Capital Trails Coalition Testifies about ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan Budget

On April 15th, Fairfax County held their public hearing on the County Executive’s Proposed FY 2022 Operating & Capital Improvement Plan Budgets. This was one of three opportunities for community members to comment and testify on the proposed budget. (To read and learn more about budget hearings, visit our post about them here!)  Our Trails Coalition Manager, Stephanie Piperno, represented the CTC and testified at the hearing to verbally support adding funding for Phase Two of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan as well as to advocate for funding working toward filling in gaps on the Arlington Boulevard Trail. 

Fairfax County is working on updating their active transportation network by combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. The goal of this project is to establish and implement safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets and trails in Fairfax County for users of all ages and abilities. The ActiveFairfax Transportation plan will combine the vision for bicycling from the Bicycle Master Plan created in 2014, together with infrastructure, benefits, and highlights of the Countywide Trails Plan map that was last updated in 2018. Combined, these two plans offer the blueprint needed to create a connected and seamless network of on-street facilities and trails.

The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan launched in the summer of 2020 and has an expected completion date of Winter 2022. It has been split into two distinct phases with Phase One including the development of a vision statement, goals, and objectives, as well as a thorough inventory and assessment of previous planning efforts and existing conditions. The development of a Systematic Safety Program Plan was also included in Phase One. Phase Two, and our focus, includes the development of active transportation network recommendations and facility selection toolkit, coordination with potential updates to the current Comprehensive Plan, and an implementation approach that includes policy, program, and strategies on project prioritization. Phase Two really comes down to implementation. We urged the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to fund Phase Two of the plan during this budget cycle as we do not want to see the momentum slow and the safety improvements proposed in Phase One shelved. We need these safety improvements implemented as soon as possible, especially as our region is seeing an unprecedented increase in traffic fatalities despite there being fewer cars on the road.   

Additionally, to further our mission of creating an expansive, accessible, and safe trail network, we also encouraged the completion of the Arlington Boulevard trail, as its current state—riddled with significant gaps in pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly facilities—proves to make for an unreliable route for trail users. In connecting existing trail segments and creating new sections, we can create a 22-mile trail from Fairfax City all the way to the National Mall! One major gap is in the Merrifield area where there is no trail connection over I-495 (the Capital Beltway). 

 We proposed that Fairfax County include funding in the FY 2022 budget to study the best locations for two trail crossings along the I-495—one north and one south of Arlington Boulevard. Funding this study is the first step needed to complete the Arlington Boulevard Trail. Arlington Boulevard crosses several jurisdictional lines and connects people living in adjacent neighborhoods to offices, retail, parks, schools, and government services. But, it currently lacks a consistent, safe place for people to walk and bike. The Arlington Boulevard Trail will connect dozens of neighborhoods along Arlington Boulevard which will significantly increase pedestrian and bicycle trips by the people living near the route including the 202,320 people residing within just one mile of the trail. Connecting the gaps will lead to a continuous route that will create access from the trail to 17 activity centers, 30 different schools, 20 different parks, and much more. Funding the completion of the Arlington Boulevard Trail is a no-brainer!

You can find our full testimony here

These trails are going to transform our region

Something exciting is growing in the DMV: a world-class trails network that will provide car-free connections between job centers, schools, and neighborhoods across our region. These gorgeous trails are a destination in themselves, creating much-needed outdoor space for exercise and play in addition to transportation.

With more than 10 miles of trails under construction right now, we’re closer than ever to a region where trails are an everyday option for transportation. There are priority trail projects in progress across our region:

  • The I-66 Trail in Fairfax County will improve transportation options, bicycle connectivity and safety throughout the I-66 corridor 
  • A new section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, won by decades of advocacy, will fill an important gap between Brookland and Fort Totten
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation has broken ground on the Capital Crescent Trail extension (a part of The Purple Line project). When complete, this project will be transformative for the region—finally completing the vision of a Capital Crescent Trail directly linking downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. 

Despite this good progress, there are over 300 miles of planned trails that haven’t seen a shovel yet. We can change that in 2021  by making sure our elected officials know that trails are important to us.

Learn more about WABA’s work to build trails with the Capital Trails Coalition and the Coalition’s priority projects here.

Fairfax County has two bike-relevant meetings on Thursday

A chance for a new bike-ped bridge:

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host a community meeting to discuss proposed bicycle and pedestrian crossings on the Fairfax County Parkway Trail at the Dulles Toll Road Ramp on Thursday, Sept. 14, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the cafeteria of Dogwood Elementary School, 12300 Glade Drive, Reston. Two options that are under consideration include at-grade intersection improvements and a pedestrian-bicycle bridge. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/pkwytrail-dullestollrd.htm

More bike lanes!

Fairfax County will hold a public meeting on September 14, 2017, to solicit comments on the proposed FY 2019 Transportation Alternatives Projects. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033. At the meeting, county staff will make a presentation about the program, followed by a question-and-answer session. More details here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/news/2017/17_004.htm  

WABA Rides in Fairfax County

Bicycling in the region is so challenging and fun in part because the bike infrastructure can change so quickly. Fairfax residents recently had the opportunity to appreciate and experience just how unpredictable biking can be on our first Community Ride in the county. Specifically, WABA was asked by Connections at MetroWest to conduct a ride that started and ended at the community center on their property next to the Vienna Metrorail Station. The purpose of the ride was to show the community how easy and fun it is to get around by bicycle. Fourteen folks showed up for the ride with a variety of bikes and experience levels. The age of the participants–as well as the number of months since they last rode a bike–ranged greatly from 9 – 75. After everyone was checked in and the waivers were signed, a few of WABA’s excellent, experienced educators (all of them certified as League Cycling Instructors) reviewed helmet-fit, explained how and why to do pre-ride bike checks, and gave out tips for riding in a group. Finally, it was time to set off and explore the community. The first stop was Nottoway Park, a beautiful stretch of green space in Vienna with walking trails and a variety of courts and fields for games. As soon as we passed the park, a few participants in the ride stated, “I had no idea this was so close, and so easy to get to.” We proceeded to climb Tapawingo road, demonstrating how to ride outside of the “door zone” simply by riding in the middle of the lane. Once the group crested the hill, we wended our way through the neighborhood to get to the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail. Before riding on the trail, the group reviewed proper trail etiquette such as riding single-file, staying to the right, slowing down and giving ample space when passing slower moving trail users. We also stressed the need to plan ahead for the most unpredictable users of the trail: pets, children, and wildlife. After our time on the trail, we made our way back to our starting point where delicious cookies and water, generously provided by Connections at MetroWest were waiting for us. WABA’s Community Rides are intentionally not fast or lengthy. On this ride, we covered 5.5 miles in about 90 minutes. These rides are specifically designed to explore communities, give riders the opportunity to become more familiar with riding, and to connect them more closely with their neighborhoods (and neighbors!). Big thanks to the team at Connections at MetroWest for providing this opportunity, we can’t wait to go for another ride! Would you like to explore your region by bike? Then come and ride with WABA.

Fairfax County Advocacy Updates

There are a few big projects in Fairfax County that we’re working on this month that you should know about:

The I-66 Trail

Thanks to the hard work of a number of advocates, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is extending the Custis Trail from Dunn Loring to Centreville as part of the Transform I-66 project, but the designs we’ve seen don’t look good. In many sections, the trail is squeezed between the highway and the sound barrier, which limits access and makes for an extremely unpleasant trail experience.

Like this, but without the grass. Doesn’t that look fun?

VDOT needs to hear that this design is not good enough. The agency is hosting three meetings next week, if you’d like to tell the project managers that the design needs to be improved. Monday, June 12, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Oakton High School Cafeteria 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181 Wednesday, June 14, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Stone Middle School Cafeteria 5500 Sully Park Drive, Centreville, VA 20120 Thursday, June 15, 2017 6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Piney Branch Elementary School Cafeteria/Gym 8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136 You can find more information about the Transform I-66 project here.

Support Bike Lanes on Rose Hill Drive:

Despite having almost no impact on parking or existing travel lanes, the County has received vocal pushback to proposed bike lanes on Rose Hill Drive. The comment period is open until June 19, so share your support for bike lanes in Fairfax today: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/rosehillbikelanes2017.htm

Also some good news: Have you seen Fairfax County’s new bike map?

You can obtain a free copy of the print version of this map at a variety of locations around the County, or you can see the online version here. You can provide feedback, too! If you have input or feedback on the map, give the bike team a call at 703-324-BIKE (2453).

Support Biking in Tysons on Monday

support-tysons-2015-bike-lanesFairfax County recently announced that several major roads in Tysons could soon have bike infrastructure as part of the county’s summer repaving schedule. We need you to speak up for biking at a public meeting on Monday, March 16 at Westbriar Elementary School from 7-9 p.m. Here is the proposed new bike infrastructure:
  • Greensboro Dr. – Road diet from Spring Hill Rd. to Solutions Dr.
  • Tyco Rd. – Road diet from Route 7 to Spring Hill Rd.
  • Westbranch Dr, – Road diet from Westpark Dr. to Jones Branch Dr.
  • Jones Branch Dr. – Climbing lane from International Dr. to Westpark Dr.
  • Spring Hill Rd. – Combination of bike lanes/sharrows from Route 7 to International Dr.
  • Westwood Center Dr. – Sharrows from Route 7 to the end of the road
A full map of proposed bike projects is online here. Meeting Details Monday, March 16 at 7-9 p.m. Westbriar Elementary School 1741 Pine Valley Dr., Vienna, VA 22182 Google Map directions Since these projects are part of the repaving schedule, no additional funds are available to supplement the projects. They may not be perfect, but it’s important that we support this effort by the county. If you work or bike in Tysons, please consider attending this meeting to support these important projects. Check the Fairfax Bike Pages or the FABB blog for more info.

Fairfax County Bike Master Plan Passes Unanimously!

fairfax-count-bos Last night, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of the Fairfax Bike Master Plan (read the official county press release). The plan recommends 1,130 miles in new on-street and off-road trails to create a connected network across the county. This is first bike master plan for the County. 17 speakers testified at the public hearing in support of the proposed plan. Only one person spoke in opposition. “By giving me [transportation] choices, you literally have changed my life” said Jenifer Joy Madden, a County resident speaking about connecting to new bus and Metro service in Tysons on bicycle. Building a bike-friendly community starts with a plan and strong commitment from elected officials. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors made a important endorsement of bicycling for recreation and transportation. Chairman Sharon Bulova said, “bicycling is not only for recreation, but for transportation” citing the full bike racks at the new County bike parking facility at the Wiehle Ave Metro Station. Thank you to all 700 local residents who signed our petition in support of the Bike Master Plan. Congratulations to the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), including a special shout-out to Bruce Wright, for tireless efforts on this campaign. FABB is a sponsored project of WABA. We worked together on this advocacy effort. WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today.

Tell Fairfax County to Adopt the Bike Master Plan

Fairfax County currently does not have a bike master plan. And that’s not good. The proposed Bike Master Plan contains recommendations for developing a comprehensive bicycle network. It also includes guidelines for bike-friendly programs and policies. The plan vision is “Meeting the safety, access, and mobility needs of bicyclists today, while encouraging more people to bicycle in the future…making Fairfax County bicycle friendly and bicycle safe.” Without a master plan, Fairfax County Department of Transportation has fallen behind in implementing bicycling improvements. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the county’s Bicycle Master Plan (Phase II) on Wednesday, October 1 at 8:15 p.m. There needs to be a strong showing by residents who support the plan. Please consider attending the public hearing to show your support for the plan. Details about the October 1st hearing can be found online here. You can sign up to testify at the Planning Commission using this form. The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on October 28. Look for another WABA email alert prior to that hearing. We are also asking cyclists to sign the FABB Bicycle Master Plan petition urging the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to approve the plan. This petition is from the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

VDOT Installs Bike Lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is almost finished installing the bike lanes on on Sherwood Hall Lane. We asked our WABA members and supporters in southern Fairfax County to speak up in support of the project during the public process back in March. With overwhelming support for the bike lanes, VDOT moved this project forward. VDOT proposed traffic calming improvements and bike lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane in southern Fairfax County. This road is an important bicycle connection between Mount Vernon Parkway/Fort Hunt Road and the Route 1 corridor. Bike lanes now extend about 1.75 miles. Del. Scott Survell (VA-44th) has recorded a video tour of the new bike lanes with his helmet camera, you can watch them on his blog. There has been little push back to the new bike lanes. There was however a negative Letter to the Editor about the Sherwood Hall Lane bike lanes in the Mount Vernon Voice on August 20th. Read it online here. Letter to the Editor in support of the bike lanes can be sent to their editors through their website. Thank you to Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald Hyland, Virginia Senator Toddy Puller, and Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell for their support of this project. WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today to enable us to continue to achieve success in our advocacy work.

A First Step Toward Better Bike Lanes in MD and VA

Two way protected bike lane illustration from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

This week, WABA sent letters to local departments of transportation requesting consideration and adoption of the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The NACTO guide presents state-of-the-practice solutions that create safe, enjoyable complete streets for current and new bicyclists. The NACTO guide provides county traffic engineers with additional designs for innovative bicycling facilities that use several techniques to encourage new bicyclists, primarily by separating bike lanes from car traffic. The guide also has recommendations for designing on-road facilities such as buffered bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), bike boxes, contraflow bike lane and other facilities.  Adoption of the NACTO guide by local DOTs clears one of the many obstacles to building protected bike lanes.

Why protected bike lanes?

Protected bike lanes keep current bicyclists safer while encouraging new people to use bicycles for transportation. WABA is working to increase the miles of protected bike lanes throughout the region. Learn about our advocacy priority and our local campaign to build a protected bike lanes in Bethesda. More local campaigns are coming soon. We sent letters to the Directors of Transportation for Fairfax County, Prince Georges’ County, Montgomery County and the City of Alexandria*. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Arlington County have already endorsed the guide and are currently implementing protected bike lanes. We will publish the written responses we receive from the departments to the blog. Read the full letter requesting adoption of NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. * Update: The City of Alexandria has also endorsed the NACTO guide.