Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Updated Capital Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Shows Growth of Biking and Biking Facilities in Area

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has updated and posted its "Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan for the National Capital Region” on the MWCOG website. One of the plan’s key findings was that, based on information from the census bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS), the percentage of people who biked to work on an average day in the Washington area doubled from 0.3% to 0.6% over the first decade of the 21st century and, in Fairfax County, the commute by bike mode share went from .14% in 2000 to .3% in 2012.

The council, with help from bike coordinators from local and state departments of transportation and civilian advocates on its Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee, has identified major bicycle and pedestrian projects the region wants to complete by 2040 along with “best practices” likely to be effective in achieving those goals. The updated plan includes lots of interesting data points about bicycling in Fairfax County.

In addition to mode share (the percentage of travelers or number of trips using a particular type of transportation), the plan discusses trends in policy and safety.

For example, Fairfax County is on par with or ahead of most of its neighbors by having 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) bicycle planner, 1 FTE pedestrian planner, and 2 FTE trail planners. Similarly, Fairfax County’s full-time, school district-level Safe Routes to School Coordinator keeps it on par with or ahead of most of its neighbors. Fairfax County schools’ participation in Bike to School Day dropped from 35 to 32 schools between 2013 and 2014 but was still the highest in the region.

With regard to safety, the updated plan notes that bike injuries in the region have been rising sharply since 2010, driven largely by the increase in bicycling in the District of Columbia. In Fairfax in 2012, there were 9 bike crashes and 10 bike injuries per 100,000 residents. Annual average fatalities for the period of 2011 to 2013 for Fairfax included pedestrians and cyclists and at .77 per 100,000 residents were the second lowest in the region (Fairfax’s estimated 2013 population was 1,130,924). Such fatalities have been declining in Fairfax, dropping from 13 in 2010 to 8 in 2013. Of those, 4 fatalities were bicyclists in 2010 and there were 0 bicyclist fatalities in 2013.

Finally, the updated plan includes an appendix that lists and provides basic information on 336 bicycle and pedestrian projects planned for the National Capital Region and 73 projects completed since 2006. According to the council, the planned facilities, if completed, will provide 450 miles of bicycle lanes, 630 miles of shared-used paths and signed bicycle routes, and 20 major pedestrian/bicycle intersection improvement projects.

Submitted by Steven Ward, FABB.

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