Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Centreville/Chantilly Bike Plan meeting recap

We had a lively discussion about bike conditions during the presentation at the Centreville/Chantilly Bike Plan meeting held last night. About 25 people were on hand to mark up maps showing barriers, gaps, destinations, and roads that need bike facilities.

Dan Goodman of Toole Design Group gave the presentation, noting that 60% of the county field work is completed. After the area meetings, several focus groups will be held based on thematic areas. FABB provided a list of groups in Fairfax that are or could be bike-related. Examples include health community/hospitals; law enforcement agencies; business/Chambers of Commerce/developers; bike industry; visitor’s bureaus/tourism; or ethnic/cultural groups.

This was the seventh of eight area meetings. The Central Fairfax area meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, March 29, location TBD.

Major points from the discussion after the presentation:

  • Harassment by motorists - Cyclists are tired of being harassed by motorists. We need better enforcement and education. Motorists need to know that bicyclists have a right to ride in the road, and if the lane is not wide enough to share, they can take the lane. It's the law. Horn honking, shouting, and other aggressive actions are illegal. Several cyclists noted that this type of harassment is common. One cyclist said he was hit by a motorist in the presence of a policeman who did nothing.
  • Dedicated funding for bicycle programs and facilities is critical. The plan will not be implemented without funding, and the Board of Supervisors determines which programs are funded. There is dedicated funding for storm water management, ball fields, parks, and other activities, but almost none for bicycling. The county budget public hearings are April 10-12 and we need to speak out for bike funding. FABB is signed up to speak and we'll be sending out an alert asking cyclists to contact the Board of Supervisors (but you don't have to wait until then).
  • Trial maintenance - While there are many paved trails in the county, many don't connect and most are in need of repair or sweeping. There is almost no money for routine maintenance. If there are severe problems, they can be fixed, but the system is rapidly deteriorating and the future is bleak for additional funding. The bike coordinator is trying to overcome lack of funding and administrative hurdles to establish an adopt-a-trail program.
Thanks to the cyclists who turned out to provide valuable input into the Bike Plan. We'll need everyone's help to get the plan approved and funded.

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If cyclists would observe the rules of the road, motorists would be much less inclined to express their frustration. This morning, a cyclist just cut through a major intersection against a red light and put all drivers in the position of avoiding him. This behaviour is typical, not the exception.
We all need to obey traffic rules and respect the rights of others. Today as I rode to my garden I observed motorists running red lights at every signalized intersection I passed. They were turning right on red without stopping; most barely hesitate. This behavior has become common; next time you pass through an intersection note how many motorists don't stop at the red light when turning right. They endanger pedestrians and bicyclists who are trying to get through the intersection legally.

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