Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Bureau of Good Roads Featured in VA SRTS Newsletter

Fionnuala Quinn became involved in FABB in 2008. She was a critical part of FABB's early successes, including helping us advocate for passage of the Bicycle Master Plan, being primary author of the award-winning publication Guide for Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates, and many other activities.

Fionnuala went on to found the Bureau of Good Roads She discusses her work with the Bureau in a recent interview published in the December 2016 VA Safe Routes to School newsletter. We've reprinted the interview below:
Fionnuala Quinn is a licensed civil engineer with a background in bicycle and pedestrian planning and advocacy. Through her recently launched organization, The Bureau of Good Roads, she is working to spark interest in how students can influence the design and operation of public streets and the built environment. She hopes her work can inspire young people to play a role in designing streets to better serve the needs of all members of the community.

Why did you launch the Bureau of Good Roads?

I launched The Bureau of Good Roads for several reason. First, through my work as a bicycle and pedestrian engineer and advocate, I recognized a need to engage and educate local communities about the public realm (of which streets are a large part). Often times, I witnessed community members get involved with infrastructure projects only when the projects directly affected them, rather than taking a broader community view of the public realm.

Second, I have worked to promote STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education for over 10 years starting initially with a weekly girls engineering program at a local elementary school. Walking, bicycling, and school-zone infrastructure are a perfect way to relate STEAM principles to everyday life. Finally, my historical interest in the development of streets led me to a career in engineering and planning and this new way to use my career directly benefits the next generation of leaders.

What resources does the Bureau of Good Roads offer?

The Bureau of Good Roads holds workshops, leads educational programming, and publishes free lesson guides and materials online aimed at students ages 7-13. Our workshops aim to educate and engage students. For example, the Good Roads Rangers Club is a weekday camp program focused on building places and cities for people of all ages and abilities. The Sidewalk Superintendents is a field workshop investigating how infrastructure, design, and safety relate. The lessons guides cover topics such as sidewalk closures, street festivals, street connectivity, street signs, and more. Lessons typically utilize recyclables or low-cost materials to help ensure lessons are accessible.

What projects are you currently working on?

The Good Roads Rangers Club
learning about the built environment
via the hands-on Complete Streets kit.
We are currently working with an established program in Middleburg (Team Saturday) to create complete streets toolkits. Students are developing these toolkits, which will be presented to town officials in February, in order for Middleburg to help explain different traffic calming techniques to local residents. Middleburg has been great to work with and Town Administrator, Martha Semmes, joined the students to discuss the impacts of a local traffic calming project.

What materials are you currently developing?

I want all of the materials to be easily accessible and help improve understanding of our transportation systems. I am developing a set of basic design principles which will represent the key complete street principles. These principles highlight that the world around us is designed for our use, design is an iterative process, the built environment can be altered, infrastructure is a connected network, and change is normal for example. If students, parents, and community members understand these principles, then the quality of the built environment should improve.

How can VA SRTS Coordinators contact you?

For more information about The Bureau of Good Roads and to access free materials, please visit or If you would like to partner with the Bureau of Good Roads, please contact Fionnuala at Join The Bureau of Good Roads Newsletter!

Update: Fionnuala will participate in the FABB Advocacy Training on Feb. 4. Details and registration info coming soon. She will also be the featured speaker at the March 15 FABB meeting in Vienna where she'll discuss her work with the Bureau of Good Roads.

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