Letters to the Editor: October 31 – November 6, 2019
F.C. Hasn’t Done Good Job on Climate, Transportation
While Falls Church City has done a good job in a number of areas, it hasn’t done a good job in transportation or climate change, two issues that are integrally related.
Earlier this month, the Council devoted over two hours to dangerous traffic conditions on Noland Street. Two months ago the City held a town hall to address the severe flooding from a recent storm. These are infrastructure problems that we have known about for years that the council should have worked on but didn’t.
What should be done? The City should set a goal of reducing its auto-dependency. Recent reports found that 86 percent of City trips were by car and 63 percent of emissions come from cars. I propose we target reducing auto trips to 50 percent, through a combination of better public transit, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and roadway redesign.
Public transit ridership is on the decline in this area because of poor service, and one of the biggest reasons is that our elected officials are stuck in the past and haven’t made reduced auto use and lower emissions a priority. Case in point: this City Council supported an agreement to build 50 additional miles of highway on I-66 outside the Beltway that restricts extension of public transit along I-66. This tends to increase congestion, traffic, collisions, and emissions.
There is an exciting proposal on the drawing board to put a high performance Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system down Route 7 from Tysons through Falls Church City. This could go a long way to attracting riders and to reducing auto use, but there are two concerns. First is that this system is at least ten years away — this is far too far in the future. Second is that if the same people who made the decision to prohibit public transit along I66 are involved in this BRT system, they are likely to distort it in a manner that serves certain commercial interests rather than the public’s interest. That process has already begun, and must be resisted.
School Board Race Shouldn’t Focus On Single Issue
The race for school board seats has become increasingly focused on the single issue of transgender students. This is unfortunate because there are so many other issues being crowded out of the conversation.
There is now, and there will for years to come, strong support on the school board for transgender students. But I hope voters are learning what the candidates know — or don’t know — about the many other important topics that come before the school board. Let’s hear the candidates’ visions for the future of our school system. How would they address competing budget priorities such as teacher compensation, class size, and staffing? Why are their backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs good for the schools, the staff, and our students? Let’s vote on all the issues.
When we allow school board elections to be decided on a single, narrow issue, we do a disservice to ourselves, our schools, and our community.
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