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Draft report sets goals for Fairfax County’s active transportation future

Safety, access, and equity are among the top priorities for Fairfax County residents when it comes to envisioning the future of transportation in the area.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation released a draft report on Aug. 31 for its ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, which will combine and update the county’s Bicycle Master Plan and Countywide Trails Map into an overarching plan for amenities to support walking, cycling, and other self-propelled modes of travel.

The draft comes after the county conducted a dozen virtual community conversations with residents this past spring to learn more about their concerns and desires.

The county also received public input from 1,474 virtual community survey responses, 1,217 comments on a virtual barrier and destination feedback map, and 537 comments on virtual planned trail, bikeway network, and complete streets map.

The feedback informed the draft report, which proposes a general framework for the ActiveFairfax plan with four goals:

  • Access and connectivity
  • Safety and comfort
  • Livability and health
  • Equity and social justice.

Access and connectivity refers to the goal of providing “a well-connected, multimodal transportation network that offers safe, convenient, healthy, sustainable and affordable mobility options for Fairfax County,” according to the draft.

Objectives under that goal include a focus on planning, implementing, and maintaining a network of safe and comfortable sidewalks, bikeway, trails, and streets that link residential and commercial areas.

The “safety and comfort” goal encompasses efforts to minimize traffic injuries and fatalities with an emphasis on active transportation users, including by pursuing policies and incentives that reduce vehicle trips and travel speeds.

Addressing livability and health will “advance public health, sustainability and the quality of life by providing inviting sidewalks, bikeways and trails that encourage frequent usage,” the draft says.

In order to achieve this goal, the draft proposes providing a variety of educational and promotional programs and events to promote active transportation modes, as well as applying best practices to street designs, including adding wider sidewalks and ensuring bicycle facilities are available for a variety of ages and abilities.

Finally, the goal of addressing equity and social justice aims to “provide a multi-modal transportation system that prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable road users including communities of color, low-income communities, small children and their caregivers, youth, people with disabilities, and older adults.”

This fourth goal’s objectives include adhering to the county’s One Fairfax policy when developing or evaluating active transportation policies, programs, facilities, and practices. It also means making sure the public engagement process for transportation policies and projects is inclusive so that everyone’s needs are adequately addressed.

The county’s transportation department will host two virtual community meetings to further discuss the draft’s vision, goals, and objectives. The meetings will be held Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m., and links to sign up for each are available on the county’s site.

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