Friday, August 1, 2014

Walking and biking in Tysons

The opening of the Silver Line has highlighted challenges for pedestrians and bicyclists in Tysons and to a lesser extent, in Reston. Yesterday we worked with Coalition for Smarter Growth on a news release on the situation: Opening of Silver Line Prompts Public Attention to Safety Issues for Pedestrians and Bicyclists.
With the opening of the first phase of the Silver Line, news stories and social media are drawing attention to the unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists on many of the roadways surrounding the stations. While the number of people parking at the new Silver Line stations is much lower than expected, the number of bicyclists has been surprisingly high, with bike racks at the Wiehle-Reston East station filling up quickly, and cyclists voicing the need for more bike lanes to safely reach the stations.

Writing Wednesday on Greater Greater Washington, Ken Archer (Chief Technology Officer for a company in Tysons), described the difficult situation pedestrians face in trying to cross as many as nine lanes of traffic at the intersection of Tysons Boulevard and Galleria Drive, where two sides of the intersection are missing marked crosswalks.
“Route 7 and Route 123 remain a particularly serious problem in the Tysons plan.  Despite repeated requests for these roads to be converted to true urban boulevards that allow for safe crossing along with protected bicycle lanes and good sidewalks, these roads remain virtual highways through the heart of Tysons.” said Stewart Schwartz.  “A final section of Route 123 is even planned for widening to 8 lanes, as is unfortunately the case with the other segments of Routes 7 and 123 through Tysons.”
Routes in Red are Phase I,
to be completed by 2013
Wright offered a number of other recommendations, including adoption of the Tysons Bike Plan, expediting specific projects like the Vesper Trail and Old Courthouse Road bike facilities, a near term and interim measure to paint “sharrows” on Tysons roads to alert drivers to the presence of bicyclists, wayfinding signs for bike routes, more bike lockers and racks, and strengthened coordination between the County, VDOT, the Tysons Partnership (which can serve as a future Transportation Management Association for Tyson), Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), local employers, and existing bicycle commuters.
David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington followed up on the news release in his post Why is Tysons walkability and bikeability so bad?
The south side of Tysons Boulevard and Galleria Drive.
Photo by Ken Archer, Greater Greater Washington
Virginia officials have known for years that Metro was coming to Tysons. Yet when the four stations opened, commuters found dreadful and dangerous walking and biking conditions. Why?

 The Fairfax County DOT has been making some progress. There are two crosswalks at the intersection of Route 123 and Tysons Boulevard, which FCDOT recently installed. But at the opposite corner, there are no crosswalks. This is where Ken Archer described pedestrians running across nine lanes of traffic without any crosswalk.
Fairfax County is making progress, with several funded pedestrian and bicycle projects in Tysons that will provide better access. Those projects need to be expedited. As we noted above, short term recommendations in the Tysons Bicycle Master Plan, that was completed in 2011, should have been implemented last year. They include low cost features such as Sharrows, Bicycles may Use Full Lane signs, and wayfinding signage, all of which could be installed tomorrow.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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