Mapping Bicycle Hell

I attended an event at the offices of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. The offices are located in the western part of Fairfax County, much too far to ride a bike to directly. That would be asking too much though. The most direct route to that section of the county cannot be traversed by bike because crossing the Beltway will get you killed. Fairfax County was designed for cars. From what I can see, it is choking to death on them.

It took me over an hour to drive there. I had lots of company. The entire time all I could think was people actually do this every day. They choose this. If I did this every day, I’d be a stressed out mess. (Okay, I’m a calm mess, but you bet the point.) Here’s my life coach advice for all you suburbanites. DON’T DO THIS!!!

Unbeknownst to me, Jeff G who lives a half mile from me came as well. He took Metro during Safe Track, a maintenance initiative designed to stop fires and other calamities on the system. Wind chills were in the teens. He stood on unheated platforms, transferred to a bus that got him close-ish to the event then walked the pedestrian-hostile streets in the dark. It was like a sequel to the movie Wild.

I took pity on the poor sod and drove him home afterward. He cried when he left the car.

At the WABA holiday party on Wednesday night, I met Gina who I have interacted with on the interwebs. Gina sold her house (with river access !) in Anne Arundel County Maryland. She moved to Arlington where she rents a duplex. She used to spend 3 hours a day commuting to work in DC. Now she rides her bike there in a fraction of the time. She got rid of her car. Gina is one happy camper.

It is safe to say that Gina will never live in western Fairfax County. I’m willing to bet that an awful lot of Ginas are turning their backs on places like Fairfax County. This does not bode well for the county. The people who run the Fairfax County government are gradually starting to realize this.

Fairfax County is updating its bike map. It is a vast geographic mess that no single person could actually get their arms around so the county Transportation Department invited bicyclists from all around the county to come and mark up street maps that Toole Design had drafted. It was a very productive session. (Alas, there were no doughnuts. Probably a good thing.)

ffx-map-crop

 

Once the new map comes out, I will be able to look at all the places in Fairfax County that I would never live or ride in and be grateful that I had enough foresight to buy a house near the Mount Vernon Trail over 25 years ago. The MVT has its problems (tree roots, ninjas, no snow plowing, rambunctious wildlife) but I’ll take it any day over driving Lee Highway trhough Merrifield at rush hour.

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