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Posted at 8:00 PM ET, 03/19/2010

Virginia's other snow routes

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Bruce Wright
Reston

Regarding the March 17 Metro article “At Fairfax ‘snow summit,’ a blizzard of complaints”:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) did a commendable job clearing streets in Fairfax County after February’s record-breaking snowstorms. While it’s unrealistic to think that VDOT could also clear all sidewalks and trails within its right of way, it could avoid making matters worse for pedestrians and bicyclists.

VDOT’s presentation before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors did not mention the need to accommodate non-motorized users of the transportation system or the consequences of clearing only the roads. Without clear passage after last month’s snowstorms, pedestrians were forced into the road. Many were injured and one was killed, possibly as a result of having nowhere else to walk.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently issued policy recommendations to states, urging that “walking and bicycling be considered as equals with other transportation modes.” He added, “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

If VDOT would recognize the problem, there are measures it could take: telling plow operators not to dump snow and ice on sidewalks and trails, especially at curb ramps, and once streets are clear, opening up priority non-motorized routes. Most of these routes are in the VDOT right of way, and people who use them are all customers of VDOT, even when it snows.

The writer is chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | March 19, 2010; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax County, HotTopic, transportation, weather  
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