Creating a bike-friendly Tysons Corner
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.
| December 30, 2009; 2:44 PM ET
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