Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FABB budget testimony at Board of Supervisors hearing

I presented the following testimony at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors budget hearing today:

FY2014 Fairfax Budget Testimony
Bruce Wright, Chairman
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
April 10, 2013

Good afternoon. My name is Bruce Wright, Chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. FABB represents cyclists in Fairfax County.

If there were a simple device that could help solve the obesity epidemic, ease traffic congestion, reduce work absenteeism and reduce air pollution, I think most people would support it. In fact, most people have one of these devices in their home, the bicycle. Many people have told us that they would bike more if we had a complete bicycle network and conditions were safer.

I'm here today to ask for funding for the bicycle program. The bicycle coordinator has project funds but has had no operating funds for the past three years for running an effective, comprehensive program that includes encouragement, education, and evaluation activities, and an up-to-date website.

The good news is that there are project funds to build bike facilities in Tysons and Reston to improve bicycle access to the Silver Line stations. It's a smart investment to improve bike access in these areas of transit-oriented, mixed-use development.

The other good news is that the bicycle master plan was completed in July 2012 and will be a roadmap for making Fairfax a bike-friendly place. 300 people attended 8 area meetings to provide input to the plan; that's probably more than attended the county transportation dialogues last fall. When the bike plan comes before you, we ask that you support the plan and allocate funds for implementation. Otherwise we will fall further behind neighboring jurisdictions.

On May 1 of last year Supervisor McKay directed staff to investigate whether the BikeArlington model would work in Fairfax. BikeArlington has 3 full-time staff, in a county with ΒΌ of our population. Those staff conduct bike classes and seminars, sponsor local events, and work with employers to get more people on bikes. Their bicycle mode share is about 3 times that of Fairfax. We think BikeArlington a good model for Fairfax County and a similar program should be funded and implemented.

Until a few years ago cyclists could report aggressive drivers using the Aggressive Driver Report Form. Because of budget cuts, that form was eliminated, even though the Report a Litterer program is still being funded. We're asking that funding for the aggressive driver program be reinstated. FABB members are willing to provide volunteer help if needed.

We're hopeful that more bike facilities will be funded as part of the Transportation plan recently approved by the Virginia legislature. When those projects are built it's imperative that temporary access for bicyclists and pedestrians be part of every project. That wasn't the case when the Fairfax Co Parkway Trail was closed for nearly a year during the Fair Lakes interchange construction. We can't expect people to use bicycles for transportation if VDOT completely closes a major trail like the parkway trail.

Trail maintenance has been neglected for far too long. The Braddock Road, Fairfax County Parkway, and many other trails are not safe and need to be repaved and otherwise maintained. We have a good basis for a connected trail system but it's falling apart without proper maintenance.

A sign of the importance of bicycling as a transportation option is the excitement we're seeing about bike sharing. Capital Bikeshare is a phenomenal success in DC, Arlington, and Alexandria, with users logging over 3.5 million trips. It can work in Tysons and Reston; it's a great first- and last-mile solution and should be considered an extension of the public transit system. It's not just us advocates who see the possibilities. However, for bike sharing to work, we need better, safer places to ride.

Thank you.


Bruce, thank you for taking the time to speak on behalf of the bicycling community. You would hope with the new transportation money coming from the state that the BOCS should be able to implement/fix the items you addressed.
Well said, Bruce. I hope they take it to heart.

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