Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Innovation Station Community Meeting on June 29

Supervisor John Foust and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold a community meeting regarding the Innovation Center Station North-Side Shared-Use Path Feasibility study on Thursday, June 29, 2017, in the cafeteria of Herndon Middle School, 901 Locust Street, Herndon, at 6:30 p.m. The proposed path will connect the future Innovation Station Metrorail Station kiss-and-ride on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road to Apgar Place and Farougi Court. The meeting will begin with time to review boards showing three different conceptual alternatives for the path alignment, followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m. The meeting will conclude with a questions and answers session. FABB encourages local members to attend and share their knowledge about what makes for successful shared-use paths. 

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Friday, June 23, 2017

What You Missed

FABB’s June Monthly Meeting, held at the Braddock District Government Center on June 21, focused on the Springfield and Braddock Districts. We had a great turnout with three excellent presentations by Ann Sharp of Supervisor Cook’s office, Nancy-Jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Nicole Wynand of the FCDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Office. Here are some of the highlights: 

Ann Sharp updated the group on a number of recent and planned improvements in Braddock District, including multimodal paths on both sides of Braddock Road from Rt. 286 to I-495 and paths connecting the Burke VRE Station to nearby neighborhoods. 

Photo by Mike Salmon, Courtesy of The Connection.
Nancy-Jo Manney shared some of the Greater Springfield Chamber’s bike and pedestrian achievements that have made central Springfield more bikeable. The Chamber has identified and gotten improvements made to a bike route that connects central Springfield, Springfield Plaza, and Springfield Town Center. In addition bike lanes are being added to Commerce Street along with minor improvements on signage, turn lanes, and signal timing in the area.  The Chamber also arranged for the installation of branded bike parking at Springfield Plaza and elsewhere with the help of a TransUrban grant that was matched by private property owners. The rack’s logo and design can be used by other communities.  

Nicole Wynand's FCDOT updates included: 
  • A new bicycle and pedestrian Ambassador program has started with three volunteers. The ambassadors will do outreach at public meetings and events to spread a safety message. 
  • The VDOT summer repaving program in the Braddock and Springfield districts will add or extend bike lanes on Commerce Street and Braeburn Road. Overall, the county will add 26 miles of new bike lanes this summer.  
  • Fairfax County Parkway Trail signage is being designed along with mile markers for the trail between Rt.1 and Rt. 7. Currently, there are 150 bicycle-related signs in the county and this project will add another 300. 
  • The Bicycle/Pedestrian Program plans to hire two more staffers this fall. 
  • An Annandale to Springfield wayfinding project is underway. 
  • A Little River Turnpike Corridor study is ready and soon will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Funding is available for the most important and needed projects in the study. 

Each of the three presentations included questions and discussions on a variety of issues. One important update shared with the group was the news that VDOT has plans to repave the entire Fairfax County Parkway Trai, in the coming year.  Also, VDOT is conducting an inventory of all of the trails in the county to update its database on which trails it owns and is responsible for maintaining. 

FABB’s monthly meeting are very informative. There is always good discussion, good energy, and good company. Please plan on joining us for a monthly meeting in the coming months. Our next meeting is July 19 at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna and our August meeting on the 16th at the Mosaic Community Center will be focusing on the Providence and Mason Districts. 

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Braddock Road Study Community Meeting, June 26

Burke area FABB members and supporters are encouraged to attend a community meeting on Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Braddock Road Multimodal Study next Monday. The meeting will be held on June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Braddock Secondary School, 9200 Burke Lake Road.  The first hour will be an open house with FCDOT staff available for questions. At 7:30 p.m., there will be a presentation on the Braddock Road Study. This is great opportunity to provide your insights on ways to make the planned multimodal paths on both sides of Braddock Road as safe and beneficial as possible. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Comment on I-66 Parallel Trail by June 30th

FABB produced simulation of I-66 Trail.
VDOT has been very open to public input on improving the proposed parallel bicycling/pedestrian trail for the Transform the I-66 Outside the Beltway project. So, FABB is asking everyone to take a few minutes and send an email to VDOT with comments and ideas on how to make the trail better. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, June 30, 2017. 

To help you with this, FABB is providing the following contact information and details about the proposed parallel trail for your use.  
Comments that will have the most impact are those that are specific to a particular segment of the trail, especially if near your home or where you ride. Please use the material below as needed and try to keep comments constructive. Don't hesitate to share ideas about potential fixes. The engineers and designers have said that they welcome other's thoughts. Also, be sure to mention how you might use the trail and where you live (city or neighborhood).

Features of the concept plans that are praiseworthy include:
  • The project significantly benefits northern Virginia by connecting adjoining neighborhoods and future transit facilities. This not only facilitates daily multimodal commutes to work but also can help reduce congestion by allowing citizens to use bikes for short trips for local errands and shopping. 
  • The proposed trail expands Fairfax County's bike network, providing an extensive new east-west bike/pedestrian route plus connections to the W&OD trail, the Cross County Trail, and others. 
  • The creativity in developing many of the underpasses, grade separated, and other crossings to help cyclists and pedestrians on the trail safely traverse intersections. Hope that this and the creativity applied to the Route 7 trail bridge will continue to be applied to all of the segments of the I-66 trail.
  • The proposed installation of bike counters to gather data on usage will be very welcomed, especially if improvements to the trail are made to insure that it is an appealing, safe, and healthy transportation option.
  • 11 access points to the trail are a good start to increasing connectivity and encouraging use. 
Features of the concept plans that raise concerns include:
  • The potential noise impacts on trail users could be high on those sections between the sound wall and the highway. Beyond exposing the users to the dangers of high decibel noise, cyclists and pedestrians may have difficulty hearing the bells, horns, and shouts of other users passing them. The noise impact on users inside the sound wall should be analyzed before construction begins and the results should be used by VDOT in selecting the safest and healthiest location for placement of the multiuse trail.  
  • The exposure of trail users to pollution when the trail is between the sound wall and highway not only may have negative health impacts on regular users but may discourage many from using the trail. At a minimum, the pollution levels and health effects should be analyzed and made available to potential users.  EPA research concludes placing a shared use path outside of the sound wall will improve air quality by 50%.   .
  • The current plans have the trail on the same grade as the highway.  With only a concrete and fence barrier and a 12-foot shoulder separating trail users from I-66 traffic, the proximity to traffic may discourage some people because of perceived dangers from the nearby motor vehicles.
  • The trail inside the wall is very exposed and with no natural buffers to protect users from weather and noise. During the summer when heat is radiating off the highway and the trail’s pavement, the absence of shady sections to provide some relief could discourage trail use.
  • The trail would benefit from additional access points through the sound wall.  This will improve accessibility and provide users a sense of security knowing that they have more options to get off the trail if needed.  While access will be provided at many of the overpasses, Jermantown Road, near Yoenas Park and Dunn Loring at Gallows Road should be provided for connectivity to transit, recreation locations and shopping destinations.
  • Our understanding is that in many areas the trail will only be ​8-feet to 10-feet wide ​with 2-foot shoulders. We hope that, with grade separation and other improvements that the trail can be widened where possible to accommodate users, especially when utility vehicles using the trail as a service road are present.
  • A major concern is that if the trail is not improved it will be so unappealing that it will not be used. An underutilized trail could then be used by opponents of trails and similar multimodal transportation options to then argue against them, seriously undermining VDOT goals for reducing congestion. 
A well-designed shared use path will provide a safe, healthy, and enjoyable experience for trail users of all ages. Comments by FABB members will go a long way to insuring that VDOT places the trail as far from the traffic lanes as possible and makes this goal a reality.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reminder: FABB's June Meeting in Burke On Wednesday

Please join FABB this Wednesday, 21 June, at 7:30 pm at the Braddock District Government Center, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke, for our next monthly meeting.  We have a great program this month featuring Ann Sharp from Supervisor Cook’s office, Nancy-Jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Nichole Wynands from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. 

See you there. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Bike Lawyer Bruce Deming Competes in 24 Hour Solo World Championships

Bike Lawyer Bruce Deming
We were talking to bike lawyer Bruce Deming recently and he casually mentioned that he had just returned from participating in the 24 Hour Solo World Championships in Italy June 2 & 3. Bruce placed 2nd in his age category, Mens 60-64. Congratulations Bruce!

You will recall that the former program manager for Bike Arlington, Chris Eatough, holds the record for winning six 24-hour solo world championships, an amazing accomplishment. Chris also won two 24-hour solo NORBA national championships. It's hard to imagine what it must take to compete in such a race.

In 2013 Bruce attended a monthly FABB meeting to discuss his work and his book Surviving the Crash: Your Rights in a Bike Accident. See our other coverage of Bruce in previous blog posts.

Recently Bruce worked with WABA to support their contributory negligence campaign, providing pro-bono legal assistance. For that work he received WABA's Vision Zero Award in 2015. Virginia is now only one of four states with contributory negligence laws. We think it's time for a change.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Chance to Provide Feedback on myVDOT Application

VDOT provides a very useful service for reporting problems. myVDOT is an online form that users fill out noting the problem and the location, using an interactive map. Photos of the problem can be uploaded. See our previous blog entries about myVDOT. In my experience, problems are addressed quickly and feedback on a request is provided in a timely manner.

While the service works very well, there is no direct way to report a problem with a trail, sidewalk, or bike lane. These are the initial options for reporting:

How can we help you?

 I need a road repaired
 I need something removed from a road
 I need signs, signals, or guardrail repaired
 I need new signs or traffic devices installed
 I have a question or need information
 I want to submit a claim (includes mailbox damage)

We've asked VDOT to add a way for reporting bike-related problems. We've been told that the system is being modified and that our request is under consideration. VDOT is currently asking users of the system to take a survey on the user experience. This is a great opportunity to let VDOT know that some small modifications of the text will allow cyclists to more easily report problems.

If you have a couple of minutes, please take the myVDOT Survey.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I-66 Trail Simulation Video Updated

Revised Trail Simulation includes fence on top of barrier.
FABB has revised its I-66 parallel trail simulation video to make it more accurate. We strive to always use correct information in our advocacy efforts but sometimes some of the material we need is not available or may be outdated. And, this occurred with our initial I-66 video. 

The simulations are FABB productions and do not represent many details of the proposed I-66 expansion. The highway is only a rough approximation based on available documents. Our focus, appropriately, is on the multi-use trail. 

After a helpful meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials and the private contractor earlier this week, FABB arranged to make corrections to our I-66 trail user experience simulation. 

The primary changes are that there will be a fence instead of vanes on top of the concrete barrier separating the trail from the highway. Also, the concrete barrier is now planned to between 32 and 36 inches high rather than just two feet. 

Finally, FABB wants everyone to know that VDOT is interested in getting public input on the design. They indicated that there will be opportunities other than the meetings this week for this. Final designs will be issued this fall.

Please check out the updated video and please speak up at the remaining public meetings. Or send your comments and ideas to VDOT at Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

I-66 Trail: Air Quality Questions

A FABB member recently asked us why VDOT is building the I-66 parallel trail on the highway side of the sound wall and exposing the trail users to unhealthy air.

This is a great question and is one that should be asked of VDOT at the public meetings this week. One of the reasons FABB encourages members to attend public meetings is you never know who may identify a problem everyone else has overlooked. We also found that having a mix of attendees increases the likelihood that someone will have the personal background and experience to raise important issues related to their neighborhood.  

Regarding air quality on the proposed trail, we’re told that scientific research has concluded that when air pollutants hit the sound walls they are forced upward and then are disbursed over a large areas.  This is great for homes near the sound wall because the air quality on their side of the barrier measures 50% better/cleaner than the air on the traffic side of the wall. For anyone using the proposed trail, however, this means that pollutants are directly flowing over the cyclists and pedestrians and, in certain wind conditions, concentrating along the wall. 

It would be good to know whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have been consulted about the placement of the shared use path. And, if the answer is no, then why not?

Please continue to share your questions and insights with VDOT. If you can't attend the public meetings, then please send them an email at Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

FABB’s I-66 Trail Simulation Shows Plan's Shortcomings

Biker's view of the I-66 parallel trail, which
will be 8' - 10' wide with 2' shoulders.
It’s great that the Transform I-66 Outside the Beltway project will include a 22.5 mile bicycle/pedestrian trail. We’re concerned, however, that VDOT specifications for the trail have shortcomings that will undermine a user-friendly experience, dramatically limit its utility, and risk creating a trail that will be under-utilized.

So, we’ve created this simulation to help people visualize what the trail will be like for major portions of its length. Please check it out. 

We have three major opportunities in the coming week to provide input to VDOT for making the trail more user-friendly, safer, and more likely to become a successful transportation option. Details on the meetings and some the proposed trail’s shortcomings are in this FABB blog

Now is the time to speak up! Please plan on attending one of the meetings in Oakton, Centreville or Bistow this week or on sending comments to VDOT at Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Successful Annandale Ride

FABB and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals DC chapter held a joint ride on Saturday to explore new and planned bike infrastructure in the Annandale area (route map). The group of 18 riders met at East Falls Church Metro station. Fairfax County Bike Coordinator Adam Lind and FABB's Dave Wagoner led the group, with Adam stopping periodically to offer insights into the planning and implementation of the new facilities. We passed through neighborhood streets south to the service road on Route 50 to new bike lanes on Annandale Road, making our way to Gallows Road and on to the Annandale business district.

We stopped for lunch at the trendy new eating place The Block, reviewed in the Post back in Februrary. Unfortunately there was no bike parking, something we'll need to advocate for in the future. From there part of the group took a longer loop south along new bike lanes on Ravensworth Rd and Heritage Dr, then north to Hummer Rd where bike lanes are planned. Just before returning to East Falls Church the two groups rejoined.

The ride was a great opportunity to meet cyclists from around the area, many of whom are advocating for better bike conditions. Glad that Greg Billing, WABA Executive Director could join the ride along with several folks from APBPDC including some staff from Toole Design Group, the company that helped the county put together our bike map and Bicycle Master Plan. Thanks to Adam and Dave for working together on the ride, and to APBPDC for co-sponsoring. Adam announced that the county bike program will soon be sponsoring similar rides around the county this summer.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Three Meetings in June on I-66 Bike/Pedestrian Trail

Your support is needed to ensure the planned I-66 parallel trail is done right!  The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled three public information meetings in June (details below) to present updated concept plans for the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project and its bicycling/pedestrian trail, which will run the 22-plus miles between the I-495 interchange and Haymarket.

I-66 Outside the Beltway Project map.
The preliminary concept plans for the overall project are posted by section on the VDOT website for public review and comment. VDOT says that new concepts will only be included in the project following public input, which means the June meetings are an important  opportunity to help VDOT and its private partner improve the trail proposal.

Trail supporters, especially those living in communities near the proposed trail, need to speak up and share their local knowledge with VDOT to help make the proposed trail safer and more user-friendly.  It’s CRITICAL that VDOT hear public views about these aspects of the plans: 

  • For about 16 of the project’s 22 miles the current plan places the trail when it passes near homes on the highway side of the noise barrier/sound wall.
  • In these locations the trail will only be separated from traffic by a two-feet tall roadway barrier topped by fencing.  
  • In these locations exposure to noise, pollutants, buffeting from traffic, and weather (the path appears to lack natural cover from trees to protect against sun and wind) will affect the quality of the user experience on the trail. 
  • The height of a separate grade for the trail, if any, has not determined. 
  • The ​8-feet to 10-feet wide ​trail ​will be used as a service road for utility vehicles, and when these trucks are present, trail traffic will be constricted.
  • There are only 11 access points to the trail through the sound barriers planned in select local neighborhoods, which may not be sufficient for safety and ease of use. 
  • The plan relies on ambient lighting from the roadway to illuminate the trail. Public input on areas on where additional lighting might be appropriate would be helpful​ 

FABB will be addressing some of these issues in more detail in preparation for the three upcoming public information meetings to be held on the following date: 
  • Monday, 12 June, Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna
  • Wednesday, 14 June, Stone Middle School, 5500 Sully Park Drive, Centerville
  • Thursday, 15 June, Pine Branch Elementary School, 8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow

The meetings will be held from 6:00-8:30 pm with VDOT staff available to discuss the plans and answer questions for the first hour. A formal presentation and question-and-answer session will start at 7:00 pm. 

The goal of adding a parallel trail to the project is to provide a safe and attractive option for people to take advantage of bicycling and walking as a transportation choice. Public suggestions to make improvements even at the margins of the current plan can go a long way toward ensuring the new trail is a successful bike commuting option. Please make plans now to attend one of these meetings. 

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

FABB's June Meeting to Focus on Braddock-Springfield Districts

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us on Wednesday, 21 June, at 7:30 pm at the Braddock District Government Center, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke, for our next monthly meeting.  Ann Sharp from Supervisor Cook’s office will be there to discuss county plans for the area. We also will have Nancy-Jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce speaking about the Chamber’s efforts to improve central Springfield’s bike-ability. Nichole Wynands, one of our great bicycle program staffers at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, will report on recent and planned bicycling improvements for the Braddock and Springfield areas. 

We would love see a good turnout from all of our members. Also, please invite interested friends and neighbors to join you in learning about county plans and sharing concerns about other local needs for bicycling and multimodal transportation improvements. 

See you there!

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Contact FABB via email: info@fabb-bikes.org

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