Fairfax City Council endorses first phase of Fair Woods Parkway bicycle enhancements

Crosswalks and a shared-use path are proposed on Fair Woods Parkway at Fairfax Blvd (via Fairfax City)

The Fairfax City Council recently approved several bicycle network enhancements along Fair Woods Parkway, its first project since adopting a bicycle master plan in 2021.

The unanimous adoption of the resolution gave city staff the go-ahead to engage engineering consultants to design the bike routes.

The final concept adds curb extensions at four intersections, including Cardinal Road, Cavalry, Scout and Blue Coat Drive, to help slow down cars and make it safer for people to walk. Improvements initially planned for Continental Lane were removed from the project after nearby residents raised concerns.

Staff are also considering adding crosswalks throughout the corridor and a shared-use path for biking and walking on one side of Fair Woods Parkway between Fairfax Blvd and the George Snyder Trail.

The city initiated its project to turn Fair Woods Parkway into a “neighborway” almost two years ago. The process included several rounds of community feedback through various surveys and public meetings.

Previously known as Plantation Parkway, Fair Woods Parkway was chosen for the first neighborway — a low-volume street designed to serve as a safe bicycle route — because of the area’s access to various local destinations and bike paths, Fairfax City Multimodal Transportation Planner Chloe Ritter told the city council during its March 26 meeting.

She noted it also addresses resident requests for improved traffic conditions and better bicycle infrastructure.

“We feel that this proposal provides a number of benefits, including shortening pedestrian crossing distances,” Ritter said. “It improves the visibility for drivers…removes uncontrolled pedestrian crossings and the requirement for vehicles to stop when the signal is green.”

The city’s bicycle master plan designates approximately 20 miles of neighborhood streets as “neighborways.”

Fair Woods Parkway is one of several Fairfax City roads being considered for bicycle network improvements (via Fairfax City)

While city staff are designing the neighborway, the public will have an opportunity to give their input about halfway through the design phase, per Ritter.

The project’s funding comes from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant via the Regional Surface Transportation Program. This program allocates funds to states and local governments for various public transportation projects, including pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Almost all council members fully endorsed the project — with a few words of caution.

Councilmember Thomas Ross called it a significant move towards “humanizing the transportation network.” However, he also urged staff to evaluate the project’s effectiveness upon completion.

“I would also encourage perhaps a focus group or a discussion group with the community and in a year and a half, two years, whenever it seems appropriate to say, ‘What’s your reaction to this? Is it working? Is it making it safer for people to walk and get around? Is it safer to get in and out of the neighborhood?'” Ross said.

Councilmember Jon Stehle suggested that staff consult with the local police department about incorporating safety-promoting technologies, such as blue light stations, into the design.

“We talked previously about ‘fix-a-flat’ opportunities at certain locations in different areas along bike trails, etcetera,” he said. “There has to be some technology out there that’s up and coming or someone who’s looked at this in a different way that we should at least have the conversation about.”

The city’s webpage for the project says engineering and construction work could tentatively start later this year.