It was the combination of non-profit experience and the love of bicycle riding that landed Matt Roberts in the position of the new executive
director for the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling. He hasn’t owned a car for years, and previously worked at the Energy Storage Association, so this was a good fit for Roberts and the biking community in Northern Virginia.
Roberts was hired by the FABB Board of Directors in late October, and looks at it as “a great opportunity,” he said. That attitude was reiterated by FABB President Sonya Breehey, who liked his experience. “We look forward to working with him to achieve FABB’s vision of making bicycling safe and accessible for everyone in Fairfax County,” she said in their blog.
Roberts grew up in Michigan, and lived in the Netherlands a few years ago where the use of bicycles and trains was a major part of the transportation picture. “I don’t think I was in a car once the whole time I lived there,” he said.
In the warmer months ahead, Roberts is looking to get more county residents involved with biking, whether it be commuting or getting to school. Bike to Work Day in May and Bike to School Day are on his agenda to get riders involved this coming year. “These are great opportunities,” he said.
For children getting to school, there may be some more tweaking the current trails to make it safer. “Some of the biking facilities we’ve built is a little dicey for kids,” he said.
It will take more than just the local governments to complete the bike trail and bike parking facilities in the county, and Roberts is looking at getting all parties working toward the same goal. “How do we get all these people participating in the dialogue?” he asked.
In the coming months, all eyes are on the arrival of Amazon to Arlington, and that includes Roberts. While he doesn’t support more parking lot construction to handle the cars that Amazon will attract, he did note the socially conscious aura that seems to surround Amazon. Does this equate to more biking and public transportation use? “On paper, they have very good intentions,” he said.
Roberts is currently a resident of Washington, D.C. and used to bike about seven miles to work in Old Town, Alexandria. He now telecommutes, uses public transportation or uses a ride sharing service if he has to. He plans on moving to Fairfax County in the future.
In 2019, FABB celebrated several successes supporting their message in Fairfax County including the support of the Richmond Highway widening project, Merrifield Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning effort, the Seminary Road traffic calming plan, the Mount Vernon Trail safety improvements, and the Huntley Meadows Trail Plan, which was scrapped by the county for now. They still support it nonetheless.
In 2020, FABB has a full list to concentrate on, and that includes:
Leverage the new majority in the Virginia House and Senate to pass long laws to improve road safety and increase multi-modal investments;
Support development of the County's Active Transportation Plan;
Monitor ongoing progress of the 66 Parallel Trail;
Continue advocating for safer biking as part of the Route 1 widening and Bus Rapid Transit project;
Remain at the forefront of planning for the I-495 parallel trail and pedestrian/bicycle connections across a future American Legion Bridge expansion;
Promote bicycling and tourism by co-sponsoring the 5th annual Tour de Mt Vernon on Oct. 3.