Chapman on Biking Infrastructure
One point made clear in the recent city council primary is the need for smart development implementing plans supporting multimodal transportation including bikes, cars, public transit and walking.
In the next few weeks, Alexandrians will see eight new Capital Bikeshare stations open. These stations will bring Alexandria into a D.C. metro-wide program that has added 1,600 bikes parking-free and emission-free. This program will provide commuter and recreational vehicles and increase exercise and recreation for residents and tourists.
Bikes are a great option for commuters, providing an emission-free trip to work, zero parking expense and a healthy workout. Any development plan must ensure opportunities for Alexandria’s biking community to have a safe and functional ride.
Walk outside on a warm summer day in Alexandria and you will invariably see dozens of your neighbors on bikes, either in Old Town, the West End, Del Ray or Rosemont. My sister routinely bikes Duke Street to work at Harris Teeter. My experience with the biking public has been nothing but positive; it is a tremendous community with a passion for the lifestyle and sport. Alexandria must maximize the opportunity for bikers with a three-point plan further supporting bikes in the city.
First, the next city council must ensure the good condition of our biking infrastructure, including biking/walking trails and biking lanes. Bike racks are available throughout the city and it is imperative bike riders feel comfortable using this infrastructure, provided by the city and generous private businesses. Continuing collaboration with organizations like the Washington Area Biking Association (WABA) and the greater biking community will help keep our infrastructure in good repair. These groups can organize volunteer events to improve the ease of biking and contribute to the sense of community for Alexandria bikers.
Second, planning decisions must incorporate bikes as both a means of recreation and transportation. My campaign has focused on the need to provide citizens a great voice on council and increase citizens’ avenues of engagement with local government. Several committees and commissions participate in planning and development decisions; bikers need to be well represented within these groups. Planning decisions are some of the most critical decisions made by council and we need maximize input from all citizen groups as we continue to make smart investments in our infrastructure.
Finally, our development plan needs to recognize a growing biking population. I am seeing more and more people on bikes. Biking is and should continue to be a viable commuter option, but Alexandria also needs open space to politely encourage more recreational biking. The city has committed to establishing 100 acres of open space, and it has nearly achieved its goal. In these more fugal economic times, city council must make strategic and well-timed investments to complete its goal.
Biking is a way of life for many Alexandrians, and it benefits all of us by decreasing car traffic, improving air quality, providing more open space and creating a generally healthier community. Our development plans need to maximize existing pro-biking infrastructure and pro-biking options need to be implemented in future city plans.
John Taylor Chapman
Candidate for Alexandria City Council