Friday, January 10, 2014

Peter Fallon, Candidate for Arlco Board, on Cycling and Arlington #bikedc #arlingtonva @Fallon4ArlVA

Peter Fallon for
Arlington County Board
As the father of young children, I take them to preschool in the morning, and then drive to my job in Fairfax. If one became ill or had an accident during the day, I would need to immediately get to the school and drive to the pediatrician. However, I do work from home when I can, which keeps my car off the road. As they get older, I look forward to teaching my children to ride bikes. They will be able to bike to our local elementary school.

I support Arlington’s efforts to obtain a Gold Certification as a Bike Friendly Community. Arlington seeks to be a leader in all that we do. Therefore, I would support going beyond the Gold level, and striving for the Platinum designation. The bar is understandably higher for this certification, but it is worth pursuing. If we start taking steps in that direction, we will become a better community along the way and eventually reach our goal. For both Gold and Platinum, we need to get more people using bikes more frequently, improve trail connectivity (for cyclists), adopt a real “share the road” philosophy on our public streets, and increase safety. I support these goals as part of building a sustainable community with transportation choices.

The DC area is a national leader in bike sharing. Arlington is a key member of Capital Bikeshare. I have consistently supported Arlington's participation in Capital Bikeshare, and recommended potential new locations to expand service in our community. More bike stations make bike sharing convenient for more residents and visitors. “Not only are more people likely to have a bike station nearby, they are more likely to find another bike station near their destination in Arlington or otherwise. This provides both more visibility for the program and well as greater access and convenience for users. A review by county staff has indicated that users of Capital Bikeshare are more likely to purchase their own bicycle afterwards. This encourages more cycling in our community after a few ‘trial runs’ as residents experience Arlington via bicycle. During my term on the Planning Commission, we have seen bike stations get installed near hotels. This provides visitors to our community with an alternative to driving during their stay and for leisure.

Periodically, trees along our bike trails and public streets need to be pruned. This is important for the health of the tree, to limit interference with overhead lines, clear visual obstructions, and for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. Pruning and other landscape maintenance work should be scheduled to limit impacts on the trail users. Ideally, advance notice of scheduling should be provided to the bike community, in the event an alternate route would make more sense.

Responsibility for the trails should be coordinated between the Parks and Recreation Division and DES. County efforts, for snow removal along major streets, which often rely upon contracted labor, generally pile snow into the bike lane, parking lane, or even onto the sidewalks. I would support efforts to plow heavily used trails.

One accident is too many, wherever it occurs. There are far too many accidents happening in Rosslyn. We need to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the cyclists at the Lynn St. intersection and anywhere else we have a danger point. We also need to take steps to reduce the occurrence of drivers, as they exit their parked cars, from hitting passing cyclists. As a County Board member, I would look to leaders in the cycling community and county staff to bring forward proposals to address safety. This should be a top priority, before more accidents occur.

Organizations like Phoenix Bikes form an important partnership between the Arlington County government and our citizens. Phoenix Bikes currently operates a facility in Barcroft Park, and is seeking to move to a new location on County-owned land near the intersection of Four Mile Run and S. George Mason Drive. I support Phoenix Bike’s efforts to expand their youth training operation and provide services (education, restrooms, water stations) for cyclists and other trail users. Relocating to a new site adjacent to a major trail makes sense. As often happens in Arlington, concerns have been raised by nearby residents regarding loss of mature trees and green space. The County has held public meetings to share information and get feedback on the proposal. As a County Board member, I would want to hear from all stakeholders to determine the best site for the Phoenix Bike facility, so that we can move forward.

I support the proposed streetcar system along Columbia Pike and through Crystal City. I have many unanswered questions, which include bicyclists’ safety while sharing the existing right of way with automobiles, trucks, busses, and streetcars. The rails on the street may pose an additional hazard to cyclists. Therefore, I am interested in the parallel bikeway concept. It would need to be continuous to provide a seamless connection for users. Any parallel bikeway would need to be located very close to the Pike to be a viable alternative route for cyclists transportation needs. I understand the County staff is looking at this option.

As longtime member of the Planning Commission, I have a record of support for efforts to treat cycling as a true modal choice and transportation element. I support sharing the road (sharrows, bike lanes, bike tracks, or other dedicated lanes) with cyclists. Biking is not just a recreational choice; it's a key modal element of transportation in Arlington. Arlington residents have a high proportion of cycling commuters. It is standard for the County to require bike storage lockers and bike racks in all new site plan approved projects and in our public facilities I served on Arlington's Master Transportation Plan (MTP) Plenary Group for five years, which included adding a bicycle element as an element of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. I served on the Arterial Traffic Management (ATM) task force which focused on making our major roads safer for all users. I support adding safer bike routes throughout the County and better connections to our Arlington and regional trails. As a member of the Long Bridge Park Task Force, I can say that establishing a trail connection from the Mt. Vernon trail, over the GW parkway and Roaches Run, linking up to our new park and beyond is a priority I support.

Arlington is a leading community in recognizing the importance of using bikes as a transportation option. As a former member of the County’s Planning Commission, Transportation Commission, and as a visitor to the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC), I have a clear record of advocating for cyclists and voting for bike friendly proposals. I've always supported additional bike lockers in new commercial and residential buildings, and shower facilities in the office buildings. Our streetscapes have been adding more bike racks for cyclists’ convenience. I have supported efforts to equip buses with bike racks and more bike lockers at our Metro stations for multimodal commuting. I supported efforts to gain bicycle and emergency vehicle access between the Army Navy Country Club and the far side of Interstate 395.

We can do more, and with the help of leaders in the cycling community, we will do more. My vision includes making biking a desirable option for more potential riders. Expansion of our bike lane network should be an integral part of our street redesigns. We need to increase safety and change driver behavior to fairly share the road. I seek greater collaboration with Arlington Public Schools to encourage more students and staff, to walk or bicycle to school, as an alternative to driving. Fewer cars near our schools would foster safety and confidence for walking and cycling.

As a member of the County Board, I will continue to support efforts by our cycling community to move Arlington forward. My record shows that I have embraced cycling as an equal transportation choice for getting around Arlington.

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