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John Cook should only allow the most utilitarian cars on the roads, since everything else is for pleasure and recreation.

Just wrote him an email. Hopefully everyone that reads this does the same.

Just sent a letter!


email sent! Thanks for posting a link to contact the ignorant moron

In principle, he's right. All other things being equal, most people would rather drive than ride bikes.

Trouble is, "all things being equal" is a fantasy land, viewable only from Ivory Towers and Committee Rooms.

Here in the world, gas costs more money than legs. Cars cost more money than bikes. Roads cost more money than bike trails. Rest stops cost more money than showers. Parking lots cost more than bike racks. The fat farm costs more than a daily ride to work.

John Cook inhabits a world where tax dollars don't matter to him. If he's not willing to listen to Wash Cycle, perhaps he should heed the words of Glen Beck to CPAC: "Hello, I'm a Republican and I have a spending problem." I'm not usually one to agree with Beck, but maybe Cook is.

Yeah. This reflects a difference between Arlington and Fairfax. And this is why Arlington has great bike lanes to work that are highly utilized and Arlington is working on being Bike Utopia or whatever --- while Fairfax residence want 66 widened at the expense of Arlington.

I sent my email!

well, not defending the Supervisor, but this attitude is not uncommon, and the other difference between Arlington and Fairfax is relative compactness and density and short distances between activity centers and primary destinations.

In places like Fairfax County (or Baltimore County) the issues are different. (Baltimore County is 640 sq. miles. Arlington County is 26 sq. miles. Fairfax County is 399 sq. miles.)

In the processing of our first advisory committee, and in the Q&A during the presentation, I came to realize that our bike and ped planning intends to provide improvements at five different scales. (I haven't worked up a diagram for this yet.) Until then, I was only thinking about 3 of them (1, 2, and 5 below.)

1. 1 mile zones in neighborhoods/transit/school walk zones.


2. 3 mile zones (trade areas) around town centers (places like Catonsville or Pikesville or Towson)


3. Connecting town centers

(variable distances, up to 10 miles)

4. what I call "cross-county" or distances greater than 10 miles

5. Enhanced regional connections between Baltimore County and Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County, and Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. (Connections with Carroll and Harford Counties are not within my study area.)

And part of this involves laying down a foundational network of multiuser trails for both recreation, yes, and transportational bicycling.

(see e.g., the work of David Barth on best practices trail planning)

Oh, two more thing that has come up in our meetings and surveys: (1) the interest in improving the walking and biking environment and the willingness to participate; (2) the interest in cycling longer distances--not just within a neighborhood but between town centers and to other destinations.

Survey link in the upper right corner here:


email sent. It embarrasses me to be a resident of Fairfax County. and I commute by bike (when the trail is not covered in snow)

The only reason bicycles are not transportation devices is because poor planning and infrastructure decisions have made it necessary to drive everywhere, irrespective of the much greater cost of maintaining roads, and the cost and inconvenience of traffic, pollution, noise, accidents, etc.

Richard, this attitude may not be uncommon, but then neither is Supervisor Cook. He's not just a man on the street, he's a person who works - at least a bit - in the transportation field. He should be far more knowledgeable than the average county resident on transportation. I don't know which is more disturbing. That he hasn't bothered to grasp a very simple part of his job, or that he fully understands that bikes are for transportation, but pretends not to for political reasons.

Cook is right. When I bought a house in the late 1980s I looked in West Springfield, the heart of his district. I decided not to live there because the entire area is auto traffic hell. Few sidewalks, no paved shoulders, few bike paths or lanes. In short there is nowhere to walk or bike. I find that area of the County unliveable. So I moved to Mount Vernon instead.

What he doesn't grasp is that this situation didn't happen organically; it was actually planned. The only way to fix it is to establish a sane traffic plan. Pave the shoulders, add some sidewalks, commit to multi-use trails. Change doesn't come from people who think that adding lanes for cars is a solution.

Hey, I agree with both Washcycle and John. The problem is dealing with the transition.

In my presentations, rather than focus on spandex, I try to place the discussion within the framework of quality of life and defining more broadly how people get around, civic identity questions, etc.

I expect that this approach will be pretty successful.

Won't be easy going. I am dealing with similar issues to the people in Fairfax... it's just my job is to strategize and figure out how to succeed given those realities.

It's a great intellectual challenge in any case.

More on this in an email to WC, I propose a joint blog post. More to come...

I agree with Daniel. There is a practical side of bike commuting that is becoming more and more relevant not only to mainstream folks, but -- very good point -- to municipalities looking to lessen their own transportation infrastructure costs.

John wrote: "I decided not to live there because the entire area is auto traffic hell."

Apparently that's the way Cook wants it to stay.

I do not believe that my supervisor is cognitive.
I commute to the capitol via bicycle from Fairfax doggonit.


Your quality of life point is the key. We looked at a really nice house off Braddock Road and when we drove out of the neighborhood I said to my wife, "Where am I going to run?" That was the deal killer.

I can't imagine what life would be like around here without the W&OD, Mount Vernon, and Capital Crescent Trails and the C&O Canal towpath. In addition to being outstanding recreational facilities they make wonderful transportation corridors.

Same story with me. I am tempted to move from Montgomery Co to Fairfax for the schools and the University system, but I would lose hours a day to driving and traffic.

A little off-topic but since Baltimore was mentioned above, has there ever been a proposal to build a better bike pathway between Washington and Baltimore? I saw one online page (at BikeWashington.org) but the route wasn't exactly appealing, or obvious. I have to admit that I wouldn't use such a path for commuting but I think it would be an awesome ride.

Back to the topic of funding, do the trail "friends" organizations try to bring in donations and sponsorships to help pay for trail maintenance (and possible expansion)? Maybe they do but I haven't heard much about it. Wouldn't companies that sell commuter bikes and accessories want to be associated with such efforts? It would be a great advertising opportunity for them. They would be getting a pre-selected audience and more cyclists could be drawn to the products of those companies.

Ohhhh. I was born and raised in his hellish, sprawl-choked sh*thole home district of Springfield. Good schools or no, I would rather slit my wrists than ever move back. It is NOT a good place to raise kids. FFX spent lots of money on me as a school child, but will never see a dime of my taxes as an adult.

I just wrote Cook a letter saying so (in a much more polite and literate way). If nothing else, maybe the phrase 'lost tax dollars' will get his attention. God I'm so glad I escaped that place.

Michael, there have been quite a few proposals to build a pathway between DC and Baltimore. The East Coast Greenway is one of the leaders in that. You can see a Google map of their route here if you go to the pulldown and chose Maryland.

It's a bit circuitous for now, but a shorter route is in the works. When the WB&A trail is finished, it will get you to Odenton Road. Maryland is also working on the Light Rail Trail that will connect Baltimore to Linthicum. That still leaves two gaps between each of those trails and the BWI trail, but it may be doable from there (Odenton Road, Burns Crossing Road and B&A Road on the south and S. Camp Meade Road on the north?)

Just sent my email to Mr. Cook!

if you are a fiscal conservative, then bikes for transportation makes sense. Bikes save money on needless expenses. Time to break out that litmus test for republicans on spending. Supporting increased reliance on bikes should prevail as the cheaper option.

Later this year, not sure exactly when, the map associated with the maryland strategic implementation plan for trails will be released as an online version.

(Us govt. types, yes Washcycle, I am part of the system now, have access to it now.)

The State is committed to building stronger trail links between DC and Baltimore.

Washcycle might know the details better than I.

(All I am focused on is the trails network planning within Baltimore County and how it connects to Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Howard County. Carroll County and Harford County aren't in my study area.... but we should have a map of the proposed urban network as one of the deliverables from our project.)

This statement explains a lot about the absurd sprawl out in Fairfax. Maybe also why waistlines expand as you head westward on 66.

Let them have their dystopian asphalt kingdom out there.

Here's what I emailed Supervisor Cook:

Mr. Cook:

I respectfully disagree with your statement that bikes are not transportation devices, but rather recreation devices.

It is possible that they can be both, just as automobiles can be both. Ever been to or watched NASCAR, or Indy racing? They are going around in circles for trophies. That's not transportation. And we have, with the help and cooperation of municipalities, counties and states, made provision for the safe practice of this recreational activity. We can, with the will, do the same with bicycle riders who do indeed use their bikes for daily commutes to work (as do I, 18.5 miles each way, weather permitting, easing rush hour traffic by one car).

Thinking globally, more people in the world use bicycles for transportation than use cars, especially in the developing world.

If you have experience in road infrastructure, you already know that building or improving roads causes more cars to use them. The SAME effect works with bicycles. And if you work with us, the bicyclists/drivers, you'll find yourself accoladed for your long range vision, as well as your commitment to the environment, health and safety.

We're realists, if the money isn't there, we understand if we're told the truth in adult language, and if a realistic proposal for improvements in bike transportation is laid out with the costs, and you wnat us to pay for it, we will. The fastest growing demographic of cyclists are baby boomers, and we have the disposable income to fund it.

Thank you for your consideration,

John P

I was visiting Vancouver B.C. this last weekend. What a beautiful modern city. It is so apparent in modern cities how the bicycle, pedestrian and public transit components have change the livable atmosphere in vividly positive ways. Bicycles are a must for modern cities around the world. I would suggest you visit one some day.

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