Letters to the Editor: December 20 – 26, 2018
Kudos for F.C. Council’s New Gun Legislation
I was at the Falls Church City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, along with other members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and I applaud the council for passing common sense gun legislation that could save lives.
As you reported on Dec 13 in the article “F.C. Council OKs New Gun Legislation” the new law prohibits the transporting of guns in Falls Church while loaded. Not only is this an obviously safer way to handle a gun, this new regulation also allows for police to “ask” if the gun they can see during a traffic stop is being transported lawfully. This new law might seem small, but we can start with small safety regulations that save lives and build from there — just like the Highway Traffic Safety Administration started doing in 1970.
When I was growing up, my family’s cars didn’t even have seat belts; now they are a regular everyday thing – not even thought about. But that didn’t come about without a long hard fight by the federal government in order to save our lives on the roads. Guess what, thanks to this and many other laws, regulations and highway improvements (including a large part to drunk driving laws advocated for by Mothers Against Drunk Driving) traffic fatalities now number less than gun fatalities.
So we can drastically reduce gun deaths through common sense gun laws & regulations like requiring: Universal Background Checks, Red Flag Laws, fingerprint firing, waiting periods, funding research by the CDC and the reinstitution of Virginia’s old law that restricted purchases to “One Gun A Month.” We Can Save Lives through regulation if we all work together.
W&OD Changes Are a Win-Win For Everyone
As both an avid cyclist and a frequent pedestrian on the W&OD trail, I strongly support the plans to improve the pedestrian access trail. The opportunity to improve the safety of this treasured trail with financial support from the state is one that should not be missed.
Anyone who regularly uses the trail should know how treacherous it can be, particularly on weekends. I am afraid to take our grandchildren on the trail at busy times. The possibility of avoiding serious injury to even one walker makes this plan imperative.
The plan for needed separation of walkers and riders is a win-win for all. Please proceed with the plan.
Plans for W&OD Support Goal for Alternative Transport
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority recently awarded $3.2 million to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks) to widen the Falls Church segment of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and construct separate bike and pedestrian lanes. This grant is a demonstration project intended to be replicated on the busiest parts of the 45-mile long trail.
In Falls Church, the trail connects six roadways, including Route 7 and the planned bridge over Route 29. It links to Metrobus routes and the East and West Falls Church Metro stations. Connections are planned to George Mason High School and the West Falls Church commercial district.
Use of the W&OD has evolved in recent years. It is now both a recreational amenity and a transportation route that connects residential areas with public transit, employment centers, restaurants, and retail. Greater use has brought conflicts. Bike commuters share the trail with pedestrians, including children and recreational walkers of varying physical abilities. Concerns about bikes passing too close and weekend and rush hour crowding discourage even greater use.
Widening the trail and separating bikes and pedestrians will increase the trail’s capacity and improve user comfort and safety. This supports Falls Church’s goal of encouraging walking and biking as alternatives to motorized transportation.
As the City continues to urbanize, the W&OD Trail will become an ever more important element of our transportation and recreation resources.
Paul Baldino, Jeff Tarbert
NOVA Parks Board of Directors
Making Bike Trail Like I-66 is Not the Answer
Regarding changes to the W&OD path, rather than expend all that carbon increasing the width of the bike path and consuming yet more land with impervious surfaces and increased run-off the answer is simple: Take up the blacktop. Make it more of a linear wildlife area, not less, with winding paths, seats and play areas. Put down a more sympathetic surface and expand the wild areas.
Making the trail more like the I-66 is not the answer.
F.C. Plans for W&OD Trail Should be an Example for Others
I am a marathon runner and count myself fortunate to live in the City a mere half mile from the W&OD. I train on the W&OD constantly on all different sections of the trail — Herndon, Reston, Vienna, City of Falls Church and Arlington.
I’m shaking my head at the comments that don’t support the planned improvements to the City of Falls Church portion of the W&OD and I would like to explain why I (as someone who runs the W&OD constantly) think these improvements are a great idea!
First, the City section is among the most densely populated of the entire trail. There is a lot of congestion in our section and lots of folks going at very different speeds: dog walkers, kids walking/biking to school, casual runners, bikers with kids in tow, serious cyclists/commuters, and runners of all abilities. I do not have the space here to explain the near-misses I see on a regular basis. Separating faster and slower traffic will be unquestionably safer for all of us, and will also serve to make the trail feel like a more accessible option for less-abled people, including kids.
Second, the Lee Highway intersection is dangerous and confusing. I cross it constantly and the lights/arrows are not optimized for pedestrians or bikes. This bridge will be hugely safer for all of us, and will help make the trail an even better commuter route for bicycles (which is absolutely what our City says we want to support, right?).
Third, my understanding is that other jurisdictions are looking at making these separate changes as well to their portions of the trail. The City will just be leading the way. Good! We have to start somewhere or we’ll never make any progress.
So, kudos to our dedicated City staff, who has the wisdom to understand how valuable this improvement will be, the savvy to procure state funding for it, and the foresight to set an example for other adjoining jurisdictions to follow.
Less Regulation, Taxes Would Degrade Quality of Life
Jeff Walyus, in the Dec. 13 Letters to the Editor, suggests “lessening government’s regulatory and taxing reach into everybody’s lives.”
Where should we start?
For the former, how about less efforts on aircraft safety, unrestricted marketing of new drugs, citizen-driven validation of water safety, free market solutions to air pollution, allowing raising livestock in Arlington, and no mandatory product recalls for safety? To reduce taxes, there’s always larger classroom size, fewer police officers, longer waits for fire & EMS response, self-service repair of potholes in front of one’s house, and fewer homeless shelters.
As I said, where to start? That is, without degrading everybody’s quality of life and eliminating services citizens demand.
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