Virginians, Don't forget to vote today (the way I forgot to hit "publish" on this post until just now).
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) recently released responses to the FABB Candidate Surveys. FABB sent a list of questions regarding bicycling in Fairfax County to candidates for the Board of Supervisors and a separate set to FCPS School Board candidates. A total of 12 of 19 responses were received from the Board of Supervisor candidates and 19 of the 24 from the School Board candidates.
All Board of Supervisors candidates who responded agreed with "Do you support safe bicycling as an integral part of the overall transportation options in Fairfax County." These same candidates would also support Fairfax County seeking recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists.
Three quarters or 75 % of respondents said they support implementing the Bicycle Master Plan recommendation to "Allocate an annual budget dedicated to bicycle planning and program initiatives."
Another recommendation of the Bicycle Master Plan, funding Bike Fairfax in FY17, if funds are available was supported by most . One respondent did not support this recommendation.
FABB is encouraged by the overwhelming support by the Board of Supervisor Candidates for improving bicycling in Fairfax County.
All School Board candidates who responded to the survey generally agreed with the statement "The school system and school board should be doing more to enable FCPS students to walk and bike to school instead of driving or being driven."
When asked whether they would support "hiring of a full-time Safe Routes to School Coordinator" when grant funding for the current position ends in August 2016, the responses were mixed. Two respondents said no. Most others supported the goal of a full-time SRTS position but only under certain conditions given the current budget situation.
The majority of respondents "support a comprehensive traffic safety education program that ensures, at the appropriate age levels, all students learn how to safely walk, bike, drive and use transit for their daily travel needs." Two candidates did not support such a program, despite such being current School Board policy.
While several respondents supported the concept of conducting a "comprehensive transportation study of FCPS to understand FCPS' student transportation patterns, regional traffic impact, costs and other factors that drive decision making," four did not support such a study and others expressed qualified support.
FABB is encouraged with the support for improving bicycling in Fairfax County exhibited by the Board of Supervisor candidates and School Board candidates FABB does not endorse candidates.
Alexandria’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee surveyed candidates for Alexandria Mayor and City Council to gain their perspectives on issues for people who walk and bike. Let’s take a look at how the candidates stack up. We received responses from one announced mayoral candidate: William “Bill” Euille, and five City Council Candidates: John Taylor Chapman, Tim Lovain, Monique Miles, Townsend “Van” Van Fleet, and Justin Wilson.
Disconnected and Missing Sidewalks
There are parts of the city where walking is made extraordinarily difficult by things such as disconnected sidewalk segments, such as on Seminary and Duke, and streets completely devoid of sidewalks, such as part of Crestwood. How will you address these issues?
William “Bill” Euille: Advocate for expansion of “complete streets” in these areas, in addition to sidewalk connectivity and repairs, landscaping, signage and lighting.
John Taylor Chapman: I will continue to work with city staff and citizens to highlight these areas in the city, and ask the Transportation Director to come up with an initiative designed to effectively and efficiently connect the city’s sidewalks that can be voted on within the city budget process.
Tim Lovain: I am proud of the efforts the City has made in recent years to greatly increase the number and quality of sidewalks in Alexandria, but we still have a long ways to go. I have fought for more City funding for sidewalks as part of Complete Streets funding. We need to keep in mind, however, that sidewalks can be very expensive, especially compared to crosswalks and bike lanes. I will continue, however, to advocate for robust funding for sidewalk construction in Alexandria.
Monique Miles: Pedestrian safety is extremely important, not only for residents and commuters, but for visitors of our City. Alexandria should have a complete street grid. All areas of the City deserve high-quality transportation infrastructure, and at the least connected sidewalks. If we continue to forget areas of the city, we are fundamentally failing in our most basic task. To address this issue, I would ask City Staff to spend time producing a map of our city that identifies where the sidewalk grid breaks down and disconnects. Each area of our city should have safe sidewalk systems that allow for pedestrians to move about the City in a safe manner without subjecting them to walking on a curb or through a dirt path. I will make sure that any improvements needed are prioritized and made in a timely manner. We must receive our fair share of tax dollars from Richmond and invest them in improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure system. I hope to work with developers to improve the street grid at their new projects and create a more connected and walkable community.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: Our infrastructure needs are extremely large over the next 10-20 years, however the problems you mention ought to receive priority maintenance.
Justin Wilson: I am strong supporter of continued funding to address sidewalk gaps throughout the City. Ensuring consistent sidewalks around our City is one of the easiest ways to promote pedestrian safety.
Sharing the Road on King and Union Street
If elected, what will you do to help people who walk, people who bike, and people who drive to share the road safely together in the King St/Union St neighborhood?
William “Bill” Euille: Improve the congestion impacts by increasing signage, markings and police patrols; until the proposed new pedestrian plaza is completed in future years. Safety is a must for all.
John Taylor Chapman: I will be pushing for signage improvements, sidewalk improvements and improved crosswalks for that neighborhood. I will also be reaching out to that neighborhood to ensure that open to resident suggestions on ways that we can improve the safety for everyone that travels within and through the neighborhood.
Tim Lovain: I strongly favor the current effort underway to enforce traffic laws and educate the public about those laws in the King Street/Union Street neighborhood. Many residents and visitors are unaware of the rules but willing to comply with them when they are informed. I favor the idea of constructing a continuous street/sidewalk around this intersection to emphasize to everyone that this is a space for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to share. Eventually, I would like the City to consider the idea of making lower King Street and maybe some additional side blocks car-free. We also need to work on an alternative north-south bicycle route through Old Town, such as on Royal. Any such bike route should be implemented carefully in close consultation with the neighbors, but I believe Royal has the right-of-way width to accommodate this.
Monique Miles: Traffic mitigation in the King/Union Street neighborhood (“K/U”) must be designed to accommodate all types of commuters, no matter which mode of transportation they use. In the K/U area especially, residents deserve creative solutions that push the envelope of urban planning. I support working with community stakeholders to come to an agreement on signage and road improvements that will make our streets safer for automobiles, bikers, and pedestrians alike. In an ideal urban Alexandria setting, adequate infrastructure is maintained to keep commuters safe as more people choose alternates to the automobile. First, for roadways to be safe, there must be appropriate and visible signage that warns all three groups (drivers, bikers, and pedestrians) of hazards and reminds them to take care on the roadways. While bike lanes are not always feasible, signage and street markings can make residents more aware of their surroundings.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: The Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan is currently being updated by the city appointed BPAC. However, there needs to be law enforcement (could also be traffic enforcement personnel or even school crossing guards) presence at that intersection during the weekend peak times as bikes, cars and pedestrians are all fighting to have access. Nothing moves. This has to change for the better.
Justin Wilson: Congestion and contention between pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles is a significant challenge in most of our neighborhoods. In Old Town specifically, the high volume makes the area even more challenging. I support changes to the allocation of the limited road space that we do have to ensure that pedestrians, bikers and drivers can safely operate in the corridor.
Making Neighborhoods Safe
In just about every neighborhood throughout the city, one of the top concerns is drivers driving too fast, aggressively, and not yielding to pedestrians. What is your plan to calm traffic and make our neighborhoods safer and more comfortable in which to walk and bike?
William “Bill” Euille: We need to always be looking to enhance our “safe streets” and “complete streets” initiatives with proper funding.
John Taylor Chapman: I would like to work within the city budget to find resources to improve enforcement for those not following the traffic laws or driving aggressively. I also would push for the members of the traffic and parking board to meet more with the communities to hear the concerns of the neighborhoods and work more jointly with them to make needed traffic calming improvements.
Tim Lovain: Aggressive driving and disregard for pedestrians is a serious problem in Alexandria and elsewhere. According to the Transportation Planning Board of the National Capital Region, of which I am Vice Chair and Chair Elect, every 8 days in the DC region, a bicyclist or pedestrian is killed by a car. I am a strong believer in implementing traffic calming through Complete Streets principles. That means more sidewalks, brightly-marked crosswalks, and bike lanes. It even includes moving plantings closer to the curb to give drivers the appearance of a narrower right of way. Drivers naturally slow down when they see a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists. I think this more natural version of traffic calming is preferable to speed tables, bulbouts, etc., although they have their place as well. I am proud of the work I have done to increase City funding for Complete Streets and to secure funding from the Met Life Foundation to train City employees in Complete Streets.
Monique Miles: There are road improvement tools that we can use to reduce speeds, manage traffic, and infrastructure improvements that can be implemented to make roadways safer for bikers, pedestrians, and drivers alike. I would approach the improvements that need to be made with a holistic approach- connectivity in the context of the greater region, what is financially feasible, and what residents’ desire. Both the Alexandria City Police Department and City Staff should be activated to convene a safe roadways commission that studies how to best achieve a safer City. There is much to study such as the use of traffic circles, speed bumps, more diligent policing during certain hours such as school dismissal times, more sharrows, and more signage, including those with flashing lights.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: It is a law enforcement problem. The APD need to be more vigilant regarding speeders and those who do the California roll through stop signals/signs. Many bikers also need to obey the traffic laws regarding stop signs and signals as many currently do not.
Justin Wilson: While I do believe that increased enforcement of existing traffic laws can improve some of the challenges that we face, that is not a solution that scales throughout the City. I strongly support changes to the road space that are designed to force vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles more safely. Where we have been most successful around the City is with changes that affect driver visual cues, and help drivers adhere to speed limits, and grant greater visibility to bikers and pedestrians. Furthermore, I support the implementation of the Vision Zero initiative as part of the Pedestrian & Bike Master Plan process under way to ensure that City policy remains aligned with this goal.
Walking and Biking to School
Alexandria can combat traffic congestion, air pollution, and childhood obesity, and increase kids' happiness and effectiveness at school by encouraging them to get more exercise by biking or walking to school. How will you increase the numbers who choose to walk or bike, and make sure they can do it safely?
William “Bill” Euille: “Complete streets” initiatives, in addition to proposing a program to encourage bike riding and provide bikes to those in need.
John Taylor Chapman: I would work with the Alexandria City Public Schools to see if they would consider pushing out the radius for bus service, to help save on transportation money, but also make walking and biking a more explored option for families. To ensure safety, I would work with the school system to provide more crossing guards as well as work with the PTAs to provide parent volunteers that can help ensure safe travel for our students.
Tim Lovain: I am especially proud of the Complete Streets improvements that have been made recently near our City schools. I got personally involved with such improvements near George Mason and MacArthur Elementary Schools. I am also proud to have led the effort to lower the speed limit outside George Mason Elementary on school days. My Council Aide, Wendy Donohue, has devoted many hours to improving pedestrian access to George Washington Middle School and promoting bike and walk to school days. We have worked together to help promote bicycle safety awareness among students there.
Monique Miles: The City should identify opportunities to incentivize alternative modes of transportation. Possible incentives could include carpooling opportunities to reduce traffic and the exploration of public transportation incentives. Tantamount to increasing the number of residents who choose alternative modes of transportation is developing connected communities with adequate resources. Mixed-use transit oriented development around current and future transportation hubs to minimize traffic congestion are key. Careful and deliberate planning, zoning, and economic development present the opportunity to improve the connectivity of our City. If the City works with developers to increase access to wider roads, connected street grids and nearby public transportation, commuters will feel more comfortable to avoid driving and enjoy more sustainable modes of transportation.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: Safety is the most important element. The schools and parents need to educate the children regarding safe practices when walking or biking and again police and crossing guards need to provide the safety net and enforcement of those who choose to break the law.
Justin Wilson: As a parent who walks or bikes both of my children to school every day, I do agree that doing so is a benefit to all children. I support expansions of the City’s Safe Routes to Schools efforts to improve the approaches to our school buildings so that children can safely walk or bike to school. I also believe that biker and pedestrian education efforts need to be part of school curricula (as detailed in the new ACPS Strategic Plan) to give students the tools they need to participate.
Complete Streets Policy Implementation
A few years ago, Alexandria joined communities such as Indianapolis, IN and Portland, ME to pass a complete streets policy, which is meant to ensure that all streets provide a comfortable experience for all users: people who walk, people who bike, people who drive, and people who use public transportation. But this policy needs continued council and staff support to achieve its purpose. If elected, how will you promote the implementation of Alexandria’s complete streets policy?
William “Bill” Euille: Through education, communications, outreach and advocacy. I am proud that this was an initiative under my administration.
John Taylor Chapman: I will continue to fund the Complete Streets Policy and push for staff to continue to work with neighborhoods to have local projects and improvements implemented in a way that is transparent and ensure that we are continuing to make progress year after year.
Tim Lovain: As noted above. I have made Complete Streets a special priority of mine. I fought for increased funding for Complete Streets projects. I am also a member of Smart Growth America's Local Leaders Council, which helps promote Complete Streets policies throughout the U.S. I have also fought for Complete Streets principles on the Transportation Planning Board for the National Capital Region, which I will chair next year if I am re-elected. I can promise that, if I am re-elected, I will make sure that Alexandria continues and enhances its focus on Complete Streets in the years ahead.
Monique Miles: The Alexandria LocalMotion program should continue to implement common-sense repairs to our transportation system. As mentioned earlier, complete communities lead to a healthier, happier, and more sustainable population. City Council and staff must be more diligent in implementing those important recommendations to improve the street system of Alexandria and engage community members when discussing small area plans. I would also engage with both the Transportation Commission and Urban Design Board to make sure citizens are involved in the process of improving our City’s transportation infrastructure. I would also use the criteria set forth in 2011 by City Council and Staff and make sure that the criteria is continually being revisited as Small Area Plans are discussed, studied, and implemented. An example of this would be to focus on the upcoming implementation of the Beauregard Small Area Plan and ensuring that important road safety measures are included.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: I would endorse it.
Justin Wilson: As a member of the Transportation Commission and later as a member of the Council, I supported our Complete Streets Policy, and I have worked to ensure its faithful execution. Ultimately, to be successful, we must have resources as well as support and education of our City Staff. I would continue to work to expand resources as well as work with the City Manager and applicable department heads to build awareness of Complete Streets concepts across the City workforce and within its processes.
Achieving Transportation Plan Goals for Walking and Biking
A recent audit by the city of its own performance shows that the improvements called for in the 2008 bicycle and pedestrian chapters of the transportation master plan were only partially implemented. How will you ensure the city achieves community goals such as this one when they are articulated through plans?
William “Bill” Euille: I will advocate for full implementation for an updated plan with adequate funding.
John Taylor Chapman: We need to renew our commitment to the implementation of these improvements, and I will work with city staff to highlight the unfinished improvements and determine a plan to address them, which will be shared with the community.
Tim Lovain: I regret that the bicycle and pedestrian chapters of the transportation master plan have not yet been fully implemented and I am pleased that those chapters are being reviewed for possible updates. Sometimes implementation occurs more slowly than intended, especially when City budgets are tight as they have been in recent years. We need to keep our eye on the community goals in our City plans and move towards implementation as promptly as we can. We should also prioritize unfinished efforts to make sure that the resources that are available to us are being well-spent. The City also needs to engage with its citizens to help determine these priorities and to find ways to better engage our citizens in helping us achieve our plan goals.
Monique Miles: One of the reasons that I am running for City Council is because I believe we can do better. The half-way solutions offered by the current Council are not sufficient. Our neighbors deserve better, well-thought, and thorough planning. There is no reason that the 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan should not have been completely implemented. Instead, City Council and Staff revisited the plan in 2014 and spent more time studying and updating the plan before the original plan had even been completely implemented. Given proper implementation and time, the 2008 plan would have been a vast improvement for pedestrians and bikers. With responsible oversight and a dedication to solutions, we will change the culture of kicking the can down the road and instead achieve solutions that will improve the lives of Alexandrians. As I mentioned earlier, the development and implementation of Small Area Plans represents one opportunity to constantly revisit how progress in various Master Plans is being made.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: Plans need to be followed up to ensure compliance.
Justin Wilson: As a member of Council, I was proud to support the 2008 Transportation Master Plan, which provided for a dramatically different direction for transit and pedestrian policy in our City. As with many master plans, implementation can be slow when resources are not plentiful. I remain committed to the vision of the 2008 Plan, and will work to provide the resources to see it to completion.
Improving Access to Metro for People who Walk and Bike
How will you improve access to the Metrorail stations for people who walk or bike?
William “Bill” Euille: Add designated bike lanes and bike racks where appropriate, in addition to “Wayfinding.”
John Taylor Chapman: I want to continue to push Metro to have our stations redeveloped and in doing so, aggressively push opportunities to improve the access of pedestrians and bikers.
Tim Lovain: Two recent studies, one by WMATA (Metro) and one by the Transportation Planning Board, came to the same conclusion---one of the most cost-effective transportation improvements that we can make in this region is to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to Metro stations. There are several such improvements that we should make in Alexandria in coming years. The new path from the southern end of the Potomac Yard development to the Braddock Road Metro station is great, but soon we should built a tunnel to shorten that route. We need to proceed with the multi-modal bridge connecting Cameron Station to the Van Dorn Metro station. Filling in some missing links in our bike/ped paths in the Eisenhower Valley will help improve bicycle and pedestrian access to several of our Metro stations.
Monique Miles: The Metrorail system is an advantage our City has access to and we should be doing all we can to reap the benefits. First and foremost, we should make sure that there are ways for people to get to the Metro station. The Old Town Trolley is a great example of a successful system, but that is not available in all areas of the City. In areas on the periphery of the City such as the West End or Beauregard, the City should explore creative solutions to offer transportation alternatives allowing residents to use the Metrorail system that they previously may have had difficulty reaching. I would work with developers to increase connectivity and improve the street grid. With concentrated development around Metro stations, residents will naturally have easier access to Metro stations. But, we must do even more than that. We must extend our reach beyond the ½ mile around a Metro station and ensure shuttles and other forms of transportation offer all residents the opportunity to have easy access to Metro stations. We must encourage residents to participate in public transportation and help encourage more sustainable uses of our public transportation infrastructure.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: Make it safe for those walking and biking to the stations. For those who bike we need to ensure they have bike racks available at all 4 metro stations.
Justin Wilson: We are fortunate to have extremely high usage of our existing Metro stations by bikers and walkers, however I believe we do have opportunities to improve accessibility. Improvements to bike storage, as well as better connections to non-vehicular access points (sidewalks and trails) can help improve the accessibility of these transit hubs.
When you are in office, what will you do to support the continued expansion of Capital Bikeshare?
William “Bill” Euille: I will continue to seek “Grant Funds,” and find ways to identify additional general funds in future budgets.
John Taylor Chapman: I will advocate for expansion of Bikeshare in neighborhoods that do not have stations but have infrastructure to support it. Also, I will work to with city staff to add supporting bike infrastructure to neighbors where it does not currently exist.
Tim Lovain: I am proud of the continued funding this City Council has provided to expand the Capital Bikeshare system in Alexandria. We should continue that expansion, but strategically. Bikeshare stations that are in easy biking distance from other Bikeshare stations are much more valuable than isolated stations. We are facing continued budget constraints, but we need to continue this important effort.
Monique Miles: I do not think it is good policy to have only one bike rental company receiving city subsidies. However, we should work with Capital Bikeshare and other bike rental companies to study where access can or should be expanded in the City. In some cases across the Washington region, residents do not have access to stations either at their point of origin or destination. Alexandria can set itself apart from its peers and identify areas where the demand is high for rental bike stations and work with the companies to provide access. Moreover, the City of Alexandria should encourage expansion across all areas of the city and ensure to the best of its ability equal access to the bike rental programs.
Townsend “Van” Van Fleet: I would not spend any city funds on Bikeshare, as it is a money making corporation. Expansion of Bikeshare would have to be predicated strictly on need.
Justin Wilson: I am a regular user of Capital Bikeshare and continue to support its expansion to further the important role it has in our City’s overall transportation picture. Through both City appropriation, leveraging Federal and State grant dollars, and developer contributions, we will continue to have opportunity to expand the network Citywide.
In an exercise identical to what was done with the Democratic candidates, Chris Slatt asked the Independent Candidates for Arlington County's Board questions about biking and bike policy. There response, along with updates from the Democrats, are below.
Also, WABA and others are hosting a candidate forum next week.
Reception and Candidate Forum on Environmental Sustainability and Smart Growth with candidates Audrey Clement, Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, and Mike McMenamin
Friday, October 23, 2015 6:00 Reception | 6:30 Forum Cafe Sazón (4704 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204) RSVP (free) requested >>
Join Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Mount Vernon Group of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for a forum with thecandidates for Arlington County Board.
We'll pose questions and hear the candidates' viewpoints on issues related to smart growth, energy, bicycling, transit-oriented development, stormwater protection, and natural resources. You'll be able to join in as well -- submitting questions for the candidates.
We know you may be coming straight from work, so we'll have plenty of food and drink thanks to our friends at the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and Cafe Sazón!
The Democratic primary election for the Arlington County Board is next Tuesday, June 9th. Chris Slatt of Arlington submitted questions to each of the candidates and 5 of the 6 responded. The questions, and their responses (in random order) are below.
1) Do you ride a bike? If so, tell us about your riding.
James Lander: I own a bike and I enjoy leisurely riding, but I haven’t had the opportunity to ride as much as I would like given my work responsibilities and civic engagement. My wife and I have agreed to make time to ride this coming summer, once school ends.
Christian Dorsey: I am a recreational cyclist who uses my bike mostly to ride our local trails and to run errands in south Arlington. I once commuted to work (into the District) on my bike, and while I found that invigorating, I mostly commute via bus.
Katie Cristol: I’m a pretty infrequent rider in Arlington - just the occasional BikeShare rental for a recreational outing. (Although because I work from home, technically most of my transportation of any form is for recreation!)
Peter Fallon: No, but as the parent of a 2yo and 6yo, I am teaching my 6yo to ride her bike. I look forward to when we can all bike to school together instead of walking. For safety, I often take the kids to either Long Bridge Park’s esplanade or our local school’s parking lot.
Andrew Schneider: I ride a Trek Hybrid. Basically, my riding is mostly recreational since I work out of my house. If elected, I will use my bike to commute (some) to the County Offices. I occasionally ride my bike to go to the pool, my parent’s house, or quick errands. That said, I am a “concerned” cyclist and don’t always feel comfortable either solo or with my kids on some of the more congested roads in Arlington.
2) What do you see as the role of cycling in Arlington?
Schneider: There are three primary roles for cycling in Arlington. First, cycling should be a viable commuting option and linkage to our transit system (bus and rail). Secondly, cycling should be a feasible option for short trips and errands around the County; again this keeps cars off the roads. Third, cycling should continue to be a recreational activity for our residents.
Lander: Cycling continues to play an ever-increasing role as a primary means of commuting for more Arlingtonians. As our community seeks to be more creative and innovative in it’s thinking about multi-modal options for transportation, integrating cycling into our strategy should be a focal point for community dialogue. Making our streets and pathways safe for year-round cycling commuters is something that I fully support.
Dorsey: Cycling is both a key component of a multi-modal transportation network and an essential recreational activity for children, prime aged adults and seniors. As such, it is critical that our thoroughfares be made safe for commuting cyclists and that our bike paths be well maintained to facilitate safe, and convenient travel for cyclists, walkers, etc.
Cristol: I see cycling - and transit alternatives in general - as part of an interlocking set of planning and growth strategies. For example, I see biking as a possible driver of economic redevelopment on Columbia Pike (because we know that bike commuters are more likely to stop and patronize local businesses), and even as a possible way of tackling housing affordability in our urban villages in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor (because parking-space minimums increase rent by restricting housing supply, and having more transit alternatives - like bike infrastructure - makes it feasible for Arlington to grant flexibilities on parking minimums).
A robust cycling culture and infrastructure in Arlington also allows us to score high on “livability” indices for groups like young professionals and retirees, and to stand out as the healthiest community in Virginia.
Fallon:I see cycling as both a pleasure/recreation activity and a true transportation alternative to cars. Cycling is ideal for many commuters and for running errands, as local transportation around Arlington. I would like to see cycling become more popular among shoppers along our retail corridors.
3) What should the county do, if anything, to get more people to bike?
Fallon: Arlington should continue participating in the Capital BikeShare program. I would like to add bike sharing stations to hotel site plans to enable visitors easy access. Arlington needs to take steps to make cycling safer by adding bike lanes and improving trail connections. We need to continue/expand our bike education programs. I would encourage a greater role for cycling in our TDM programs. We should partner with APS to encourage more students to ride to school.
Schneider: Here are a few things that the County can do:
Update the Cycling element of the Master Transportation Plan.
Improve signage for existing bike routes
Develop a complete North South bicycle corridor through the County
Complete the Hoffman-Boston Connector to the 12th Street bike boulevard
Improve the Intersection of Doom so people are not daunted to ride their bike in Rosslyn.
Lander: As a county our messaging should be consistent, integrated, and holistic with regard to the benefits of protecting the environment and healthy living. Cycling is a valuable component of our values. As a leader and member of the school board, I facilitated opportunities for “Bike to School” days as part of our meeting the needs of the whole child initiative. As your county board member, I will lead an effort to encourage more citizens to bike to work, even offering incentives for cyclist. I support changing rooms, showers, and secure overnight storage onsite for workers who are cyclist.
Dorsey: I think Arlington has already implemented programs that aid in continuing to make biking a viable option for those who choose it. The myriad resources available to cyclists on Bike Arlington allow both novice and experienced cycling commuters to find safe routes, parking and other facilities to aid in their travel.
Complete streets efforts also provide the necessary infrastructure to make cycling safe and convenient.
Arlington’s overall efforts should be designed to ensure all modes provide the user with maximum safety, affordability and convenience.
Cristol: My read is that Arlington currently does a good job supporting those who already have decided to bike (e.g. prioritizing plowing commuter bike trails during snowstorms), and has made some great efforts to tackle some of the barriers to biking - particularly with its investments in Capital BikeShare, which addresses a number of convenience issues that might otherwise keep residents from biking.
To go further, we should pursue protected lanes (where consistent with community vision for redevelopment, as on the Pike or potentially emerging in the Lee Highway Alliance community process), to help encourage less-confident bikers to try a bike commute or take more bike trips for shopping and recreation. Beyond that, I look forward to working with the bike community to learn more about the obstacles they see to biking, and the right planning and policy steps to address them at the County level.
4) How would you approach the decision making process on a project like the Washington Blvd Trail which puts two Arlington priorities at odds? (In this case cycling infrastructure and tree canopy)
Cristol: This is a great question with resonance well beyond just the bike community. In general, I’m always inclined to ask for more context before accepting that there are only two sides or options to an issue and picking one (for example, based on what I’ve heard while knocking doors in the Penrose neighborhood, the Washington Boulevard Trail debate was as much about concurrent VDOT undertakings in the area as about “bikes vs. trees”). As a County Board member, it’s not always possible to knock on doors before every vote, but I do believe Board members can communicate to staff - via the County Manager - that they’d like evidence of broader contextual consideration before deciding on a recommendation. I think it’s also fair to expect that Board members visit sites, walk proposed trails, etc. before making major decisions (as a way of gathering that context and asking thoughtful questions), and that’s a commitment I would make.
Fallon: The county board often needs to evaluate proposals with competing priorities. It is important to listen to all sides, try to identify common ground and find consensus. We are creative problem solvers in Arlington, and we have many knowledgeable experts in our community to help us find the best solution. I believe we can improve safety, while preserving our tree canopy.
Schneider: Through dialogue and compromise. I think ultimately the WB trail in the end saves more trees because of the reduction of cars on the streets. I think we can continue to look for ways to grow our tree canopy through our existing urban forestry program, through our parks, and through residential assistance programs that encourages developing our tree canopy.
Lander: My approach will be how do we accomplish the most for the long term; bike trails, trees, green space all of these things are long term investments. I would want to speak directly to the cycling commission, county staff, and arborists to determine what’s the best path for the trail and how do we preserve as many trees as possible. I would also be interested in determining are there alternative routes that would also provide safety and interconnection to other bike trails. There are often competing priorities when making decisions on how to best serve the community. I will approach each decision with an open mind and respect the opinions of those who differ.
Dorsey: To be sure, the loss of 140 mature trees should not be taken lightly. Even with nearly 150% replacement, it will take decades for the tree canopy to be functionally replaced. However, it will be replaced, and the positive benefits of greater north-south connectivity through Penrose and the other benefits of the trail will make cycling more viable through south Arlington. On balance, for me it is an acceptable compromise
5) Many board members have been supportive of cycling, but few are true champions. Would you be a supportive board member or a champion?
Dorsey: I don’t have a great depth of knowledge about cycling issues, and I feel our current policies for promoting cycling and developing bike infrastructure are appropriate, I don’t think I merit consideration as a “champion.”
That said, my support is unqualified. Cycling is an inherent component of a sustainable multi-modal approach to transportation. There is more for us to do--certainly-- but we must manage our cycling investments among other priorities. Among the areas I would like to see planned and resources committed in the future is a full Arlington Boulevard connection from Falls Church through Arlington.
Cristol: I aspire to be a champion. To me, the difference between support and championship is where an issue fits into a leader’s overall vision for Arlington. And although I can’t guarantee that I will always agree with bike advocates on each issue that may come before the Board, I do see biking as a strategy for economic redevelopment and affordability (as detailed in Question #1) and therefore will actively look for ways to further biking in our community
Fallon: With the help of the cycling community, I would strive to become a champion. The cycling community has many strong advocates, along with dedicated county staff.
Schneider: I am not sure that this is my place to say, but I will say as a member of the Arlington Transportation Commission and an advocate of multi-modal and environmentally friendly solutions, I would aspire to be a Champion
Lander: I will be a champion! I’m not able to commit to becoming an everyday cyclist myself at this time. However, I will be a champion for those who do and encourage those who would like too. I’m also interested in exploring ways to increase donations of bikes to low income families to ensure we are inclusive in our efforts to be true champions for all Arlingtonians!
6) Under what circumstances, if any, would you support removing parking to install bike infrastructure?
Lander: I don’t think we have to make a choice of bike storage versus parking. I believe there is room for both. If forced to make a choice, it would depend on what the conditions, location, and ridership was at the particular location. Difficult to answer hypothetically and without more specifics, but I would seek to create more onsite storage for cyclist as part of a larger strategy to promote biking to work.
Dorsey: I have, on behalf of my organization’s commuting cyclists, negotiated with our building owner to build a secure facility for bike parking and storage. In our case, one space needed to be taken offline. We were successful, largely because the owner found other ways to add that space in our high demand building.
The lesson learned is that it is an easy conversation with a parking owner/operator if it ends up being revenue neutral after a modest initial investment.
Cristol: In some circumstances, I think this could be a good choice. Criteria I’d consider would include:
Whether there is other mass transportation infrastructure to absorb resident (and worker, and consumer) transit needs to help offset the removed parking;
Coherence with the land use plans (e.g. sector plans; revitalization plans; neighborhood conservation plans) in the area or neighborhood
Fallon: I would certainly be interested in any project that promoted safety for cyclists or encouraged cycling. In many cases, abundant off-street parking is available, or along nearby streets.
Schneider: Like most tough public decisions, we would have to seriously weigh the public good vs. cost. I could see many instances where reducing parking while increasing bike infrastructure could reduce parking demand due to the increase in cycling as a means of transportation.
7) Do you support "road diets" as Arlington has done in the past on Shirlington Drive and is installing on Wilson Blvd this summer which remove travel lanes on streets to provide accommodations for other modes of travel like bicycles?
Schneider: Yes. I think that these must be communicated effectively and transparently with time for people to understand and adjust. They can’t be viewed as punitive or shortsighted. But, I wholeheartedly support them especially where protected lanes can be incorporated (maybe not feasible on Wilson Blvd but feasible where there is existing parking or an existing unprotected bike lane.)
Lander: I have supported “road diets” in Arlington to remove motor vehicle lanes to create space for bicycle lanes. Essentially road diets help to make streets better able to accommodate all potential users including bicyclists, drivers, transit riders and pedestrians.
Dorsey: I really like that we are pursuing the Wilson Blvd. road diet project as a pilot program. I feel the residents around Boulevard Manor, Ashlawn and Dominion Hills along with complete streets project management staff will benefit greatly from the empirical evidence on how this will work.
The objectives--increasing pedestrian safety, providing routes for cyclists and reducing vehicle speeds are necessary. We will see how that balances with congestion and if any unintended consequences develop so that as we pursue road re-channelizations all along Wilson and elsewhere, we will be able to apply best practices.
The Shirlington Road road diet has been successful, but is not a precisely applicable precedent because the number of vehicle trips is of a different magnitude than on Wilson.
Cristol: I unfortunately haven’t studied this approach in sufficient depth to make a categorical statement of support. From what I understand, however, this technique is designed to accommodate bike and pedestrian lanes on our roads without diverting traffic onto smaller, neighborhood streets - both objectives that I do support.
Fallon: Again, I’d be interested in any project that promoted safety for cycling or pedestrians, and expanded modal choice. Analysis is needed to ensure that vehicular traffic isn’t diverted into neighborhoods
8) If elected, what do you hope to have accomplished to make Arlington a better place for cycling by the end of your first term?
Fallon: I would hope to see an expansion of bike lanes and other infrastructure. I’d like to see us ready to implement a safety project for the Lee Hwy/N. Lynn St. intersection in Rosslyn. I would like to see Arlington continue to be recognized nationally as a great community for cycling, where cycling is viewed by many residents as an integral part of the transportation framework.
Lander: In my first term, I would consider myself successful if I could get the bike trails plowed in the winter months and roads re-surfaced to ensure better safety for cyclist. I would also lead an effort to get families of lower economic status access to bicycles through a low or no-cost program in partnership with the county.
Schneider: A complete system of routes throughout the County, that is well layed out with clear signage, understandable to the lay/interested cyclist, and safe for commuters, recreational and occasional cyclists, alike
Dorsey: I would want to have established empirical best practices from which to determine how and where we establish complete streets in Arlington. If the Wilson project proves successful, I would want that to be fully funded by the end of my first term.
I would also want to find financing to fund a basic trail along Arlington Boulevard into the District.
Cristol: I’ve spoken on the campaign trail about making it easier to “bike the Pike” — I know the County is already laying the groundwork for some of these efforts with the Pike Multimodal Plan, so I hope to build on those efforts and partner with the robust community of Pike advocates, neighbors and business to achieve some of that vision. I’d also hope to help broker relationships between bike advocates and other stakeholders along the Pike — including schools and family groups, and low-income and new American groups — to help ensure that our vision for “bikability” on the Pike addresses some of the obstacles to biking that these groups often experience.
9) Is there anything else you would like to share with the Arlington cycling community?
Cristol: Thanks for the opportunity to learn about your priorities in this questionnaire; I hope we’ll continue the conversation
Fallon: I consider cycling to an integral part of our transportation network. It is a valid alternative to driving or transit for many residents. As a former member of the county planning and transportation commissions, I worked on the MTP for five years. I have a strong record of support for cycling infrastructure, both as community benefits and site plan conditions. If elected, I look forward to working with leader of Arlington’s cycling community to further this agenda.
Lander: My knowledge and awareness regarding the advantages of implementing road diets, including increased economic activity without reduced road capacity is steadily increasing. I look forward to learning more on the subject and promoting policies to encourage cycling, and making it safer to do so in Arlington.
Schneider: I promise I will always listen. I know I don’t have all the answers and that I will rely on the subject matter experts to help me make informed and forward thinking decisions. I will remain committed to funding cycling programs (and oppose proposed cuts) and will work with the cycling community and WABA to ensure we provide our citizens, community, and region a safe and comprehensive cycling system throughout the County.
Dorsey: Thank you for the opportunity share my thoughts about these issues.
There are many core elements of moveDC that I embrace, including 200 miles of bike lanes. When I go back to the issues of education and enforcement, I think we've done a really terrible job of educating the public on what bikes contribute to our community. Obviously, there are huge environmental benefits from cycling. It also helps dramatically reduce demand for existing roadways—we're up to 14,000 cyclists.
The third area which is rarely talked about is how cycling contributes to the economic development of our city. Many people bike out of economic necessity. But for others—the cost of operating an average medium size sedan in our country is between $8,000 and 9,000 per year. If we can convince more of our residents to forgo that investment and instead use bicycles, they'll spend those thousands of dollars here locally in housing, retail and supporting our local economy. This may be overly simplistic but if you look at 14k cyclists forgoing that 8k a year, there's over $100 million in economic opportunity for our city when we're not buying cars and fighting wars overseas but instead investing in our communities. It's a very powerful economic development tool and we've never communicated that importance to the population.
Long story short, count me in. There are very important tools for our city. The better opportunity is to educate our city as to where they're located.
We can get really into the weeds about how some of our streets are better for bike lanes than others. Our one-way streets that are 30-feet wide provide great opportunities for one lane of traffic, one lane of bikes, and one for parked cars.
I prefer to look at things where we can have win-win instead of zero sum. The bike plan isn't taking anything away from drivers but is in fact is a traffic calming device.
This is not an endorsement in the Montgomery County Executive race, I just found this is all. It's unusual for a candidate to dedicate so much type to biking
We need to invest in modern, comprehensive solutions for all modes of travel — bus and light-rail transit, roads, sidewalks and bike trails and more. We need leadership and vision to get some big things done, and we need to think outside the box to create state-of-the-art telework centers and better integrated transit, road, pedestrian and bike networks to better serve our communities. It takes an “all of the above” approach to seriously cut congestion and support job growth in our region.
Complete Comprehensive Bike Transportation System:
Bicycling is quickly becoming a popular mode of alternative transit, particularly in high-density areas. The statistics show that a vast majority of people will bicycle if there is some sort of designated or protected lane.
I want to initiate a Cycle Montgomery Plan of setting yearly goals for miles of protected bike infrastructure, including cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes and off road trails. We need to quickly complete the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the ICC bike facilities, and remaking the roads in Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. This will ensure the success of bikeshare. Through the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, working together with bicycle advocates, such as the Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group or the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, to name a few, we can ensure the success of this plan.
Further, I want to ingratiate the biking culture into our community, particularly in our schools, so it becomes second nature – kind of like when recycling was introduced years ago and now is a given. It will improve our community, our environment and our economy.
I have long supported the concept of the Purple Line, including both an earlier alternative route that ran outside the beltway and the current route inside the beltway. This project is critical in providing access to closer-in communities from Bethesda to Silver Spring and beyond, and it has my full support. We must work together with the state to pursue and secure federal and private funding to begin construction on the purple line. In doing that, we must ensure that we maintain the quality of the Capital Crescent Trail and work with the businesses and residents it will affect.
I'm not in any position to edit anyone, but is "ingratiate" the right word there.
There are local elections in Virginia and Maryland tomorrow. If you have anything to say about the bike friendliness (good or bad) of various candidates, the comments of this post would be a good place to say them. Citations and on-topic comments are encouraged.
Are you ready for bike to the polls day? The District of Columbia Board of Elections and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association invites you to join over 10,000 area voters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun, and healthy way to get to get to your polling place. Attend one of 143 pit stops throughout D.C, each of which will feature multiple parties, free bike parking and a chance to exercise your constitutional rights. Free stickers available at pit stops to the all participants who register and vote.
Shane Farthing of WABA hopes this is the biggest Bike to the Polls day yet. "This is actually not a WABA sponsored event. Who gave you my personal number? Do you realize it's 3:00am?" he said in a recent "interview".
“Cyclists need to preserve their own safety first, but they need to follow the law, too,” Farthing said. So no voting if you're under 18 or still registered in another state. Helmets are not needed for voting, but are highly encouraged. More than 7,000 Washingtonians bike to the polls each year, and that number is on the rise as the idea of suffraging on two wheels instead of four becomes increasingly popular.
Take a picture of your bike at your polling place and post it to twitter with the hashtag #biketothepollsday and you could win a valuable prize from goDCgo. "There are no prizes," says Kristin Howard of goDCgo, "and there is no contest. Stop calling me."
The primaries in DC have already started and will wrap up on April 1st. I'm not going to endorse anyone or go into any issues, but if anyone wants to comment on various candidates and their positions on bicycling this would be the chance.
There is also a special election in Arlington on April 8th.