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Friday, June 8, 2012

Ambitious bike plan proposed for Fairfax County

Bikes parked in front of the George Mason library
How would you like to see central Annandale circled with bike routes connecting Gallows Road, Village Drive, Chatelaine Road, John Marr Drive, McWhorter Place, Markham Drive, Annandale Road and Maple Street? And how about bike lanes along Gallows, Annandale Road, Hummer Road, and Backlick Road and a mix of bike friendly solutions along Columbia Pike and Little River Turnpike?

Those are some of the recommendations in the proposed Fairfax County Bicycle Transportation Master Plan.

Representatives from the Toole Design Group, the consultants hired by the county to draft the plan, presented their proposals June 6 at a community meeting at the George Mason Regional Library.

The master plan recommendations include a map outlining a countywide mix of bicycle-friendly road and trail improvements.

According to Robert Patten, senior planner with Toole Design Group, facilities to support bicyclists include:
  • standard bike lanes
  • buffered bike lanes that are separated from traffic by road markings
  • traffic signals that can detect bicyclists at intersections
  • bike lanes designed with different colors to differentiate lanes for bikers and motorists
  • shared roads, known as “sharrows,” with marked lanes designating where bikers and drives are supoosed to be
  • “climbing lanes” on hilly roads where there isn’t enough room for bikes, so there’s a bike line heading uphill and a shared lane downhill
  • “cycle tracks” separated from traffic by physical barriers such as bollards or a line of parked cars
  • Shared roads with bike safety lanes
  • Trails shared with pedestrians
Implementing the plan will require an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, coordination with VDOT and the Fairfax Cunty Parks Authority, and, of course, a lot more money than the county currently devotes to bicycle transportation.

A big challenge is what to do about heavily traveled, commercial roads like Little River Turnpike, Patten says. “Those roads have to be part of the network,” he says, and will best be served by a mix of solutions including various types of bike lanes and sharrows.

He asked participants at the meeting to prioritize their objectives for improving bicycle transportation. Among the options: create a countywide advisory body, provide more paved trails, promote bicycle tourism, aggressively pursue funding, and promote bicycle safety education and enforcement.

The final master plan will be issued by July. During the fall, the county’s Transportation Advisory Commission, Planning Commission, and VDOT will review it, and it is expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in December.


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