Middle school students Iain MacKeith (left) and Sam Yarashus (right), representing the National Captial Velo Club junior race team, encouraged the Board of Supervisors to adopt the new bicycle master plan.
Photo by Tim Peterson.
The Fairfax County Government Center has several massive parking lots. Many hundreds of spaces. But Bruce Wright and members of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling only needed some rack real estate in front of the building. They rode into the afternoon session of the Board of Supervisors on two wheels apiece from Reston, taking the West Ox Road Side Path.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve come to the end of a long process of developing the first ever bike plan for the county,” said Wright. “The programs of encouragement and education will help us to transform from our suburban nature.”
Wright was one of 17 speakers to address the Board before it voted on Comprehensive Plan Amendment 2013-CW-T2, also known as a county-wide bicycle master plan update to the Transportation Policy Plan and 2002 Countywide Trails Plan Map.
The plan includes immediate and long-term goals (10-30 years) related to repaving efforts facilitated by VDOT. It calls for a network of bicycle facilities that spans the county, covering about 1,000 miles, and a much more detailed bikeway network map to identify shoulders, bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, separated and shared lanes and transportation trails.
A program of encouragement, safety education, improving bicycle access to schools, law enforcement and facility maintenance, is also part of the implementation of the new master plan.
It appeared to be right on the pulse of people addressing the board. Bill Sadler, regional policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership impressed the importance of “making Fairfax County a safer place to bike for people of all ages.”
“This plan supports our five Es,” said Sadler. “Engineering, Education, Engagement, Evaluations, Enforcement.”
Perhaps the most popular aspect of the plan for everyone in the room is the additional cost: $0. The proposed amendment document brief described the funding for bicycle projects as included in the Board-approved Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s six-year transportation program.
The proposed master bicycle plan drew no dissent from the supervisors, passing unanimously 10-0.
“I’m pleased to support Fairfax County’s first-ever Bicycle Master Plan,” said Lee district supervisor Jeff McKay. “This plan will help improve connectability between our neighborhoods and activity centers and enhances our transportation network. When I first brought this before the Board of Supervisors, it was my hope that we could incorporate short and long-term plans to promote biking in the county and this plan does just that. No matter where I go in my district, there’s a strong desire for better trails and sidewalks.”