Virginia to Change Vaccine Scheduling Systems — Fairfax County residents will finally follow the same approach to obtaining COVID-19 vaccine appointments as the rest of the state, as the Virginia Department of Health says its statewide system will also be retired on Sunday (April 18) in favor of self-scheduling through Vaccine Finder. [Patch]
Lawsuit Filed over Virginia’s Unemployment Benefits — “Several legal groups filed a federal class-action suit on Thursday against the Virginia Employment Commission for its failure to reach residents with unemployment benefits, and abruptly cutting off payments to others without explanation.” [DCist]
Fish Released into Lake Thoreau — Reston Association stocked Lake Thoreau with 80 triploid grass carp this past Sunday (April 18). RA says that the fish are part of its plan to “help manage aquatic plants such as hydrilla” in the lake and must be released if caught while fishing. [RA/Twitter]
Reston Nonprofit to Give Free Food to Those in Need — Cornerstones will hold a free food distribution event tomorrow (Saturday) in the parking lot of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services building at Lake Anne (11484 Washington Plaza West). The grocery bags will contain toiletries as well as fresh produce, and they will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon, though spaces are limited. [Lake Anne Elementary School]
Hunter Mill District Bike Tour Sold Out — Tickets for the inaugural Tour de Hunter Mill sold out yesterday. Scheduled for May 15, the event will take cyclists on a scenic tour from Reston to Vienna and back, but attendance was capped at 150 riders to ensure social distancing. [Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling/Twitter]
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a series of virtual discussions next month for community members to share their thoughts on walking, bicycling, and other modes of travel that don’t involve getting inside a car.
The community conversations are intended to give county staff insight into people’s travel habits and areas where the county could improve bicycle and pedestrian access or facilities as part of FCDOT’s efforts to develop a new ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan.
“Community input is critical to the success of this planning effort,” FCDOT spokesperson Anna Nissinen said in a statement. “We want to hear all perspectives, from families biking and walking within the community to individuals who use scooters and bike share as part of their commute. This is the only way to create a comprehensive and functional plan that truly supports the needs of the community.”
12 online meetings have been scheduled, starting with an evening conversation for Mason District residents on April 8. The Hunter Mill District meeting will take place on Monday, April 19 at 7 p.m.
There will also be a meeting in Spanish on April 15 at 7 p.m. and two “Lunch and Learn” sessions at noon on April 13 and 23.
A recording of the event and the presentation will be available on the ActiveFairfax webpage for anyone unable to attend a meeting. There is also an online survey for community members to share their perspective on barriers to non-motorized travel, potential trail and bicycle network improvements, and other topics.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed FCDOT to review its plan for active transportation — defined by the county as “self-propelled, human-powered travel” such as walking, cycling, or using a scooter or wheelchair — in January 2020.
Launched last summer, the project is divided into two phases. First, FCDOT is developing a vision statement laying out the county’s goals, evaluating existing conditions, and creating a plan for a systematic safety program. Then, the department will come up with recommendations, including potential comprehensive plan updates and project and policy prioritization.
Local officials have been looking at ways to enhance Fairfax County’s bikeability and walkability, particularly in urbanizing areas like Tysons and Reston, to improve safety and reflect people’s evolving travel habits.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s most recent Regional Travel Survey found that the number of bicycle trips in the D.C. area has doubled over the past decade, though the amount of daily walking trips has remained steady.
“The plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, sidewalks, bike facilities, and trails in Fairfax County for people of all ages and abilities,” Nissinen said. “The plan will support livable street design through the development of a transportation network that connects people to where they live, work, play, learn and take transit.”
(Updated 3/29) This May, bicyclists will get a chance to pedal around Hunter Mill District with Fairfax County Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
Fairfax County is planning its inaugural “Tour de Hunter Mill” for May 15 starting at 8:30 a.m. Alcorn will host the scenic bicycle tour of the district that he represents.
“This will allow people to explore parts of Hunter Mill District that they haven’t before,” Alcorn said on a call with reporters talking about the event.
After starting at Reston Community Center, the ridealong will take bikers along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the Vienna Metro station before following quiet trails to the Spring Hill Metro station. Then, the route will circle back to Reston Community Center.
All in all, this “long” route encompasses about 20 miles. There’s also an option to board the Metro at Spring Hill to come back to Reston, which shaves about six miles and 475 feet of climbing from the trip.
Families or more inexperienced riders can also take a route that’s less than five miles through the Reston Association’s pathway system.
The tour costs $25 per adult, but the price includes a pair of “Tour de Hunter Mill” socks and a $5 donation to Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling.
Safety and health protocols will be followed, adhering to Virginia Department of Health’s current guidelines. Riders will be capped at 150 people and must stay at least six feet apart. Ride marshals and Fairfax County police will follow along as well.
The event will take place rain or shine.
Photo Courtesy of Fairfax County
The Reston Association Board of Directors approved a committee’s updated report on the status of pedestrian and bicyclist facilities in the Reston.
The report, titled “Reston On Foot and Bicycle,” was formulated by the Multimodal Transportation Committee and is intended to serve as a resource for residents, developers, the county and state officials.
This is the fifth update of the report since it was first published in the early 1990s, according to Reston Association.
Most of the report’s recommendations continue to stress the need for an integrated network of bicycle facilities using existing streets.
“Reston has been supported by VDOT and FCDOT in making this a reality, yet many gaps remain,” according to the 33-page report.
MTC is also encouraging a number of curb cut improvements in Reston. The overall effort requires more cooperation between the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, VDOT, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the report states.
When Metro stations started shutting down and people grew uncertain about other modes of public transit after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Green Lizard Cycling co-owner Beth Meyer said that people turned to cycling for their transportation needs.
Green Lizard Cycling, a locally owned Herndon-based business that is known for customizable bicycles and an on-site cafe, has been out of family-style and entry-level road bikes for over a month, according to Meyer.
“Instantly out commuter base tripled at least,” she said, adding that this has been the case for almost all locally owned bike stores.
“Everyone all over the country has sold out their bicycles basically,” according to Meyer. “You can still get high-end road bikes and mountain bikes but I don’t think we have a bike under $1,400 right now.”
To make up for the shortage, people have been bringing older, antiquated bikes in for repair, Meyer said, adding the shop also asked suppliers if they’d consider releasing their 2021 models earlier.
She said that the vendors agreed to move up their release dates and people can expect new lines to appear in the store by mid-July.
Because of high demand for service, anyone who brings in a bicycle for repair should expect longer wait times, she said.
As of Sunday (June 14) the average wait time for a typical repair at Green Lizard is about 10 days but Meyer said that she’s heard that some weeks backlogged by seven weeks.
Since many shops around the area are experiencing similar trends, the bicycle shop supports each other whenever possible by trading parts.
Despite the wait, Meyer asked that customers be patient with the shop and mechanics — since they’ve never seen demand like this and are working diligently to fill requests.
People are nervous about the pandemic and uncertain about the future, she said, adding that everyone processes these emotions differently and it can lead to inpatient and agitated customers.
Online reviews have dipped because new customers are frustrated that sometimes the shop has to source parts from across the country to fit niche needs — which takes time, according to Meyer.
“We want to do the work and we want to do it correctly,” she said. “If you’re going down a hill at a high speed, that’s your life in our mechanic’s hands. Our guys take that very seriously.”
Since the shop’s founding seven years ago, Meyer said that most of the shop’s mechanics have worked there since the beginning and are extremely knowledgeable.
One of the techs was once on the Brazilian Olympic Cycling Team and another mechanic worked for the US Paralympics, US Olympic Team and UnitedHealthcare Professional Women’s Cycling Team.
“It’s been such a crazy time for us,” Meyer said. “Don’t get frustrated with your local bike shop. We are trying our best.”
For those hoping to get outdoors and beat the “depression doldrums that 2020 is causing,” cycling is a great option, according to Meyer, who added that there is a great regional community for cyclists in the area.
Photo via Green Lizard Cycling/Facebook
A local advocacy group is encouraging residents to give bicycling a try during the shutdown of Silver Line and Orange line Metro Stations this summer.
The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling will offer the help of advisers who will guide people on picking routes.
“It’s great to see so many more people out biking lately,” FABB President Sonya Breehey said. “With the closure of the Silver and Orange line stations, bike commuting can be a great option. FABB’s Bike Advisors are here to help new riders get started.”
The summer shutdown started on May 23 and affects nine stations, including Vienna, Wiehle-Reston, Tysons Corner, Greensboro and McLean.
The organization says that special clothes or a specific kind of bike is not necessary for bike commuting.
“A well-chosen bike route that avoids high-volume, high-speed roads will help to avoid conflicts with drivers and make the commute safer and more pleasant. Visibility is important, so riders should have front and rear lights for bicycling after dark,” FABB said in a press release.
Residents can enlist the help of a bike advisor online.
A bicyclist was robbed as he riding on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail over Fairfax County Parkway last week, police said.
Stephen Rogata, 23, of Great Falls, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery and misdemeanor destruction of property on April 3 at around 3:27 p.m.
Police believe Rogata grabbed the man’s bicycle from the back. Rogata fled the scene after the victim, who suffered from minor injuries, called out for help.
Rogata is being held without bond. Information about the incident was released today (Monday).
Bikeshare in Reston is set to get a boost by early 2020.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to install 21 new stations in Reston. The stations, which are currently in the design phase, will connect denser residential neighborhoods with transit and aim to improve access to retail, community resources, and recreational opportunities, according to the county.
The program is funded by a $1 million federal grant. All stations are expected to be installed by the end of next year.
- Green Range Drive & Glade Drive
- Charterhouse Circle & Glade Drive
- Olde Crafts Drive & Cartwright Place
- Ridge Heights Road & Seahawks Drive
- Baron Cameron Avenue & North Hampton Avenue
- Wainwright Drive & North Shore Drive
- Fairway Drive & Hook Road
- South Gate Community Center
- Links Drive & Wedge Drive
- North Village Drive & Park Garden Lane
- Great Owl Drive & Great Owl Circle
- Lake Newport Rd & Autumn Ridge Circle
- Reston Parkway & Bennington Woods Road
- Vantage Hill Road & Wainwright Drive
- Inlet Court & Wiehle Drive
- Ring Road & North Shore Drive
- South Lakes Dr & Reston Parkway
- Golf Course Square & Golf Course Drive
- Soapstone Drive Convenience Center
- Ridge Heights & Owls Cove Lane
- Becontree Lane & Goldenrain Court
County transportation officials are also looking into the possibility of adding a bike share station at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods.
As of last year, the stations at Wiehe-Reston Metro East and the Reston Town Center Transit Station were the most popular. Although ridership saw a dip earlier this year, the opening of phase two of the Silver Line is expected to boost ridership.
Land acquisition is underway to make way for major improvements to Van Buren Street from Spring Street to Herndon Parkway. But permission from five property owners for necessary easements and land acquisition is pending to allow the $4.6 million project to proceed.
Planned improvements are envisioned as a critical link between downtown Herndon and the Herndon Metro Station ahead of its expected opening in July next year.
The Herndon Town Council plans to vote on plans to seize the properties through eminent domain. So far, property owners have rejected the town’s proposals to buy easements based on the unit price of the real estate:
- 359 Hillwood Court: $2,830
- 401 Hillwood Court: $2,420
- The Montessori School: $1,680
- Presidents Court Homeowners Association: $22,790
- 401 Van Buren Street: $17,990
Town planners attempted to use existing right-of-way as much as possible in order to minimize land acquisition needs.
Planning for the project began in December 2011. If land acquisition and utility relocation is completed by the end of this year, construction is expected to begin in spring 2020.
Construction, which is expected to cost $3.7 million of the overall $4.6 million price tag — would be complete by fall next year.
The project includes 11-foot wide travel lanes, on-road bike lanes in each direction from Spring Street to Senate Court, an off-road cycle track in both directions from Senate Court to Herndon Parkway, five-foot-wide sidewalks, and a new traffic signal at the Alabama Drive intersection.
With little fanfare and a nod to staff, the Herndon Town Council unanimously approved the town’s first bicycle master plan on Tuesday (August 13).
The plan, which was created by staff and the town’s Pedestrian Bicycle Advisory Committee, offers policy guidance for the town’s bicycle network planning and design, as well as a longterm plan for connectivity and network improvements.
The plan highlights the locations of mixed-use trails, cycle tracks, bicycle lanes, and sharrows — including future connections. Areas in the center of the town are largely designated for further study.
Council members lauded staff for their work on the plan and the town’s efforts to promote cycling as a viable alternative mode of travel.
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said the document — which is part of the town’s efforts to seek a national award for being a bicycle-friendly community — was a “step in the right direction.”
“This is a product that I think the town can be proud of,” council member Cesar del Aguila added.
The plan also ensures that connectivity is a priority, especially between new developments, said council member Signe Friedrichs.
Photo via Town of Herndon
Bryce Perry, the town’s Deputy Director of Community Development, discussed the plan at the council’s meeting in August.
Perry said the town’s plan is modeled after the county’s initiative and is intended to offer policy guidance on bicycle network planning and design. It was drafted in coordination with the town’s pedestrian and bicycle advisory committee and the town’s planning commission.
Staff indicated the plan would “serve as an important guiding document for the town,” giving that the town is one of the few jurisdictions in the area that does not have an adopted plan for its bicycle network and facilities.
The plan is also part of the town’s efforts to seek a Bicycle Friendly Community Award, which is a nationally-recognized program that awards localities to localities that excel at providing bicycle programs, services and infrastructure to their communities. The award is administered by the League of American Bicyclists.
The town plans to incorporate the plan — which will also remain as a standalone document — into the town’s 2039 comprehensive plan.
Discussions on the plan are expected to continue this month.
Photo via Town of Herndon
The Town of Herndon is in the process of drafting its first bicycle master plan, which lays out a longterm plan for bicycle route locations and a vision for the town’s bicycle network.
The plan, which was discussed by the town’s Planning Commission at a meeting earlier this week, intends to promote cycling as an alternative mode of travel and improve connectivity for cyclists.
The plan notes that Herndon’s population density is high in comparison to other suburban communities. As expected redevelopment around Metrorail stations and downtown Herndon continues, town officials say they will need to better incorporate bicycle facilities in the town.
The current plan builds on the 2012 Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan, which was endorsed by the Town Council and the town’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC).
Once approved by the Town Council, PBAC will evaluate the implemented of the plan on a yearly basis.
Currently, the town has nine active bicycling-related projects, including:
- Bicycle lanes and a cycle track between Fairfax County Parkway: The project is nearing design completion. Construction is expected to begin in 2023.
- A mixed-use trail on Chandon Park to connect Worldgate Trail to Van Buren Street: Construction is expected to begin this year as the project goes to construction biding.
- A cycle track from Spring Street to Van Buren Street: The project is partially under construction and will be built in phases depending on the pace of private development.
- Bicycle lanes on Van Buren Street from Spring Street to Herndon Parkway: Construction is expected to begin in late 2019.
- Bicycle lanes on Sterling Road from Elden Street to Herndon Parkway: Funds were allocated in the town’s capital improvement plan and the project is in the early planning phase.
- A mixed-use trail from Worldgate Drive to Herndon Metrorail Station: The project is fully planned and designed. Construction will likely begin in late 2019.
- Folly Lick Regional Trail from Herndon Parkway to Center Street: Construction is expected to begin in late 2019 since the project is fully designed and planned.
- Sharrows from Park Avenue to Van Buren Street — Construction is expected to begin this year.
The plan also suggests exploring guidelines and policies to ensure residents safely use personal transporters like electric scooters, Segways and pedal-assisted bikes.
Much of the plan’s success will depend on whether or not bicycling is seamlessly incorporated into the county’s existing and future infrastructure, as well as a balanced approach to transportation infrastructure improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. The plan suggests adopting a “complete streets” policy in order to guide decisions on the planning and design of infrastructure projects in the town.
Image via Town of Herndon
Pride of Herndon Band Leaves for D-Day Celebrations Tomorrow — “The Herndon High School band of Herndon leaves Tuesday to participate in 75th D-Day celebrations in Normandy. Band members will carry pictures and stories of crew members who served on the USS Herndon during the invasion.” [WTOP]
Candidates for Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Discuss Stances on Cycling Issues — The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling caught up with two candidates running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor. Candidate Walter Alcorn says he hopes to “accelerate existing plans to enable non-motorized access to transit stations and work centers” while candidate Maggie Parker discusses how biking is “a great equalizer.” Other candidates did not respond immediately to requests for comment. [Fairfax County Alliance for Better Bicycling]
Last Day for “LOVE” Letters in Reston Town Center Tomorrow — The iconic letters sign will leave RTC tomorrow as they tour 11 different sites in Fairfax County to celebrate the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s 50th anniversary of “Virginia is for Lovers!” [Reston Town Center]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Performance Bicycle Shop is closing at 11634 Plaza America Drive in the Plaza America Shopping Center.
An employee at the store was not able to share any information about the closing date. The store currently has sales with 30 to 50 percent off items.
Image via Google Maps
Tinsel ‘n Tinis — Don your cocktail or business attire and head to the Signature at Reston Town Center tonight from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the annual holiday celebration, which will include food, martinis, casino entertainment and a raffle. A portion of the casino proceeds will benefit an educational foundation. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]
FABB holiday party — The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) is hosting a party at 7 p.m. at The Bike Lane (11150 Sunset Hills Road). Expect finger food and a cash bar. Bike Lane Brewing will donate $1 from every beer sold during the event. [Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling Facebook]
More problems for the Silver Line’s second phase — Hundreds of concrete rail ties installed at track crossovers along the second phase of the Silver Line are flawed, according to officials. The problem could further delay the project, which is already 13 months behind schedule. [The Washington Post]
Reston company didn’t land Marine Corps contract — The Marine Corps chose BAE Systems as the amphibious combat vehicles (ACV) prime contractor over competitor Science Applications International Corporation. Both companies had received separate contracts worth a combined $225 million in late 2015 to develop prototypes. [GovCon Wire]