Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Infrastructure

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Dear Candidates for Alexandria City Council,    What are your plans for making Alexandria more livable? Specifically, how will you implement effective measures and programs to improve infrastructure and traffic flow for pedestrians and bicyclists in the City? The City has made some good progress in the last few years, implementing bike lanes, sharrows and, most recently, joining the Capital Bikeshare system.  Clearly, the City has recognized the importance and the benfits of walking and cycling and there are many champions within the staff to move things forward.  But this can only be a beginning.    In many design plans for new developments and/ or redesigns (e.g. Beauregard Small Area Plan or the Route 1 Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project), it seems as if the needs and requirements of pedestrians and cyclists are still an afterthought instead of an integral part of the design from the very beginning. Alexandria cannot solve the transportation challenges of the future with planning tools of yesterday.    Do you support giving priority to the implementation of dedicated cycle tracks, expansion of on-street bike lanes and realization of measures to increase the safety of pedestrians and cyclist on City streets?    Do you support measures to increase use of walking and cycling as effective transportation alternatives to motorized traffic, incl. priority funding for bicycle parking, bicycle street access and promotion of cyclist and pedestrian safety, education and awareness.    Do you support an effective and dedicated policy to make pedestrian and cyclist safety, convenience and general support a priority for all City transportation projects?  (This includes giving pedestrians and cyclists priority over motorized traffic as well as expanding efforts to explain the benefits of non-motorized travel to citizens and to employers.)    Do you support further expansion of the Capital Bikeshare system in Alexandria beyond the planned stations?    Thank you very much for your attention to this important issue for the future of our City.    Eric Wagner

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WTF?!?

This question came in first by a factor of two over the nearest competitor.  And, yet, it was given almost zero prominence in the candidates forum tonight!  Does it matter how we vote Action Alexandria?  Are you listening?I? In a previous online vote, for ideas for a microgrant, a bike lane proposal came in second and did not receive any recognition.  No grant. No prize for the person who posted the question.  Nothing (the "top three ideas" were promised prizes).  Do you people in Action Alexandria think that all of us citizens who want to increase opportunities for safe cycling in Alexandria are phantoms?  That we don't actually exist? The Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has been doing counts of bicyclists and pedestrians  at locations all over Alexandria.  Using the methodology of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, we use these data to estimate monthly and yearly averages.  We find nearly a million people use the Mt Vernon Trail each year, 85 percent on bicycles, and about 1/2 million at Commonwealth and Mt Vernon, 40 percent on bicycles.  These are real citizens who use the available facilities (and who don't use facilities that are not well-connected, such as the trail parallel to the metro Tracks between the Braddock Rd and King St Stations--the numbers there are small) to commute to work or to run errands and have fun on weekends.  And the numbers are growing.  In 2011, Alexandria participarion in Bike to Work Day was about 500 people.  In 2012 it was nearly 800.These are people who would shop by bicycle more often if decent parking was available at stores (this is the issue that I most often hear about from local cyclists) and who would bicycle to more places if there were more bike lanes.  Surveys in US cities routinely show that 60 percent of the populace would like to try cycling but are afraid to.  The constituency for cycling is large, but exists in a car-dominated environment where bicycling is marginalized and dismissed, just as it is apparently dismissed by Action Alexandria. As this point in time I am convinced that Action Alexandria's claim of giving people a voice is an absolute farce. 

Bike lanes and safety etc - Trails

I try to use my bike to run errands as much as possible and for exercise. Unfortunately, biking in Alexandria along many roads is not very safe. At times the trails are not very safe either because of all the traffic and varied types of users -- which points to the great demand for trails of all sorts. In fact, we need to make it safer and more attractive to walk in many places in Alexandria. Mr. Wagner is right when he says such improvements are an afterthought. Complete streets is a nice concept but not if it's not implemented. If elected, I will do my best to improve the situation and work with those who are trying to.Sincerely,Andrew MacdonaldAndrew Macdonald for Mayor

The "WTF" comment came from me.

I did not intend to post as anonymous.

Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Infrastructure Question

Hi Jonathan, I can assure you that I am listening. Sometimes, as one person, I do miss things, but I do the best I can.  Now to answer your questions:

The moderator selected your question to be included in the portion of the debate that allowed for the longest reponse time from the candidates(60 seconds, plus rebuttal time). It was asked of five candidates. I can understand why you might not be happy with the debate format, but that's not something ACTion Alexandria had any control over. The number of candidates helps to dictate the debate format. I will pass your concerns on to the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

As to your disappointment regarding the Green Ideas Challenge, I can certainly go over that with you in more detail. If you reveiew the guidelines and criteria for that challenge it was made clear that the best ideas did not require City resources and could be completed for under $1,000.   While we would love to give prizes and grants to all of the great ideas and to everyone that participates, it's just not possible given our resources. We use a judging panel that takes into account voting as well as adherence to the challenge criteria. The question submitted by Margaret was a great one, unfortunately, there were other questions that matched the criteria better.  As part of my follow up communication with Margaret, I offered to work with her to get together with City transportation folks to discuss the idea and see if there are things we can move forward on. Perhaps you would like join that meeting when we set it up? Please let me know.

We have tried to be very supportive of BPAC by promoting your counts and events, and to your general cause by supporting programs like Bikeshare. We've even worked to support the bicycle education efforts of Velocity.

I would love to meet with you in person to discuss your concerns and see how we can make some progress on being more supportive. Please email me at tracy.viselli@actforalexandria.org or call me at 703-739-7778. Thanks for your feedback.

Now I get it. The candidates

Now I get it. The candidates were asked "What are your plans for making Alexandria more livable?" without attaching the question to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, as was intended by the person who posted the suggestion. I talked to another member of BPAC after the forum and he was similarly mystified by the relegation of the bicycling/pedestrian issue to a single question asked to a single candidate (Sean Holihan). I obviously do not know where the disconnect occurred, but I do not feel that the question that was asked served the intent of the person who posted the suggestion.  I do understand about the microgrant issue (I was aware that the suggestion was more expensive than $1000) and I appreciate that you did follow-up work on that (I was not aware of that--thanks).Thankyou for your quick explanation.  I will follow up privately and am hopeful that we will be able to work together more effectively in the future.

I'm glad we can agree to work together

We'll get so much more done by working together!

I'd love expansion of BikeShare and have been waiting for this

because I live in Old Town and have no room to store a bike.  I can walk anywhere in Old Town I need to go but I would love to be able to get to other places in Alexandria quickly without having to get in the car. Alexandria is more than just Old Town. I also think the BikeShare program can create regular bike users from people who don't own bikes now either because there's nowhere to put them or because they'd like to test biking as transportation without having to actually invest in a bike.  And anything to improve bike and pedestrian safety is a good thing. I'm sort of scared to ride on the streets here because of flagrant violation of traffic laws by motorists and bicyclists alike.  A combination of education and enforcement for everyone would go a long way to improving for everyone.

Bicycles are not crowding up our city...

Right now we have 2000+ bicycles per day rolling into Old Town via the Mt Vernon Trail (this is based on counts that are done quarterly by Alexandria BPAC).  Compared with cars, bicycles are high-capacity transit; they take up very little road space.  We already have lots of people biking and walking, but more would engage in these healthy activities if they felt safer doing so. Alexandria has very few miles of bike lanes compared to other cities of similar size.  If we truly want to improve the health of our citizens, we need to make it easier for them to make exercise a part of their daily lives.  That means more bike lanes and better bike parking.

ride share in the City

Our streets are mostly narrow, and King Street is very popular, with having so many Dash buses, Metro buses, and Trolley's riding up and down our streets, I think to open them to bicyclists is really jamming traffic more than needed especially during rush hours.  People using the bike share programs are not necessarily regular bicycle users, therefore they do not realize that the bikes are supposed to adhere to vehicular traffic rules, like turn signals, like stopping at stop signs or stop lights.  I think bringing the bike share program to the city is the wrong idea, with the trolleys running up and down King Street and making stops at almost every block, we have enough blockage, and going from the metro to the water can be done with the trolley system.

CaBi in Alexandria (Capitol Bikeshare)

It is my understanding that the "bike lanes" are suggested for Prince and Cameron Streets, not King St, for the obvious reasons you stated.  If you feel strongly about bike traffic, pro or con, BPAC (Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee) encourages you to check out the facts, so opinions are based on well informed information.  As stated earlier, bicycles provide high capacity transportation, are much healthier for the rider and the planet, and the cost of infrastructure is way cheaper than for motorized vehicles.  Definitely more tax payer bang for the buck.  What's not to like?  Please learn all sides of the issue and you might enjoy a paradigm shift.

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