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Fairfax supervisors clash over bike plans

The Washington Examiner: Fairfax supervisors clash over bike plans

By: BRIAN HUGHES
Examiner Staff Writer
February 21, 2010

Transportation or recreation? A debate about the purpose of bicycles will shape how Fairfax County residents reach new Metro stations in coming years.

"I don't believe a bicycle is a transportation device," Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock District, said during a transportation committee meeting. "I think it's a recreation device. The big problem is people don't want to ride their bike in the rain or get sweaty before work."

Transportation officials have identified $12.7 million in pedestrian and bicycle projects for the Reston area -- intended to improve accessibility to the planned Wiehle Avenue and Reston Parkway Metro stations, part of the transit extension to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Cook categorized bike trails as little more than a weekend diversion, vexing fellow supervisors who have pushed for more bike access.

"I don't agree with him," said Supervisor John Foust, D-Dranesville. "People don't do it now -- not because they don't want to -- but because they can't. It's not safe."

In 2007-2008, 4.5 percent of Fairfax residents older than 16 used a bike on a weekday, about half of whomused off-road bike trails or sidewalks, according to a study commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The Reston plan calls for new trails, more bike crossings and extensions to paths to enhance the bicycle grid in the county.

Despite recent improvements, Bruce Wright, chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, said the county has a "long way to go," citing the lack of connecting roads, which forces cyclists to trek alongside cars.

In an effort to unclog roadways, the county approved more than $19 million last fall for pedestrian and bike projects through fiscal 2012.

The Wiehle Avenue station is the final of leg of the Dulles Metrorail's first phase, expected to be completed in 2013. The Reston Parkway station, near the Dulles Toll Road, is slated to open in 2016.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has won a $4 million grant that could be applied to the project.