bicycle is read automatically by the sensor in front of the Entrance Door, and then the Front Wheel Shutter opens automatically. Then, the front wheel should be placed into the open space.
2. After the front wheel is fixed by the Clamp, step away from the mat and then press “the Loading Button”.
3. The Entrance Door opens automatically and then the bicycle is conveyed into the Eco-cycle. The door closes automatically. It is the end of loading operation.
4. Transporting Tray brings the bicycle down with revolving action to a vacant pallet.
5. The Transporting Tray slides to place the bicycle at the vacant pallet. It is the end of loading bicycle.


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Aggressive riding on the W&OD trail

Is it just me or is there an increasing number of aggressive bike riders on the W&OD Trail lately? Cyclists who are either training or just want to go fast will pass too close without warning, and otherwise put other trail users in danger by their aggressive behavior. Is it because more people are using power meters or they are trying to beat times on Strava?

The trail is getting too crowded for this kind of behavior. We try to avoid the trail on busy summer weekends, but there aren't many safe routes between Reston and Vienna so we all to often end up using it. We've lost our cool too many times, yelling at rude, aggressive riders who are usually oblivious to their own behavior.

An example was on Sunday morning when I was bike commuting to work from Reston to Vienna. I approached a couple walking side by side coming toward me near the soccer fields. A cyclists was coming behind them, moving very fast as I approached. At the last minute the cyclist realized he couldn't safely make the pass, and instead of braking, he passed me on my right. As I came to a stop I yelled at him as did the cyclist behind me. He just kept going. When I got to work my coworkers and I traded stories of encounters with other aggressive riders.

On Saturday in the Vienna area, where the trail is narrower than other places, the trail was very crowded. As we were returning to Reston from running an errand in Vienna we were slowed behind a line of slower riders and walkers. Several riders behind us tried to pass as we signaled and pulled out to pass. The cyclist ended up off the trail on the gravel and barely managed to continue on. Another cyclist tried to pass on the right as we were passing the slower riders.

Is this kind of behavior getting worse? According to Bob Mionske, that seems to be the case in Portland where their bike facilities are also getting very crowded.
"I have so many friends who are suddenly regaling me with stories of fights on bikes," Mionske said. "Someone is riding along, someone else flies by them in an unfriendly way, words are exchanged and just like that, people are threatening each other with fisticuffs."

Mionske has certainly ridden his bike long enough to recognize some new trend in the way that cyclists related to one another. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic team, competing in the road race in both the 1988 and 1992 Games. In 1990, he was the United States national road-racing champion.

One place of particular concern seems to be the Hawthorne Bridge, a favorite among cyclists. Davis said typically it seems to be a case of one cyclist wanting to go fast, another wanting to go slower and and the two get into some sort of argument or finger-flipping contest.
We all need to show common courtesy to other trail users. We all have a right to be on the trail but we also have a responsibility to obey the trail rules and treat others with respect. Fast riders don't belong on the trail when it's crowded. If you want to go fast, use the road. If you're walking or running consider using the other W&OD Trail, the gravel sidepath that isn't over-crowded.

FABB continues to advocate for better on-road bike conditions in part to give cyclists an alternative to our overburdened trail system. We only have a very limited number of good bike facilities in the county, and those are being overused. Why not explore the county using the Fairfax County Bike Route Map or google map bike directions. And please, let's just all try to get along.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Public hearing on bikesharing application

The Board of Supervisors is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, June 18 on two "Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) applications to be submitted to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) for FY 2014 funding." The following is a description of the two projects, from the Board Package (p. 263):
For the FY 2014 Transportation Alternatives Program, staff recommends that the Board endorse the following two projects: 
  • Cross-County Trail, Lorton $400,000 (TAP) $100,000 (80%)
  • Reston Bike Share, Support Infrastructure $400,000 (TAP) $100,000 (80%)
LIST OF PROJECTS WITH MATCHING FUNDS IDENTIFIED (Descriptions Based on Information Provided by Applicant)

1. Cross County Trail, Lorton (CCT)

Fairfax County Department of Transportation is proposing the design and construction of a new multi-use trail to provide non-motorized access between the Occoquan Regional Park and the Laurel Hill Greenway, both of which are portions of the Cross County Trail. The trail connects users with the historic Workhouse Arts Center, a program of the Lorton Arts Foundation (LAF), which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and enhances an already significant historic destination.

The CCT, Lorton will connect with the regional network of existing and planned trails, including: High Point Trail, Fairfax Cross-County Trail, the Laurel Hill Greenway, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Specifically, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail system consists of a braided network of trails identified as a trunk line in the greenways task force study, and a key historic and scenic element running from the mouth of the Potomac to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST) is one of the 24 Congressionally-designated trails in the National Trails System and one of seven scenic trails in the U.S. The PHNST sites identified for this project will offer communities significant enhancements to existing recreational amenities, leverage heritage tourism and economic benefits, expand non-motorized transportation networks, create educational and interpretive experiences, connect neighborhoods, historic sites and parkland, and rebuild community connections.

The improvements to this section of trail will provide residents of higher density neighborhoods and the newer developments that surround the Workhouse Arts Center buildings with safe multi-use trail access to many recreational facilities and places of historic interest in the area including: Occoquan Regional Park, The Town of Occoquan, and to the other sections of the Cross County Trail. The LAF portion of the trail is three miles west of South County Secondary School and will offer expanded recreational opportunities for their athletic programs. Residents and visitors will have a safe pedestrian and bicycle route to businesses, bus stops, and other commuter transportation facilities in Lorton.

To make the Lorton portion of the CCT truly a multi-use trail, it will be 18 feet wide. There will be a natural surface for horses, four feet wide; a paved bike/pedestrian portion, ten feet wide; plus an additional four feet on the sides.

2. Reston Bike Share – Support Infrastructure

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is exploring the feasibility of bringing the Capital Bikeshare program into Reston. This is in anticipation of the Metrorail opening in Reston as an expanded transportation option for users of the Metrorail who will commute to Reston. A bike share is a program of “public use” bicycles that users who have registered with the program can rent for short periods of time. The bikes can be used to go from bike dock to bike dock located at activity centers and employment centers throughout the Reston area. Capital Bikeshare, in operation in Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and the District of Columbia, offers system users with several membership options ranging from an annual membership to daily passes. Subscribers are given an electronic key that is used for renting a bicycle. The first 30 minutes of usage are free with each additional 30 minutes escalating in cost.

The Reston Bike Share expansion would be the first in Fairfax County. Bike share programs work best in dense urban areas with good bicycle infrastructure. At this time, Reston is the best candidate in Fairfax County for a bike share program.

The final locations of the stations will be determined in the preliminary engineering/study portion of the project. After the final locations are determined FCDOT will construct the needed infrastructure to make the final connections to the stations.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Evolution of Transportation summary

Last night several FABB members attended the Evolution of Transportation event sponsored by Fairfax County and others. It was held in the Mosaic District at the Angelika Theater. Some of us rode there and it was good to see the bike racks in the parking garage nearly full.

The event included several talks, a "panel" discussion (more talks), and was supposed to include a question and answer session. The talks lasted beyond the scheduled meeting time so it was disappointing that none of the questions were asked. One of the main reasons for us to attend was to hear a dialogue about the future of transportation in Fairfax.

The event started with the premiere of the short film History of Transportation in Fairfax County.  It was interesting to hear about the history of roads like West Ox Road, Rolling Road, and others. Unfortunately there was no mention of the role that bicyclists played in the development of paved roads in the U.S. The Good Roads Movement was begun by bicyclists in the late 1800's. There was also no mention of walking or biking.

Chairman Bulova introduced Congressman Connolly who discussed the importance of Dulles Rail, noting that it took over 40 years to become a partial reality. He listed the many major transportation projects that have been completed in the recent past including the massive Springfield Interchange Project, the Dulles Rail Project, interchanges on Route 28, the Beltway HOT lanes, and others. Just think what kind of a bicycle network we could have by using just a small portion of the cost of these projects.  He also talked about growing up in Boston where he walked and biked everywhere.

Congressman Connolly introduced Peter Rogoff, head of the Federal Transit Administration. Peter's main point was that we haven't properly maintained our current transportation assets and they are crumbling. It's much easier for people to get excited about new projects. He noted that young people are driving less and relying more on transit and other modes.

Tom Biesiadny of Fairfax County DOT discussed the many county transportation projects underway including bicycle and pedestrian projects around the future Tysons and Reston Silver Line Metro stations.

The panel discussion was led by Adam Tuss, transportation reporter for NBC4. It's safe to say that all of the panelists noted that we won't be able to build enough roads to continue relying on the car for all our transportation needs. We'll need more choices including being able to walk and bike to nearby destinations.

David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington said that what we need to do is reclaim the freedom of movement and access we had in earlier times when kids were allowed to ride and walk longer distances and our roads were smaller with slower speeds. It was relatively safe to get around using various modes of travel.

In Fairfax we have many areas like the Route 123/Route 7 interchange, the Route 50/Beltway interchange and others that contain large empty zones that could be used much more productively. Some of those interchanges could be transformed into more urban forms. One challenge is that VDOT needs to be more willing to make changes that they think would slow traffic but would make for more livable places.

Boomers and Millenials want walkable/bikeable places. The sharing economy is growing, freeing some people from the need to own a car or bike if they have access to carshare and bikeshare. David walked from the Dunn Loring station to the theater but it wasn't a pleasant walk, and the big streets around Mosaic are not pedestrian- or bike-friendly. Had bikeshare been available he would have used it.

As was noted by Dan Reed on Greater Greater Washington today, Fairfax is not alone when it comes to the need to tame or big roads.

Josh Sawislak of Mobile Work Exchange noted that one way to reduce congestion is telework. It's a new concept for many people, but it works better than most think. We have a great deal of transportation capacity that is overburdened for only relatively short periods each day. By removing a small percentage of those people, through flexible work schedules or occasional telecommuting (or biking) we could greatly reduce congestion without the need for more capacity.

Frank Weith of Volkswagen Group of America started off his discussion by noting that he lived in Munich, Germany for several years. The city could be used as a benchmark for personal mobility. Travel between various modes is relatively seamless and is a good model for the U.S. The Tysons Mobility Hubs are based on a similar concept, specifically a system used in Bremen, Germany.

Frank also described the future of car travel that included a couple of Volkswagen commercials and a discussion of the advanced features being added to cars (that many people think will lead to increased driver distraction). It is possible that the connected car could reduce crashes in the future but it requires a great deal of infrastructure before becoming a viable option.

After the many talks there was no time for the questions submitted by the audience. We wanted to know what can be done to keep from creating islands of mixed-use development near transit that are surrounded by big roads, like the Mosaic District.

A single, synthesized question was asked of the panelists: How can we remake our transportation system so that there is space for everyone, not just cars. David pointed to the need for a grid of streets rather than having just a few big roads where all traffic is funneled. It's counter-intuitive to many people that having more roads can make places more ped and bike friendly. A connected grid of streets can lead to smaller blocks, lower speeds, and more options. Not many roads in DC have nine lanes like Gallows Road.

Frank noted that it's difficult to walk and bike in his neighborhood and that we need to connect the gaps in our bike and ped networks.

Thanks to Chairman Bulova for holding the event. She apologized for the lack of time for questions; maybe we need a second Evolution of Transportation meeting to respond to the first one...

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Chairman Bulova answers transportation questions

Chairman Bulova recently participated in an online chat to talk about transportation in Fairfax County. The chat preceded the Evolution of Transportation event that was held last night. More on that event in a future blog post.

Several people asked about bicycle access and trails and sidewalks. Here are Chairman Bulova's responses to two of the questions:
Scotty: When will we see dedicated bike infrastructure (lanes, markings, etc.) on Fairfax roads and when will sidewalks be expanded? I can't walk or run in Springfield and Burke without hitting dead ends that leave me on the shoulder of the road with overgrown vegetation.

Sharon Bulova: We are currently in the process of developing a bicycle master plan for Fairfax County. We completed Phase 1 of the Master Plan in 2011, and that area includes an approximate three mile radius surrounding Tysons Corner. Phase 2 will include the rest of the County. You can view details of the Master Plan here:

The County also works with VDOT on their annual paving plan and we are partnering with VDOT to paint markings to designate bike lanes. The Board has earmarked over 110 million dollars toward 300 high-priority bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects.

You can also use the interactive bicycle map found here:

For all our bike info, visit here:

Anonymous User: Any plans to do Capital Bikeshare? Montgomery County is getting into it and Arlington is already a partner. Thanks.

Sharon Bulova: Yes, we are interested in this program. Fairfax County applied for a grant which would have funded this in Reston. Unfortunately, we did not receive the grant. We will continue to pursue this.
Regarding the first answer, unfortunately the details about the countywide plan are not on the county website, at least not yet. Toole Design Group, the plan contractor, was hosting all of the countywide plan info. When their contract ended in July 2012, they turned over the info to Fairfax County and the data are still not posted on the county website. Also, we're trying to find out more about the $110,000,000 earmarked for bike and ped projects. This is a draft list of "Potential Improvement Projects" that was developed by the county and Toole Design Group during the countywide planning process but we haven't seen the final list nor have we heard that there is dedicated funding.

Regarding the second question, the county has applied for another grant to conduct a bikesharing feasibility study for the Reston area.
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Bike facilities on Route 50: Beltway to Arlington

On Tuesday three of us took a brief tour of bike facilities along the south side of Route 50 from Providence District Park just inside the Beltway to Fort Meyer where Route 50 makes a sharp turn north in Arlington. The Route 50 corridor is a major commuter route. The road is located in the center of the county and leads from the suburbs into the city. What would it take to create a first class bike facility along Route 50 along the lines of the recently created "cycle superhighways" in Copenhagen?

The Beltway/Route 50 interchange is a major barrier for bicycle travel in Fairfax. At the interchange Route 50 contains 4 lanes in each direction with high speed exit and entrance ramps to the Beltway.
The speed limit is 45 mph which most motorists exceed; it's very similar to an interstate highway interchange. Few cyclists dare ride through the interchange. Just east of this intersection is the massively over-built Fairview Park interchange that also contains high speed exit/entrance ramps.

Route 50 at I-495/Beltway
With relatively high density development on each side of the Beltway, there's a pressing need for pedestrian and bicycle accommodations connecting the two areas. The Lee Highway and Gallows Road Beltway crossings to the north and south now have bike facilities, but they are both located nearly 3/4 of a mile away.

We left the rec center and entered Route 50 at Jaguar Dr adjacent to Falls Church High School. We followed a narrow sidewalk along 50 to reach the first segment of service road to the east. Service roads are the best option for traveling by bike along Route 50 in this area.

Closed service road at
Annandale Road
Bike conditions on the service roads are good, with low volume, low speed traffic. The biggest danger is motorists entering the service drive from Route 50.

We continued on the service road to the Graham Road intersection, which in the past has been one of the most dangerous locations for pedestrians in the county.

Just east of Graham Road the service road turns into Woodley Lane that we followed back to the service road. Just before the Annandale Road intersection the service road is closed with no accommodations for bicyclists or pedestrians. A lane is being added, the median was shifted, and it looks like the service is going away which is
bad news for bicyclists. The same thing happened in Tysons on Route 7 and bike conditions there are worse now than before the recent road construction.

The other side of the intersection was also under construction. You can see from the second photo that orange cones and barrels are blocking the curb ramp and there are no accommodations for pedestrians or bicyclists.

We continued east toward Seven Corners on the service road. The service road turns into a ramp leading uphill toward Route 7, then back down toward Route 50. Just before Route 7 we jogged over to Castle Road, crossed Route 7 and rode through the new transit center near the pedestrian bridge over Route 50. On Castle Road we discovered one of the rare Fairfax County Bike Route signs.

Castle Rd/Rt 7 at Seven Corners
Note bike route sign on the right
The service road continues beyond Seven Corners although it becomes one-way in a couple of places where a contra-flow bike lane is needed. The service road disappears where Route 50 crosses the W&OD and Four Mile Run trails. It then continues beyond the Four Mile Run bridge until just before Glebe Road.

At Glebe Road we encountered one of the worst sections of the route, a narrow stretch of unmaintained sidewalk immediately adjacent to the Glebe Rd exit ramp. Another cyclist was riding in the opposite direction so we bailed out to let him pass. This section needs to be fixed soon. The sidewalk should be expanded into a paved trail, with better separation from adjacent traffic.

We followed the paved trail just east of Glebe Rd and continued to our turnaround point at S. Washington Blvd and Arlington National Cemetery.

Sidewalk just west of
Glebe Road
The long term vision is to have a first class bicycle facility along Route 50 from Arlington Cemetery to Loudoun County. VDOT conducted a study of bike facilities in Northern Virginia in 2003, the Northern Virginia Regional Bikeway and Trail Network Study. Included were recommendations for  improving bike access along two sections of Route 50/Arlington Blvd; from Fairfax City to Arlington County, and a short stretch from Park Drive to Glebe Road in Arlington.

According to the NoVa Bikeway study, "Arlington Boulevard is recommended as a key regional commuter route. As such, bicycle facilities along Arlington Boulevard should provide a high quality, direct, and safe connection for bicycle users – in effect, serving as a principal arterial for bicycle travel. As such, improvements along this corridor should provide a coherent and clear path of travel for bicyclists, using a combination of trails, pathways, and service roads."

The NoVa Bikeway study does not go into detail regarding needed improvements. Instead it suggests that a new study be undertaken to determine specific recommendations. We hope to work with our colleagues in Arlington County to begin to address the need for better bike facilities along Route 50 by advocating that VDOT conduct a detailed study of the corridor to determine the best solution for bike access. Is it possible to create a cycling superhighway parallel to  Route 50? How much would it cost? We'd like to know.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Bikeshare coming to Montgomery County

The WashCycle has posted several articles recently about Capital Bikeshare coming to Montgomery County, including the fact that there is now a Montgomery County Bikeshare page. We're jealous (of WashCycle's ability to write so many good articles about biking in the area, but primarily about MoCo getting bikeshare before Fairfax). At least we are applying for funding for a study...

From the MoCo bikeshare page:
MCDOT’s Bikeshare program will soon expand the Washington Region’s existing Capital Bikeshare program to many locations in Montgomery County.

By late Summer 2013 Montgomery County will be extending Capital Bikeshare to:
  • Bethesda
  • Friendship Heights
  • Life Sciences Center
  • Rockville
  • Shady Grove
  • Silver Spring
  • Takoma Park
Grants from the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Federal Transit Administration, together with County funding and contributions from developers and the City of Rockville are providing the seeds for Bikeshare in Montgomery County.

The County’s BikesShare Program will consist of two systems:

Downcounty Bikeshare System
  • 30 bikeshare stations
  • 250 bikes
  • Service area: along the East and West legs of the Metrorail Red Line from the District Line to Silver Spring/Takoma Park on the East and Friendship Heights, Bethesda and Medical Center Metro on the West
Rockville/Shady Grove/Life Sciences Center Bikeshare System
  • 21 bikeshare stations
  • 250 bikes
  • Service area:
  • Special focus: part of a pilot program to extend BikeShare to lower income workers commuting to work or education and training.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tysons Open House and Evolution of Transportation events this week

Learn about planned developments in Tysons at the Tysons Open House on Tuesday evening, June 11, from 7-9pm at Westbriar Elementary School, 1741 Pine Valley Drive, Tysons. Find out about planned and funded bicycle projects. Ask developers how they plan to accommodate bicyclists as part of their development plans. "County staff and developers who have submitted redevelopment applications will be on hand to answer questions. To encourage one-on-one discussion, the open house will feature table displays where attendees can learn more about specific topics."

On the following night learn about the Evolution of Transportation in Fairfax County. Some FABB members plan to ride to the meeting that will be held from 7:30-9:30pm on Wednesday, June 12, at Angelika Film Center & Cafe in Merrifield, 2911 District Ave. @ Lee Hwy & Gallows Rd, Fairfax, VA 22031. "Speakers include: Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Congressman Gerry Connolly, and a panel discussion moderated by Adam Tuss from NBC4 and panelists David Alpert from Greater Greater Washington, Josh Sawislak from the Mobile Work Exchange, and Frank Weith of Volkswagen of America. A video production titled The History of Transportation in Fairfax County, produced by Channel 16, will also be screened."

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pop-up outreach on the W&OD Trail

Nelle of WABA (top) and
Kelley of FABB in Vienna
If you were riding on the W&OD Trail in Vienna yesterday you might have been one of the lucky riders to get a free fruit and nut bar, bike map, or other bike literature from WABA's Outreach coordinator Nelle Pierson and Kelley of FABB.

They were next to the W&OD Trail in Vienna talking to cyclists about several upcoming events including the open house on the latest developments in Tysons on June 11, the McLean wayfinding signage press conference on June 20, and the next Fairfax Bike Summit planned for November 2 (more details soon).

Thanks to Nelle for making the trek out from DC to reach out to Fairfax cyclists and to Kelley for providing the local info.

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Friday Coffee Club in Fairfax

Each Friday morning a huge mob of bike commuters informally gathers for a cup of coffee before work at M.E. Swings Coffee near the White House in DC. The gatherhing is known as the Friday Coffee Club.  Recently Friday Coffee Club II got underway in Arlington.

This Friday, Fairfax County gets in on the action.  Friday Coffee Club III will kick off at Green Lizard Cycling in Herndon (718 Lynn Street, Herndon, Virginia, 20170). The shop is located just off the W&OD.  The start time is posted as 7:15, but these things tend to be quite flexible as people work it into their work schedules.  Hopefully it will be an ongoing thing.

Fairfax bike commuters are welcome to attend and enjoy a cup of coffee (or smoothie or other drinks and pastries) with fellow cyclists.

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Evolution of Transportation meeting June 12

Fairfax County is hosting a discussion entitled the Evolution of Transportation. The county is undergoing some major changes, from being a mostly suburban county in which most growth was low-density suburban housing to a more urban place where new development is mixed-use around transit centers.

As a result, we need to figure out better ways to move people. Big roads don't work where pedestrian and bicycle movement is encouraged. Mixed use developments allow people to walk and bike to many more places.

Bicyclists played a major role in the evolution of transportation nationwide. In the late 1800's/early 1900's bicyclists led the Good Roads Movement to advocate for a network of paved roads:
The Good Roads Movement was officially founded in May 1880, when bicycle enthusiasts, riding clubs and manufacturers met in Newport, Rhode Island to form the League of American Wheelmen to support the burgeoning use of bicycles and to protect their interests from legislative discrimination. The League quickly went national and in 1892 began publishing Good Roads Magazine. In three years circulation reached a million. Early movement advocates enlisted the help of journalists, farmers, politicians and engineers in the project of improving the nation's roadways, but the movement took off when it was adopted by bicyclists.
Some FABB members will be riding to the event, which will be held at Angelika Theater in the Mosaic District. See our earlier blog entry about that area. Thanks to Chairman Bulova's office for including Biking Directions on the RSVP page.

From the Evolution of Transportation RSVP page:
Join Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova for an exciting opportunity to learn more about the County we live and work in!

From buffalo trails to roads and rails, this event will be a fun and interesting look at how Fairfax County’s transportation network evolved over time and what the future holds for transportation in the region.

Speakers include: Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Congressman Gerry Connolly, and a panel discussion moderated by Adam Tuss from NBC4 and panelists David Alpert from Greater Greater Washington, Josh Sawislak from the Mobile Work Exchange, and Frank Weith of Volkswagen of America. A video production titled The History of Transportation in Fairfax County, produced by Channel 16, will also be screened.

Free Admission. Free Parking. Open to all.

Food, beer, and wine are available for purchase in the lobby. Enjoy them during the event!

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bike to Work Day presentation at Board of Supervisors meeting

FABB was out in force today at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors presentation on Bike to Work Day. Six of us rode to the Government Center on a beautiful spring day. County Bike Coordinator Charlie Strunk noted that over 15,000 people signed up for the event, exceeding the goal for this year.

At the Fairfax Corner pit stop Charlie noted that he received positive feedback about bike lockers at the courthouse (apparently all the guards were inside the courthouse and not watching the bikes, which were frequently stolen). One of the county employees there was able to bike to work more often now and as a result was able to get rid of his second car.

 Supervisor Foust thanked Charlie for the bike wayfinding signs in McLean. Supervisors McKay and Hudgins and Chairman Bulova all talked about the importance of biking as an integral part of our transportation system. They also mentioned the work of bike advocates and FABB in particular.

Here is a link to the presentation photos. Look for the orange shirts:

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Drunk driver who struck cyclist on W&OD Trail released on bond

According to the Post, Mehak Chopra, the drunk driver who severely injured a cyclist while driving on the W&OD Trail, was released on $10,000 bond today:
Mehak Chopra, 28, made a brief appearance in Fairfax County court, during which a prosecutor compared her use of a car to a gun.

Chopra allegedly struck the 65-year-old cyclist from Vienna on Saturday night while traveling at a high rate of speed on the trail near Vienna. Police have said the cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Chopra was charged with felony hit-and-run, driving under the influence and refusing a blood alcohol test. Her lawyer and family declined to comment Tuesday.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for August 13.
According to Vienna Patch, Chopra will will "appear in court July 22 to face charges of driving while intoxicated and refusing a blood and breath test."

According to Fairfax District Court records, in October 2010 Ms. Chopra was cited for doing 72 mph in a 55 mph zone. She paid a fine and court costs of $164. In October 2012 she was cited for Failure to obey highway sign. She paid $92 in fines and court costs. To view information about these cases visit the General District Court online information page, accept the terms and conditions, select Court: Fairfax County General Court, and under Traffic/Criminal select Name Search.

We have still not determined the name of the injured cyclist or any information about his condition.

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Mayor agrees that bike access should be part of Vienna's Maple Ave vision

W&OD Trail at Maple Ave
A consultant hired to develop a new vision for how Maple Ave/Route 123 in Vienna should grow in the future, recently presented early results of their work. The busy street, with narrow brick sidewalks, currently sees few pedestrians or bicyclists. Many shops have turned their backs to the street and have entrances in the rear or off the street.

The vision includes taller buildings, parking garages with street-level retail, and better pedestrian and bicycle access. Bike lanes are not in the current "big picture" vision: "Consultants also left bike lanes on Maple Avenue out of its recommendation, instead using side streets to feed cyclists onto the corridor, where bike parking would be made available."

While the Maple Ave corridor is relatively narrow, bike lanes would help calm traffic and provide a more human feel to the street. We think they should be part of the plan. If the center turn lane were reduced or eliminated there might be an option for adding bike lanes. Thousands of cyclists travel through the town on the W&OD Trail and few linger, especially along Maple Ave, because it is not a bike-friendly place. The Town could do much more to attract cyclists to enjoy the many shops and restaurants located near the Trail, including installing better wayfinding signage.

We're encouraged that the Mayor sees the importance of bike access:
Mayor Jane Seeman said she was pleased with the progress in the Vision plan but acknowledged the challenges going forward, including parking and bike friendliness.

“I think providing bicycle access to these places is going to be a critical part of it,” she said. “It’s going to develop slowly … I have a lot of confidence in the people we’ve hired to do this.”

Lardner/Klein will now go back and develop draft amendments over the summer, which will be followed by public forums.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Tour de Towns - Tour of Prince William on August 4

The Prince William Trails & Streams Coalition is sponsoring the first tour of Prince William County, the Tour de Towns—Tour of Prince William. The event will be held on Sunday, August 4. From the tour website:
Tour de Towns flier
Join us for the the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition's inaugural Tour of the Towns -- Tour of Prince William Century Ride! Enjoy a choice of round-trip routes (27 mile, 35 mile, and 100 mile) that will introduce you to the wide variety that is Prince William County. Wind through urban, suburban, exurban, rural, forested, town, flat, and hilly areas. Century riders will visit Prince William's four incorporated towns and two independent cities, as well as the Quantico Marine Base and Prince William Forest Park.

Event Details: The ride will be held on Sunday, August 4, 2013, near the town of Occoquan, Virginia, approximately 20 miles south of Washington, DC, immediately off of I-95 exit 160. There are three routes of 27, 35, and 100 miles on public roads and multi-use trails. This event is open to the public and all cycling enthusiasts are invited to attend. Net proceeds benefit the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving trails and blueways access points.
Shouldn't there be a Tour of Fairfax? While there are many charity rides, club rides, and a few races like the Tour de Tysons, we think there should be a tour of our fair county. FABB has discussed the idea but our resources are limited. The Tour de Lee was formerly sponsored by the Lee District but it was discontinued a few years ago due to lack of volunteer help. The Reston Century is a very popular recreational ride but the course is mostly in Loudoun County.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Drunk motorist strikes cyclist on W&OD Trail

A drunk motorist who was driving at a high rate of speed on the W&OD Trail struck a bicyclist who was riding on the trail between Reston and Vienna last night at around 8:30 pm. From the Vienna Patch:
The bicyclist struck by an alleged drunk driver Saturday on the W&OD Trail in Vienna is recovering at a local hospital Sunday from several serious injuries.
The victim, a 65-year-old man from the Vienna area, was riding on the trail toward Vienna around 8:30 p.m. Saturday when a 2005 Toyota — allegedly driven by Mehak Chopra, 28, of McLean — struck him from behind.
The man was thrown from his bicycle and landed on the shoulder of the trail, Fairfax County Police Department spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said. He has several serious injuries, but non are life-threatening.
The car had allegedly been traveling on the trail for a few miles before it hit the cyclist. Police now believe the car entered the trail somewhere near the Vienna/Reston area, Caldwell said. It traveled some five miles at a high rate of speed, hitting the cyclist and continuing onto Maple Avenue, where it turned left and attempted to continue driving toward Tysons.
Vienna police — who had received several calls from witnesses reporting they had jumped out of the car's path  — stopped the vehicle on Maple Avenue. The car was damaged, Caldwell said.
Chopra was arrested by Vienna police for driving while intoxicated and taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. There, Fairfax County police charged her with felony hit and run.
Several witnesses wrote to Patch about their experience, which left them rattled, worried about the cyclist and thankful they didn't become victims as well.
Veronica Spina was walking her dog near Church Street when she saw the car "coming very fast."
"At first I thought it was a police car. Then when I saw how fast it was coming and swurving [sic] down the path, I had to jump into the bushes (full of poison ivy) with my little cockapoo to avoid getting hit. It missed me by less than a foot. I feel very lucky to be alive today," she wrote.
Witnesses recalled seeing the car anywhere from Creek Crossing to Mill Street, some of them by themselves but others with several children in tow.
Jeffrey Mosher was on the trail with his two kids and their friend a bit west of Creeks Crossing and walking east toward Vienna.
"The car came up behind us ... doing about 40mph and we jumped into the bushes. The car slipped off the trail onto the gravel and almost went out of control. My daughter was still scared over a half hour later. A very scary sight indeed!" he wrote.
Veronique Klimonda said she and her boyfriend were at the Town Green when the car came down the bike trail and turned left onto Maple Avenue.
"We heard a loud noise and then saw a car barreling down the trail at a high speed. The driver, a young woman, hit an object at the intersection before suddenly turning left and almost causing a crash on Maple. We think she blew a tire just before turning."


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Busy day on W&OD Trail in Vienna/Reston/Herndon area

If you're planning to ride the W&OD Trail today (Sunday June 2) in the Vienna/Reston/Herndon area plan to ride a little slower and more carefully. The trail will be more crowded than normal since MORE's NoVa Epic and Tour de Cure are both being held in that area. There will be more inexperienced riders out there so a better option might be to explore other on- and off-road bike routes in the county using the new Fairfax County Interactive Bike Map. When riding through Herndon be aware that the Herndon Festival is also being held today. If you are in Herndon say hi to the FABB folks helping with bike valet.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

FABB helps out at Herndon Festival bike valet

Matt and family at
Herndon Festival bike valet
FABB was doing double duty today. While one FABB contingent helped out at Tour de Fat, another group helped with the Herndon Festival bike valet.

Here's the report from the Herndon crew:

"We were busy all day and had a number of people say they had ridden out from DC and would ride back to enjoy Tour de Fat in the evening. One guy said, 'ride to Tour de Fat? Hah -- that's only 5 minutes from my place. Riding to Herndon, now THAT's a bike ride!'"

What a great service for bikers visiting the Town of Herndon. The valet is sponsored by the Herndon Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee on which a couple of FABB members serve. Thanks to the FABB volunteers and to the committee for providing the service.

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Another Fabulous Tour de Fat

FABB Tour de Fat convoy
ready to begin our ride
We had a great time at DC's second annual Tour de Fat today. FABB volunteers were again working the ID/Wristband station and we were busy the entire day. The morning shift gathered at Vienna Town Green at 8am for a convoy/parade down to Yards Park and it was a beautiful ride.

Some of us were dressed very much in the spirit of Tour de Fat. Check out Ann's bike and outfit as she was riding on a stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail.

On the Mt Vernon Trail headed
to Tour de Fat
Our rough estimate is that there were twice as many people at the event this year over last year. $27,000 was raised to benefit WABA, FABB, MORE, Black Women Bike DC, and Phoenix bikes.

A huge thanks to the FABB volunteers who worked all day checking IDs. While New Belgium Brewery has a crew and provides most of the infrastructure for the Tour, it couldn't happen without all of the enthusiastic volunteers who check IDs, sell tokens, pour beer, sell merchandise and do so many of the other jobs needed for a successful event.

FABB volunteers working
the Wristband station
Thanks to New Belgium for putting on such a great event. It's a fun time, a celebration of bike culture in the greater DC area, and a source of much-needed funds for the above local non-profits. If you didn't attend this year's event, don't miss it next year.


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