Like everyone else, FABB is not sad to see 2020 end. But, the year has had its good points, especially when it comes to better bicycling in Fairfax County.
As in other parts of the country, Fairfax witnessed a boom in bicycle sales as more people turned to bicycling as a great means of transportation and recreation during the public health emergency. As important, reduced motor vehicle traffic provided a foretaste of how much nicer our streets, cleaner our air, and more vibrant high-density shopping, restaurant, and business areas might be if we make our region more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. FABB was encouraged to see local governments’ and businesses’ responsiveness in adapting transportation and recreation options to address the health, safety, and economic challenges created by the pandemic.
Despite COVID-19, FABB continued to work hard for better bicycling throughout the year. To ensure that we did our part to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infections, FABB quickly switched to virtual meetings and digital public comments to continue our advocacy after cancelling scheduled classes, rides, and meetings this spring. We also encouraged people to stay active and provided safety information and route planning support for those considering biking as an alternative for commuting, short trips, and recreation.
We publicized and participated in the annual Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) paving and restriping virtual public hearings, voicing our support for bike lane projects in Mason, Providence, Dranesville, and Braddock Districts. We happily noted that the repaving program has added 80-plus bike-lane miles to 63 roads in Fairfax County in the last two years.
FABB and its supporters offered ideas to improve proposed bicycling infrastructure for the I-495 Northern Extension, Richmond Highway, Rolling Road, Soapstone Drive, Braddock Road Corridor, and Government Center Parkway projects. Our advocacy also supported Vienna bike sharing, a W&OD Trail-West Falls Church Metrorail Station multi-use path connection, and Mount Vernon Trail Corridor safety and accessibility improvements. In addition, members advocated for seven bills to protect vulnerable road uses from distracted and speeding drivers during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly, four of which have or will soon become law.
In collaboration with Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and George Mason University, FABB supported and participated in a three-part webinar series on active transportation that featured discussions on new Virginia bicycle and pedestrian safety laws, Capital Bikeshare, NOVA Parks, and the Safe Streets program.
FABB was proud to join once again with Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck to hold the 5th Annual Tour de Mount Vernon. We also engaged with the Fairfax County Police Department on equitable enforcement of bicycle and other traffic laws and improvements to bicycle education for police, bicyclists, and motorists. Finally, we continued to collaborate with Sally Smallwood, the county’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator, to encourage biking and walking even when school was not in session and students where learning at home.
FABB has been heartened by the strong efforts of government, private partners, and advocacy allies, such as the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Capital Trails Coalition, to make bicycling better in Fairfax County this year. We applaud the continued growth of the FCDOT BikeFairfax team and its important addition of an Outreach and Shared Mobility Coordinator. We especially commend FCDOT and VDOT and their partners for the initiative to install partial road closures along Tysons Boulevard and near the Fairfax County Government Center to support safer biking and walking with social distancing.
We are proud that Fairfax County and Virginia have improved access and safety with active transportation options, reclaimed space for non-motorists, and even given official recognition to bike shops as essential businesses. Keeping pace with other American and global metropolitan areas in adding bicycling infrastructure, increasing encouragement and education efforts, and creating low traffic neighborhoods will move Northern Virginia a giant step closer to ensuring more livable communities, a dynamic economy, and a healthy planet for us and our children.
FABB will continue to play our part in advocating for more and better bicycling infrastructure and more programs to encourage and educate Fairfax County residents to make bicycling a part of their preferred means of travel for work, shopping, and recreation.
Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2021!