News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Road Rules: RA Backs Lawyers Road 'Road Diet' / Cyclotron

300_160309.jpgDuring its last meeting, the Reston Association board endorsed the Virginia Department of Transportation plan to transform Lawyers Road into a slimmed-down, bike friendly roadway, with cyclists completely protected from commuters approaching Mach 2 on their way to the Vienna Metro by fancy painted dotted lines on the asphalt.

The Reston Association voted to support a plan to reduce the number of lanes and add a bike lane to a stretch of Lawyers Road. In a vote of 8-1, the board said it favored the restriping project, set to begin later this summer.

The planned resurfacing and restriping will reduce the 4-lane section of Lawyers Road between Reston Parkway and Myrtle to three lanes for cars and create two bicycle lanes. The center lane will be used as a turning lane.

According to Virginia Department of Transportation, the lane changes would make the road safer. VDOT statistics indicate there were 15 preventable crashes along this stretch of Lawyers Road between 2005 and 2007.
Because they can't leave well enough alone, the RA also recommended that the speed limit be reduced from 45 to 35 miles an hour. Nanny state! Too bad the average speed of many commuters will probably remain 20 miles higher, and that's in the fancy center "turn lane" planned for the restriping.

VDOT apparently plans to make a final decision on the project in the next week.


  1. The Transportation Advisory Committee that advises RA, advised RA not to go ahead with this plan because VDOT had not done an engineering safety study of the bike lanes. They were worried that the bike lanes are not safe, especially for children and inexperienced cyclists. Without a engineering study the county and Reston Association are engaging in negligent behavior in approving the addition of bike lanes.

  2. I may be overly pessimistic, but I'm afraid this restriping project is going to lead to:

    1) More rear-end collisions as cars slow down (or even come to a full stop because of cyclists in the bike lane)to turn right off of Lawyers into residential streets.

    2) A greater potential for head-on car collisions in the center turn lanes at these same intersections.

    3) A greater risk of serious injury or even death to cyclists who will not be seen (especially at dusk and later) by motorists turning right at these intersections and not expecting cyclists to be in their path.

    I would love to be proven wrong on all three counts, but with the typical level of Northern Virginia me-first road rage I see ever morning and every evening during rush hour, I fear not.

  3. I'd be terrified to bike on Lawyers if they put a Jersey barrier between the road and bike lane, much less a paint strip. Predict an average of one cyclist splatted per month.

    Lawyers is the only local road where one can count on no speed trap. It's just too dangerous to pull somebody over.

  4. Lawyers road is really, really dangerous. I lived along that stretch for many years, and there were plenty of accidents caused by people driving too fast and bad visibility for those turning onto the road (it's very curvy, and you frequently can't see far enough in either direction to determine if there are cars coming). I have even seen plenty of cars upside down along this stretch, especially near the large Catholic church where there is a very steep curve that people are always taking much too fast. I would never ride a bike along lawyers road, and I wouldn't allow my kids to do it, either. I'm all for people getting on their bicycles and so forth, but this particular road just isn't safe!

  5. This follows up on the first Anon post above noting the Transportation Advisory Committee's recommendation had been ignored by the RA board.

    At least they got to make a a recommendation.

    As for the Brown's Chapel Rec Center plan (and, yes, Robin, it is a plan), RA's Design Review Board--comprised primarily of architects--hasn't even been consulted about the plan. Yet, the DRB has been active in years long discussions about a tennis bubble there and other indoor tennis options. To some, the public revelation of the joint RCC-RA committee in mid-May was its first knowledge of the planning.

    RA's Board simply runs roughshod over its own codified processes when ever it finds them inconvenient.

  6. Is there any way we can find out who are the eight member of the RA Board who voted in favor of this inane plan? After all, if this is such a great idea for Lawyers Road, we should demand that VDOT do likewise for all the other major roads in Reston like Wiehle, Baron Cameron, South Lakes, etc. so this octet can enjoy in their own neighborhoods the same benefits of a road diet that we who live near Lawyers will

  7. The names of those RA Board members who voted for the road diet will be included in the RA Board meeting minutes. After they are approved at next month's meeting, they will be posted on by Cate Fulkerson, RAs administrator.

    And for future reference, if you love Reston, you need to WATCH the RA Board meetings every month. Let me tell you, it makes for riveting tv. Channel 28 records the meetings and broadcasts them the next day starting at 7 pm. Sometimes they go until 11:30 so you have to record the whole thing. We watch them on Saturdays a little bit at a time. You think RA Board meetings are boring? Oh no, not at all! If you watched last month's meeting you got to see Robin Smyers interrupt Joe Leighton three times with "That's enough!" "Enough!" and "Enough!"
    What terrible things were Joe Leighton saying to deserve this rebuke from the President of the Board? He was saying that our green space should not be used for the indoor recreation center.

  8. Anonymous above: Any chance of getting onto YouTube that footage of Reston's Dear Leader upbraiding Joe Leighton?

  9. Anonymous above:

    You'd have to extract it from Channel 28 which has the digital recording. The camera never left Joe Leighton. He did confirm afterwards that Robin Smyers was speaking to him.

  10. "VDOT apparently plans to make a final decision on the project in the next week."

    This last sentence in your post is, unfortunately, wrong. VDOT made its decision months ago in secret meetings, long before the public hearing charade.

    It will reveal that answer in the next week. In the meantime, we all can guess the outcome.

  11. In PA, where this three lane arrangement abounds, the center turning lane is frequently used for passing, not turning, resulting in many head on collisions when the passers meet the turners in stretches where sight distance is limited. Thus, their nickname "death lanes."

    Given Lawyers many spots with limited sight distance, my prediction: before Cathy faces re-election, someone will die in a Lawyers Road death lane encounter.

  12. The very first posting about the Transportation Advisory Committee's recommendations to the RA against this VDOT proposal raises an interesting point. When readers of this blog have in the past raised criticism of the RA's decisions, I've seen harshly negative reaction in this comment section from some posters to the effect of "why don't you stop bellyaching and join one of the committees so you're part of the solution." Well, what's the point of joining such a committee if the RA will just plow ahead with whatever decision they want to make anyway?

  13. The Convict in Gulag 4June 15, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Considering the proposed changes, they should modify the name from simply "Lawyers Road" to "Personal Injury Lawyers Road", because they will be the true beneficiaries in this arrangement.

  14. To Anonymous 10:17

    I'd be up for a "regime change."

    The RA Board is not acting in the interests of the homeowners on many fronts at the present time. You have to wonder if they don't represent the homeowners, who do they represent?

  15. I just wonder who the heck RA thinks they are. Do any of them LIVE off Lawyers? Well, I do! And this will materially affect my quality of life...and the life of my kids and everyone else's kids who stand up on the edge of Lawyers Road waiting for the school bus before the light of dawn creases the sky. Can I say how much I dislike the imperious attitude of RA?

  16. Anonymous two above:

    "Regime change" -- you mean we get rid of Great Leader Kim Il Hudgins and Dear Leader Kim Jong Smyers?


(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).