Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bike lane proposals for Amherst/Backlick

Narrower section of Backlick Rd
between Essex and Floyd
At a public meeting held last night, Fairfax County outlined various alternatives for including bike lanes as part of the repaving of Amherst Ave and Backlick Roads, the one-way pair of roads that extend parallel to I-95 just south of I-495 in Springfield.

Southbound Amherst Ave is wider than Backlick Road. Buffered bike lanes are proposed between Highland St and Cumberland Ave. The proposed road profile includes a 10.5' parking lane, 5' bike lanes, a 3' stripped buffer, 3 11' lanes, and another 10.5' parking lane.

On northbound Backclick Rd two options were proposed. Option A would include bike lanes from Cumberland Ave to Essex Ave where cyclists would take local streets, following Essex to Floyd Ave back to Backlick. Bike lanes would then continue on Backlick north to Lynbrook Elementary School just north of Cumberland Ave.

Option B would require parking spaces to be removed between Essex and Floyd in order to allow continuous bike lanes along Backlick and avoid an inconvenient detour. This is by far the preferred option but given the amount of on-street parking that would be removed, it will be the most difficult to implement. All the houses along the stretch of Backlick, where free on-street parking is provided, have driveways where vehicles could be stored rather than using the public street.

Special care needs to be paid to ensuring that when implemented, the bike lanes are located outside the door zone. Many people park on the road and dooring could be a major problem.

Backlick Rd under I-495
During the meeting one cyclist pointed out that there is a greater need for bike facilities north and south of this section of Amherst/Backlick. However the right of way is limited and it would be much more difficult to include bike lanes in a restriping project. Major changes in the road profile would be required. There is a great deal of pedestrian and bicycle activity in that area. In the Google Maps Street View image of Backlick Rd under 495 on the right you can see two pedestrians and a bicyclists in that short section.

The next step for Fairfax County is to consider public feedback received at the meeting and develop a final draft proposal. The roads will be repaved this summer.

Thanks to cyclists who attended the meeting and spoke out for bike facilities. It helps to have cyclists in the audience to counter statements like the one made last night by someone who said it would be too dangerous to add bike lanes in this area, even though he acknowledged that he frequently sees cyclists riding on the sidewalk in front of his house, competing with the many pedestrians for space.

A similar meeting is planned for February 18 to discuss a proposed road diet on Kingstowne Blvd from Beulah Street to Hayfield Road. The meeting will be held at Kingstowne’s Thompson Center located at 6090 Kingstowne Village Parkway, beginning at 7 p.m.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

  Transportation choices

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