Improving Pedestrian Network

Improving Pedestrian Network

RA approves "Reston on Foot" amendment.

A plan, originally drafted in 1993 and last updated in 1999, has once again been revised this year. "Reston on Foot" identifies missing links in Reston’s pedestrian network, an important component to a community with more than 50 miles of trails.

"’Reston on Foot’ really ties into the identity of Reston," said Nicole Mogul, a member of Reston Association’s transportation advisory committee. She said good pedestrian access is essential to a community where people live, work and play. "It’s not, live, get in your car, work, get in your car and play," said Mogul.

Reston Association board approved the amended report at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday night, May 24. It identifies 60,000 feet of missing gaps in Reston’s pedestrian network.

According to Mogul, walkers face many problems in Reston, largely because development has outpaced pedestrian network improvements. "Gaps exist. Connectivity is a real aspect of your pedestrian transportation system that is desirable," she said.

Lake Anne/Tall Oaks director Robin Smyers noted that the report calls for key and minor improvements on Reston’s walkways, trails and sidewalks. However, she noted, Reston Association does not have the responsibility to act on improvements on sidewalks and intersections. Its responsibility rests on improvements to properties it owns or properties that provide links to RA facilities. Mogul explained that because of Virginia Department of Transportation regulations, RA is not necessarily responsible for its sidewalks. The responsibility for improvements, as identified in the report, would fall on the shoulders of private developers, property owners and county and state agencies. Implementation of the report, or parts of it, could prove to be difficult because of many responsible parties.

RA DIRECTOR Mark Watts asked if the report is available to all Reston residents, online or in hard copy. Mogul explained it is not yet, but she is hoping to post it online. Watts added that a single person or organization should coordinate a public awareness campaign and implementation of the report.

"We could act as advocates," said RA president Jennifer Blackwell.

Mogul said Reston Town Center is planning a summit to bring all concerned parties together to discuss best ways to implement the suggestions in the report. "Connectivity to Town Center is a huge issue," said Mogul. She said Reston Town Center is an island, and getting to it is difficult for pedestrians.

Implementation of the report, according to Mogul, would not only tackle connectivity issues, but would also serve an educational purpose. She hopes to work with the local police on education and enforcement programs designed for pedestrians, something the Reston District police officers have engaged in recent months, conducting operations protecting pedestrians and bicyclists in the area.

Also, Mogul said, implementation could improve connectivity to other modes of transportation. Access to bus stops and future metro stations are considered in the report, while better connectivity to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail would serve the needs of many local bicyclists. Mogul said enhancements in the pedestrian network serve many, because those who use strollers and wheelchairs would also benefit from the enhancements.

"Improving your pedestrian network is clarifying the relationship between pedestrians and cars," said Mogul.

SINCE THE REPORT’S last update in 1999, more than 9,050 feet of pathways identified in "Reston on Foot" have been completed. Fairfax County, Reston Association and developers are scheduled to complete another 2,850 feet of pathways. Examples of completed recommendations in the 1999 report include installation of a pedestrian signal and crosswalk at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road and a completion of crosswalks at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue.

According to the report, accurate cost estimates have not been prepared because of a need for more careful definition of intersection improvements, but the completion of the 60,000 feet of missing links is estimated at $3.5 million. That cost excludes land acquisition, which may be necessary for some improvements, and sidewalks and pathways recommended for improvements through major development projects.

Mogul said the report’s update comes at a good time, because a lot of people are aware of the need for safe pedestrian networks. National movements promoting enhanced pedestrian pathways are sprouting across the nation, and the improvements are relatively low in cost and help protect the environment. "This is an opportunity to emphasize a sense of place," said Mogul. "We live in a model community, but there are gaps. Some are really small and would be easy to fix," she said.