Friday, July 6, 2012

JULY-AUGUST 2012 FABB Newsletter


A bi-monthly publication of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling

Bicycle Master Plan

The final stages of the Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan process are underway. At the final two countywide meetings cyclists were asked to rank a list of 18 Early Initiatives. The Initiatives were based on feedback from public meetings held over the past year. The top ranked initiatives were: Create BikeFairfax along the lines of BikeArlington, Strengthen the existing Fairfax DOT Bicycle Program, Develop a Trail Maintenance Program, Create a permanent Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Focus on the VDOT Resurfacing Program to create new bike facilities. The responses will help the Plan team as they develop recommendations for how the county should invest funding, what strategies should be used to build the route network, and which subject areas should receive the highest priorities.

The draft bicycle route network is now being revised. The bike plan Advisory Committee will meet again in mid July to review the latest draft of the plan and the route network. The goal is to complete the plan by the end of July. Public hearings at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will likely be held in late Fall, early Winter.

New Bicycle Road Signs

Shared Lane markings, usually called "sharrows", are starting to appear on roads in Fairfax County, including Courthouse Road near Tysons and Westmoreland Street in McLean. FABB has been advocating for these signs since they were initially developed. The signs consist of two chevrons pointing forward with a bicycle symbol below. Sharrows are used to indica
te to cyclists where they should safely ride in the road. The markings are placed away from parked cars so cyclists will avoid the dreaded "door zone."

Sharrows also let motorists know to expect bicyclists in the road. Some motorists and even some cyclists are not aware that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to use the road as do motorists. If the road is less than 14 feet wide it is considered too narrow for a bicyclist and a motorist to travel side by side. On those roads cyclists should ride in a way that motorists are not tempted to share the lane with them and pass dangerously close. In these cases, sharrows are placed closer to the middle of the lane.

Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs send the same message as the sharrow, that bicyclists belong on the road, and on narrow roads cyclists have the right to the entire lane. These signs were recently installed on a section of Beulah Road that is along a route between the W&OD Trail and Tysons Corner. The signs also appear on a short stretch of Idylwood Road on a route between the W&OD Trail and the Pimmit Hills/McLean area.

Fantastic Tour de Fat

We hope you were able to attend Tour de Fat. The event was a bike extravaganza sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Ale. It was held on June 16 at The Yards Park on the banks of the Anacostia River two blocks from Navy Yard Metro station and Nationals Park.

The event was a full day of fun bike activities starting with a bike parade that included many costumed riders. FABB volunteers staffed the ID/Wristband station and we raised $500 to support our advocacy work. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped. I think I can speak for them and say that we all had a blast. Activities throughout the park included the tire toss, Le Tigre performances, the bike pit, life-size Jenga, and performances by acts including Mucca Pazza, Ian Cooke, and Yo-Yo People.

Fairfax Bike Summit

FABB is working with Fairfax County and George Mason University to organize a Fairfax Bike Summit this Fall. The summit will be an opportunity for people to get together to discuss how to make Fairfax more bicycle-friendly. A major goal of the summit will be to build support for the county Bicycle Master Plan. Stay tuned for details.

Bike Crash/Incident Form

We've developed an online form for reporting bike crashes or other incidents. While any bike crash should be reported to the police, many incidents are never reported. In the past, Fairfax County Police collected information using their Aggressive Driver form. Due to budget cuts, that form is no longer available. Cyclists can use the FABB form to report harassment from motorists, incidents on trails, or anything else that you think needs to be reported. A summary of reported incidents will be published periodically.

Bike Count Summary

FABB volunteers participated in the National Bicycle Documentation Project on May 24 & 26. A goal of the project is to provide consistent bike counts for designated locations to record usage over time. We believe strongly that "if you don't count bikes, bikes don't count." VDOT has conducted some bike counts in the past, but only a small number of locations are in Fairfax (the W&OD Trail in Reston and Vienna). We began the project in July of last year. In May we counted cyclists at W&OD Trail/Gallows Rd, W&OD Trail/Route123 (Maple Ave), W&OD Trail/Fairfax Co Pkwy, Chain Bridge Road/Westmoreland St, and George Mason Blvd/University Dr. Thanks to the FABB volunteers who participated.

Bike to Work Day Wrap Up

12,700 cyclists registered for Metro DC Bike to Work Day. FABB members attended most of the 10 Fairfax pit stops, signing up cyclists for our newsletter. Welcome to those of you who signed up. Every year more cyclists participate in this event, a testament to the popularity of bicycling and the need for better bike facilities in the county.

FABB organized a bike locker giveaway at the Reston Bike to Work Day Pit Stop for the second year. Cyclists could enter to win one of two county bike lockers at the Reston Transit Center, Sunset Hills Park & Ride Lot, Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride Lot, or South Reston Park & Ride Lot.

FABB Rides

FABB sponsored a social ride through the City of Fairfax on June 30. Ten riders toured on- and off-road routes throughout the city, including part of the Mason to Metro route to the Vienna Metro station. Along the way we discussed a proposed new tunnel connection to the Cross County Trail under Pickett Lane. We rode one of the alternate Mason to Metro routes on the return trip, passing through the Mosby Woods neighborhood. Several trails were blocked by fallen tree limbs as a result of the strong storm that passed through the area the night before. Bike people power was required to clear the way.

Future rides include tours of McLean and Reston. Once dates are determined they will be posted on the FABB Events calendar. We plan to post the cue sheets for our rides in the near future.

FABB Happy Hour

We had a very successful FABB Happy Hour on June 28 at Coyote Grill in Fairfax City. It was a great opportunity to mingle with fellow cyclists over good food and drinks. Over 30 cyclists attended.

Thanks to Ann and Douglas who organized the event and thanks also to the Bike Arlington forum crew who rode in for the occasion.

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