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Supervisors Pedal Bike Plan for County

Board approves Draft Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan.

Though Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York lives in Sterling Park where his children could ride their bikes to Park View High School, the roads lack a bikeway system to get them there.

That’s why York (R-At large) gave his support at the Oct. 20 board meeting for the Draft Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan, “a solution to connect community to community,” he said. “This allows us to make connectivity happen.”

That connectivity is a countywide network of pedestrian, bicycle and shared-use paths among neighborhoods, work places, shopping centers and other components of the county. As of now, the county’s public right-of-way areas that could be used by pedestrians and cyclists includes discontinuous sidewalks, road crossings without pedestrian crosswalk areas and a lack of bike lanes, though individual neighborhoods may have bike paths that are “often narrow and winding and do not connect to destinations,” as stated in the draft plan. “Bicycling or walking is often not a safe or convenient option.”

FOR THE PAST year, a Citizens Advisory Committee, county staff and consultants developed the Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan to identify locations in the county that could provide pedestrian and bicycle access through the addition of sidewalks, bike lanes, pathways and intersection crossings. The plan, which is included in the county’s Revised General Plan adopted in July 2001, focuses on using the county’s road network, unlike the existing W&OD Trail that follows an abandoned rail corridor from east to west across the county. The county has few remaining abandoned rail corridors to develop additional off-road trails and is therefore reliant on the roadways.

The plan incorporates programs that support and encourage walking and bicycling and addresses the need for secure bike parking and mixed-use developments that make short trips feasible, along with the need for bike and pedestrian safety programs and traffic law enforcement programs that teach users how to safely share the road.

“I believe it’s a good framework in which to work,” said William Bogard (I-Sugarland Run). “I think it will evolve over time as we work on it.”

In other words, the plan can be carried out as the county is able to implement the improvements and, as stated in the draft plan, can help the county ensure that bicycle and pedestrian accommodations are included in local, state and regional transportation projects.

“What the plan does is set standards for us and forces us to address the issue when development comes through,” Bogard said. “It will be handled the same as our roads. We put our roads together piecemeal.”

Developers and homeowner associations will be able to include the pedestrian and bicycle pathways in their developments, and developers as part of their proffers, said Charles Harris (D-Broad Run).

The Board of Supervisors approved the plan 6-3 with James Burton (I-Mercer), Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) voting against.

Burton was disappointed that the plan did not mention the implementation costs and sets high expectations for the public. “It’s a recreation plan, not a transportation plan,” he said. “I reluctantly will not be able to support this plan.”

“We’re creating an unrealistic expectation,” Hiatt said.

The board directed the county administrator to begin implementing several of the high priority tasks in the plan, including:

* Researching possible bicycle and pedestrian facilities along roads in the Suburban Policy Area in eastern Loudoun.

* Revising the zoning ordinance, Facilities Standard Manual and the Land Subdivision and Development Ordinance to incorporate policies in the plan into the county documents.

* Working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to integrate the plan's policies into roadway planning in the county.

* Developing a detailed implementation strategy.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the Board of Supervisors:

* Approved names for the parks in University Center on Riverside Parkway and in Ashburn Village on Gloucester Parkway. The Park and Recreation Advisory Board reviewed community recommendations and selected Bles Park for the park at University Center in the George Washington University (GWU) campus. The park includes a 30-acre active park with two soccer fields and a trail system and a 94-acre passive park. The name commemorates Marcus J. and Alba Bles, former owners of the land where George Washington University now sits.

A second 10.4-acre park in Ashburn Village, which has a soccer field, a football field and two ball fields, was named Ray Muth Sr. Memorial Park to commemorate Muth, the former Ashburn Fire and Rescue chief and 35-year member of the county’s volunteer fire and rescue system.

* Heard a report that the county has been included in the Presidential Disaster Declaration in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel and subsequent flooding. The county is eligible for reimbursement for debris removal and emergency protection measures. Two FEMA damage assessment teams inspected the county and with county staff identified $135,000 in public facilities damages, $132,000 in agriculture losses and $1.4 million in personal property damage. The public facilities include the Fire-Rescue Training Center, Courts Complex, Sheriff’s Administration, County Administration, Shenandoah Building and Loudoun Valley Community Center.

* Adopted a Stormwater Management Ordinance to comply with the Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit requirements for storm water discharge. The ordinance gives the county authority to maintain storm water infrastructure in dedicated easements, to establish easements for infrastructure not already located within an easement and to prohibit and penalize those making discharges into the county’s storm water system.