Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Article criticizing Fairfax Co bike funding gets facts wrong - Update

I hesitate to give publicity to such a poorly written article on funding of pedestrian and bike projects in Fairfax County, but such a biased, one-sided article requires a response. Kenric Ward, a writer for Examiner.com and watchdog.org, recently wrote a misinformed and very negative article about Fairfax County's decision to fund most ped/bike projects using a transportation bond this Fall: Fairfax wants millions more to push bikes, pedestrians

According to Ward, "A proposed $100 million transit referendum earmarks $85 million for new bikeways and pedestrian paths. The outlays come on top of more than $200 million in bike-ped projects already approved."

For one, the referendum is for funding "transportation" projects, not "transit" projects. The $85 million is mostly for sidewalk projects that are part of a total of $200 million for sidewalks, trails and a very few on-road bike projects, NOT "on top of more than $200 million in bike-ped projects."

Most of the projects under consideration are sidewalk retrofits in neighborhoods that were built without them. There are very few bike projects being funded. The funding for one interchange on Fairfax County Parkway alone is costing $90 million (the first three road projects listed will cost nearly $350 million). The actual bike funding is a pittance compared to the $1.4 billion total of mostly road and transit projects.

The first quote sets the tone for the rest of the article:
This doesn’t make any more sense than a $1 million bus stop,” Supervisor Pet Herrity said
Springfield District Supervisor Herrity has made a habit of criticizing bike projects and calling for the elimination of the bicycle coordinator position. He's the only supervisor quoted in the article.

Ward makes an offhand reference to a bridge over the Toll Rd that is only 59 feet wide with 35 feet devoted to bikes and peds. Does he make this stuff up? That would be a bridge with two 12-foot travel lanes, two 10 foot trails, and bike lanes on each side of the road that are 7.5 feet wide:
 One of the more controversial pieces isn’t even in the $85 million package. A $92 million overpass spanning the Dulles Toll Road reserves more than 35 feet of the 59-foot-wide bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians.
As TheWashCycle points out, maybe he's referring to the Soapstone Connector in Reston that will have bike lanes and sidewalks. Even so, the bridge is 99.5' wide. There are four 12-foot travel lanes taking up 48 feet of right of way. Bike lanes and sidewalks make up 25 feet of right of way.

In other words, in the first four paragraphs there appear to be at least 3 blatant errors of fact.

Ward spoke to someone from Potomac Pedalers Touring Club and managed to extract two negative quoits about bike lanes and sharrows. I'm quoted in the article but no attempts were made to contact me.

Ward is the same reporter who wrote a very anti-bike article about Arlington's attempts to become more bike-friendly, Arlington peddles bikes at expense of cars, taxpayers.

See our earlier posts about the 2014 transportation bond.

Update: Fairfax Co recently posted a list of projects to be included in the 2014 Transportation  Bond.

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Thank you for alerting me to this article. Supervisor Herrity also comes down on the Lorton Road widening including a multi-use path, and he bashes that because it's in the "middle of nowhere". First of all, the landfill is on Furnace Road, not Lorton Road. Lorton Road is a MAJOR road between I-95 and Rt 123. Unfortunately, lots of car commuters use it to bypass I-95 when it is all backed up going South, so they exit at the Lorton Road exit and then take 123 south into Woodbridge.

Lorton Road also transects the two halves of Laurel Hill Park, some of the best mountain biking in Fairfax County. The CCT crosses Lorton Road. The area is FULL of bikers. My husband commutes by bike to the Lorton VRE and takes a very circuitous route, including some off-road paths, simply because Lorton Road is not at all safe for cyclists.

What would Supervisor Herrity prefer, that we build a giant four lane highway with a median and turn lanes and NOT include walkways or a multi-use path along side it? That's essentially what he's proposing, and it's insane. This is a huge road widening (from 2 lanes to 6 in some places), and the idea that it would be done without a multi-use trail is just crazy. This is not in the middle of nowhere; it's a populated residential area near South County Middle and High Schools, the Lorton Workhouse, etc. He's way off base.
Will Herrity come for a bike ride with some of us? I would love to show him the clusterf that is Rt 1 in many places (grants that's more VDOT) or how disjointed some of the local cycling routes are. Plus, I can tell him earnestly that I'm Republican who proudly rides my bike to work and loves it.
FABB would be glad to host such a ride with Supervisor Herrity and any other Supervisors who want to join us. Herrity has ridden on Bike to Work Day although the one time I heard he rode he got a flat tire, probably from all the debris on the trails he used. Not only are our trails not connected, they aren't maintained.

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