Organizations join forces to request safety improvements on local road

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Main entrance to Huntley Meadows Park on Lockheed Boulevard

Several local organizations banded together recently to send one clear, common message to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and Virginia Department of Transportation about proposed pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements along Lockheed Boulevard.

In an email dated May 3, the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) delivered FCDOT officials joint comments from a total of nine organizations on the Lockheed Boulevard paving and restriping plan that had been presented to the general public on April 19. The signees included leaders from the Audubon Naturalist Society, South County Task Force, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Fairfax Families for Safe Streets, Sierra Club Great Falls Group, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Friends of Huntley Meadows Park and FABB.

Together, the leaders expressed appreciation for the county’s proposal to add standard bike lanes along the roadway near Huntley Meadows Park but insisted that protected bike lanes or a cycle track were necessary to ensure cyclist safety. They also requested a pedestrian sidewalk along the south side of Lockheed and “additional safe, high visibility crossing options.” Several core county policies and initiatives were cited as justification for the request, including the Embark Richmond Highway project, One Fairfax, Joint Environmental Task Force final report, Carbon-Free Fairfax “Anything but Driving” campaign, the county’s “Health in All Policies” initiative, and Safe Routes to Schools.

One of the signees, Cathy Ledec, president of Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, said her organization supports safe pedestrian and bicycle access to the park’s main entrance “in ways that would not damage the park or its sensitive natural resources.”

For Mary Paden, chair of the South County Task Force, it all boils down to equity issues. She noted that the only way for kids from the Buckman Loop neighborhood to access Huntley Meadows Park is by walking or biking along Lockheed Boulevard, yet the road can be treacherous due to fast-moving traffic.

“Kids from low-income families deserve a safe way to get to the local park,” she said.

Paden’s comments were echoed in a separate communication by Pam Tinker, president of the Frog Pond Early Learning Center on Harrison Lane, who described the lack of safe bike and pedestrian access to Huntley Meadows as a “racial justice and equity issue that needs to be prioritized in order to create a bikeable, walkable community which will benefit us all.”

The organizations’ joint email to FCDOT observed that Lockheed Boulevard has the potential to become the first street in Fairfax County with protected bike lanes.

“Let’s make history!” it concluded.

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