Thursday, October 2, 2014

Planning Commission defers action on Bicycle Master Plan to Oct. 15 - Update: Video available

At last night's public hearing on the Bicycle Master Plan, the Planning Commission deferred action on the plan until their October 15 meeting. During the hearing approximately 15 people spoke in support of the plan and no one spoke in opposition. Another large group of supporters were present who did not speak. Thanks to everyone who took the time to support the plan. It was a very long night but the commission heard loud and clear that a broad spectrum of the community supports the plan.

Despite a five-year long process of community meetings, advisory committee meetings, focus groups, and area-wide meetings, at the end of the hearing Commissioner Murphy from the Springfield District said that in order for the plan to succeed the county needs to get it out to the citizens to tell them what's going on. Maybe some people haven't been paying attention, but I don't think the county could do any more to inform the public. Besides the bike plan meetings, the county recently held an extensive Dialogue on Transportation. Transportation chief Tom Biesiadny noted that several of the bike projects in the plan were included in the Dialogue project list and have been approved by the Board of Supervisors. It's doubtful that between now and Oct. 15 much outreach can be done. Commissioner Hedetniemi eloquently responded that the county has done a phenomenal job of outreach and commended Charlie Strunk, the bike coordinator, for his work on the plan.

Speakers highlighted the many health, environmental, and economic benefits of bicycling. Several young people attended despite the late hour, including two young women from Reston who encouraged their fellow students to follow their lead and bike to school. They noted that many kids would like to bike but they don't think it's safe, and the bike plan will help create safer bike conditions. They also noted that biking as an extracurricular activity is prohibited. Several commission members encouraged the speakers to lobby the school board to change the policy.

The October 15 commission meeting is on the same night as the FABB meeting. We think it's important that some supporters be present to hear the discussion on the bike plan. One disadvantage of the deferral is that many of those who attended the public hearing will not be present for the discussion that precedes the vote. We hope that some of you can attend the Oct. 15 meeting beginning at 8:15 p.m. FABB will discuss the conflict with our meeting and determine whether to postpone our meeting or perhaps change the meeting location to the government center. Stay tuned.

Update: If you were not able to attend the meeting, you can see the video of the public hearing.



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