Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 FABB Year-in-Review

The past twelve months have been momentous ones for FABB. Our advocacy group reached a major landmark when it became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit in March during one of its busiest and most productive years ever. Please consider a tax-deductible end-of-year donation to FABB to help us go even farther in 2017. For those who have already made a donation, we offer our most sincere appreciation and our assurance that your dollars go a long way.

Come Celebrate With Us. Please join us on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, to celebrate our continuing progress in making bicycling better in Fairfax County and to recognize some of our members, partners, and new found friends for their contributions to making the past year so productive. The celebration starts at 7:00 pm at the Mad Fox Brewing Company, 444 W Broad St in Falls Church. There will be finger food and a cash bar.

The following is a summary of major FABB- and bike-related milestones during the past year.

New Board and Name. The newly established FABB Board of Directors began its work in January and has been very active all year. Board officers are Jeffrey Anderson, President; Sonya Breehey, Vice President; Steve Ward, Secretary; Howard Albers, Treasurer; and At-Large Members Bruce Wright, Alan Young, and Douglas Stewart. FABB also made a change to its name, becoming the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling to better reflect our goal of strengthening our advocacy by working more closely with other bicycling and related groups.  

Local Outreach. To engage more Fairfax cyclists and bicycling supporters, FABB began rotating its monthly meetings between its usual Vienna venue and all of the county’s districts. These meetings’ successfully focused on local projects, pressing needs and advocacy opportunities. Many of our discussions in the districts, such as those in Braddock, Lee, and Dranesville, were complemented by presentations and discussion by the districts’ supervisors or members of their staff.

Alliances. FABB has worked hard to join with like-minded organizations to promote better bicycling throughout the Greater Washington region. We believe our voices are more powerful when we collaborate with others. FABB continues to work with WABA, our former sponsor, and long-time ally Reston Bicycle Club. We started cooperating with a wide range of other groups, including the Potomac Pedalers, Active Prince William, Sports Backers of Richmond, People for Bikes, Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), the recently formed Capital Trails Coalition, and local bike shops, particularly The Bike Lane. FABB continues to work closely with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation Bicycle Program, and this year teamed up for a benefit event with the county, Celebrate Fairfax, Visit Fairfax, and the Workhouse Arts Center. FABB also is engaged with the Fairfax County Police Department on enforcement and education efforts.

National Bike Summit. In early March FABB members attended this three-day League of American Bicyclists event in Washington, DC. They attended advocacy workshops and networked with other Virginia advocates (BikeWalk RVA, Virginia Bicycling Federation, BikeArlington, etc.) and other groups from around the country.

Capital Bikeshare. FABB has been active in advocating for and then promoting the arrival of Capital Bikeshare to Fairfax County. The Bikeshare system, which launched in late October, allows a person to check out a bike and ride short to moderate distances from station to station. Twenty-nine Bikeshare stations have been installed in Tysons and Reston. Plans are now underway to expand the network to Falls Church.

Capital Bikeshare ribbon cutting.
Events. FABB participated in so many events in 2016 that we cannot do justice to them in this annual review. Instead, we encourage you to check out the FABB blog for details. Here, however, are some of the highlights. During April and May we were out in force to support Bike to Work Day pit stops, help WABA with New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat, and represent bicycling at Fairfax County’s SpringFest. In July FABB supported the “Bike for Your Right” Richmond to DC Ride to demonstrate our area’s strong support for bicycling in the Commonwealth. We worked with the Potomac Pedalers and Active Prince William to promote bicycling at Fairfax County’s first Brewfest, a celebration of regional craft breweries, at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton in August. During the fall, FABB conducted a social ride to introduce area riders to Meadowlark Gardens Botanical Park and NoVi (Northern Vienna) Trail network. We also promoted the People for Bikes Draft Meetup networking event.
Our fantastic FABB Clips volunteers.

Clips. Our most important event and major fundraiser was the New Belgium Brewing Company’s Clips Beer and Film Tour, which FABB volunteers and The Bike Lane helped bring back to Reston Town Center in September. Crowds of visitors got to try some of New Belgium’s more exotic beers while enjoying short films celebrating the brewery’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

Kidical Mass ride. 
Youth Programs. FABB continues to support programs that encourage bicycling among children and was pleased to see the continued growth of events such as Bike to School Day in May. In 2016 nearly 70 Fairfax County elementary and middle schools participated in the event. Fairfax County Public Schools encouraged increased ridership by handing out backpack tags to participants at the elementary schools and cinch sacks at the middle schools. Fairfax County Police Department bike patrol officers led three bike trains to WolfTrap Elementary in Hunter Mill District while other officers assisted at Hunter Woods and Sunrise Valley Elementary Schools in Reston. At Dogwood Elementary, riders received assistance from the Reston Bike Club with minor maintenance and helmet fit.

Later in May students at Vienna area elementary schools participated in the annual Walk Bike Challenge Week and clocked a combined 6,473 trips to school by foot, bike, skateboard and scooter. Of those trips, 1,250 were by bicycle. This was the 4th year in a row students have exceeded 5,000 trips, and the second time they’ve topped 6,000.

Public hearing.
Infrastructure Projects and Hearings. FABB continued to lead efforts to ensure that new transportation projects include bicycling facilities. In 2016 our members and other supporters came through big time in attending public meetings and sending comments to VDOT and public officials. The number of local projects and proposals FABB covered this year was extensive.

The I-66 Outside the Beltway improvements program now includes a corridor-wide bikeway and pedestrian plan that, according to VDOT, was developed because of substantial public interest. Grade-separated ramp crossings for the Route 7 bridge over the Dulles Toll Road are now under construction.

Fairfax County added more than 15 miles of new and upgraded bicycle lanes through the summer repaving program in Braddock, Mason, Mt. Vernon, and Lee Districts. Hearings and planning this year included bike lanes in Annandale, Braddock Road, Hunter Mill, and Little River Turnpike, improved bike access to the Vienna Metrorail Station, a bridge on the W&OD Trail over Wiehle Avenue in Reston, W&OD Trail lighting in Herndon, and facilities for the Embark Richmond Highway project. In addition, two parallel trails on each side of the highway are part of the plans for the Route 7 Widening project from Reston to Tysons. Attention is now being turned to improving bicycling infrastructure along the Fairfax County and Franconia-Springfield Parkways.

SafeTrack. FABB has promoted bicycle commuting in response to public transportation disruptions caused by Metro's SafeTrack repair program, which started in early June and will continue into early 2017. There was an observable increase in biking as commuters took their bikes to avoid SafeTrack delays.

Vienna Named Bicycle Friendly Community. The Town of Vienna was designated a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Bronze, the lowest of five levels of bike friendliness, indicates that important steps are being taken by the community in the five areas of Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation. Along with Reston, Vienna has become the second bicycle friendly community in Fairfax.

Bike/Pedestrian Staff. Nicole Wynands and Lauren Delmare joined the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs this year. As of this writing Fairfax County is trying to hire a Pedestrian & Bicycle Program Manager to oversee the bicycle program managed by Adam Lind and pedestrian program managed by Chris Wells.

New Bike-Related Law in 2016. In July Virginia joined Maryland and the District in having a law that helps protect cyclists from “dooring.” The dooring law requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50.

FABB Board President Honored. Jeff Anderson was honored this year by Volunteer Fairfax as the Hunter Mill District Community Champion for leading FABB's Safe Routes to School work, which encourages more kids to bike and walk to school.

Finally, thanks to all of our FABB members and supporters who helped make 2016 so productive. As an all-volunteer organization, FABB relies on supporters like you to donate their time to improve bicycling in our neighborhoods and around the County. Please visit our volunteer webpage to learn about specific opportunities and get in touch with us. We’ll find the right fit for you.

Warmest wishes for everyone to have a safe, happy, and prosperous 2017.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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