Central Springfield has little space for bicyclists, so part of the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) recent regional bikeway and trail study included a proposal to incorporate an on-road bike trail on Backlick Road and Amherst Avenue.
On Backlick, a 12-foot lane is currently allocated for parking along the street, according to VDOT's cross-sectional technical information. On Amherst Avenue, parallel to Backlick, both sides of the roadway have a 13-foot space for parking. Under the bikeway proposal, a 5-foot bike lane on Backlick would be taken out of the parking lane and a 6-foot bike lane from the parking lane on one side of Amherst Avenue. Amherst will still have a 13-foot parking lane on one side of the street.
"This corridor was ranked in the moderate-to-high category for latent demand for bicycling. This corridor is also located near the Franconia-Springfield Metro station; however, future bicycling connections will be needed to make this station accessible to bicyclists from the study corridor," according to the VDOT study.
Jenny Pate, the Fairfax County Park Association employee overseeing the trails program, thought this step could be taken without much expense.
"They could restripe and put a bike lane in relatively easy," Pate said.
Jeff McKay, chief of staff in Supervisor Dana Kauffman's (D-Lee) office, was open to any bicycling improvements in that area. He's heard of that proposal.
"We've always supported bike lanes, that's a low budget thing," he said.
Springfield bicyclist Bob Michie compared it with the bike lanes on Commonwealth Avenue in Alexandria, where there are bike lanes next to a parking lane.
Key issues for implementing these lanes are the actual striping of the 7-foot lane, fixing adjacent intersections, and adding signage.
IN OCTOBER, VDOT unveiled its regional bikeway and trail study. The idea of the plan is to outline the steps that could be taken to further develop an interconnected network of bikeways in Northern Virginia linking busy population hubs throughout the region. The plan was on display at the Loudoun County Government Center Building from Oct. 17-27. Comments from the meetings as well as online input will be compiled for VDOT's final report due out in November.
Fatemeh Allahdoust, VDOT engineer, noted that the study is a regional non-motorized transportation study linking Loudoun County areas with the Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington, eventually ending up in the District of Columbia. Instead of mapping out a time frame for completion along the route, VDOT is leaving it up to local jurisdictions. Funding is a problem.
"The counties can look at it at their will," she said. "They don't have a set date."