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Thread: Fairfax County Bike Lanes

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    Default Fairfax County Bike Lanes

    I received some information (and a request for help) from my contact at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Pedestrian and cycling programs (I will likely cross post this in the commuter section as well):

    We have a successful annual restriping program that has created over 90 miles of bike lanes in Fairfax County, but there is some concern that support for it could weaken in the future if new bike lanes are not being used as much as some have hoped. It was mentioned to me today that it would be desirable to see more current cyclists use bike lanes in Fairfax County (particularly in road diet situations), and that we need the bike communities support for that.

    Would you be willing to reach out to your members/peers to encourage bike lane usage by regular cyclists throughout Fairfax County as an advocacy task?

    Maybe (new) bike lanes could also be celebrated with regular rides, an internal competition who can ride the most miles on bike lanes, bike lane scavenger hunts, etc? Increased usage by regular riders may also inspire new riders to try out the on-street infrastructure.

    Also, we are well aware that bike lanes can sometimes become covered in debris and gravel please also (continue to) encourage your members/friends/contacts to report hazardous bike lane conditions to VDOT at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. The website makes it easy and VDOT usually responds fairly quickly.

    Thanks so much for your support!


    Not sure how useful this information is to most, but I know I've wished for cleanup of debris in some of my FX County bike lanes. Now I know who to contact and how.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPTJohnC View Post

    Maybe (new) bike lanes could also be celebrated with regular rides, an internal competition who can ride the most miles on bike lanes, bike lane scavenger hunts, etc? Increased usage by regular riders may also inspire new riders to try out the on-street infrastructure.
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...g-was-the-deed!


    1. Not sure if this will be possible, given the changes with Freezing saddles IT support. Plus I would need to know about specific segments that they want ridden, and fairly soon.

    2. I would also be up for a group ride to see FFX bike lanes. But please, not an attempt to do them all in one day

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    My response: the bike lane program IME is extremely weak and caves at the slightest challenge. This has lead to a fragmented system of disconnected lanes, which, yeah, makes it hard to convince people to use them. We went through a long process of creating a bike master plan, which tried to address this, but in practice there's been almost no attempt to implement the plan or use it to explain to people why bike lanes are being proposed for specific locations.

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    If you build bike lanes that aren't safe and comfortable to ride in and that don't connect form a network of safe and comfortable infrastructure, you can't be surprised that people don't ride in it.

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    All true. And we can, obviously, debate the merits for the rest of the year. My position would be if you wait for perfection you often get nothing.

    Most of the bike lanes in FX County are "aimed toward" destinations like transit, other bike infrastructure, or other "high density" destinations, in my experience. They're far from perfect, but they're (usually) better than the nothing they are replacing? I understand why many might not choose to use them (preferring to drive in cars, or use transit, instead). I certainly favor trails when they're available. But I appreciate that there's an effort to make some progress?

    Fairfax County's approach has largely been to use "target of opportunity" for essentially "free" bike lanes when repaving is done. Fairfax is also hampered because the state owns almost all of the roads, and won't approve most of the "better" solutions (because the state refuses to maintain). I don't know that I'd agree that FCDOT caves at the slightest challenge, but they certainly don't win every battle they fight. And that's largely because the citizenry is NOT supportive. Which means it is up to cyclists to demonstrate that the facilities are useful and not just a nuisance. The battles are similar to DC, but the cycling community has far less of a voice, I think?

    The approach has led to a fragmented (but ever improving? at least growing?) network. I believe the early pilots in terms of protected bike lanes are coming, but they're nascent at best for now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showth...g-was-the-deed!


    1. Not sure if this will be possible, given the changes with Freezing saddles IT support. Plus I would need to know about specific segments that they want ridden, and fairly soon.

    2. I would also be up for a group ride to see FFX bike lanes. But please, not an attempt to do them all in one day
    LOTM: 1) I can get the info as to what lanes are most important, I think, and pretty quickly. And I'm happy to help if I can with the BAFS side competition, though I am NOT a data guy. (Just as John or Hans. I rely on them every year.)

    2) What if it included beer and donuts? No - I'm not up for what would almost certainly be a double century plus...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    My response: the bike lane program IME is extremely weak and caves at the slightest challenge. This has lead to a fragmented system of disconnected lanes, which, yeah, makes it hard to convince people to use them. We went through a long process of creating a bike master plan, which tried to address this, but in practice there's been almost no attempt to implement the plan or use it to explain to people why bike lanes are being proposed for specific locations.

    This is no different from any other suburban jurisdiction in the region. The fact is that local DOTs always go for the lowest hanging (not the most nutritious) fruit. They follow paving schedules, and places they want traffic calming, and (at least at the beginning) where there is little opposition, rather than where it adds the most to a connected network. And we can't push to change that priority, because there are not enough of us. (I will say though that the practice of putting unprotected bike lanes next to 45MPH roads makes for some particularly uncomfortable segments).

    The positive is that at some point your conventional bike lanes do start to form a network, and you instead have a fragmented unconnected system of buffered/protected lanes.

    I will also say that there are parts of FFX County where the lanes have made things a lot better. I used to live in Annandale, and some here may recall my kvetching about it. Recently I rode the lanes on Hummer to Annandale Rd to Kerns (and then took the unpainted but perfectly comfortable streets around Lake Barcroft home to Alex) and it was pretty good.

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    LOTM: 1) I can get the info as to what lanes are most important, I think, and pretty quickly. And I'm happy to help if I can with the BAFS side competition, though I am NOT a data guy. (Just as John or Hans. I rely on them every year.)

    So, as noted above, I was going to change the In the Beginning game to just City of Alex, but I would be happy to include some FFX segments (and I can't say I am not pleased that someone official is thinking along the exact same line I was). To create strava segments I would have to ride the segments, so what you could do would be to ride them and create the segments.

    BUT - even updating the game would mean someone would have to do coding. At this point it is not clear to me if anyone is going to step up to replace HOZN to do coding for BAFS2019 - one alternative is to only do social games that do not require strava pulls. There may be some way to reconfigure this game to not require coding, but I would need to think about it.

    2) What if it included beer and donuts? No - I'm not up for what would almost certainly be a double century plus...


    Beer. Donuts. Good.

    Double century. I bring this up because riding all the bike lanes in a jurisdiction in one or two days is now a thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    This is no different from any other suburban jurisdiction in the region. The fact is that local DOTs always go for the lowest hanging (not the most nutritious) fruit. They follow paving schedules, and places they want traffic calming, and (at least at the beginning) where there is little opposition, rather than where it adds the most to a connected network. And we can't push to change that priority, because there are not enough of us.
    Yes, that all sounds well and good, but it doesn't reflect my experience with the process. And I did push, and I (not the county, they didn't show up) talked about the bike master plan at our community meeting, and I showed people on a map why the bike lanes they thought were useless actually mattered, and I talked about the traffic calming aspects on a road where the residents was already trying to calm traffic (there are speed bumps now, but no bike lanes) and I even got the neighborhood association to back off opposing the project based on bogus arguments flying around social media. (E.g.: striping the bike lanes would cost $100k/mile.) And the county just walked away without even engaging the people trying to make the project happen because "there wasn't enough time". But sure, next time they pave (whenever that is)...

    Bottom line: I've heard a lot of talk from the county without a lot of follow through. Unless my experience was completely abnormal, I have little hope that finding a bike lane to ride in every once in a while is what's going to fix this mess.

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    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.

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