The results of nearly two years of work on the Fairfax Bicycle Master Plan were presented last night at the Reston Regional Library. Fairfax County unveiled the proposed bicycle route network along with program and policy recommendations for making Fairfax a better place to bike.
The goal of the plan is to increase bicycle use for transportation, especially for non-commute trips, which are about 75 percent of all trips. All residents, from 8-80 (or 8-90 as Joe Stowers suggested last night), should have a safe network of trails and on-road bike facilities that connect cyclists with major destinations.
According to a survey conducted as part of this process, the major reason people don't take short trips by bicycle is because of gaps in the network of trails and bike lanes. I'll state the obvious. When people can safely bike to local destinations they are much more likely to travel by bike.
Over the past year the bicycle plan team held eight public meetings around the county to hear from cyclists about where bicycle facilities are needed in their area. (See a summary of comments from the area meetings). In additional they held focus groups on topics such as the connection between bicycling and health, law enforcement, bicycle safety education, school transportation, and the economic impacts of bicycling.
Some of the highlights of the plan in Reston include creating safe, convenient bike connections to the Wiehle Ave and Reston Parkway Metro stations, bike lanes in the Reston Town Center area, and extending the Lawyers Road bike lanes in both the east and west directions.
Participants at the meeting last night ranked a list of 18 suggested bicycle initiatives. Among the top choices were: Strengthen the current Bicycle Program with additional funding and staff; Create an organization to encourage more people to travel by bike similar to BikeArlington; Provide new funding for working with VDOT to create bike lanes and paved shoulders; and Create a Countywide Bicycle Advisory Committee.
The plan will be completed in July. Comments can be made until June 30. After completion of the plan, workshops explaining the recommendations will be held with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, with the goal of holding public hearings and final approval of the plan the end of this year. Then begins the real work; implementing the plan and finally making Fairfax a better place to bike.
The group I chair, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), advocated for the plan and members have been working with the county and consultant, attending all of the public meetings, and representing cyclists on the Bicycle Plan Advisory Committee. We'll continue that work to ensure the plan is implemented and does not sit on a shelf and gather dust. To learn more about FABB visit fabb-bikes.org.