Monday, September 28, 2015

Economic competitiveness of Fairfax County

In order to be competitive with nearby jurisdictions, Fairfax County needs to transform into a community where more people are able to get around without a car, to safely walk (and bike) to nearby destinations and have access to better transit options. That's the gist of an opinion piece written by Gerald Gordon, president of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (EDA).

However the title of the article, which appeared in the Washington Post this weekend, is very misleading: Why Fairfax won’t change for millennials. What it should say is that Fairfax County will change for millennials and everyone else who wants walkable, transit-oriented living spaces. We've been saying this for a long time and it's good that the EDA agrees. We hope in the future the EDA will including a mention of bicycling on their Fairfax Transportation page. We have two of the most popular bike trails in the country, the W&OD and Mt. Vernon Trails, and more people are using bikes to access Metro and for other short trips.

We also agree with Mr. Gordon when he says "The trick, of course, is that they are not at all easy to achieve, especially for communities developed within a traditional suburban model." Fairfax is slowly being transformed but it is a long slow process. The Board of Supervisors understands this need for transformation and is encouraging growth around Metro stations and other transit areas and there are some funds for bike and pedestrian projects. Making Fairfax more bike- and pedestrian-friendly are key components of this transformation.

Change is slow and we would like to see more resources devoted to the transformation. An example is that the bicycle coordinator position has been vacant since January of this year which means one less person is working on the many aspects of implementing the Bicycle Master Plan. Bicycle program funds were cut in 2010 and have not been restored. We think the Board should restore funding for the program next year, including funding for Bike Fairfax as recommended in the Bicycle Master Plan.

Update: See the FABB blog entry on the recently approved Transportation Demand Management Plan 2016-2021 that includes funding for staff to conduct encouragement and education activities.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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