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Posted at 2:44 PM ET, 12/30/2009

Creating a bike-friendly Tysons Corner

By editors

By Bruce Wright

Regarding the Dec. 22 Metro article “Fairfax can’t foot the fare for Tysons Metro shuttles,” on plans for a shuttle bus service to ferry riders among Silver Line stations, office complexes and shopping malls:

The article said that Fairfax County plans to spend around “$9 million to buy the new buses and $5.8 million annually to operate the service.” It quoted Clark Tyler, chairman of the Tysons Land Use Task Force, as saying, “The worst thing that could happen is the first train come up and [disgorges] 300 people who stare into a parking lot.”

Besides looking at the new shuttle, wouldn’t it be great for these passengers to see a fleet of bikes ready for a short ride to the office or nearby shops?

While the bus system is critical to the future of Tysons, bicycling is another, much lower-cost, car-free option for moving people around.

A key to the successful redesign of Tysons Corner and to increasing the number of people living there is for it to become a place where people want to walk or ride bikes to work and nearby attractions. That was the vision of the Tysons Task Force: “People will be able to safely walk or bike along Route 7 and 123 to access nearby businesses. Three circulator routes will provide frequent transit access to almost all areas within Tysons.”

An easy way to make this possible would be to install a bike-sharing system such as those already in place in Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Montreal and right here in the District, where many people already rely on this zero-carbon footprint way to get downtown.

A bike-sharing system with approximately 500 bicycles could be installed and operated for a fraction of the cost of the circulator system, and it could easily be in place when the first trains pull in to the new Tysons stations. Such a system would include 40 to 50 bikes at each Metro station, with several other hubs at major Tysons destinations. The system could be financed in part through advertising, and user fees could also cover some of the costs.

For cyclists using their own bikes, bicycle parking at the Metro stations would allow the new residents of Tysons to ride the short distance from home. With good bicycle infrastructure, they could also reach shops and other nearby attractions, including the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, a two- to three-mile ride away. Another innovative concept — bike stations like the one that just opened at Union Station — could provide secure, covered bike parking, shower and changing facilities, and other services at central Tysons locations.

We need a livable vision for the future Tysons residents and workers and active transportation choices awaiting them when that first Silver Line train arrives.

The writer is chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.

By editors  | December 30, 2009; 2:44 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, transportation  
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I think it would be halarious to see some old male/female shopper trying to navigate the streets around Tysons Corner Mall on a bike, especially if they had just finished shopping one of the many sales going on in the Mall ... the cyclists would be carrying all those purchases while trying to peddle their bikes back to the metro stop. Wow ... what a sight, or even better, a new reality TV show series -- "The New Tysons Experience!"

Posted by: viennacommuter | December 30, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

viennacommuter is right in pointing out that the current bicycle-friendliness of Tysons Corner leaves everything to be desired. You can't even walk around that area without difficulty. All the more reason why the bicycle-friendly and transit-oriented reboot of Tysons Corner is so necessary.

Posted by: jmoon | December 30, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I rode a bike through graduate school and am well in favor of a "bike friendly" environment. Also my biggest danger was from other bike riders. Many never obeyed any of the traffic rules. If I saw one coming down the cross street and knew they should stop for the stop sign, I still had to avoid those who would not stop for anything.

I suggest we also need "friendly bikers."

Those who know and obey the rules.

Posted by: gary4books | December 30, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Since (as has been pointed out), bikes and the aftermath of mall shopping (i.e., parcels) don't mix, perhaps we can agree on money to be spent on better pedestrian access? There's money for bike racks for those who roll their own, no need for an expensive and underutilized bike sharing service.

Posted by: ggreenbaum | December 30, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

By the by, bicycling is not zero carbon. It takes mucho carbon to make the bike, you are, as it were, amortizing it as you use it. Then there is cost of maintenance, tires, oil ... the carbon footprint per passenger of the bus may well be less

Posted by: ggreenbaum | December 30, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

It's a common misperception that Tysons is only about the shopping malls. Many people work there who live within a few miles and could ride bikes. Many of those people drive to nearby restaurants for lunch.

In the redesigned Tysons many more people will live there and could use bikes for local trips. Tysons isn't flat, so not everyone will want to ride, but many will. Even those who shop can use bikes that have panniers or baskets for holding small items.

Some carbon is used in the manufacture of bicycles and their accessories, and cyclists do eat and breathe, so some carbon is burned there, but the amount of CO2 a bicyclist uses compared to other transportation modes, with the exception of walking, is minimal.

Posted by: FxBikeCommuter | December 30, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

It would be really great if we could take back Tysons for the people and make it into a livable community where workers and residents could hop on a bike. The bike share would be great community addition. Tysons has been featured nationally as basically the worst of suburban commercial sprawl, creating impossible situations for people who are not in cars to move around. We need some vision of how we prefer to live so that it can become a national model of how you reclaim "traffic engineer hell".

Posted by: QPublic1 | December 31, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I work in the Tysons Corner area and bike on a regular basis to the an office building close to Tysons Corner Mall. It takes me less time to bike to Tysons than it would on a bus.

I watched as the marketing machines went into to action to encourage local office workers to take alternative means of transportation during the HOT lanes and Metro construction. I was hopeful that Tysons Mall would replace the wheel bending and limited capacity school house style bike racks that are occasionally dotted around the mall, with the stylish inverted U bike racks you see all over Arlington and DC. Their response was "we will monitor their usage" even though the bike rack I use regularly has more than the 2 bikes you can securely lock to it, and a suffered a bike theft this year, we still have the badly designed bike racks.

The demand for biking is there, it just needs to be encouraged with good facilities, safer roads and a partnership with drivers bikers and pedestrians to share the roads.

Posted by: irnbruman | December 31, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Since there will be no car parking at any of the new Silver Line stations, all transportation options should be maximized, including the bicycle. It would be good to have an online site where those who need to get in and out of Tysons could assess all their options (walking, biking, driving, transit, segway, etc.) sorted by travel time, dollar cost, cost to the environment and current weather conditions.

Posted by: thunder11 | January 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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