Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ribbon-cutting for Beltway bridge bike facilities

FABB members at Oak St Bridge
Today some FABB members rode to the Oak St. bridge over the Beltway to participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new bike facilities on that and many of the other 50 bridges that were rebuilt as part of the 495 Express Lanes project, formerly known as the HOT lanes.

The Oak St. bike lanes have been in place for some time but several of the other bridges are just now opening, including the new sidepaths on the Route 7, Westpark Dr, and Lee Hwy bridges. While many of the bike facilities are not ideal, in most cases this is the first time there has ever been a bike facility on those bridges. Starting in 2007 FABB fought hard to ensure some facilities were included in the project.

We initially planned to use the sidepaths on the Lee Hwy bridge, but the side paths were too narrow and aren't really a bike facility. Instead there are supposed to be wide curb lanes on that bridge and it wasn't safe to try to simulate a ribbon-cutting there. The outside lane isn't really wide; there is a painted stripe 3 feet from the curb making it an 11-foot lane with a 3 foot shoulder which isn't very useful for cyclists. I'd prefer to see the lane without the stripe.

After the ribbon-cutting we rode to the new Mosaic District (that I wrote about earlier) to attend the grand opening of Fresh Bikes. We met the manager Stacey and dropped off some FABB rack cards. It's a very nice shop, with many fine bike-oriented details including a bike chain used as edging on the front counter and bike chains used to support sections of the ceiling structure. We especially liked the automatic double-door entrance. We didn't see many transportation bikes; Fresh Bikes is a bike store for the "performance-minded." Some of their hybrids and cross bikes could be used for commuting. We wish them well and we hope to work with them in the future.

Mosaic District bike racks
Some of us then stopped at a nearby coffee shop for snacks and drinks. When we left we rode around the streets that are open and only saw one set of bike racks. They were nice racks that were like a U rack but with some style. There should be many more racks in place for visitors and we'll check no future plans for racks.

Finally, as we were leaving the development we decided to use Eskridge Rd to travel north where it turns into Merrilee Dr. We were in the straight through lane with no cars behind us and we waited through 2 full cycles before a car finally appeared. Under VA law we are allowed to go through the light after 2 cycles, but there should be a bicycle-sensitive sensor present. Traffic is so heavy on Lee Hwy that legally running the red light was not an option.

By the way, Eskridge Rd will soon be open south toward Route 50. That means that from Dunn Loring Metro station it will be possible to ride a route parallel to Gallows Rd all the way south to Woodburn Rd using Merrilee Dr to continue on Eskridge Rd to Williams Dr across Route 50 to Willow Oaks Corporate Dr to a new road that leads south past the Ronald McDonald House to Inova Hospital and on to Woodburn Rd.

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Thank you for pulling this together. I look forward to seeing our video stars on screen.
Will the new route south parallel to Gallows connect easily to the Cross County Connector trail?
It doesn't look like there is a good connection to the Cross County Trail. If you follow the route above but continue on Williams Dr past Dewberry & Davis, it appears there is a connection to Highland Lane that takes you south almost all the way to the CCT. You could turn R on Hillside Pl to reach Prosperity Ave. If you take a L on Prosperity and travel about 1/3 mile it crosses the CCT. It would be nice if there were a trail connecting Highland Lane to the CCT.
If you ride around the back of the hospital on that new road they just put in, you'll see a paved sidewalk connector coming in from a development on the right (just past the drainage pond). Take that and you'll end up in the development I live in. Take Monarch Lane to it's end and turn rot on Tobin. That will take you into Eakin Park. Follow the path down past e tennis courts and it'll pop you right on to the CCTV. Lake Accotink to the left or Rt.50 to the right.

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