November: Hot for Bike Advocacy

Green Lanes Planner/Engineer Tour

Behold, the many opportunities to speak up for better bicycling this month!

Winter is coming, but regional bike advocacy opportunities are heating up! November is packed with public meetings across the D.C. area that will impact bicycling. We’ve listed as many as we know about below. If you can attend, speak up for bicycling. Planners need to hear from you about the impact proposed projects could have on the bicycling community. You can also bookmark our public Google advocacy calendar, which is full of public meetings, WABA advocacy trainings and other upcoming events. If you have items for the calendar, email them to us at Rehabilitation of Broad Branch Road NW Tues., Nov. 5 , 6:30 p.m. Methodist Home of D.C., 4901 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. DDOT is studying four alternatives for the rehabilitation of Broad Branch Road NW as part of an Environmental Assessment. The section of Broad Branch slated for rehabilitation is 1.5-mile length of roadway between Linnean Avenue and Beach Drive. Only one alternative would include any bicycle facility: Alternative 4 purposes a climbing bike lane on the uphill side and a shared-laned on the downhill side. The EA is being released for 30 days for public comments; please submit your comments to DDOT by Nov. 22, 2013. The complete EA is available for public review on the project website at Proposed Rehabilitation of the Arlington Memorial Bridge Alternatives Meeting Wed., Nov. 13, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. The Little Theater, Washington Lee High School, 1301 North Stafford St., Arlington, Va. The George Washington Memorial Parkway is holding a public meeting to present alternatives for the proposed rehabilitation of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. All alternatives would resurface the road and repair the sidepath surface, which would be great improvement for commuters. However, no presented alternative improves the bridge’s greatest deficiency: access from the trails on both sides of the river. Any improvement of the bridge should address this major safety issue. There should be direct access to the bridge from the Mount Vernon Trail and trails on the National Mall. Comments may be submitted electronically on the project website at Community Meeting on the Rock Creek Trail Facility Plan Wed., Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Meadowbrook Park Activity Building, 7901 Meadowbrook Lane, Chevy Chase, Md. Montgomery Parks invites the community to review renovation plans for the Rock Creek Trail, including proposed renovations to the Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail, opportunities to enhance the natural environment along the trail, ways to reduce the frequency of trail maintenance, and ideas to improve safety, pavement conditions, drainage, and accessibility. For more information visit Fairfax Countywide Dialogue on Transportation Tues., Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Fairfax County Government Center Wed., Nov. 13, 7 p.m., Forest Edge Elementary School Fairfax County is seeking input on how to spend its new transportation funding from Virginia’s recently passed funding bill. How should $1.2 billion be spent over the next 6 years? And how much should be spent on bicycling? Show up to these two public meetings—the last regarding this transportation funding—and demand funding for bicycling be increased. Information about the meeting locations and time, and the entire planning process is online at

Get Ready for the Second Annual Fairfax Bike Summit on Sat., Nov. 2

Register now for the second annual Fairfax Bike Summit, at George Mason University from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 2. The theme is making mixed-use, transit-oriented developments bike friendly. Can Tysons become a bicycle-friendly community? We think it can, and we’ll explore the many challenges and opportunities for making Tysons and similar communities in Fairfax more bikeable. Additionally, vendors will have lots of interesting bikes and gear on display. Bike advocates and community leaders will have an opportunity to network and learn how to make Fairfax a better place. The registration fee is $25 and includes lunch and other refreshments. Register online. A limited number of slots are available for the pre-summit workshop, Infrastructure Advocacy 101, that will be held from 9-9:45 a.m. Jeff Olson of Alta Planning + Design, author of The Third Mode: Towards a Green Society, will be the keynote speaker. Other speakers include Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists and author of Smart Cycling: Promoting Safety, Fun, Fitness, and the Environment, Bill Nesper who directs the Bicycle Friendly America program at the League of American Bicyclists, Robert Thomson (Dr. Gridlock), and representatives from WABA, WMATA, Fairfax County DOT, VDOT, and several other organizations/companies. Fairfax County is undertaking a major transformation of Tysons in an effort to create a livable, walkable, automobile-independent community. Four new Silver Line Metro stations due to open in Tysons in 2014 are part of the foundation of that transformation. The Summit conversation:
  • Importance of bicycling to the future of Tysons
  • Bicycle and transit integration
  • Access and encouragement for all
  • Bikes and business
  • Safety, law enforcement, and evaluation
  • Where to next for Fairfax biking?
The success of the Tysons transformation could influence transit-oriented developments across Fairfax County for the next 40 years. From Merrifield to Springfield, Huntington to Reston, bicycle-oriented transportation options must be integral parts of future developments. The summit is staged by Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, in partnership with George Mason University, Fairfax County, and the city of Fairfax. If you are interested in volunteering or exhibiting at the summit, contact us at Hope to see you there!  

Read: Urban Land Institute’s “Shifting Suburbs” and What It Means for Fairfax County

Fairfax's Mosaic District is a dense, walkable development, but is best accessed by highways.

Fairfax’s Mosaic District is a dense, walkable development, but is most easily accessed by highways.

The Urban Land Institute recently published a new report, Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development, that examines the challenges of transforming low-density suburban areas into more compact, transit-oriented, mixed-use developments. The ULI report looks at rebuilding existing suburban infrastructure (primarily transportation infrastructure) in order to support more compact development. Over the next 30 years, the U.S. is expected to grow by 90 million people. The majority of that growth is expected to occur outside urban cores. Many young workers are choosing to live in more urban places with multiple transportation options, like walking, biking, and transit. In order to become competitive, some suburban communities want to be less car-dominated and more walkable and bikeable. Different types of suburban development lend themselves to different redevelopment strategies. Included in the ULI report are models of suburban mall retrofits, suburban transit-oriented development, suburban arterials or commercial corridors, wholesale or large-scale suburban transformation, and suburban town centers. All are present in Fairfax County—respectively, Springfield MallMerrifield; Routes 1, 7, and 50; Tysons; and Reston Town Center and Merrifield. Retrofitting suburban arterials such as Routes 1, 7, 50, and 123 is a major challenge. Such roads are often traffic-clogged and serviced only by infrequent and slow-moving bus service. Because of outdated zoning regulations, the only development that can occur is located low-density retail and commercial businesses immediately adjacent to the road. High-capacity highways like the Beltway, I-66, I-95, and the Dulles Toll Road also create barriers to dense development. Redevelopment needs to occur while being sensitive to the concerns of residents in nearby residential neighborhoods, or it won’t happen. The Ballston corridor is an example of high-density development existing near low-density residential development. Fortunately, there are considerable transit connections to these neighborhoods. But there are no easy solutions to reorganizing inner-ring suburbs for an expanding population. Changing a culture and landscape dependant on cars for mobility is a tremendous challenge. There is also a risk of creating islands of mixed-use communities in a sea of sprawl, which can only be accessed by wide, dangerous roads. Eight examples of suburban redevelopment are documented in the ULI report, including White Flint/Rockville Pike in Montgomery County. Here are some takeaways from reading about it and other case studies:
  • There is a significant last mile problem in trying to connect low-density suburban sprawl with mixed-use development centers. Unless walkable and bikeable transit-oriented suburban developments are connected to surrounding low-density areas by transit and safe, convenient, non-motor options, people will continue to drive for most local trips.
  • The importance of bicycling as a way to overcome the last mile problem is not discussed in the report. Bicycles can be a viable solution for accessing new developments from areas within 2-3 miles. ULI’s report treats cycling as an afterthought, such as when it describes a development as bike-friendly there are 35 bike racks. In sum, bicycling is briefly mentioned as a way to connect to transit but not as a viable mode in and of itself.
  • One advantage to wide, suburban arterials is that there is room to add options other than moving cars, like dedicated bus and bike lanes, physically separated cycletracks, bus rapid transit lanes, and streetcars.
Fairfax has focused new development around Metrorail stations, which have become active nodes. The massive redevelopment of Tysons along the new Silver Line is unprecedented, and the long-term vision for Tysons includes changes that will make walking, biking, and transit much more attractive options for itsmany future residents. Reading ULI’s case studies is encouraging—and depressing. Islands of smart growth are almost always surrounded by vast areas of suburban sprawl and bordered by wide multi-lane roads, forcing most people to drive for most trips. Even when transit (mostly bus) is available, it can be slow and infrequent, and there is a stigma amongst many suburbanites against using it; transit is for those who can’t afford a car. One of the biggest challenges to suburban transformation is opposition from existing residents who fear or otherwise resist change. Residents may want to be able to walk or bike to nearby destinations, but oppose nearby mixed use developments, fearing more car traffic. But our population is and will continue to grow regardless of how we feel. We need to figure out smart ways to accommodate more people, even in established, low-density suburban areas and especially in established, low-density suburban areas near transit. Bicycling can be a crucial way for people to get around these retrofitted suburbs. The first-ring suburbs in Fairfax present a great opportunity. In the D.C. area, such suburbs are largely located inside the Beltway. Their population density is higher the outer suburbs’, and there are more transit options available. There is also often an existing grid of streets that fosters biking and walking. Aging developments can be replaced with more compact, mixed-use projects. Examples in Fairfax include Seven Corners, Bailey’s Crossroads, and Annandale. With a growing population and limited resources, we need to find smarter ways to grow in the future. Dense, transit-oriented development that provides places to live, work, and play are one solution, and it requires us to transform our existing, mostly residential suburban areas into more livable, walkable, and bikeable places. This transformation won’t be easy, but it has already begun—and bicycling should play a key role in it. Bruce Wright is chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling and a WABA board member. This post will be cross-posted on the FABB blog. Photo by Flicker user Payton Chung

Your Comments Are Needed to Help Make Route 1 Through Fort Belvoir Safer for Bikes

CLICK HERE to state your support for biking accommodations on the widened Route 1 through Fort Belvoir

Earlier this week, Allen Muchnick—a longtime bicycling advocate, WABA member, former WABA board member, and current VBF board member—gave us an update on his ongoing efforts to ensure that safe bicycling accommodations are included in the widening of Route 1 through Fort Belvoir.

Fort Belvoir is just south of Mount Vernon on Route 1. That portion of Route 1 is designated as U.S. Bicycle Route 1, a Florida-to-Maine bicycle route used by long-distance riders. Given Fort Belvoir’s proximity to the Mount Vernon Trail and Route 1’s importance as a connector for northern Virginia cyclists, including accommodations for bikes on the widened road is a critical matter for regional bicyclists.

Local cyclists must speak up: Under current plans, VDOT will not create sufficient safe space for bicyclists in a project that improves a portion of roadway that their own mapping recognizes as part of one of the nation’s most important biking routes.

Please take a moment to send a comment to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board and the head of VDOT stating that Route 1 must be designed to allow for bicyclists to travel safely.

A more extensive explanation from Allen is below:

During the past two years, the Federal Highway Administration, Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD), has conducted environmental planning studies for widening 3.4 miles of U.S. Route 1 through Fort Belvoir in southern Fairfax County, under a $180 million federal allocation from the Defense Access Roads program of the US DoD. Recently, EFLHD has issued a Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) for its Environmental Assessment and Section 4(F) Evaluation on November 20, 2012, and on December 11 asked the Washington area MPO, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB), to amend its Transportation Improvement Program at its January 23, 2013 meeting to include this project for construction. I’ve been monitoring the phased widening of US-1 segments in Fairfax and Prince William Counties ever since a VDOT Route 1 Corridor Widening Study concluded in 1997 with a recommendation (in response to comments from cyclists) to accommodate bicycling on the roadway of this “urban boulevard” with 15-foot wide curb lanes for all 27 miles between the Capital Beltway/City of Alexandria and the Stafford County line, as well as provide a 10-wide shared foot path and a 5-foot wide sidewalk on opposite sides of the roadway. While I’d have preferred a recommendation for on-road bike lanes, VDOT was evidently reluctant to designate bike lanes on relatively high-speed roadways, and a 15-foot wide curb lane provides enough space to be eventually striped as an 11-foot travel lane beside a 4-foot bike lane. Moreover, at the time, VDOT had no plans to re-align US Bike Route 1 with US-1 anywhere along this 27-mile corridor. Since then, US Bike Route 1 has been blockaded through Fort Belvoir since the base was closed to the public in September 2001, while VDOT has provided no alternative routing pending EFLHD’s construction of a new parallel connecting road (Mulligan Rd) between US-1 and Telegraph Rd (Rte 611) which is scheduled to open in late 2013. Meanwhile, VDOT’s website now depicts US-1 through Fort Belvoir as the alignment of US Bike Route 1 and that alignment would considerably shorten USBR 1 in this area compared to following Old Mill Rd/Mulligan Rd to Telegraph Rd and then following Telegraph Rd to its southern terminus at US-1 in Lorton. (Despite being intended as a segment of USBR 1, Mulligan Rd is currently being built by EFLHD with 14-foot curb lanes rather than with 15-foot curb lanes or bike lanes.) As late as 2003, VDOT’s recommendation for 15-foot wide outside lanes to accommodate bicycling on US-1 was retained in VDOT’s Route 1 Location Study and in the three draft Environmental Assessments which the FHWA endorsed in 2003. However, in October 2011, when EFLHD held its first public information meeting for the Fort Belvoir segment of Rte 1, I learned that EFLHD had reduced the width of the curb lanes from 15-feet to 14-feet. I immediately wrote to the EFLHD project manager as well as to VDOT bicycle program staff in NoVA and Richmond, the Fairfax County bicycle coordinator, and others. I also attended EFLHD’s second public information meeting on June 5, 2012 where I submitted both written comments and oral comments with the court reporter, and I again asked VDOT and Fairfax County staff to intervene and support the retention of 15-foot wide curb lanes in this project. The comment summaries for both EFLHD public meetings include my requests to retain 15-foot curb lanes for bicycling (and to stripe them as 4-foot bike lanes plus 11-foot travel lane), but the approved Environmental Assessment still specifies 14-foot curb lanes. The roadway design specifies a 148-foot wide right of way with three travel lanes in each direction and a 32-wide landscaped median which is reserved as a potential dedicated future transitway. Furthermore, at least two intersections will be designed with triple left-turn-only lanes, and other intersections will have double right-turn-only lanes and/or double left-turn-only lanes. In view of the desirability and the outside pressures to not further widen the roadway, I have recommended that the proposed 39-foot width of mainline roadway (excluding concrete gutters) in each direction simply be reconfigured as a 12.5-foot inside lane, an 11.5-foot middle lane, an 11-foot outside lane, and a 4-foot bike lane. With dedicated right-turn lanes at each intersection, I believe that roadway bicyclists would be far better accommodated, especially at intersection approaches, by a roadway designed with designated bike lanes than by a roadway with wide curb lanes. Regardless, a 14-foot lane is too narrow for a bicyclist to safely share laterally with 50-MPH traffic. To initiate a final push for bike lanes or at least 15-foot curb lanes in this project, I made the attached public comment at the Dec. 19 TPB meeting. Several TPB members were supportive of my comments [but no changes have yet been made].

Please click here to send your comments in support of better bicycling accommodations to VDOT and the TPB.

A Complete Guide to DC’s 1st Annual Tour de Fat

NEXT SATURDAY, June 16th, The New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Ale, and WABA are hosting the biggest, most fanciful, bicycle celebration of all time. And for the first time ever it’s coming to DC! We’re going to celebrate bikes, make some new friends, and sip on a couple of cold, Rocky Mountain barley pops–all in the name of local bike advocacy! The Tour de Fat benefits WABA, MORE (Mid-Atlantic Offroad Enthusiasts), Black Women Bike DC, and FABB (Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling). Before the big day we want to make sure you know all the event details so that you and your friends come prepared, because a) you can’t miss this, and b) you must come prepared.  

Vital Details

WHEN: Saturday, June 16th, 9am – 4pm WHERE: The Yards Park COST: FREE with $5 suggested donation REGISTRATION: on-site

SCHEDULE: 9:00am – Parade Registration 9:00am – Free Bike Valet 10:00am – Bike Parade 11:00am –  Main Stage 12:00pm – Slide Show 12:00pm – Slow Ride 1:30pm –  Bike Trade 3:30pm – De Finale!

How to Get to the Tour de Fat

WITH OLD FRIENDS: By bicycle, of course! The Yards park is located at 10 Water St. SE, Washington, DC near the National’s Stadium. . For those traveling from far and away, it is advised that you find parking far from Yards Park. Parking in the area will be extremely limited due to the Yankees/National’s baseball game. WITH  NEW FRIENDS:  A number of local shops and organizations are leading convoy rides down to the park. We will update this list as convoy information becomes available. – Alexandria BPAC: One-way group ride departing at 8:30am at St. Elmo’s (2300 Mt Vernon Ave, 22301) RSVP to Bruce Dwyer,

What to wear

For those who’ve never participated, this is indeed a COSTUME AFFAIR. Costumes are enthusiastically encouraged!!  For some inspiration, check out this montage of photos from Tour de Fat’s of yore.

What to expect

The time of your life PARADE:  We will show off our rides and our bike pride by taking a short and slow cruise along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail FREE BIKE VALET:No need to bring your heavy U-lock, the folks at MORE are providing safe and secure bike parking all day long. MUSIC: Featuring Mucca Pazza, Ian Cooke, and Yo-Yo People GAMES: We don’t want to giveaway all the surprises, but we heard for one of the games, New Belgium’s creative genius’ constructed life-size Jenga. Yes, life-size. BIKE PIT: Imagine if instead of creating candy, Willy Wonka created bicycles. PERFORMANCES: Le Tigre’s whimsical ways will woo us all day long.

How to prepare

Start mixing up your papier-mâché pulp, pull out that tutu from your college years, give your bike a quick tune-up, and invite your friends to the biggest bike festival DC has ever seen.

Safe Routes to School Moving Forward in Fairfax County Public Schools!

IWTSD 026The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) regional network is ending the year with several major successes in Fairfax County. After convening a special SRTS working group within Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Transportation and Safety division in June, FCPS has agreed to several initiatives that will highlight SRTS activities and increase the numbers of students walking or biking to school everyday. FCPS will add SRTS specific language to their “Golden Wellness Award” scorecard, which is used to determine how closely the individual schools are implementing the FCPS Health and Wellness Policy. This sought after award will now include specific recommended activities, like Walking Wednesdays, Bike Trains, Walking School Buses, participation in International Walk to School Day (IWTSD) as well as Bike to School Day. In addition, delivery of bicycle and pedestrian safety education at the individual school will be a required element in order to win the award. The schools system’s 95210 A Day (9 hours of sleep, 5 fruits and vegetables, less than 2 hours of screen time, at least 1 hour of exercise and 0 sugary drinks) will be updated to include walking or bicycling to school as a suggested activity to get to the 1 hour daily activity goal. FCPS has also agreed to create and host a SRTS focused webpage with resources for school administrators, parents, community champions and children who would like to see more SRTS activities at their school. This site will include policy, curriculum standards and sample lesson plans, state and local contacts, grant application resources, sample newsletter articles and resources for planning walking and bicycling events. FCPS will also prepare scripts and create videos specifically geared to youth bicycling and safe pedestrian practices for the Fairfax County public access television channels as well as the internal FCPS channels. An annual survey of schools will be continued (modeled after the first one in May 2011) in order to adequately account for how every student is transported to and from school. Counts will be made of bus riders, walkers, kiss and ride users as well as data collected comparing those numbers to the assigned mode. The survey in May proved invaluable, allowing us to create a list of the top ten schools where with a little encouragement, FCPS could see an increase in the numbers of students walking or bicycling to school, thereby alleviating the extreme traffic jams due to the kiss and ride queues. Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) is contemplating creating a “Green Transit” award for the top schools in Fairfax Co who increase their assigned mode numbers, whether it is by bus transportation or walking or bicycling. A survey of the 27 schools who participated in IWTSD will also be completed to determine their strategies, success and participation rate. FCPS officials also committed to working in tandem with Fairfax County transportation planners to submit an application for a SRTS non-infrastructure grant in the spring and also agreed to begin the process of determining which school locations would most benefit from an infrastructure grant, when the application is revised and those grant opportunities announced. The FCPS SRTS Working Group will continue to meet quarterly throughout 2012 to update partners on progress, monitor initiatives and strategize for system wide events, including Bike to School Day (in conjunction with Bike to Work Day) in May and International Walk to School Day in October. Author’s Note:  This article inadvertently left out those on our Fairfax County SRTS Task Force who have worked tremendously hard to achieve this progress in the County.  Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), Trails for Youth as well as Wolf Trap Elementary parent, Jeff Anderson and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ Transportation Advisory Committee member Jenifer Joy Madden were central to this effort.

WABA Releases 2011 Regional Call to Action

Last week, at its regional summit on bicycling advocacy, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) previewed its Regional Call to Action for better bicycling in the area. The Call to Action focuses on making bicycling a viable form of transportation for a much broader segment of the population. Currently, approximately 3% of DC residents bike to work according to the most recent American Community Survey. WABA’s goal is to continue to improve cycling conditions for those who already bike, but to make improvements in a way that will induce the 60% of people who say that they are interested in biking, but concerned about some element, to give cycling a try. “We need to think bigger and think broader about making bicycling appealing to the average person who simply wants to get where he or she is going in a convenient, economical way,” says WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing. “For bicycling to become and remain a viable transportation option for the average person, it needs to be usable, connected, safe, and protected. While biking is great fun and great sport, it is also–in many parts of our region–the fastest and easiest and cheapest way to simply run an errand or make a short trip. In those parts of our region that lag behind, where conditions are not what they need to be for the average person to bike comfortably, we must accept the challenge and bring about improvements.” WABA’s last Call to Action, in 2000, was directed to the District of Columbia government, and focused energy on the improvement of District bicycling facilities. In that 11 year period, the number of miles of bike lanes has jumped from less than three to more than fifty, the District Department of Transportation has built a reputable bike program, and bicycle mode share in DC has tripled. This 2011 Regional Call to Action is directed to the bicycling community, encouraging every cyclist to get involved in the growth of cycling. The full Regional Call to Action document is available for download at here: 2011 Call to Action

Nov. 3rd Call to Action Summit’s Speakers

WABA’s upcoming Regional Call to Action Summit on November 3rd is going to be an exciting day for bicycle advocacy in the Washington region.  Over the last two months, WABA has held five of the six local stakeholder meetings in Maryland, Virginia and DC (the sixth and final meeting is next Monday, 10/17 in Fairfax Co.) to listen to members, supporters, advocates, bike shop owners and other community members about what is needed to improve bicycling in the region.  With this feedback in mind, WABA staff and board are creating a Regional Call to Action document to help prioritize the next five years of bicycle advocacy.   The November 3rd Regional Call to Action Summit will present this document along with others speakers and panels related to the report.  Below is the schedule for the speakers and panel.  Learn more about the Summit at  Please join us on November 3rd and please RSVP. 8:30 am – Gathering & Coffee 9:30 am – Welcome 9:45 am – Tools for Planning Healthy Communities – Gina Arlotto (WABA’s Safe Routes to School Network Coordinator) 10:15 am – Crashed! Your Legal Rights In A Bicycle Accident – Bruce Deming, Lawyer 11:00 am – Panel: Regional Bikesharing – Speakers TBA 12:00 pm – Lunch Break (1 1/2 hour) 1:30pm – Panel: Planning Bicycle & Pedestrian Access to Metro – Nat Bottigheimer (WMATA Assistant General Manager), Patrick Schmitt (WMATA Parking Manager), Kristin Haldeman (WMATA Manager of Access Planning & Policy Analysis), Justin Antos (WMATA Transportation Analyst) 2:30 – Panel: The Role of Bicycle Businesses in Advocacy – Jakob Wolf-Barnett (Chief Operating Officer, Revolutions Cycles), Erik Kugler (Owner, BicycleSPACE), Stephen Marks (Managing Partner, Bike the Sites), Debora Hardng (CEO, City Bikes), Anne Mader (Owner, The Bike Lane) 3:30 pm – WABA’s Presentation of Regional Call to Action 4:30 pm – Summit End

International Walk (and Bike!) to School Day Embraced by Fairfax County Public Schools!

This year, for the first time, Fairfax County Public Schools are embracing International Walk to School Day on October 5 system-wide.  In the past, participating in IWTSD was suggested, but not strongly encouraged by the administration, so few schools participated. A positive, strong message was sent by Superintendent Dale to lend his words of encouragement and support in a press release last week  (see below). With the support of Superintendent Dale we are hopeful that more schools than ever before will join in a celebration of healthy daily activity and walk or bike to school on October 5!  Fairfax County Police will join in on the action by coordinating their pedestrian safety initiative to occur in the last week of September. In addition, the Fairfax County Council of PTAs drafted their own statement of support in an email to all members and praised Superintendent Dale’s initiative. This exciting development came about thanks to months of work by our Fairfax County Safe Routes to School task force, made up of WABA staff, FABB, Trails for Youth, parents and concerned Fairfax County Board of Supervisor members.  It’s not to late to register YOUR school for IWTSD!  Please see to register! Gina Arlotto is the DC and regional Safe Routes to School Network Coordinator.  Her work focuses on making it safer for children to walk or bike to and from school. ++++++++++++++++++ FCPS embraces International Walk to School system-wide in 2011 – Make sure your school is part of October 5th. Over the past year, interested parents, citizens and representatives of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), Washington Area Bicycling Association (WABA) and Trails for Youth have been meeting with leaders from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the FCPS School Board, the FCCPTA and the Fairfax County Education Coalition (FEC) to encourage FCPS to address the decline in children walking and biking to school. As a result of these meetings, on October 5th FCPS is embracing a system-wide promotion of International Walk to School Day – an effort to promote physical activity and reduce traffic congestion and pollution near schools. Superintendent Jack D. Dale and Fairfax County Executive Tony Griffin are joining forces to encourage county residents to take part. “Walking is a simple way to incorporate physical activity into your day,” said Dale. “We encourage all FCPS students and families to participate in this day and to use walking or biking as a means of getting to school whenever possible.” Students at all school levels are encouraged to walk or bike to school or walk to their bus stop on October 5. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children to school and to work with their school and PTA or PTO to assemble walking groups for the event. Schools that want to participate can register online at the Walk to School website. We need your assistance in getting the word out so that local schools can join with the SIX that have already signed up and started their planning for International Walk to School Day. In addition, the FCCPTA passed a resolution earlier this year in support of Safe Routes to School. In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school and 87% of children living within one mile of school did. Today, fewer than 15% of school children walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. So as to better understand how to find solutions to this 35% decrease, FCPS has created a Safe Routes to School working group made up of FCPS and County employees, members of the community from the groups mentioned and the Fairfax County Police Department. Wolftrap Elementary School and Vienna Elementary School are two of several Fairfax County public schools which have established bike and walk to school initiatives. Wolftrap began its program with general bike and walking education for all students in addition to establishing a monthly run Wolfie’s bike train where students bike to school together when weather permits. The school also moved its Kiss and Ride drop-off and pick-up spots in order to separate automobile traffic from pedestrian traffic. Vienna Elementary is embarking on a plan to create Walking Wednesdays and has applied for a grant to install missing sidewalks along many of its walking routes. Both schools joined Cunningham Park Elementary School in May 2011 to have a Bike and Walk to School Challenge between the three schools. Over the course of the week, 400 children biked and 2100 walked to school and each school saw parent use of Kiss and Ride drop by nearly 50%. Several public officials joined in during the week and some shared their perspective on walking to school. In addition, you can read about how the installation of a bridge near Kilmer Middle School ultimately led to so many students bicycling to school that the PTA had to install new racks. For more information, read up on Safe Routes on the FABB site or contact

Shape the next 5 years of bicycle advocacy in the Washington, DC region!

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is pleased to announce its Regional Call to Action Summit on November 3rd, 2011 in Arlington, VA. At the Call to Action Summit, WABA will be presenting a five-year plan of regional and local priorities for bicycling in the Washington Region. The summit will include presentations on the Metro’s long-term bicycle and pedestrian plans, health planning and bicycles, a panel discussion on the economics of the bicycle industry and much more.

We want your input on the regional plan!

1) Please attend a Local Stakeholder’s Meeting

We will be holding short, two hour meetings in the six local jurisdictions that WABA serves in order to gather your ideas and give you–the region’s local bicyclists–a chance to provide input for the regional plan. We ask attendees to please download and complete the Pre-Meeting Planning Sheet prior to the meeting. 9/13 – Prince George’s Co. – Greenbelt Library Aud., 6pm to 8pm – More Info & RSVP 9/20 – Montgomery Co. – Kensington Park Comm. Library, 6pm to 8pm – More Info & RSVP 9/27 – Arlington Co. – Shirlington Branch Library, 6:30pm to 8:30pm – More Info & RSVP 10/4 – Alexandria Co. – Nannie J Lee Rec. Center, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm – More Info & RSVP 10/11 – District of Columbia – Benning Library, 6:30pm to 8:30pm – More Info & RSVP 10/17 – Fairfax Co. – Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA, 6pm to 8pm – More Info & RSVP

2) Can’t make the local meeting?

The one page PDF planning sheet gives a basic framework for providing input for the five year regional priority plan we are creating. Whether you are at your local meeting or not, WABA and your fellow bike advocates want to hear from you! Please submit your input by emailing by October 21st, 2011

Attend the Regional Call to Action Summit on November 3rd, 2011

Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Call to Action Summit Location Waterview Conference Center 1919 N Lynn St Arlington, VA 22209 Google Map Link (create bicycle directions!) Metro Accessible via the Rosslyn Station on the Blue & Orange Lines Bike Accessible via the Mount Vernon Trail, Custis Trail & the Key Bridge More information and to RSVP for the November 3rd Call to Action Summit We hope to see you at a local meeting or the Call to Action Summit on November 3rd.