Friday, July 20, 2012

SAIC Transportation Fair

Handing out literature at SAIC Trans. Fair
Yesterday we attended the SAIC Transportation Fair. As you can see from the photo on the right, it was held outdoors in one of the massive parking lots next to the building located on Greensboro Dr in Tysons. It's always impressive how much free parking space is used in Tysons, where land is very valuable. And people think that bicyclists don't pay for facilities. We all pay for free parking.

We talked to several people who live very close to Tysons. They all said they would ride to work if they could do so safely. I had a copy of the latest version of the Fairfax County Bicycle Route map that is being delivered to the county this week, showing people the many bike-friendly routes leading to Tysons. The worst part of the ride for most people is along Gosnell Road and Westpark Road. During rush hour the streets are packed with commuters and even the most experienced cyclists are challenged by the conditions. We need to make these critical connecting routes more bike-friendly.

New trail that ends near service road
We rode to the event, using the same route we used to the Wolf Trap concert, instead turning right on Gelder Ln at Trap Rd, left on Bois Ave, left on Montmorency Dr to the end where there's a trail into Tysons behind the Sheraton. We crossed Route 7 and took a right on the paved trail to Spring Hill Rd at the site of the new Metro station. There's a short climb after turning right on Greensboro Dr to the SAIC parking lot. It took about 35 minutes, probably less time than it would take to drive, park, and walk to the building during heavy rush hour. It was a very pleasant ride for most of the trip.

Northbound bike lane on Gallows Rd closed
On the return trip we wanted to check out the Gallows Road bike lanes again as they were part of a discussion of bike lane widths at the Bicycle Master Plan advisory committee meeting on Wed. We rode to Tysons Corner Center mall then to the ring road past the Towers Crescent building to a left on the bridge over Route 7 where we took the photo above. There's a new, much needed trail that extends from the new bridge over the 495 Express Lanes/Beltway to this location where it abruptly ends. Someone needs to complete this connection to the service road you seen in the distance. We're trying to find out if that's in the works.

Backing out of the W&OD Trail
If you're riding on the Gallows Road bike lanes this week beware that there is construction on the northbound lane just north of Idylwood Rd where the bike lane is closed and cyclists must merge with traffic in the center lane.

The bike lanes are a vast improvement over previous conditions. When traffic is congested cyclists can easily ride to head of the line at traffic lights. The lanes are about 4 feet wide with a 2 foot gutter pan. Even so we'd like them to be 5 feet wide but they work pretty well as is.

Finally, we eventually made our way back to the W&OD Trail where we took the photo of a motorist who had turned right onto the W&OD Trail thinking it was either a road or an entrance to the adjacent Whole Foods store. People do some crazy things out there so beware. That's the second car we've seen on the W&OD Trail in that area, but we would definitely not want bollards placed at the entrances which are a hazard to cyclists, especially at night. Maybe better signage is needed.

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