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Thread: Tysons Urban District thoughts

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    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Default Tysons Urban District thoughts

    Yesterday I took advantage of some free time in my day to explore the Tysons area, using Capital Bikeshare. I was interested in seeing how the CaBi network is up there, and also seeing how rideable the area is (I had never ridden in the Tysons area) I only rode within the "northeast quadrant" - IE I stayed east of rte 7, north of route 123, and did not cross the toll road or the beltway.

    On the one hand there was a fair amount of decent seg infra. One actual pair of buffered lanes. Quite a few conventional lanes - because there is almost no on street parking in the area, these are (except for some tiny spots) not door zone bike lanes, and were fairly comfortable to ride in.

    On the other hand its more hilly than I realized (I have driven around the area quite a bit, and worked in the area for a few yeas in the 90's but when you don't bike ...) Particularly challenging riding a CaBi.

    I did some VC riding on the arterials - obviously much less challenging on a Sunday than it would be during the week. Even at that there were annoyances. I bravely took the lane on International Drive, intending to make a vehicular left onto bikeable Galleria Drive. Except there was no left onto Galleria, because of a median I hadn't expected, and of course I didn't want to ride on 123, so I used the crosswalk at 123 to make a quick U turn on International and then proceed right onto Galleria.

    Oh, the trail through the park by Tysons Blvd and Westbranch was a lot less useful in reality than it appeared on the map.

    All in all an interesting experience. Assuming most people there are using CaBi just to get to or from a metro station, and not riding as far as I did, I can see where it could work. Its definitely more bike friendly than I expected, but won't be really bike friendly till they have expanded "the grid of streets" and perhaps added some more (and better) seg infra on the big arterials.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 03-27-2017 at 03:25 PM.

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    I drive through Tysons daily. The cars are pretty tolerant of me taking the lane and I keep up with the flow pretty well. I rarely get passive aggressive passing. Some of this is because drivers are more passive in the morning. After a day of stress and caffeine, the evening commute is more aggressive. I don't mix with cars in the evening in Tysons so I don't know how that aggression plays out. I've been on 123 to McLean and back for lunch. Downhill was okay but the return uphill was tricky with all the merge lanes. My experiences are with an e-bike so my speed is a bit higher than a traditional cycle so ymmv.

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    Tysons is definitely experiencing its growing pains. While I don't ride through there very frequently, on my rides through there (weekday afternoon rush hour or weekend morning), I've gotten to explore quite a bit of it.

    Accessing the area from Odrick's Corner to the north (I like to do rides using Westmoreland St->Chain Bridge Rd->Lewinsville Rd) can be a bit intimidating as one must use the lane and make left turns. Getting there from the south via Gallows Rd isn't bad, but there is some on-street riding until hitting the nice-but-brief trail on the east side of Tysons Corner Center (mall). To the west, I like to sometimes do a route on Tyco Rd past the Spring Hill Metro that uses the neighborhoods behind the Walmart to get to Wolf Trap and/or the W&OD at Clarks Crossing Park.

    While my experiences with drivers has been somewhat positive (haven't been the target of any aggression, usually just a witness), I have had the same situation of expecting to be able to cross an intersection and realizing that there is no crosswalk, there is a median blocking left turns, or some other weird set-up that acts as a barrier to easy bike travel and forces me to backtrack a full block and go a longer route.

    The next time you're out there, go to the Route 7 bridge over the Beltway and pause in the very middle (on the sidewalk). At that moment, you will be surrounded by 24 lanes of traffic on Route 7, cloverleaf on/off-ramps, the Beltway, and the Beltway's HOT lanes all carrying tens of thousands of people from place to place. It's a bit overwhelming to think about but is a good reminder that society is reaching its limits for traveling by vehicle alone.

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    Tysons is definitely... interesting. I'll be curious to see how it all changes as it continues to become more urbanized. My wife works there and it's always seemed like a very car-centric area. Westpark Drive and Greensboro Drive do seem bike-friendly, though some of the intersections seem fairly daunting. It's definitely an area where I try to plan my route ahead of time.

    With all the exploration you folks have done, it's a shame you didn't run across Tysons Biergarten.

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    Even though I live just down Route 7 from Tysons, I generally ride around the edges, and not anywhere inside. While bikeability may be improving inside Tysons, but getting there is either daunting or inconvenient. The beltway and the Dulles Toll/Access road form substantial moats around the main body of Tysons, north, east, and west. Access from the south is a bit easier with multiple small-street entry points. The Route 7 bridge rebuild done to accommodate the beltway toll lanes is a vast improvement, but it still involves crossing highway-style on and off ramps. I do notice more and more of the employees of Tysons using bikes to commute from the apartment complexes along Route 7 and Pimmit Road (I assume as they are riding affordable bikes and not in kit). But 123 is as un-bike-friendly as ever; I think I've ridden it once shortly after moving here more than 25 years ago.

    Even the addition of painted bike lanes on the major routes into Tysons (i.e., 7 and 123) would be a vast improvement and substantially increase cycling there.

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    TwoWheelsDC's Avatar
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    The "nice" thing about Tyson's is how overbuilt it is for everything other than weekday commuting traffic...so getting around on weekends is actually not that bad, all things considered. Of course, I'm saying that as someone who is pretty comfortable on traffic-y roads and has a strong VC bent, but I don't think it's the nightmare it sometimes gets made out to be. More than anything, knowing your way around is key. Unfortunately, that doesn't help casual riders...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birru View Post
    With all the exploration you folks have done, it's a shame you didn't run across Tysons Biergarten.
    Hmm. Field trip?

    I have never even thought about biking to or around Tysons. Granted, I have only driven through there once or twice and never stopped at a destination there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunyata View Post
    Hmm. Field trip?

    I have never even thought about biking to or around Tysons. Granted, I have only driven through there once or twice and never stopped at a destination there.
    Sorry - it's closed. Probably for good, but they say it's just for maintenance. I biked their once and, by going through the Greensboro Metro station to get over Rt. 7, it was just fine. However, there was a distinct lack of bike parking. The bouncer watched my bike.

    I work in Tysons and usually bike commute there. I work in the south east quad (south of Rt. 7 and East of 123), so it's not difficult to get to from the Gallows bike lane or through the back streets of Vienna. I do sometimes go to meetings in the northwest, but don't love the ride. You can get around the mall fairly easily and over 123, but I found the roads, even with sharrows and a bike lane, to be challenging. The roads are wide and you can see far ahead - therefore, cars go very fast on Jones Branch, Westpark, Tyco, Spring Hill, Gosnell/Old Courthouse and none of those are very comfortable for me. I would not ride on 123 or on 7. I never found International that bad, probably because there are so many lanes and cars just aren't going fast.

    Regarding CaBi, I don't think it's the right environment to ride, helmetless, without a firm grip of the roads. Where are they going?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockford10 View Post
    Sorry - it's closed. Probably for good, but they say it's just for maintenance. I biked their once and, by going through the Greensboro Metro station to get over Rt. 7, it was just fine. However, there was a distinct lack of bike parking. The bouncer watched my bike.
    Aw that sucks. I only managed to get there once last year.

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    Tysons commuters - Fairfax County is considering bike lanes and sharrows on Woodford Road. If you are familiar with Woodford, it connects Electric Ave. with Old Courthouse. Currently, it has some very narrow sections, the road surface is in poor condition, and is (in my opinion) very bike-unfriendly. This additional connection to Tysons would be a great addition to the bike infrastructure.

    LINK.

    Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host a community meeting to discuss proposed street design improvements in the Providence District on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria of Kilmer Middle School, 8100 Wolftrap Road, Vienna. The purpose of the meeting is to gather input on various proposals to improve traffic safety, bicycling and the pedestrian environment. Representatives from FCDOT and VDOT will present plans for the projects, which include sharrows/shared lane markings, bike lanes, crosswalks and pedestrian improvements.

    As part of the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) 2017 repaving schedule, bike lanes and sharrows have been proposed for Woodford Road from Old Courthouse Road to Electric Avenue.

    The proposed improvements are limited to changes that can be made with roadway striping as part of the repaving process. Community members are invited to give feedback on traffic safety, bicycling and the pedestrian environment on this segment of Woodford Road in the Providence District.

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