Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Law Enforcement focus group meeting today

Today we rode to the West Springfield Government Center from Reston to attend the final Bicycle Master Plan focus group meeting. We've attended all of the 5 meetings, Economic Impacts, Biking and Health, Bike Safety Education, School Transportation, and Biking and Law Enforcement Issues.

Several police officers attended today's Law Enforcement meeting. Issues discussed included the need to ensure officers have the necessary time to collect eyewitness accounts from bicyclists who may have been injured and taken to the hospital. Often police are required to submit their reports at the end of the day and don't have time for proper followup.

It was noted that there is very little discussion of bicycle laws at the police academy. Most of the time is spent discussing motor vehicle code. We discussed the stop signs on the W&OD Trail that are not valid VDOT signs and are not enforceable.

The top problems cited were: motorist and bicyclist disregard of traffic rules. Better bicycle safety education is needed along with motorist education about the rights of bicyclists. Similar recommendations were made in several of the other focus groups. Better enforcement is also needed, and not just targeted a bicyclists.

Most of the focus group meetings have been productive but they were all too short and didn't provide enough time for discussion, not only of current issues, but also possible solutions. These are complex topics and participants have busy schedules and so there's only so much that can be covered in under 2 hours. The eight area meetings, which we also attended, were longer and there was more time for discussion.

The next step in the process is to hold two countywide public meetings scheduled for June 5 (Reston) & 6 (Annandale). Then the planning team will finalize the bicycle network and policy and program recommendations and present the final plan. The goal is to complete the plan by the end of June or first of July.

The ride from Reston took about an hour and a half. The first half of the route was on the W&OD Trail to Vienna. From there I followed local streets and a short stretch of Route 50 to University Dr and on to GMU, then more local streets to the worst stretch, Rolling Road from Lake Braddock Dr to the government center.

There is a trail along Rolling Road that I decided to check out (I usually ride in the road). The trail switches between a narrow concrete sidewalk to a wide paved trail to a narrow paved trail, with lots of overgrowing vegetation and sever root damage in front of West Springfield High School. This must not be one of our award-winning trails. There was no bike rack at the government center so I stopped by Supervisor Herrity's office to request one.

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