Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bikeability Has Potential to Increase Likeability of Fairfax

During Bike Month 2015 Deloitte released a report on improving transportation options and bike commuting that featured Fairfax County.  The study, Smart Mobility: Reducing Congestion and Fostering Faster, Greener and Cheaper Transportation Options (Deloitte University Press, 2015), is available here and, after a year, the study is worth a second look. 

Graphic courtesy of Smart Mobility.

One of the study’s findings was that bike commuting’s potential value is not evenly distributed inside each metro area across the United States, and it cites Fairfax County as a prominent example of such unmet potential. The greatest prospective benefits are likely to be in core urban centers and, perhaps surprisingly, in suburban neighborhoods near smaller commercial centers. According to the study, areas with higher concentrations of potential bike commuters in Fairfax cluster around suburban “edge cities” containing commercial centers such as Reston, Tysons, Herndon, Manassas, and Woodbridge. 

The identification of Tysons as one of these “hot spots” for potential bike commuting was described as possibly counterintuitive because the area used to be a national symbol of car-friendly and congested development. But, the study notes, “bikeability” forms a major part of Tysons’ long-term development plan. 

Meanwhile, medium-density suburban neighborhoods located one to three miles away from thriving commercial developments, such as Reston Town Center, offer surprisingly good opportunities for increasing bike ridership to sustain its economic growth and attract younger residents. This is especially true now that the Metro Silver Line has opened.

Photo courtesy of FCDOT.
The progress on improving “bikeability” in these parts of Fairfax County, however, has been mixed. On the positive side, during the past year Fairfax County has worked with the Virginia Department of Transportation to create more than 2 miles of new bike lanes in Tysons and more new lanes are coming this summer in other areas of the county. Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved $1.7 million for bike sharing and is working in a private-public partnership with Tysons Partnership to bring Bikeshare stations to Reston, Tysons, and other areas. 

On the negative side, the Tysons bike plan contains several recommendations for encouraging more people to use bikes for transportation that have not yet been implemented. FABB plans to continue working with Fairfax County and the private sector to realize some of these goals, including:

  • Install signs for 16 bicycle routes to the four Tysons Silver Line Stations and for an interim alternative route (not using VA Route 123) between Vienna and McLean.
  • Provide a volunteer Bicycle-to-Transit Ambassadors program at Metro stations.
  • Launch a bicycle commuting marketing campaign highlighting to prospective new bicycle commuters the time savings current Tysons bicycle commuters are experiencing as compared to motor vehicle travel.
  • Establish a Bike-Friendly Employer program with corporate members.
  • Achieve an 80 percent of capacity bike parking rate at the Tysons Metro stations.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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