Candidate Name (Affiliation): Steve Lee (D)
1. Improving Public Transit
Public transit is the backbone of a sustainable, equitable transportation system and a thriving economy, and Fairfax County has admirable plans to expand its bus rapid transit (BRT) network to ensure fast, frequent, and reliable service for residents. While public transit ridership on some systems has been hit by the pandemic with reduced commute trips due to increased teleworking, transit remains key for essential workers, and for supporting compact, walkable communities.
Do you support increased funding for public transit to address budget shortfalls and make improvements to better serve riders?
Candidate’s Response: Yes.
What is your experience riding public transit? What ideas do you have to improve public transit in Fairfax County?
In the past, I have used public transit to travel to various business engagements and to the airport. While it is a critical transit source, I recognize there are still some improvements that can be made to better serve Mason. As previously stated, I am a proponent of “smart growth”, and so incentivizing more “transit-oriented” development is key. Mason District needs more multi-modal transportation solutions for our residents, and I will be focused on making this a reality. Whether it’s improving our access to the Metro, or making our communities more pedestrian friendly with additional sidewalks and crossings, we can no longer neglect these needs.
2. Active Transportation Funding
The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan – the County’s most significant overhaul of its bicycle, pedestrian, and trails plans – is expected to be finalized this year. The plan’s recommendations address critical safety needs for residents who already walk and bike and also make improvements to allow more residents to walk and bike conveniently and safely for daily needs. Realizing the Plan’s vision will require substantial, dedicated, and consistent funding.
Would you support Fairfax committing dedicated annual funding to support the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, even if that meant potentially delaying road expansion and interchange projects?
Candidate’s Response: Yes.
What is your personal experience dealing with or advocating for pedestrian or bicyclist safety issues?
As a pedestrian, I have dealt with issues of excessive speed on our local roads. I look forward to working with the community to find solutions to this problem, as well as others to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
3. Low-Stress Bike Network
Fairfax County has committed to reducing the amount people have to drive and associated transportation-related carbon emissions. The County’s climate plan calls for meeting a goal of 30% non-auto commuting trips by 2030. To make this shift, the County will need robust, accessible alternatives and bicycling is an ideal, low-cost, carbon-free alternative. But that mode shift requires dedicated infrastructure including an expanded network of trails and comfortable, protected, low-stress bicycle facilities – not just painted bike lanes or sharrows – to make bicycling meaningfully safer, more appealing, and more accessible and often requires roadway redesign that reduces parking and/or vehicle lanes.
Compared to the current prioritization, do you think greater priority should be given to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in the County’s roadway designs?
Candidate’s Response: Yes.
How would you ensure that people of all ages and abilities have robust active transportation access to and along the County’s major and most important thoroughfares and connecting streets?
It starts with having elected officials who understand that the job is about service and actually listening to the community, hearing their concerns, and then working together to take the appropriate actions and find solutions. This is one of the key reasons I’m running, to be a voice for Mason District’s residents who have too often felt shut out or ignored. I will meet with constituents, with advocates, and with organizations like Fairfax Healthy Communities who are helping to shape these policies to ensure that all are included. In this particular case, access (and safety!) for pedestrians and bicyclists must be a priority if we are truly serious about following through on our commitment to the environment, to our community’s health, and to our obligation to the next generation to preserve this planet.
4. Safe Streets for All
On May 10, 2022, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed the Safe Streets for All Program, a comprehensive initiative to address systemic transportation safety issues for people walking, biking, taking transit, and driving. Included in the recommendations is a call for roadway infrastructure changes to slow traffic on our community’s streets. Unfortunately, the County has not yet dedicated staff or funding to begin executing the program. At the same time, Fairfax County experienced a troubling uptick in traffic-related pedestrian fatalities in 2022.
Do you support the full implementation of the Safe Streets for All Program in Fairfax County, including changes to roadway design guidelines and an expanded automated speed enforcement program?
Candidate’s Response: No.
What proven traffic safety improvement policies, programs, and/or technologies would you like to see implemented in your district and throughout the County? Given the lack of clarity around who has the legal and budgetary authority to make roadway safety improvements stemming from state ownership of County roads, what steps would you propose to ensure that these roadway safety improvements are implemented?
We need more traffic calming measures to improve safety on our roads. Adding speed bumps at pedestrian crossings, building roundabouts and traffic circles, and improving our walking and bike routes are all proven methods of improving safety, and we should fully commit to protecting the safety of residents throughout Fairfax county.
To ensure these improvements are implemented, I suggest working with state authorities to advocate for the necessary funding and support. Building strong partnerships between local and state officials can help ensure that roadway safety improvements are prioritized and funded accordingly. Additionally, conducting public education campaigns and raising awareness of the importance of roadway safety can help build public support for these measures.
5. Safe Routes to School
Trips to and from schools are among the best opportunities to reduce car trips in Fairfax County. A robust Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program can play a critical role in encouraging more families to walk and bicycle to school, which has been shown to increase confidence and sense of independence among children while also reducing pickup/dropoff vehicle congestion and associated carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the County’s SRTS program includes just one dedicated staff position for a public school system that serves 185,000 students.
Would you support expanding the Safe Routes to School program, including additional staff capacity, to get more kids to walk and bike to school?
Candidate’s Response: Yes.
What other policies or budget items will you pursue to upgrade transportation infrastructure so kids can safely walk and bike to school?
Virginia continues to lack reliable, long-term, dedicated funding for transportation, both for construction and maintenance, and so I would be a strong advocate with our General Assembly and federal delegations in asking them to provide Fairfax County with the funding we desperately need to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. As we seek to provide safe transportation for kids to walk and bike, as Mason Supervisor, I will advocate for building more sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks: This infrastructure makes it safer and easier for kids to walk or bike to school, reducing the need for them to rely on motor vehicles for transportation.
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