To the editor,
There is a revolution happening in Alexandrias transportation system. Due to a concerted effort by the city government and participation by Alexandria residents, our city is now only second in the region to Washington, D.C. for the percentage of residents 9 percent who walk or bike to work.
In the last Council of Governments survey we passed Arlingtons rate of 7.6 percent.
Whether you walk, bike, use transit or drive, you should care about these numbers. This trend towards walking and biking helps to spread out the capacity of our transportation system. According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, changing a car trip to a bicycle trip saves us money. This savings comes from the price of congestion, road maintenance, parking, gas, air and noise pollution.
Those of us who are walking and biking more are certainly benefiting from stronger hearts and better health. We are also fighting air pollution, as motor vehicles are responsible for about 30 percent of all NO2 and VOC emissions, and about 9 percent of particulate matter (aka soot), according to the National Council for Science and the Environment.
This makes Alexandria a more desirable place to live and work, helping our property values. According to the Urban Land Institute, homebuyers are willing to pay a $20,000 premium to live in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. And the National Association of Realtors says that trails are one of the most popular features that homebuyers look for.
This trend towards walking and biking has not happened by accident. The Community Pathways program that Councilman Paul Smedberg and I started, plus our great Safe Routes to School programs, our community bike activists and the City Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator have all helped to make this happen.
We have done a lot to make Alexandria a safer and more convenient place to walk and bike. The citys Year in Review document, available on its web site, can give you all of the details, but some of the highlights of our efforts include:
2.7 miles of on-road bikeways and approval for another 32 miles in the Transportation Master Plan.
A total trail network through the city, including connecting regional trails of 76.6 miles.
The installation in 2008 of the regions first pedestrian beacon known as a HAWK signal on Van Dorn Street.
Installation of new sidewalks including along Edsall Road and West Nelson Avenue and approval of a Safe Routes to School sidewalk project on Cambridge Road.
Improvement to over 20 individual intersections with new crossing signals, median refuges, crosswalks and safety improvements.
Installation of over 90 new bicycle racks.
Completion of a re-surfacing of the trail along Eisenhower Avenue and building a new 1/2-mile connection near the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter.
Two bi-annual Street Smart campaigns, each in the spring and fall, targeted towards drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to raise awareness about safety. Each campaign included specific enforcement waves with tickets issued.
There is a lot for all of us to be proud of in these numbers. We are moving in the right direction. We need to keep it up.
Alexandria City Councilman