In her January 27 Guest Commentary, Vice Mayor Hardi wrote that Falls Church City needs “safer and accessible streets, protected bike lanes, and traffic calming.” We couldn’t agree more. However, improvements will come at a glacial pace unless our hardworking City Staff get more help.
Our City is uniquely positioned to be one of the most bicycle and pedestrian friendly places in the U.S., thanks to its size, density, amenities, and excellent public transportation access. Imagine a “Little City” where children of all ages can safely ride their bikes to school, where families prefer to walk or ride when running errands, and where we welcome new residents and visitors with fewer fears of parking or traffic issues. There is a lot of enthusiasm for this future, “at the top” with Council and at the “grassroots” level with new organizations like Bike Falls Church (bikefallschurch.org).
Unfortunately, our City Staff lack the resources to deliver this vision. Understaffing has caused multi-year delays for pedestrian safety projects, including safer crossings for the newly widened W&OD Dual Trails and new HAWK signals that would allow safe crossings of Broad Street at Oak, Berry and Fairfax Streets.
Meanwhile, utility poles block sidewalks on many streets, the Bicycle Master Plan’s vision of a safe, direct bicycle route to the Secondary Schools and West Falls development has stalled, and residents wait for years for traffic calming on their streets. Our Staff are working hard to tread water; playing catchup on old projects and reacting to today’s loudest residents and developers.
The City should invest now in its Staff and guide them with a professionally developed, integrated plan for transportation in 2030 for both main and neighborhood streets. This detailed plan should lay out how we most cost-effectively and quickly build complete streets that help people of all ages and abilities safely get around our City, not just those who can drive. Let’s act now to build on the incredible foundation we have, to make our City even safer, healthier, friendlier, and more prosperous.