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Thread: Fairfax County Bike Lanes

  1. #11
    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    1. my strong impression, after four plus years of this advocacy thing, is that local DOTs have limited numbers of personnel working on bike/ped/complete streets. They have to pick their battles. And they are, rationally, going to focus efforts where there is least opposition.
    2. Staff is constrained by electeds, who make judgements of voters. My impression is that FCDOT is not less committed to active transportation than their elected masters, the FFX Cty Board of Supervisors. Which in turn is almost certainly more pro biking, pro walking, pro transit, and pro urbanism, than the Fairfax County electorate at large. An electorate that is suburban, autocentric, older, and often consciously "anti-hip".
    3. Fairfax people who want change can get in the trenches and fight, or (like me) they can move to a place that is further along (though we have no shortage of frustration here). Giving up is also a legitimate choice, but I think throwing cold water on people who have not given up and are in the trenches, is less legitimate, IMHO.
    4. As I said, when I last lived in FFX, conditions really did suck. Annandale now has pretty good bike infra - much easier to get to Falls Church, the W&OD, and Alexandria. Are the routes comfortable for everyone from 8 to 80, for "Isabella"? No, its an American middle (not inner) suburb with a 1950/60s layout, and the messiah has not yet come. There are however new initiatives, Mason to Metro, IIUC, some new routes into Tysons, and (I saw this myself) a bunch of new lanes in Tysons. But its a big sprawling County, with a small base of riders, distances that discourage walking, and a lot of people who want to privilege the auto in use of road space.
    5. Are the lanes underused in part because many of them suck? I am sure that is so. But they are also little used because of the distances, the lack of density and the segregation of land uses. Its not mine to advocate or not in FFX (not any more) but if I can help out by aiming a weekend ride at some bike lanes, I will.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 09-13-2018 at 08:32 PM.

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  3. #12
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    I would be up for doing some rides in FFX, particularly if it is to get food and then let the business know that we are so happy to have been able to use a bike lane to get there.


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  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrunner View Post
    I live in southern Fairfax County, and have commuted to various jobs in northern VA. It's not easy, and I'm a hearty cyclist. I'd really like some of our city planners and leaders to join me on a commute one morning.

    Sorry to be negative, but the bike lanes in Fairfax County are poor (and that's being kind). The bike paths and lanes are disconnected, don't go anywhere useful, and do crazy things like flip back and forth with no signage. I've lived here over 25 years, and have seen hardly an improvement, even when there were golden opportunities when a new road was built. Yes, I have noticed new lanes, but for the most part they are still disconnected segments that don't facilitate biking.

    I'm tired of blaming someone else (e.g., VDOT), because "someone else" is always the problem, whether it is bike paths or general traffic in northern VA. You can spin it any way you like, but Fairfax County just isn't committed.
    I think LOTM said much of what I would say to reply to this, but to maybe say it a different way: Fairfax county isn't exactly "one entity" - it's a massive jurisdiction with a population, an elected part of its government, a bureaucracy and some externalities that impact it. The staff at FCDOT working on bike/ped is 6 people when it is fully staffed... which it rarely is. (Maybe even more interesting to me was finding out that the total portion of the FCPD devoted to "traffic safety" full time is about 5). Do they go for low hanging fruit? Absolutely because there's still plenty of it, and because it can be done. Fighting some of those battles - worth it? Maybe. But at what cost? Is the system perfect? Far from. But I think the improvements are notable. I've lived in fairfax county for over 40 years, on and off. I spent much of my childhood in McLean, and I've lived in (the county portion) of Fairfax for 20. Are the bike lanes great? No. But if they help people bike to metro instead of drive, or bike to a bus route in 15 minutes instead of a 40 minute walk? I think that's probably worth it. When it comes right down to it, I bitch about even the "premiere" bike infrastructure in DC - the 1st PBLs? great, except for all the cars/trucks stopped/parked in them, and the drivers turning through them without acknowledging the bike traffic that has right of way, and the other obstructions that make them less than perfect. Trails? great except every time I have to cross a street, or deal with branches not being trimmed or poor trail etiquette... There is no perfect infrastructure. There is better. Fairfax county's is NOT in the "better" category. No denying that. But if we won't use at least the "decent" parts of what is built, we'll likely lose even that.

    Sure - you can say "give up - there isn't enough commitment." But then we'll just be going for the same low hanging fruit in 10, or 20 or 50 years. Incremental change is better, in my view, than no change at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    I would be up for doing some rides in FFX, particularly if it is to get food and then let the business know that we are so happy to have been able to use a bike lane to get there.
    In that case, you should be sure to come to the Asian food ride planned for September 23. We'll be using the new bike lanes on Annandale Rd. I've been trying to find a good way to bike to The Block ever since it opened, and the Annandale Rd. bike lanes made it much, much easier to get there.

    I'm happy to plan other food-centric Fairfax rides if people have suggestions for particular bike lanes to use or destinations to visit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPTJohnC View Post
    There is no perfect infrastructure. There is better. Fairfax county's is NOT in the "better" category. No denying that. But if we won't use at least the "decent" parts of what is built, we'll likely lose even that.

    Sure - you can say "give up - there isn't enough commitment." But then we'll just be going for the same low hanging fruit in 10, or 20 or 50 years. Incremental change is better, in my view, than no change at all.
    Having a somewhat more distant relationship with biking in Fairfax County than others, I do have a few observations to add:
    1. I think the large and somewhat fractured nature of the county does make it more challenging to do more than the low hanging fruit, but it does seem that they've been trying to get more of that done with each other road project they do where possible, focusing a lot on the connections to transit hubs. Heck, even Tysons has bike lanes that make it possible for me, with the trailercycle, to get to the mall from DC with only a few really hairy moments.
    2. While a lot of the county's time/energy has been heavily devoted to the major projects in the county (Silver Line extension, and HOT lanes on the freeways), and though I'm personally biased, I think it's been generally a good thing to have a director that is an avid cyclist (he's ridden RAGBRAI a number of times) to eliminate some of the previous barriers to even the low hanging fruit.

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    I'm not trying to pile on, but on the southbound gallows road bike lane around the intersection of merry oaks lane, you can literally see where the bike lane stripe/paint is worn out from cars who cut the corner and would kill any cyclist actually using the lane. Cars seem perfectly comfortable doing well over the speed limit. So clearly they could have taken a touch more space and added protection of some kind for the bike lane.

    People don't use the majority of the FFX bike lanes cause they blow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    I would be up for doing some rides in FFX, particularly if it is to get food and then let the business know that we are so happy to have been able to use a bike lane to get there.
    If that includes riding the Beulah lanes down to Wegmans I'm up for that any day of the week! That way we can also experience the awfulness of the super narrow Van Dorn side trail as it goes up the hill from Eisenhower, under the train tracks, and over a slippery boardwalk under the beltway before the steep climb up Oakwood Dr. This leads to another question - How are people supposed to ride in Fairfax County when getting into it is more difficult than riding the bike lanes themselves?

    On the other hand I was pleasantly surprised to see a repaving of the Mt. Vernon Memorial Hwy had the addition of bike lanes. And it looks like Rt 1 near Ft Belvoir has bike lanes now too. I want to try them out soon too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dplasters View Post
    I'm not trying to pile on, but on the southbound gallows road bike lane around the intersection of merry oaks lane, you can literally see where the bike lane stripe/paint is worn out from cars who cut the corner and would kill any cyclist actually using the lane. Cars seem perfectly comfortable doing well over the speed limit. So clearly they could have taken a touch more space and added protection of some kind for the bike lane.

    People don't use the majority of the FFX bike lanes cause they blow.
    I live right off gallows and do everything I can (including riding on the sidewalks) to avoid using the gallows bike lanes.

  12. #19
    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dplasters View Post
    I'm not trying to pile on, but on the southbound gallows road bike lane around the intersection of merry oaks lane, you can literally see where the bike lane stripe/paint is worn out from cars who cut the corner and would kill any cyclist actually using the lane. Cars seem perfectly comfortable doing well over the speed limit. So clearly they could have taken a touch more space and added protection of some kind for the bike lane.

    People don't use the majority of the FFX bike lanes cause they blow.
    Gallows lanes are a good example of a place where the geography should mean more biking (W&OD to Tysons) and the lanes/street are bad (narrow bike lanes on a high speed road) That said, these lanes have been around a while, right? I recall seeing them in 2012 at the latest? I don't know if there would be consensus for a further lane or road diet on Gallows though. Gallows should probably eventually get bus lanes.

  13. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Gallows lanes are a good example of a place where the geography should mean more biking (W&OD to Tysons) and the lanes/street are bad (narrow bike lanes on a high speed road) That said, these lanes have been around a while, right? I recall seeing them in 2012 at the latest? I don't know if there would be consensus for a further lane or road diet on Gallows though. Gallows should probably eventually get bus lanes.
    I think the gallows lanes are even older than that - I think they were already well established when I started commuting regularly in 2010. I use them with some regularity and I see them getting a fair amount of use. But it is true that Gallows is NOT an ideal road for most cyclists. Then again, any alternatives for traversing the stretch from, say, Tysons to Dunn Loring are, I think, even worse or non-existent?

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