Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fairfax Co. Bike coordinator position on the chopping block (again)

Charlie Strunk, Fairfax Co Bike Coordinator
Recipient of the
2009 Transportation Achievement Award 
Yesterday the Fairfax County Executive included the Bicycle Coordinator position in a list of possible budget reductions. From his message to the Board: "In response to the Board of Supervisors request for a list of possible budget reductions, staff has prepared the attached list." (see below)

Funding for the bike program was eliminated in FY 2011. The details are below. FABB has advocated that those funds be reinstated. We've asked for partial funding, enough to say there is an active bike program, and yet other than the staff position, nothing has been allocated for the past four years.

One of the main priorities of the Board of Supervisors is an Efficient Transportation Network: "We will continue to plan for and invest in transportation improvements to include comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian initiatives." And yet the county with the third highest income in the U.S. may not be able to find the funds for a bike coordinator or an active bike program.

The Bicycle Master Plan, which recommends a funded bike program ($500,000) and 3 full-time staff positions, is about to come before the Board. The county executive is recommending that the position of the person who developed the plan, and who is critical to implementation, be eliminated. The county recently received over $200 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Eliminating the bike coordinator position does not make sense.

We're trying to determine the next steps in the budget process. We'll be contacting members of the Board of Supervisors to find out their positions on this recommendation, and we'll be asking you for your support. Stay tuned.

From the list (emphasis added):
Eliminate Bike Coordinator Position Potential adjustment/savings in FY 2015: Funding - $148,874, Positions - 1.

The County’s bicycle program was funded at $375,000 in FY 2009. It was reduced to $204,544 in FY 2010. In FY 2011, the remaining program funds were eliminated; however, the Department’s Bike Coordinator (Transportation Planner III) has remained. The position has coordinated the Bicycle Master Plan; coordinated the installation of capital projects, including new bike racks and lockers at Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express Stations, new bike facilities, such as the Bobann Bikeway, new bike rooms at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station and the Stringfellow Road Transit Center, the development of on-road bike lanes, new bike route signage in McLean, as well as the Providence, Mason and Sully Districts, and new bike facilities around the new Tysons and Reston area Metrorail Stations; and coordinated the annual Bike to Work Day events in Fairfax County. The position has also assisted with the annual Fairfax County Bike Summit. While the position is discretionary, if eliminated, the Department would not have a dedicated person to work on bicycle projects. This would force the closure of the bike room at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station and the bike room at the Stringfellow Road Transit Center will not open. It would also delay implementation of future bike capital projects (facilities). The County would not participate in Bike-to-Work Day or the Fairfax County Bike Summit.

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Holy smokes, they would close the bike room and not participate in Bike to Work Day? This is so incredibly short-sighted. Absolutely unacceptable for a County that calls itself a leader in the nation.
re-characterize the position as supporting economic development. Everywhere there is better Ped/Bike access, there is increased economic vitality; e.g. with neighbors in Alexandria and Arlington.

"No further reductions in revenue producing/economic development related positions or program. The key to the long term recovery of the county’s economy is growth in the commercial side of our real estate market"

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