Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fairfax Budget Recommendations Delete Bicycle Efforts

This morning's Washington Post reports that the Fairfax  County Executive Anthony Griffin has recommended to the Board of Supervisors tax increases (return of the car tax), layoffs, and 257 million in cuts.  The story lists elimination of " the bicycle signage and maps program ($214,000)".  In an additional story the Post tells that additional cuts  include "Eliminate the county's bicycle program, which created lanes near the Vienna Metro station, the Merrifield Town Center, the Fairfax County Government Center, Reston and Tysons Corner. Savings: $213,641".

These are tough times.  It is my perception that in difficult economic times the bicycle becomes more widely used.  Riding bikes to Metro to avoid the parking fees is an example.  In fact, the Board of Supervisors may find that now is the time to take steps to enhance the use of bikes and pedestrian traffic to lower budget costs.  Transportation cost for the Fairfax County School District are substantial.  Embracing the Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) program to reduce bus use has potential.  Undoubtedly there would be cost shifts implementing SRTS.  Bus driver positions may become crossing guard jobs.  Across this nation SRTS has grown in popularity for what it does for children's health, but I think it should also be considered for its budget impact.

Essentially doing away with funding for Fairfax County's fledgling bike program is short sighted.  The county bike map, bike racks on buses, beginning implementation of bike lanes to population centers, and a voice in planning changes in Tyson Corner, Merrifield, and Metro West were accomplishments with merit.  I'm going to end this entry and write messages to my Fairfax County Supervisor,  the three Supervisors that I have met at events, and the Chairman of the Board asking that they not delete the bicycle programs.  I would ask that you do the same.

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