Friday, August 21, 2015

Reston Century on W&OD Trail on Sunday

The Reston Century will be held on Sunday. According to the weather forecast it should be a beautiful day. The Century, Metric, and Half-Metric routes will use the W&OD Trail between Reston and Leesburg. Cyclists should use extra caution on that stretch as the trail or avoid it altogether; it will be very crowded.

This weekend would be a great time to use the Fairfax County Interactive Bike Map to find a new bike route and explore the county. There are many on-road routes that are safe and provide a variety riding conditions. I often wonder why some of the faster cyclists insist on training on the W&OD Trail, especially on a busy weekend. If they want to ride fast, what better place than on the road.

I think many faster cyclists are afraid to ride on the road because they don't know how to do so safely, riding too far to the right and inviting cars to pass too close. According to Virginia law, if a lane is too narrow to share with a motorist, which describes most of our 11- and 12-foot lanes in Fairfax, than cyclists are not required to ride to the right. They should take the lane and force motorists to pass them properly, often requiring them to change lanes. This is much safer than hugging the curb. As of July, motorists can legally cross the double-yellow line to safely pass cyclists, allowing 3 feet when passing.

Today I saw a policeman riding a bike on Sunrise Valley Dr. in Reston in the gutter pan, riding much too far to the right. He then moved across two lanes to the left turn lane without signaling. Most bicycle police receive bicycle safety training so that officer should know better. Riding on the road safely is a skill that can be taught, and yet there is basically no bicycle education in Fairfax. Maybe that should change.

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