Fairfax County to bring bicycle parking standards up to speed

The bike and ride facility at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County’s new bicycle parking standards are getting refined as part of a broad effort to ensure consistency across the county’s various transportation policies.

At a transportation committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expressed support for an update to the bicycle parking guidelines — although the guidelines were not yet available for review.

The county got up to speed with the current age of telework and transit-oriented development by introducing bicycle parking requirements in September.

The “Parking Reimagined” initiative established how many bicycle parking spaces are required and basic rules for the design and general location of the spaces. But staff noted that the new requirements don’t align with guidelines formulated in 2014.

“It’s really great to know we’re thinking about this, that we’re tackling it. Doing this better will have great effects for the county,” said Dranesville District Supervisor Jimmy Bierman, who chairs the committee.

Additionally, the zoning ordinance doesn’t address parking ratios for visitor and long-term parking or provide detailed information about wayfinding signage, rack spacing, security needs and other amenities, county staff said in a presentation to the committee.

The guidelines currently being crafted would be divided by short-term parking for visitors and long-term parking, which is for employees, transit users, apartment residents and bicycle cages or lockers, according to Nicole Wynands, a planner for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

For short-term parking, the guidelines will cover location, access, markings, maintenace, rack types and spacing. Long-term parking guidance will detail similar issues, along with room layout, security recommendations, and e-charging.

Wynands noted that the guidelines will provide different ratios based on land use. FCDOT is contemplating a 90-10% split for long-term and short term parking, respectively, in residential areas and a the reverse split for long-term and short term parking respectively in retail areas.

“Retail use has a very different need,” Wyannds said.

Discussion on the proposal was limited, given that the details haven’t been officially reviewed by the board.

The county hopes to release the guidelines to the board soon so the public review process can begin in early March, followed by potential board endorsement by the summer.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said that, although the guidelines were not yet available, he was supportive of the idea.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said staff should ensure that existing bicycle guidelines for specific areas like Reston are consistent with other, similar policies.

“It seems like there needs to be some sort of normalizing across these different area guidelines,” Alcorn said.

McKay asked staff if there was some way to encourage more commercial residential properties to conform with the county’s guidelines on bicycle parking.

“I’m just wondering if we’re evaluating where we can see with our own vision today where the need for these facilities are,” he said.

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