Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bicycling accommodations in new Reston Master Plan

The Fairfax Co Board of Supervisors recently approved changes to the Comprehensive Plan to encourage dense, mixed-use development around the planned Silver Line stations in Reston and Herndon. See the full Reston Transit Station Areas (TSAs) Comprehensive Plan Text.

There are extensive bike facility recommendations included in the plan. Most are based on the draft Countywide Bicycle Master Plan that will come before the Planning Commission (May 8) and Board of Supervisors (June 17) this Spring. Overall there is a recognition that Reston will be a better community if residents and visitors have several options for traveling including good bike facilities.

There is also a recognition that widening our roads and improving conditions for motorists often has a negative impact on pedestrians and bicyclists. Instead, creating additional street connections helps everyone find alternative travel options rather than relying on a few big roads with widely spaced intersections.

Kudos to Fairfax County, Supervisors Hudgins, and the Reston community members who participated in the planning process, for recognizing the importance of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity and access.

I've extracted a few excerpts from the new plan text, mostly for future reference, but also for your reading pleasure:

Another key Reston characteristic is an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle connectivity. Future development in the TSAs should augment this connectivity by providing appropriate links within and between the TSAs as well as multiple links to the existing Reston trail system in the areas adjacent to the TSAs. p. 9

Planning Priciples

8. Connectivity and mobility will be strengthened. A robust transit system, expanded pedestrian and bicycle networks and transportation demand management strategies will also help reduce reliance on the automobile while increasing community mobility. p. 13

Development Review Performance Objectives 

All development proposals within the TSAs will be evaluated for the extent to which they meet or contribute to the following objectives.

Provide Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity throughout the Transit Station Areas – New pedestrian and bicycle connections should be provided through complete streets within the TSAs and new or extended trails on both sides of the DAAR connecting the three Metrorail stations. Pedestrian and bicycle crossings of existing streets should be improved to increase pedestrian and bicyclists’ safety, visibility and convenience. Several existing streets act as major barriers to pedestrian and bicycle movement and are identified for specific improvements within the District Recommendations. In addition, connections should be made from the Metrorail stations to the existing community trail network. See additional guidance in the Transportation section. p. 24

Bicycle Facilities

Bicycle facilities should be provided consistent with Figures 15-17. In addition, specific bicycle facilities are described in the Street Types Guidelines under the Road Network and Circulation section below. In an effort to encourage bicycling in the TSAs, safe, secure, and convenient bike parking should be provided. The number of bike parking spaces should be determined based on the planned land uses. p. 54

Figures 15-17 that reflect recommended bicycle facilities based on the DRAFT Countywide Bicycle Master Plan.

Road Network and Circulation

Network Level of Service

In the development review process, mitigation of problem locations should follow the following sequence:
  1. First, determine whether increased operational efficiency is achievable without decreasing pedestrian walkability and safety.
  2. If increased operational influence does not result in an acceptable level of service, additional turn and through lanes can be considered on condition that the level of walkability remains acceptable. However, exclusive turn lanes and/or through lanes will not be desirable in most cases since it will increase street widths at intersections and therefore work against an attractive environment for pedestrians.
  3. In lieu of additional lanes, it is preferable to add links to the street grid where applicable with the goal of promoting the build out of the grid of streets. This strategy creates additional diversionary paths for vehicles and decreases the traffic at problem locations in the vicinity of a proposed development.
  4. When step 3 is not achievable, decrease future site-generated traffic by (1) changing the mix of land use within the parameters of the applicable land use guidelines (e.g., replacing office or retail uses with residential use); (2) increasing transit use through provision of additional and improved services; and/or, (3) optimizing the application of TDM with measures that might include greater transit use, carpooling, ridesharing, walking and bicycling.
  5. If the measures outlined in the previous two steps do not provide adequate improvement of LOS, a development proposal or future phase of development may need to be conditioned on funding or completion of offsetting improvements. Financial contributions of significant value dedicated to addressing deficiencies in the TSA may be considered as an offsetting improvement. These contributions may not be used as a credit against other contributions toward off-site transportation improvements. pp. 58 & 59
Minor Arterials–Type AReston Parkway is an example of a Minor Arterial-Type A
  • 5-6 foot on-road bike lane per direction, if found desirable
    • If an on-road bike lane cannot be provided, and biking is anticipated to occur on the road, then one extra wide travel lane per direction may be desirable, adjacent to the curb, to accommodate bikes (14 feet)
    • If bike facilities are not desirable within the curb to curb area due to the nature of the road, then they should be accommodated on a shared-use path adjacent to the road
  • A target posted speed of 30-35 miles per hour is desirable for Reston Parkway. (note: Current speed limit is 45 mph.) p. 64
Minor Arterials-Type B - Sunrise Valley Drive, Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue are examples of Minor Arterials-Type B in and adjacent to the TSAs.
  • 5-6 foot on-road bike lane per direction, as shown on the bicycle facilities map
  • If an on-road bike lane is not provided, then one extra wide travel lane per direction may be desirable, adjacent to the curb, to accommodate bikes (14 feet). The lane should be marked or signs posted indicating that bikes are using the outside lane.
  • A target posted speed of 30 miles per hour is desirable for Sunset Hills Road, Sunrise Valley Drive and Wiehle Avenue. (note: Current speed limits vary between 35-40 mph). pp 64-65
Collector Streets - Town Center Parkway and New Dominion Parkway, as well as the future Soapstone Road, South Lakes Drive and Town Center Parkway extensions are examples of collectors in and adjacent to the TSAs.
  • 5-6 foot on-road bike lane, as shown on the bicycle facilities map
  • o If an on-road bike lane is not provided, then one extra wide travel lane per direction may be desirable, adjacent to the curb, to accommodate bikes (14 feet). The lane should be marked or signs posted indicating that bikes are using the outside lane.
  • A target posted speed of 30 miles per hour is desirable for Collectors. In some cases, 25 miles per hour may be desirable for Collectors.
Local Streets (Local) - Local streets in this area include the internal circulation roads and the new planned streets which connect the land uses to collector roads and allow internal circulation.
Curb to Curb Area:
  • 1-2 travel lanes per direction (10-11 feet for each lane)
    • The outside lane is a shared travel lane between bicycles and vehicles. Local streets are low speed facilities that normally may not require bike lanes.
  • A target posted speed of 25 miles per hour is desirable for Local Streets. p. 65
Urban Park Implementation

During the course of the public planning process, several recurring themes related to parks, recreation, and cultural amenities within Reston were identified. These themes suggest specific opportunities (some geographic, some conceptual) to implement a parks system within the area.
  • East-West Connections: Establishing east-west connections within the area is just as important for internal pedestrian and bike circulation as well as connections to the remainder of Reston. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) provides regional pedestrian and bike connectivity north of the DAAR, but a corresponding connection does not exist south of the DAAR. An east-west connection along Sunrise Valley Drive would create such a central pedestrian and bike connection south of the DAAR. 
  • North-South Connections: The creation and strengthening of north-south connections throughout the area will contribute greatly to the success of the parks system. These pedestrian and bike connections will provide access to amenities located on one or the other side of the DAAR. The connections become particularly critical in being able to connect the TSAs with the larger Reston community. To that end, north-south connections should be strengthened/enhanced or created along the axes created by the three metro stations, at a minimum. Any new north–south vehicular connections should also include pedestrian facilities. 
  • Linear Parks: Creating a variety of linked, multi-use parks will be central to the success of the redevelopment of the area. A combination of active and passive amenities linked (or adjacent) to central pedestrian and bike ways should be created. Using existing natural and stormwater features as a backbone for linear parks should also be considered. 
    • Sunrise Valley Corridor: Several manmade water and natural features exist in the vicinity of the Sunrise Valley corridor and provide a particular opportunity to create small, semi-urban scale parks. Placing trails and clustered amenities such as fitness stations, playgrounds, or interpretive stations around existing or future features builds upon Reston’s existing infrastructure. It may allow double use of spaces – in some cases allowing stormwater management goals to be achieved simultaneously with recreation goals. In addition to realizing the vision of Sunrise Valley as an east-west connection south of the DAAR, it also places amenities in proximity to planned development. 
    • Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park: The regional Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) runs through the study area north of the DAAR, providing opportunities for east-west pedestrian and bike travel. There is the potential to incorporate recreational waysides including, but not limited to seating areas and playgrounds. Incorporation of amenities has been done in other areas along the W&OD, such as Arlington, Falls Church, and Purcellville. There is also the opportunity to develop larger recreational or cultural facilities near the W&OD, such as gathering places or athletic facilities. Close collaboration with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) as the area redevelops will help identify specific opportunities. pp 78 & 79

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