Active Prince William

Helping to make Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park a More Livable, Sustainable Community.

Category: Pedestrians (page 2 of 3)

Small Area Plans – Your Opportunity to Engage

As part of the ongoing Comprehensive Plan update, the Prince William County Planning Office has created several small area plans to guide development in key areas of the county. Each small area plan may offer opportunities for improved transit, increased open space, and greater walkability.

Public outreach will be accomplished through one or more public meetings and design charrettes for each project. A charrette is a collaborative planning session among a project’s various stakeholders – in this case, government officials, consultants and/or developers, and interested members of the public. A planning outline and some anticipated outcomes are provided for each active plan at the links below. There are no upcoming public hearings or charrettes currently scheduled, but the Planning Department promises to update the website when they have been. We will monitor the website as well.

Five plans that are currently active:

Dale City
The basis for this project is two studies completed earlier this year: one by the Dale City Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) and the other under a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program grant. The scope of the studies includes redevelopment of both the Dale Boulevard/Minnieville Road intersection and Mapledale Plaza at the intersection of Dale Boulevard and Queensdale Drive, as well as extensive redesign of vehicular, cycling, and walking infrastructure throughout the area.

Innovation Park
An examination of the Innovation Park area and a couple of miles of Prince William Parkway between Sudley Manor Drive and Godwin Drive/Nokesville Road, with the goal of developing Innovation Park as an economic center for PWC.

North Woodbridge
Covers US-1 between Occoquan River and Occoquan Road, north to I-95 and south to Belmont Bay Wildlife Refuge. The major issues appear to be the US-1/VA-123 interchange and multi-modal transportation options. There is currently very little usable infrastructure for non-motorized traffic in this area.

Small Area Plan: North Woodbridge

Parkway Employment Center
An update of the existing Parkway Employment Center sector plan at I-95/Horner Road/Prince William Parkway. A .pdf of the 2008 sector plan is available here.

Route 29
There is not a lot of information available for this plan yet. It will include a bike path along US-29 between US-15 and Somerset Crossing.

Future SAP projects include Independent Hill, Triangle, Yorkshire, and Fairgrounds/New Dominion.

Ryan Foster (rfoster@pwcgov.org), Community Development Manager, and David McGettigan (dmcgettigan@pwcgov.org), Long-Range Planning Manager, are the primary points of contact for questions or comments.

Active Prince William is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for improving opportunities, support, and infrastructure for active transportation and healthy lifestyles within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. We are interested in helping to make Prince William County and Greater Manassas a more livable and sustainable Community.

Join the Manassas Community Conversations

The City of Manassas is holding a series of “Community Conversations” to gather ideas, priorities, and visions for the community’s future from individuals, families, neighbors, business professionals, and community leaders. This is your opportunity to shape Manassas by sharing your perspectives and providing input on key topics such as quality of life, services, transportation, land use, and economic development.

This community engagement process follows up on the City’s 2014 and 2016 community surveys, in which the following 10 community priorities were identified in order of importance.

 

The following engagement sessions remain:

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2 PM – Active Adults & Seniors
​​​Manassas Senior Center Board Room / 9320 Mosby Street ​​

Thursday, Sept. 7, 6PM – Families ​
​Manassas Museum / 9101 Prince William Street ​

Thursday, Sept. 21, 6 PM – Twenty & Thirty Somethings
​​​Bad Wolf Brew House / 8420 Kao Circle ​​ ​​​​

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2PM – Everyone!
​Grace Methodist Church Fellowship Hall / 9750 Wellington Road

You can also engage with City staff at the farmers markets in downtown Manassas on September 16 and 28 and October 21 and 26.

In addition, you can participate online through the City’s new online engagement portal!

The Community Conversations will dig deeper into the “why” of the top priorities to find location-specific issues and gauge if any priorities are missing from the list generated by the survey. The findings from both the survey and the Community Conversations will assist the City in updating its strategic priorities and comprehensive plan. Join the conversation!

Route 28 Corridor Study Public Information Meeting, Thursday, September 7, 6:30-8:30 PM, at the Manassas Park Community Center

Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, in partnership with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, are holding a public information meeting on their Route 28 Corridor Feasibility Study on Thursday, September 7, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Manassas Park Community Center, 99 Adams St, Manassas Park, VA 20111.  The meeting will include a project overview presentation beginning at 7:00 pm.

According to the study website, the “project goals for the Route 28 Corridor Feasibility Study are to identify infrastructure improvements that will improve travel times and network reliability within the Route 28 Corridor through Prince William County, the City of Manassas and City of Manassas Park [between Godwin Dr at the west Manassas city line and Compton Rd in southern Fairfax County] and develop a plan to implement these improvement project(s).”

The public is invited to review and comment on the four alternatives for long-term corridor improvements that currently remain under consideration.

All alternatives would include a shared-use path for bicycling and walking.   One of nine “key objectives’ of this study is to “provide increased opportunities for alternative modes of travel such as travel by bicycles, walking and carpooling/vanpooling”.

View the May 11, 2017 study briefing.

Prince William County news release of August 29, 2017, describing a proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment for the presumed preferred alternative (2B) from this study.

For those unable to attend the September 7th meeting, a second, identical meeting will be held on Monday, September 11, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, at the Centreville Elementary School cafeteria, 14330 Green Trails Blvd, Centreville, VA 20121.

Action Alert: Support Pro-Bike Bills in the Virginia House of Delegates

 

Update:  On February 15, the Criminal Laws Subcommittee of the House Court of Justice Committee tabled (killed) SB 1339 on an unrecorded party-line vote, while on February 13 Subcommittee #1 of the House Transportation Committee killed SB 1338 on a 3-4 vote.  Thus, both bills are now dead for 2017.  Delegate Rich Anderson (R, HD-51) helped kill SB 1338, while Delegate Jackson Miller (R, HD-50) helped kill SB 1339.  Ask Delegates Anderson and Miller to support future legislation to better protect pedestrians and bicyclists from irresponsible motorists.

Two bicycling-friendly bills, filed for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly by Senator Scott Surovell (D, Senate District 36, which includes part of Prince William County), were approved by the Virginia Senate and are now before the Virginia House of Delegates.

SB 1338 would establish a traffic infraction when a motorist drives in a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle.  (This bill also generally prohibits travel in a bicycle lane via motor vehicle or moped for the first time.)  The Virginia Senate passed SB 1338 on a 23-17 vote, with only four Republicans voting in favor.

SB 1339 would establish a traffic infraction when a careless or distracted motorist is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”, as defined in this bill.   The Virginia Senate passed SB 1339 on a 21-19 vote, with only two Republicans voting in favor.

On February 13, both SB 1338 and SB 1339 were heard by the seven-member Subcommittee #1 of the House Transportation Committee.   Delegate Rich Anderson, a Republican who represents House District 51 through a wide swath of Prince William County, is the only local member of this subcommittee.

As recorded here, Subcommittee #1 failed to report SB 1338 to the full House Transportation Committee on a 3-4 vote.  Thus, unless someone (such as Del. Anderson) who voted against reporting SB 1338 changes his mind and asks that SB 1338 be reconsidered in the full Transportation Committee, SB 1338 is now dead.  If SB 1338 is miraculously resurrected I will update this post.

Subcommittee #1 recommended that SB 1339 be referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee, so SB 1339 is still alive.  The Courts of Justice Committee meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, so SB 1339 may go before that committee in a few days.

Delegate Jackson Miller (R, HD-50) is the only member of the House Courts of Justice Committee from Prince William County.  Please call or email Delegate Miller as soon as possible to ask him to support SB 1339.

Del. Jackson Miller, R, HD-50 (Manassas), 804-698-1050, DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov

A short and simple request to support SB 1339 should suffice.  Please include your home address and contact information, so Delegate Miller knows you are a constituent or live near his district.  Here’s a sample message:


Subject: Support SB 1339

Dear Delegate Miller,

Please vote for SB 1339, which is now before the House Courts of Justice Committee.   SB 1339 would hold a careless or distracted motorist accountable when his or her negligence causes serious injury to a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other “vulnerable road user”.

As a Prince William County [or Manassas] resident, I would greatly appreciate your votes for this simple and straightforward traffic-law improvement, to help make me and my family safer when we travel by foot or bicycle.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Street Address
Your City, VA Zipcode


More Resources

Map of Del. Rich Anderson’s House District 51

Map of Del. Jackson Miller’s House District 50

Map of all House of Delegate Districts in Prince William County (pdf file)

Transportation, Health and Well-Being

What a nice surprise when I opened my email and found that I had trans1been invited to attend the inaugural “Every Place Counts Leadership Academy” hosted by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. As an advocate of walking, biking and transit in my community, and at George Mason University, I was very excited by the opportunity to learn more about how transportation decisions are made and how community members can get more involved in the process.

Transportation decisions shape our lives and connect our communities. Transportation also directly affects our health and well-being. Yet members of the public often struggle to figure out how and when to engage in these important decisions. The fact that the Secretary of Transportation was going to attend the session sent a powerful message that he truly valued the input of community members in the transportation decision making process.

Transportation Secretary Foxx is a believer in the power of transportation to increase opportunity for all, but also knows that community members need to be more included in the process.  He initiated the “Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy” to demystify, clarify and simplify transportation decision making. The Leadership Academy is geared toward future community leaders who have limited experience with transportation decision making, and want to learn how to participate effectively and add their insights to the process. The Academy also featured a Transportation Toolkit trans4designed to convey information to the widest audience possible.

What I enjoyed most about the academy was the opportunity to meet people from all over the country and hear their about their experiences advocating for accessible and affordable transportation – the advocate from Baltimore who talked about transportation and access to jobs, the advocate from the Boston area that talked about safe infrastructure for children to walk and bike to school, the advocate from California who talked about transit and the access to healthcare for the elderly, the high school STEM student from Falls Church who talked about technology and transportation, and the advocate from Philadelphia who talked about how important it is to get stakeholders from the community involved in the planning and design process.

This was probably the most diverse group of advocates I have had the privilege of interacting with during my years of advocating for accessible and sustainable transportation. However, what everyone had in common was a passion to create livable communities, and advocate for access to reliable and affordable transportation.trans3

Where you choose to live impacts the mode(s) of transportation you use to get to work, but regardless you still have choices you can make. When I moved to Prince William County I was told that the only option to get to work at Mason in Fairfax was to drive.

Being the curious person I am, I decided to check the validity of this statement. Of course I relate this back to the book club I participated in focused on the Todd Kashdan’s book, Curious. Kashdan asks, “What is essential to creating a fulfilling life? Being curious, being open to new experiences, being able to effectively manage ambiguity and uncertainty, being able to adapt to the demands required of different situations (what I call “psychological flexibility”), discovering our strengths, deepest values, and what it is we are passionate about, and strengthening connections to these values and commit to a life aligned with them.”

An acquaintance of mind once said that, “life beings at the end rick-holt-5of your comfort zone.” Being curious and wanting to step out of my routine I found that there were actually multiple ways to get to work:

  • Bike to the Fairfax campus (I make the 20 mile ride several times a year, takes about an hour and 1/2)
  • Bike (4 miles) to the SciTech campus and take the Mason shuttle to the Fairfax campus (what I do 90% of the time)
  • Take an Express Bus to Tysons Corner metro and then metro to Vienna and take the shuttle to campus (a longer trip due to the changing modes, I have tried once but not the best option)
  • Take the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) to the Burke Centre VRE station and take the Mason shuttle to campus (I have tried this and it is a great way to travel, variations include bike, carpool or drive alone to the VRE station)
  • I can check out the ZimRide site and connect with a Mason student, staff or faculty member who might want to carpool to work
  • Telework from the SciTech campus using one of the drop in suites
  • Drive alone (85% of Prince William residents drive alone to work and sit in traffic on I-66/I-95)

Of course you might be thinking what do I do if I have an emergency and need to get home quickly, or what if the weather turns bad and I can’t bike home? These are valid concerns but Commuter Connections has you covered.  “Guaranteed Ride Home (otherwise known as GRH) provides commuters who regularly (twice a week) carpool, vanpool, bike, walk or take transit to work with a FREE and reliable ride home when one of life’s unexpected emergencies arise. Commuters may take advantage of GRH up to four times per year to get home for unexpected emergencies such as a personal illness or a sick child” (http://www.commuterconnections.org/commuters/guaranteed-ride-home/).

Transportation affects all areas of our well-being to include physical, social, career, financial and community well-being. By starting off, and ending, my day with a four mile bike ride I get 30 minutes of exercise almost every day. On the shuttle I often talk to other members of the staff and faculty, read a book, check my social media and email accounts, or just take a nap. I find that biking to transit keeps my stress levels low, I am more alert and ready to get the day rolling when I arrive at work.

Being enrolled in the Mason bike commuter program and riding the Mason shuttles provides financial benefits. I don’t need a parking pass, I am not using my car, when I ride at least eight times to campus each month I get a $20 voucher good for bike maintenance, and I also receive two complimentary parking passes. As a bike advocate I am very involved in the community promoting active transportation (walking/biking), transit and outdoor recreation. I belong to several community groups including Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, Active Prince William and the Virginia Bike Federation. Being involved in these groups has helped me meet more people and create strong social relationships with members of the community and government officials.

The health benefits of regular physical activity (biking and walking) are far-reaching: reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases; lower health care costs; and improved quality of life for people of all ages. Regular exercise provides health benefits for older adults such as a stronger heart, a more positive mental outlook, and an increased chance of remaining indefinitely independent—a benefit that will become increasingly important as our population ages in the coming years.

Walking and bicycling are affordable forms of transportation. Car ownership is expensive and consumes a major portion of many Americans’ income. When safe facilities are provided for pedestrians and bicyclists, people can walk and ride more and spend less on transportation, meaning they have more money to save or spend on other things.

  • The cost of operating a sedan for one year in 2013 was approximately $10,374 (AAA, Your Driving Costs).
  • According to AAA and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey, ownership of one motor vehicle accounts for 19.5 percent of a typical household’s income.
  • The cost of operating a bicycle for a year is only $308 (League of American Bicyclists).
  • An eight-year study of Atlanta communities suggests that a two person household in a walkable community saves over 260 gallons of gas annually. If gas is $3.25 per gallon, that is over $850 in savings.
  • Walking is free (well maybe you might want to buy a good pair of walking shoes for $50-100)

Benefits of Walking/Biking (from the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Information Center http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet.cfm)

I have found that how we design our transportation network, and what transportation options are available to us, can have significant impacts on our quality of life. Research on transportation options consistently shows that people who walk and bike to work are the happiest with their commute.

A well designed transportation network with more transportation options can create a strong sense of community.  People walking, biking and taking transit have more opportunity for social interaction and interacting with the community they are moving through. In Happy City, Charles Montgomery talks about the dividend we get when we choose to reside in a livable community with sustainable transportation choices.

We all make our own choice about how we commute to work. You may choose to drive alone but it is your choice. Trying out a new mode of transportation to get to work can have healthy benefits. If you think you have no choice maybe it is time to get involved as an advocate for a better transportation network in your community.

Starting out the New Year I will be using my new knowledge to facilitate local leadership academies that educate, and inform, community members on how they can get involved in the transportation planning and design discussion. Get involved, make a difference, and enhance your well-being.

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