Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
Year in Review 2012

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
In 2012, FABB continued to be a strong local voice for all those who want to bicycle comfortably and safely in Fairfax County. This past year saw the completion of the Fairfax Bicycle Master Plan and the first Fairfax Bike Summit in addition to considerable activity on the biking-to-school front. 
Fairfax County Bike Master Plan:  Extensive work on the on-going bicycle master plan project occurred in 2012. At the start of the year, 70 residents attended the Burke-Springfield bike plan meeting, just one of eight regional meetings held around the county to receive public input. FABB representatives served on the bike plan advisory committee, attending many meetings dealing with detailed aspects of the plan. FABB representatives also participated in focus groups related to economic impacts, health, safety, school transportation, and law enforcement. Based on earlier field work and the extensive public and committee input, the contractor presented the final draft route network and a map of the final bicycle route recommendations. The county currently is finalizing the plan. An important FABB goal is to ensure that the plan is approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in 2013. 
SummitCollage3-asmSuccessful Fairfax Bike Summit: The Fairfax Bike Summit was on Saturday October 27 with almost 140 attendees. Andy Clarke, the president of the League of American Bicyclists, was the keynote speaker at this inaugural event held at George Mason University. As the day progressed, speaker after speaker detailed ways to bring better and safer conditions to Fairfax. The summit also included refreshments, vendor displays, and a bike tour of the campus. FABB presented awards to Fairfax County Bicycle Coordinator Charlie Strunk and VDOT Traffic Engineer Randy Dittberner for their work on behalf of bicyclists; both are avid transportation cyclists. The summit was a great chance to meet other bike advocates and people interested in making Fairfax a better place to bike. See the Ideas for Moving Forward submitted by attendees during the summit. We heard much positive feedback about this event and hope to organize more such events in the future.
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) for Fairfax kids:  For several years, FABB has been working with both Fairfax County government and Fairfax County Public Schools, encouraging them to embrace a system-wide effort to get more children to walk and bike to school. In January, the Fairfax County School Board adopted a policy that clarifies that parents make the final decision as to whether their children bike to school. This policy also added language that encourages kids to walk and bike to school, and the school system encouraged participation in the inaugural Bike to School Day in May. Jeff Anderson has been leading the charge for FABB and in 2012 brought national exposure to local efforts. In May, WAMU's Metro Connection interviewed Jeff and his children, while Wolfie’s BikebikebusTrain, led by Jeff, was featured on Nickelodeon and in an international report by Nike. The heightened exposure generated considerable interest, and school-related efforts are springing up in many parts of the county. Terra Centre Elementary School and Cunningham Park Elementary School received infrastructure funds, and a number of additional local schools received mini-grants from the VDOT SRTS program. See the FABB SRTS page for details. We hope to see more programs develop and many more children riding in 2013.
FABB volunteers out and about in the community:  FABB representatives continued to speak at many public meetings, appeared in media articles, and provided input to various committees. FABB volunteers attended almost 100 meetings over the course of the year, including 30 directly related to the bicycle master plan. Volunteers came out in all weather for bike rodeos, bike valets, bike counts, Bike to Work Day events, Tour de Fat festival, and more. Plus many FABB volunteers were involved in planning the Fairfax Bike Summit.
New and old modes of communication:  We posted more than 310 articles on the FABB blog, sent our bi-monthly newsletter to 1,400 folks, and have several FABB columnists on the Patch media sites. In our social media outreach, FABB has 600 friends on Facebook and more than 1,200 followers on Twitter. Back in the real world, we continue meeting on the third Wednesday of every month at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna. As always, all are welcome at the monthly meeting: next meeting will be Wednesday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m.
First bicycle fatality since 2010:  A cyclist was killed crossing Columbia Pike in November when she was hit by a motorist driving a pickup truck. At this location, Columbia Pike is a high speed arterial road with no bike facilities, and apparently the cyclist was trying to cross over to the Barcroft Plaza Shopping Center. FABB subsequently placed a ghost bike near the site of the crash. As well as acting as a memorial to this cyclist, the ghost bike is intended to remind passing motorists to share the road. We continue in our on-going efforts to improve the safety of county roads for all cyclists.
News from our state & local agencies:  Garrett Moore, VDOT Northern Virginia District Chief, was recently named the Chief Engineer for the Commonwealth so we are expecting to see someone new appointed to the district position in 2013. Meanwhile, Fairfax County Department of Transportation hired a new bicycle (and pedestrian) staff person to work in the county bike program. In policy news, VDOT completed a strategic plan to guide their SRTS work in Virginia through 2017.

Thank you:  We couldn’t do what we do without the support and assistance we receive from our volunteers, supporters, donors, and well wishers. A big thank you to all of you; we always appreciate people giving their time, energy, and skills. Thanks also to the public officials who patiently work with us on an on-going basis. We all are working for safety, access, and the health and well-being of our community.

Good riding and always remember to use lights after dark.

FABB BLOG - For other news and articles of interest, visit the FABB blog.

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is a grassroots initiative, affiliated with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, aiming to make bicycling an integral part of Fairfax County's transportation network. Visit us on the web.

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