Advancing active mobility in greater Prince William, Virginia

Author: Allen Muchnick (Page 1 of 14)

Allen Muchnick has been a cycling and smart growth advocate and traffic cycling instructor (LCI #538) for more than two decades. He served on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association from 1992-2002 and has been a board member of the Virginia Bicycling Federation since 1994. Allen is a founding member of Active Prince William and currently lives in the City of Manassas.

“Taming Our Arterials” Webinar, September 29 @ 7 PM

Multi-lane suburban arterial roads–such as Routes 1, 28, 123, and 234 Business in Prince William County– are dangerous and hostile for pedestrians and bicyclists.  How can we make these roads safer?  That’s the theme of this virtual panel discussion on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 7 p.m., sponsored by our friends at the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Toole Design Group, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Register in advance on Zoom.

Andy Clarke of Toole Design Group, Fairfax County Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Bill Cuttler of VDOT’s Northern Virginia Construction District will discuss long- and short-term methods that can be used to tame our big roads.  They will discuss some techniques that have been shown to work, and address how to overcome institutional barriers to making these changes.

Event Organizers

Our Comments on NVTA’s Draft Transportation Plan

On September 8, 2022, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority held a public hearing on its draft five-year update to TransAction, the regional authority’s long-range transportation plan for Northern Virginia.   Active Prince William’s co-chairs, Mark Scheufler and Allen Muchnick, delivered separate oral statements at this hearing, and both statements are posted below.  

A recording of the public hearing, which featured 21 citizen comments, is here.  Mark’s statement begins at 1:10:50 in this recording, while Allen’s statement follows immediately at 1:13:40 .

Additional written statements submitted on September 18, 2022:


Good Evening.  Mark Scheufler, Prince William County.  Thank you for the opportunity to address you tonight.

I am a member of Active Prince William, which is a volunteer group of concerned citizens who advocate for better opportunities, support, and infrastructure for active transportation and healthy lifestyles within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

I have reviewed the list of projects and associated documentation in the TransAction package and continue to be disappointed in the goals and outcomes of this process.

I do not believe a directionless, hodgepodge, all-the-above-list-of-projects approach of expanding capacity to reduce roadway congestion is the best path for the region.  Reform to the NVTA statute is needed.

I compare the Northern Virginia transportation situation as it relates to congestion to be comparable to obesity.  The solution for obesity should not be to loosen the belt for extra capacity which is similar to the 20th century concept that unmanaged road widening is a solution to congestion in urban areas such as Northern Virginia.

Unfortunately the Transaction list includes 117 projects with the word “Widen” in it.

This update to the TransAction along with the NVTA statute will continue to point outer jurisdictions of Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun to submit car-first projects that serve to increase car dependency to future six-year funding programs.

In addition, while excellent projects, the fact that the 24th, 25th and 26th ranked projects (out of 26) in the last six year plan were funded, diminishes the value and purpose of the NVTA and questions whether funding should just go directly to the jurisdictions based on the funding contributed by each jurisdiction.

For Prince William County, with all the traffic information available, the best fully funded project in the last six year plan was a roadway extension through a data center development.  Prince William County probably could have developed better outcomes outside of the NVTA process and restrictions.

In closing, I will submit this testimony via email and provide a list of project additions, subtractions and modifications for consideration as many of my concerns discussed here will not be addressed in this TransAction process.  But I hope NVTA reform can be addressed by the state legislature to create better land use and transportation outcomes for all Northern Virginia residents.  Thank you.


Good Evening.  I’m Allen Muchnick.  I live in the City of Manassas, and I also serve on the board of Active Prince William, an active mobility advocacy group.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s transportation planning and programming processes are fundamentally flawed, starting with its statutory mandate to focus on traffic congestion, while ignoring the critical roles of land use and induced demand as well as the environmental, equity, and traffic-safety problems caused by our region’s over-dependence on auto travel.

Northern Virginia’s roadways have been expanded for the past seventy years, yet we still face perpetual traffic congestion, and most NoVA residents will continue to lack viable alternatives to driving alone for most local trips.  Repeating the same activity over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Developing an independent Northern Virginia transportation plan that does not reinforce and advance the goals, objectives, and strategies of Visualize 2045–the federally mandated long-range transportation plan for the entire Washington region–is counterproductive and foolish.  An unconstrained and un-prioritized transportation project wish list, whose price tag far exceeds the funding that is expected to become available before 2045, is largely a wasteful exercise.

In June 2022, the TPB committed to a strategy of completing all planned segments of its National Capital Trail Network (NCTN) by 2030.  Yet, no planned National Capital Trail Network segments are identified in the TransAction project list, and it’s likely that many are not even included.

In the TransAction project list, many of the road-widening and interchange proposals do not mention the inclusion of associated pedestrian and bicycling elements, which might be new, upgrades, exact replacements, or preserved preexisting facilities.  For over 18 years, VDOT has operated under a Complete Streets policy adopted by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.  The NVTA also needs to adopt a Complete Streets policy that requires all NVTA-funded projects to incorporate all related pedestrian and bicycling accommodations as safe, direct, and efficient facilities, unless one or more specified exemptions exist.

Another much-needed, yet simple, NVTA reform would require advertised public hearings before the relevant governing body endorses any project for NVTA-related funding, including federal RSTP and CMAQ allocations endorsed by the NVTA.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment orally.  I plan to submit more detailed written comments via email by the September 18 deadline.

NoVA Trails Summit, October 20, 2022

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) will host a Northern Virginia Recreational Trails Summit on Thursday, October 20, 2022 from 10 am to 2:30 pm at its offices at 3040 Williams Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax VA 22031.

This will be a working meeting to identify opportunities to create connections and improve communities through recreational trails in Northern Virginia.

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission and partner organizations invite all interested jurisdictions and organizations to partner and share thoughts and ideas on how to improve our communities through the coordination and development of trails and parks.

Interested representatives and staff, community organizations, and businesses can register a member or representative.   NVRC and our partners look forward to a diverse and engaging group of attendees and would love to see new faces and hear new voices!  Space is limited, so please register early!

To learn more about NVRC and its role in the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail visit https://www.novaregion.org/299/Potomac-Heritage-National-Scenic-Trail.

Washington Region Vision Zero Summit, September 13, 2022

Update:  A summary of the Summit and archived videos of various presentations are posted on WABA’s website.

Cross posted from the Washington Area Bicyclist Asssociation’s Vision Zero Summit registration page and supplemented with program details from a WABA email.

2022 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit

Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Online and in-person

A Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Signature Event – Meetup

The Vision Zero Summit brings together elected officials, decision-makers, advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to share best practices, insights and innovations to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our region’s streets and highways.

This year’s Summit will take place on Tuesday, September 13th, and will focus on Safe Streets for All: A Safe System Approach.  The Safe System approach was founded on the principle that no one should be killed or injured when using the road system. It consists of five elements: Safe Road Users, Safe Vehicles, Safe Speeds, Safe Roads, and Post-Crash Care.

The Summit itself will take place over Zoom from 9 am to 5 pm.  The link will be sent out along with the programming closer to the date of the event.

Lunch is included in the cost of the ticket.  WABA will provide an Uber Eats promo code to all attendees.

The morning keynote speaker will be Jennifer Boyd, director of The Street Project, a documentary on the massive international movement to turn public streets into safe spaces for all.

The late afternoon keynote speaker will be Jessie Singer, journalist and author of There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster – Who Profits and Who Pays the Price.

After the Summit, there will be an in-person meetup at Buena Vida Gastrolounge (2900 Wilson Blvd #103, Arlington, VA 22201), from 7pm to 8:30pm.  This gathering is an opportunity to revisit some of the day’s key themes, socialize, and decompress.  The evening keynote speaker will be new WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke.  Space is limited, so be sure to sign up for this event when you register for the summit.  Free food and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided! We’d love to see you there!

ASL interpretation services will be provided for the Summit.

Please visit WABA’s registration page to register for this Summit.

 

Metro DC’s Car Free Day, Thursday, September 22, 2022

Car Free Day Metro DC, organized by the Commuter Connections program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, is back this year on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Use Transit, Carpool/Vanpool (Car-Lite), Bike, Scooter, Walk, or Telework

Take the pledge, even if you’re already car free.

Car Free Day is a worldwide event that encourages greener methods of travel; meaning ways to get around other than driving alone by car.  Commuter Connections hosts Car Free Day in the Washington, DC region to bring awareness to the many benefits of travel options such as transit, bicycling and walking; and also telework for people who can work from home. Carpooling and vanpooling count too; they’re considered “car-lite” since they are both lighter on the wallet and the environment than driving alone in a car.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Using more sustainable ways to get around helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The more people who travel using bicycles, buses, trains, carpools and vanpools, the fewer pollutants are released into the atmosphere.

CHOOSE THE TRAVEL METHOD
THAT FITS YOUR MOBILITY BEST

Take the Pledge!

All are welcome to take the Car Free Day pledge whether you’re a Washington DC area resident, commuter, or student.  Once you take the Online Pledge, you’ll be automatically entered into a raffle for all sorts of great prizes. Click any of the links above, and select the travel method that fits your mobility best!

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