Fairfax County will be holding a ribbon cutting for the Vesper Trail on Tuesday, March 1, 2019, for 10:00 to 11:00 am. In addition to the county officials and others involved in building the trail, FABB and the BikeFairfax staff will be on hand. We hope you will join us.
The new 0.4 mile trail will provide direct bicycle and pedestrian access from communities in north Vienna to the Spring Hill Metro Station in Tysons. We greatly appreciate all of the effort that went into creating this important new link and are confident that it will pay out multiple dividends for residents, businesses, and the Metro stations in that area.
The trail’s completion also is a good reminder that even relatively short—and obviously needed—shared-use trails do not get built overnight nor without public involvement. Recent reporting about demands for auto use and parking in Tysons should serve as a reminder that it is better to include access in the initial construction of new public transportation infrastructure.
In the Vesper Trail’s case, as plans for the Metro Silver Line were being finalized, everyone recognized that, with no permanent car parking planned for the new stations in Tysons, ensuring adequate access for walkers, bikers, and users of public transportation would be critical to success. In February 2011 the Tysons Bicycle Master Plan was completed and included many recommendations for improving bicycle access to the planned Metro stations, including a proposal for what would become the Vesper Trail.
In the summer of 2011 a Tysons Metrorail Station Access Management Study was conducted. In October of that year the study reported that a survey of potential Metro riders indicated that as many as 37% planned to get the stations by bike (the survey allowed multiple responses and indicated that the Metro riders would use a mix of bicycling and other modes).
In 2013, when nearly $220 million in new local funding became available from the Virginia General Assembly, the Board of Supervisors funded the Vesper Trail. A series of public meetings followed to solicit citizens’ views on the proposal. One issue that caught local residents’ attention in 2014, shortly after the Silver Line opened, was the plan to light the trail, which was addressed to most everyone’s satisfaction. FABB either participated in or followed these meetings to make sure the interests of bicyclists were addressed.
Now, eight years after the initial proposal and more than four years after the Silver Line opened, the Vesper Trail is ready for use. Although Tysons planners and developers have tried to encourage more use of multi-modal transportation options to get people out of their cars, employees and residents have been slow to embrace the change. During its first three years of operation, Silver Line ridership in Tysons was significantly lower than projected. Anyone who has tried to walk or bike to the Tysons stations understands why. FABB believes that the slow and belated development of bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure is a major reason cars and congestion continue to rule Tysons. More infrastructure is needed, and FABB will continue to work with Tysons and Fairfax County to make this happen. If you would like to help, contact us at [email protected].