Feds, Metro, Locals take on Pedestrian and Bike Safety at Wiehle-Reston East

July 16th, 2015

On May 12, 2015, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) convened an event to bring together Federal, State, regional, and local transportation officials and local stakeholders for an on-the-ground bike-ped safety assessment at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station.

BaseMap_2014_Wiehle Assessment

Wiehle-Reston East: one mile bikeshed and 1/2 mile walkshed

The assessment was one of 50+ that have been occurring around the nation as part of U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s “Safer People Safer Streets” campaign to improve bike-ped safety across the country.  These assessments have been led by many of the US DOT agencies and operating administrations, namely: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Each of these agencies is participating in the effort to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety, and each has particular roles and responsibilities in this effort.

The primary goal of these assessments is to:

  • facilitate relationship-building between employees of different jurisdictions who share responsibility for creating safer streets;
  • engage practitioners who typically focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as those who do not; and
  • focus on locations that have non-motorized safety challenges.

The assessment kicked-off with remarks from Deputy Secretary, Victor Mendez, who stressed the importance of agency coordination in ensuring bicycle and pedestrian safety on America’s streets, later blogging about the event on US DOT’s FastLane blog. Metro’s Director of Planning, Shyam Kannan, also gave remarks that highlighted the importance of station connectivity for increasing Metrorail ridership.  Other VIPs from Fairfax County, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and local community/advocacy groups spoke to the participants as well about the importance of the day’s events to keeping our residents safe as they travel.

For the second half of the assessment, representatives from Metro, Fairfax County, VDOT, the Northern Virginia Parks Authority, Reston community associations, local bicycling groups and business owners, along with a number of U.S. DOT staffers, donned their hats, safety vests and sunscreen for an up-close-and-personal examination of bicycle and pedestrian conditions in the station area. Despite the heat, three teams – two on foot/wheelchair and on one bikes – spent a couple hours traversing the station area to identify improvements that should be made to increase safety for non-motorized travelers to the station. The teams later convened to share results and outline a plan for next steps.

Missing Sidewalk

Missing Sidewalk

Team on foot

Team on foot

Challenges observed in the station area fell into four categories: (1) walkway design and network; (2) intersection design and operation; (3) bicycle network and signage and (4) wayfinding.  Participants were then asked to identify a path forward to address the challenges – some of which already is underway through cooperative efforts amongst local stakeholders, public and private.

The final report from this assessment will be included in a compendium of all 50+ events that occurred nationwide, planned for completion this summer.  U.S. DOT hopes that some of the best practices identified through these assessments can be used as a blueprint for pedestrian and bicycle safety planning nationwide, and spur local action to address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues that came to light during the assessments.



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