Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bicycle recommendations in Reston Master Plan

South side of Wiehle Ave station
The first draft of the Reston Master Plan is now available. "The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force was appointed by Supervisor Catherine Hudgins and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in late 2009, to review the Reston Master Plan and Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan in light of the forthcoming arrival of Metrorail’s Silver Line rail service at three transit stations in Reston."

It's encouraging to see that the plan includes extensive references to the need for bicycle access to and within the station areas. Bicycling could play a major role in helping to alleviate congestion by giving residents a low-cost, convenient transportation option. The W&OD Trail runs parallel to the Silver line and will provide excellent bicycle access to the station areas. The Reston Station development currently underway at the Wiehle Ave station will have a secure bike room that will hold 240 bikes. On the south side there will be racks and bike lockers.

See our earlier post about the Reston Master Plan. FABB members attended several of the initial planning meetings.

Below are bicycle-related extracts from the Executive Summary. Several of the major recommendations include bicycling. While we would have preferred more references to on-road bike facilities, they are not as needed in urban areas with low speed, low volume streets such as in the Reston Town Center. However, several of the major roads are totally lacking in on-road bike facilities:
Development in the Phase 1 Study Area should follow principles of “transit-oriented development” (TOD) in which the station areas have mixed-use development with a variety or residential, employment and retail options in vibrant, pedestrian and bicycle friendly settings which minimize the need and desire to utilize automobiles. There should be a balance of residential and non-residential uses which promotes pedestrian activity and mitigates traffic.

TOD areas need unified streetscapes with wide sidewalks and provision for bicycles, as well as cars and buses.

Traffic concerns must be addressed and mitigated from the outset.
  • The RMAG recommendations [that include extensive bicycle facility recommendations] still appear to be valid and should be implemented.
  • New and enhanced grids of streets, walkways and bicycle paths are needed in each station area and should be linked to existing roads, walkways and bicycle paths, including roads and sidewalks in office parks outside the TOD areas.
  • Bridge or tunnel crossings of the DTR are needed in several locations. These include the Soapstone extension, a crossing near Town Center, and a crossing that extends South Lakes Drive to the north side of the DTR. These need to include ways that pedestrians and bicyclists can cross the DTR.
  • Parking minimums for new buildings should be reduced in order to encourage walking, biking and transit usage over driving.
  • The VDOT parking area along Sunset Hills should be eliminated. It should be replaced by a linear park parallel to the W&OD park or used for a bus-only lane.
  • A grade separated crossing of the W&OD at Wiehle Avenue.
More on the W&OD Trail:
The W&OD should be utilized as a bicycle/pedestrian “highway” to get people to and from the Wiehle-Reston East station. (i) A grade separation for the W&OD’s crossing of Wiehle Avenue would eliminate the current conflicts between trail users and vehicular traffic. An exit from the W&OD to the station could be located west of the overpass. (ii) Given the speed of the bicycle traffic, the W&OD should be widened or a separate paved path should be added in this area to create a distinct pedestrian path, which will facilitate safe usage by both bicycles and pedestrians. 
Other major bicycle-related recommendations:
  • Additional pedestrian/bicycle pathways are needed on both sides of the toll road. These should extend into areas that are currently developed and should also facilitate pedestrian and bicycle access to the Reston Town Center area. Lighting is important in order to encourage night time utilization. 
  • The area would benefit from a pedestrian and bicycle bridge between Reston Heights and the Plaza America area. Improvements should be made to the Wiehle bridge in order to facilitate safe, convenient pedestrians and bicycle crossings of the Wiehle bridge.

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