Work on Metro’s Bike and Ride facility for the Vienna Metro Station is finally nearing the finish line.
More than five years after it started, major construction on the project has now been completed, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesperson Ian Jannetta says.
“The Bike & Ride is being readied for customer use, including inspections and final project activities (such as integrating access control to the Metro network),” Jannetta told Tysons Reporter in an email on Oct. 30. “As soon as we have a date for when customers can use the facility, we will announce it.”
The Vienna facility is Metro’s second Bike and Ride in Fairfax County after one opened at the East Falls Church Metro Station in August. The two stations will have a combined 184 spaces for riders to park their bicycles before hopping on a train or bus.
Metro’s bike parking facilities are monitored around-the-clock by security cameras and include “fix-it stations” with a tire pump, tools, and a stand for making basic repairs and adjustments, according to WMATA.
In order to access the facilities, customers need a registered SmarTrip and must fill out an online form about 24 to 48 hours in advance of their visit, though the bike and rides are free to use.
Metro’s Bike and Ride facilities were recently the subject of a critical report by the WMATA Office of the Inspector General, which reviewed the projects after receiving public complaints and a request for information from a U.S. Senate subcommittee on federal spending oversight.
Released on Oct. 16, the report found that WMATA has spent over $5.9 million on three Bike and Ride facilities that collectively provide 304 parking spaces, amounting to approximately $19,400 per space.
The inspector general also criticized the prolonged construction schedule on the Vienna and East Falls Church facilities, the lack of timely communication with the public, and gaps in financial records for the projects.
Metro started developing Bike and Ride facilities in 2011 as part of a capital program designed to expand bicycle and pedestrian amenities at its stations.
While work on a Bike and Ride at College Park in Washington, D.C., started in August 2011 and finished in May 2012, the East Falls Church and Vienna projects were delayed by construction issues and contractor disputes, including a termination of the original contract in 2016.
Jannetta says WMATA has overhauled its structure for managing capital programs since the East Falls Church and Vienna Bike and Rides started construction in February 2015.
“While it took longer than it should have to get a new contractor on board, the issues were ultimately resolved, delivering bike capacity that will benefit current Metro riders and generations of environmentally conscious riders to come,” Jannetta said.
Photo via WMATA
The new 3,800 square-foot shop at 1118 West Broad Street will include a bike fitting studio and performance testing.
“The store’s expansion comes at a time when bike shops across the country are experiencing an increase in demand for products due to the pandemic,” a spokesperson said in a press release. “Conte’s larger space will be better equipped to meet the needs of the community.”
“We are very excited to be in our new location,” says David Conte, co-owner of the company. “Our Conte’s Bike Shop team is ready to welcome back new and familiar faces. Along with being in a much more robust shopping center, our new space will neighbor Road Runner Sports. Having the two stores next door to each other will bring excellent symmetry for anyone who is outdoor-minded. We can’t wait to continue serving the Falls Church community in our expanded location.”
Photo via Conte’s Bike Shop/Facebook
As Conte’s Bike Shop celebrates its 5-year anniversary in Falls Church, the company announced it will be relocating to a larger location nearby.
The new location will be located at 1118 West Broad Street and open around Oct. 1, according to co-owner Wayne Souza.
It will include 3,767 square feet of space, which is significantly larger than its current location, Souza said.
“We needed a larger location because we needed more retail floor space, a larger service area and we took the opportunity to build the regions most state of the art fit studio,” he said. “We didn’t have the ability to grow where we were.”
Conte’s Bike Shop serves customers with a variety of skill levels, according to Souza.
Since the pandemic, locations across the area have been experiencing increased demand for products, the website said.
Though the store originated in the Virginia Beach area, Conte’s Bike Shop has locations around D.C. and Maryland too.
Once it is safe, the new Falls Church studio plans on celebrating the grand opening by hosting group bicycle rides around the area, Souza said, adding that the shop will be looking to USA Cycling for best practices regarding the health and safety of participants.
The hours of operation will be the same.
According to the Facebook page, people can stop by the store from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.
Looking toward the future, Souza said that they are considering expansions for other locations as well.
Photo via Conte’s Bike Shop/Facebook
Work is officially underway to revamp the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Falls Church by adding parallel pedestrian and bicycle trails.
The City of Falls Church, NOVA Parks and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) celebrated the start of the project with a groundbreaking earlier today.
The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project aims to separate slow- and fast-moving users by creating an 11-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot-wide path for pedestrians. A 2-foot-wide textured surface will separate the two paths.
The “Dual Trails” portion will include most of the 1.5 miles of the trail in the city, while a separate portion is set to get designed for parts of the W&OD in Arlington, according to a press release.
“The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project is a significant step to encourage non-motorized transportation, increase capacity and reduce congestion for cyclists and pedestrians utilizing the busy pathway,” Erica Hawksworth, an NVTA spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.
Additionally, the project also will promote carbon-free travel and more biodiversity, according to a NOVA Parks sign at the groundbreaking. The press release about the groundbreaking noted that the project will improve stormwater management along the trail.
During a review of the project proposal in December, Falls Church planners said that it fits the city’s vision for separate walking and biking trails.
Hawksworth noted that the project is especially noteworthy because trails have been busier than usual during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Upon completion of the W&OD Trail Enhancements project, trail users will notice reduced congestion, safer conditions and enhanced bike and pedestrian access to the two Metrorail stations within the I-66 corridor,” Hawksworth said.
NVTA provided $3.24 million of regional funding for the project, which is being built by NOVA Parks and the city. Construction is expected to last until June 2021.
“It is fitting that the new Dual Trail enhancements start in the City of Falls Church, as the first section of the trail began here in 1974,” Mayor David Tarter said. “The city is pleased to once again be at the forefront of better and healthier ways to move people.”
— Northern Virginia's Transportation Authority (@NVTAuthority) August 26, 2020
It is so good to be out and about – socially distanced, of course! Today we are celebrating the groundbreaking on the W&OD Trail Enhancements in @FallsChurchGov in partnership w/ the City & @NOVA_Parks! #cyclinglife #northernva pic.twitter.com/dpmsqYSYOt
— Northern Virginia's Transportation Authority (@NVTAuthority) August 26, 2020
Photo courtesy NVTA, map via City of Falls Church
Plans can now move forward for a pedestrian and bicycle connection in Tysons East.
Tysons Park Place II, LLC is looking to create the connection from the existing structured parking garage to a sidewalk along the Jones Branch Connector.
The new connection would improve walkability to a future redevelopment.
“This connection would provide pedestrians and bicyclists with a more direct site access to/from the Tysons East area and the McLean Metrorail Station when compared to the existing connections from Jones Branch Drive,” according to county staff.
On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to support a break of the limited access line, which the proposed pedestrian connection would cross.
Prior to the board’s vote, the limited access line was restricting the creation of the new connection, county staff said.
Local shop owners say they are seeing a run on bicycles thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
With both limited public transportation and social activity, people have gravitated towards cycling as a way to get outside. As a result, local bike stores have seen a massive rise in sales.
“Our service area is seeing an unprecedented level of demand,” said Tim Fricker, the owner of [email protected] in Vienna. But for residents seeking a quick tuneup before hitting the road, they may have to wait a little longer with Fricker reporting a turnaround time of about seven weeks.
“The longest turnaround time I can recall in the past is a few times where we hit three weeks,” he added. “There has been nothing like this.”
[email protected] sells “conventional bicycles” in addition to specialty bikes such as recumbent bikes and trikes, folding bikes, adaptive bikes, electric bikes and trikes. While they haven’t sold out on conventional bikes, Fricker predicts that most other shops and distributors have.
Bikenetic in Falls Church, for example, is anticipating first-time and impulse-buyers to flock to the store. Inventory for entry-level riders has yet to be replenished, though.
“All of the companies we deal with have also run out of bikes and are waiting for purchase orders to fill back in from Asia,” said Jan Feuchtner, the owner of Bikenetic.
The store is also experiencing a delayed turnaround. Feuchtner reported also being seven weeks out on repairs with about 300 bikes in the queue, which is double the number of bikes they usually have backlogged.
To adapt to the demand, [email protected] created heavier structure and discipline to better manage workflow. Fricker said they eliminated “while you wait” services with the exception of mid-ride issues such as a flat tire.
Additionally, they tweaked certain services due to the coronavirus pandemic. No customers are permitted in the store at any time, walk-in test rides are not allowed and payment is handled over the phone.
Fricker anticipates that typical bike stores will see a steep drop in sales once the pandemic begins to die down since the market will be “saturated.” Because of the specialty of his own store, however, he thinks [email protected] won’t be impacted as much and will have more returning customers.
Of the people who started biking because of the pandemic, some will likely continue riding when things return to normal, keeping business afloat.
“I just don’t know what percentage will continue versus those who lose interest once the world gets back to something more normal. Time will tell.”
The Town of Vienna celebrated its 100th birthday in 1990 with the ringing of bells and a giant birthday cake — and now its 130th birthday this year, residents are challenged to participate in a virtual race.
Titled “Distance Matters,” the race is inviting all Vienna citizens to walk, run, bike or hike a 130K throughout the month of July. People who complete the 80.8 miles will receive a medal at the end of the month.
People who are interested in participating will receive a log to track their miles over the course of the month. Miles can be achieved by running on a treadmill, cycling around the town or walking down the trail — participants’ choice. Whatever mode of exercise residents choose, the race is an easy way to maintain a feeling of community despite social distancing restrictions.
The town was originally planning a large community event called “Bluez and Brewz” on Saturday, June 20, to commemorate Vienna’s 130th birthday. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the idea was changed to something that people could safely participate in — at a distance.
The celebration had included live blues bands, barbecue trucks and more, according to Natalie Duncan, the town’s teen center program coordinator.
“Upon the realization that we had to cancel Bluez and Brewz, we came up with the idea for the 130K,” said Duncan.
The organizers noticed other jurisdictions holding virtual races and decided it would be a fun way to keep the community participating. “The month of July is Parks and Recreation Month… the 130K is a way of keeping residents engaged and involved.”
Local sports and bike merchants, as well as coffee shops, are promoting the event. While running and biking have always been a staple of Vienna with the Washington and Old Dominion Trail running through town, the pandemic has fueled resident interest in the outdoors, according to Duncan.
“Now with the coronavirus, people are more open to using the trail and running around their neighborhoods,” she said.
In the past, Vienna has drawn major crowds for town events including birthday celebrations, Civil War reenactments and celebrating the new millenium, according to the Vienna Recreation Program Manager Amy-Jo Hendrix.
“Vienna is such a close-knit town,” said Hendrix. “Everyone comes together and enjoys whatever activities we have going. It’s a lot of fun to put these on and see the success that we have and how it brings all the neighbors together.”
Register by June 29 at https://t.co/4fyEAuMvFd for $10. Receive s log to track your progress and a medal at completion.
— Town of Vienna, VA (@TownofViennaVA) June 3, 2020
Northern Virginia is rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as residents are under a “safer at home” recommendation. As the weather continues to warm up and more people head outside, people are finding limited transportation options.
In late May, staff photographer Jay Westcott captured what transportation looks like now in Tysons: cyclists and pedestrians along the W&OD Trail in Vienna and closure signs at the Tysons Corner Metro station.
Westcott spotted a dog named Cora watching her owner Chad exercise in the parking garage at Tysons Corner Center. He photographed Leesburg Pike, almost empty of cars, by the malls and empty parking garages around Tysons.
Let us know how you’ve been getting around Tysons and if the pandemic has impacted your transportation choices by commenting below.
Beyer Rebukes Trump’s “Naked Authoritarianism” — “U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, issued a sharp rebuke of President Trump’s actions and words on Monday.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Bike Buddies — “The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) has established a bike-adviser program to encourage people to try bicycling during the shutdown of Silver Line and Orange Line Metro stations over the summer.” [Inside NoVa]
Crime Time — “Homicides spiked 9.5 percent in Virginia last year, while motor-vehicle thefts, burglaries and drug arrests declined, according to Virginia State Police statistics released May 29.” [Inside NoVa]
More Options for Outdoor Seating — “Vienna Town Council adopted a temporary emergency ordinance [Monday night] that allows Town of Vienna businesses to take advantage of outdoor commercial activities that currently are permitted under Phase One of the Forward Virginia business reopening plan.” [Town of Vienna]
Photo via Virginia Department of Transportation
A portion of Tysons Blvd will close later this week to give cyclists and pedestrians more room for outdoor activity.
Fairfax County announced today that one northbound lane of Tysons Blvd between International and Westbranch drives will temporarily close on Friday (May 29) at 5 p.m. How long the closure will last will depend on the county’s reopening guidelines, the county said.
“Even though there is a sidewalk along this stretch of road, this temporary closure will provide people a safer option, and more space for outdoor recreation while maintaining social distancing practices during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the county.
People who live in the area will be able to access nearby amenities, including the Capital Bikeshare stations and a park at the corner of Westbranch Drive and Tysons Blvd.
Partial or full road closures are growing during the pandemic, WAMU reported.
Map via Fairfax County