Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wiehle Ave Metro development not bike-friendly

The Comstock development at Wiehle Ave station, which county staff initially recommended be denied, was recently approved by the Planning Commission. This development is adjacent to the planned Wiehle Ave Metro station, across the street from the W&OD Trail. As required by Metro, the developer will provide 150 Metro bicycle parking spaces inside the garage.

In 2008 the Reston Metro Access Group issued their final report which recommended shared bus/bike lanes at the western entrance to the site from the W&OD Trail, a better trail connection on the eastern entrance, and bike lanes on the road through the development.

None of these recommendations were included in the proposal approved by the Planning Commission. While VDOT participated in the 2008 planning process, other VDOT staff had concerns about the proposals and the developer complained about limited right of way. Why conduct a study, spend over a year and lots of money for a consultant, and then ignore the recommendations? This is not a good precedent to set for future development around these new Metro stations.

Without a plan for bicycle access to the site, cyclists will be left to contend for space with pedestrians or motorists. When asked how cyclists would access the site we were told by the developer that cyclists would dismount and walk to the bike parking area in the middle of the development.

Since the county does not yet have bicycle parking requirements, the applicant is offering far fewer spaces than needed. Arlington County requires 1 space for every 3 residential units and 1 visitor space for every 50 units. Comstock is providing 1 space for every 20 units and visitor parking numbers aren't specified. Arlington offers specific guidelines for parking. Comstock can stick their bike parking in some unusable space in the parking garage as was done throughout the Reston Town Center.

We had been cautiously optimistic with the bicycle recommendations in the Reston Metro Access Group final report. That cautiousness was well-founded and the optimism has turned to pessimism.

We were hampered in our evaluation of the final staff report since the text in the pdf file is not searchable. Trying searching for bicycle parking by looking page by page in a 226 page document. Is it that difficult to create a searchable pdf file?

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Maybe they did not want the pdf file to be searchable.

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