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Thread: No thank you, Fairfax County

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Is it illegal to ride on the grass in that location?
    No, it's an unpaved sidewalk: "A sidewalk is defined as the portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians." The paved shoulder there is also, IMO, a sidewalk as it is plainly intended for use by pedestrians and is outside the roadway line. Having grown up in a more rural area, the concept of walking along the road on something other than a concrete sidewalk is not so strange to me. Note that this is distinct from a shared-use path which is by definition "physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier". I think this is the root of your issue: you're describing this as illegal salmoning, and I think it's just a perfectly legal but crappy sidewalk. Now, if there were a separate path in that spot, then riding on the shoulder in the wrong direction there would become salmoning (because that shoulder would no longer be intended for use by pedestrians).

    I'm not sure that adding flex posts would change the status of the curbs wrt to ADA. So I'm not sure adding flex posts triggers anything else.
    No, adding the flex posts probably wouldn't trigger anything else, and that's the "thousand or two" option I alluded to. It seems utterly pointless, though, and as soon as you look at creating some sort of separated path all the way to the curb the add-on affects grow rapidly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    There were two seperate trails. Accotink Trail and the Difficult Run Trail. They designated it as the CCT, and paved over some connecting pieces on the Accotink Trail like the part between King Arthur and Wakefield Park (I'm not sure what was there before - if the Accotink had a gap there, or if it was unpaved trail - I think it was a gap).
    I believe it was a gap, because I've been told the 495 dirt jumps used to be much more difficult to get to prior to the construction of that trail. I think the section south of Accotink is also new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    There were at least a couple of stream crossings which would need a complete dismount & carry down & up a steep bank after the hurricane a couple of years ago. You could maybe make it happen on a bike, but not in a way that wouldn't rip the banks up even worse. Don't know if they've been reworked since then as I don't get out there much.
    Dunno if they fixed anything, but I rode from the south end of Laurel Hill up to Lake Fairfax as part of the NoVa epic in June and rode the whole thing. There are some eroded ugly sections here and there but nothing that would really faze an experienced mountainbiker. *shrug*

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    No, it's an unpaved sidewalk: "A sidewalk is defined as the portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians." The paved shoulder there is also, IMO, a sidewalk as it is plainly intended for use by pedestrians and is outside the roadway line. Having grown up in a more rural area, the concept of walking along the road on something other than a concrete sidewalk is not so strange to me. Note that this is distinct from a shared-use path which is by definition "physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier". I think this is the root of your issue: you're describing this as illegal salmoning, and I think it's just a perfectly legal but crappy sidewalk. Now, if there were a separate path in that spot, then riding on the shoulder in the wrong direction there would become salmoning (because that shoulder would no longer be intended for use by pedestrians).

    I grew up in Brooklyn, and walking on the side of a rural road is something I find extremely stressful.

    That raises additional isues BTW. I mean on Hunter Village, the road is relatively slow, the "crappy sidewalk" is fairly wide. There are places on Little River Turnpike, on Columbia Pike, etc where the only place to walk (at least cyclists have the option to take the general lanes, though many concerned but interested riders would find that prospect intimidating - and in some places its not possible depending on your starting point, because of the direction of traffic and the absence of safe crossings or even safe places to make a vehicular left) is a relatively narrow shoulder adjacent to traffic going in excess of 50MPH (45MPH posted limit, plus the usual 10MPH "buffer")

    1. I find that stressful as a cyclist to do that - especially in the opposite direction to traffic 2. I find it stressful as a ped, whichever direction I am walking 3. I find it stressful as a driver when I see a cyclist going opposite the flow of traffic in such a situation.

    Can the County really consider such places "sidewalks"?


    I HOPE the County is attempting to elminate such situations, at least in places where biking and walking are more common.
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 09-03-2013 at 10:13 AM.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    There were at least a couple of stream crossings which would need a complete dismount & carry down & up a steep bank after the hurricane a couple of years ago. You could maybe make it happen on a bike, but not in a way that wouldn't rip the banks up even worse. Don't know if they've been reworked since then as I don't get out there much.



    Fairfax started setting aside the stream valleys decades ago, partially to preserve some of the environment, partially because the land was fairly worthless for development and was an easy proffer to go after. (Proffers being the legal kickbacks developers provide to get breaks on zoning, permits, etc.) Another easy proffer was putting a path through the park the developer just provided. (They basically just run a bulldozer along the stream once they're done using it build houses.) So pretty much any development in FFX county near a stream has a little park with a path. Early on, there was no effort at all made to connect any of those, so they were usually just extremely underutilized neighborhood amenities. At some point someone looked at a map, saw all the skinny green places, and considered that it might be nice to hook them together to create a more extensive network. So they've spent a while now trying to figure out how to find connections for tiny parks which were never really intended to connect. Sometimes that's really easy, sometimes it's really hard. In the long-term the county expects to improve the connections over time as part of other projects, but it'll be decades before it's all seamless, if ever.

    That said, the stream valley park network is a really nice feature for the county. The alternative would have been to underground the streams and fill over them, which is what you see in most developed areas (Tiber River & Jones Falls are local examples that jump immediately to mind, and that's how Rock Creek would have ended up if it weren't a national park). Building on the stream valleys would be a lot harder with current environmental regulations, but the county very easily could have gone a different way in the 60s, and the loss would have been irreversible.


    From Pickett to LRT I think there are no longer any "wet" crossings. There are several bridges on the new section between King Arthur and WP. From LRT down to Hunter Village, I think there are only two wet crossings - of which one was doable on an MTB (but perhaps not good for the stream bank - I will make a note of that) and the other (in Wakefield Park) was basically undoable, IMO.

    I would note that some of the parks connected by the CCT are more substantial than simply stream valley parks with a path - they include for example Wakefield Park with a rec center, tennis courts, and ball fields. Lake Accotink Park, with a marina, carousel, and minigolf.

    There are also, IIUC, several stream valley parks that do not have trails. Though in some instances the county is now planning to add trails to them.

  6. #26
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    How would you feel about a crosswalk at the trail entrance, allowing you to cross right there and point your bike in the “right” direction on the other side of the road? Yes, with the median, you’d have to walk your bike across, but this http://goo.gl/maps/WfLWP is the example I’m thinking of, and I always dismount and walk the bike across, it just feels safer. But I’m quite appreciative of this crosswalk- cars actually even stop and wait for me to cross there. (Though I would like to strangle whoever decided that would be a good place for a bollard. I guess you can’t get all things.)

    Not that I’m Fairfax County and able to implement anything, of course, but just contact the powers that be and tell them PG is doing bike/ped safety better than they are. You’ll have a shiny new crosswalk by the end of the week.

    (unless fairfax and pg are actually in competition to see who can run over the most peds, which, now that I think about it...)
    Last edited by Amalitza; 09-03-2013 at 11:59 AM.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    Can the County really consider such places "sidewalks"?
    This comes from the Code, so substitute "Virginia" for "the County". Since the alternative would be to treat the highway ROW as limited access and bar pedestrians from using it, I think the answer is "yes" and "certainly better than the alternative". In some cases (like the one under discussion) it's a reasonably safe and practical option. In other cases, there really exists a need for a separated trail (in some cases with a wall because just having a couple of feet of grass on a 55MPH+ road provides essentially zero protection). And FWIW, in most of those cases it is VDOT pulling the strings and they will never prioritize pedestrian access over vehicle level of service.

    So is the county attempting to eliminate such situations? Well, where it can (e.g., VDOT lets them) they try to improve pedestrian facilities. The budget for this is almost nonexistent, and the best bet is to try to carve out improvements when someone is paying for a road widening. (Even then, I've ranted about how common it is for the pedestrian accommodations being the "too expensive" part that's kicked from a multi-million dollar project.) If you lose that fight, it's gonna probably be decades before you get a do-over. Apart from that, they work from a general list of priorities using whatever funds they can find. Prioritization is frankly probably tied to "have people died here" rather than "this looks like it sucks", because there's enough of the former to eat the funds.

    The county does have people who work on trying to find money. Some of the best sources were the Federal Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails, and Safe Routes to School programs, but those got killed and replaced by one program with less overall funding. Unless something dramatic happens either in Richmond or Washington, don't expect a lot of change on the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acl View Post
    How would you feel about a crosswalk at the trail entrance, allowing you to cross right there and point your bike in the “right” direction on the other side of the road? Yes, with the median, you’d have to walk your bike across
    I don't think they're allowed to stripe a new crosswalk over a median. So the total project would involve: painting lines, digging up the median, replacing the median with a ADA-compliant cut, possibly widening the median (can't tell if it's wide enough for pedestrian refuge standards, which might also be irrelevant since the road is so narrow), digging up the hill & landscaping on the far side, relocating or doing something with that big drainage outlet, and paving up to the sidepath. Easily in the 10s of thousands of dollars range. So if you're the FFX bike & pedestrian coordinator and you have, say, $25k to spend at the end of the year on pedestrian enhancements, is this the spot that gives you the best bang for the buck or is that money better spent somewhere else? It really is a zero-sum game, and the guys working on this stuff don't have a lot of easy wins.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    In other cases, there really exists a need for a separated trail (in some cases with a wall because just having a couple of feet of grass on a 55MPH+ road provides essentially zero protection). .
    I'd much rather have a 5 foot sidewalk, a few inches of grass, and a curb, than a five foot shoulder with no curb.

    For the rest I mostly agree, sadly.

    To be pedantic though, they have 48 milllion in the ped program.

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/pedestrian/

    I think that excludes trails in parks. And that it excludes Tysons. And I think on street bike lanes and sharrows are seperate.


    here in Annandale they seem to be prioritizing sidewalks on Col Pike (which I mentoned above) and on Backlick (also a problem).
    Last edited by lordofthemark; 09-03-2013 at 12:41 PM.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    digging up the hill & landscaping on the far side, relocating or doing something with that big drainage outlet, and paving up to the sidepath. .
    Actually I agree with you that if I were in charge of FFXC budget, this would be far from my first priority. And I don't know but am willing to believe about the median-- it obviously wouldn't be ADA compliant (though neither is the trail at that point). But, asking out of curiousity, why would painting a mid-block crosswalk mean you then have to pave all the way up to the next intersection on the other side? (that's what you're saying, right?)

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