Local blog on transportation issues along Interstate 66.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Comprehensive Bicycle Plan: a beginning?

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay (D) asked the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Board Chairman Sharon Bullova (D) to consider the creation (or in his words, to "endorse the concept only") of a bicycle master plan for the county at Monday's board meeting. Such a plan would be a blueprint for integrating bicycling into transportation infrastructure and is a popular step among jurisdictions nationwide toward comprehensive multi-modal transportation planning. The motion, which simply called for county staff to investigate the matter and make recommendations, passed unanimously.

McKay expressed alarm at how many parents drive their children to school, the small number of students who walk, and the amount of fuel wasted driving children to school. "We have trails, but trails are only so good as they are connecting to other trails that take people to places like schools," McKay said, further arguing that fuel savings in the transport of children to school has "budget implications" and is "one of the components of why we need to look at an overall plan, both for kids to walk and to bike to school."

A number of supervisors voiced concerns or related issues, including John Cook (R-Braddock) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) who emphasized that numbers need to be collected or projected on users and usage of existing and planned bicycle facilities for cost/benefit analysis.

"The numbers right now are low because the facilities are non-existent," McKay explained. Both McKay and Herrity alluded to a "chicken and egg" egg problem or as Bulova -- who seconded the motion -- put it, "build it and they will come."

Supervisor Lynda Smyth (D-Providence) recommended coordination with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's regional bicycle planning efforts and consideration for bicycle parking ratio requirements at shopping and business centers.

Prompted by Bulova's mention of his flat tire, Herrity prefaced his remarks by talking about his own bicycle commute from his house in Centreville to the Government Center to Fairfax Corner to his office in west Springfield along trails.

Video of McKay's bicycle master plan "in concept only" proposal and the board discussion is available on the county's website. Fast forward to 3:01:30 for the segment on bicycling. The bicycle plan is board matter 44 (page 30) in the board summary (PDF).

Photo credit: bicyclists on trail by Kathleen Tyler Conklin.

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