Candidate Name (Affiliation): Terry Modglin (I)

District: Mason

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? 

Candidate’s Response:

I take Metro trains at least 100 times per year, mostly for work, and Metro buses probably 25 times per year. I advocate for more people to use Metro more frequently. Using public transportation is absolutely key to better air quality and quality of life in general. I had the opportunity to speak with Manager Clark concerning the current conditions for Metro. Safety must be improved. Fare evasion creates a sense of disorder in the system which causes people to avoid using the system. It is a growing disease and must be stopped. The Metro personnel do nothing. DC law does not allow fare evaders to be followed to be cited. There are more Metro and Security Officers in DC now but the law there needs to be changed. I told Manager Clark that some portions of some stations have a stench in certain sections, probably from homeless people spending a lot of time in those areas. But Metro is a wonderful facility in this area and needs to be supported. I have advocated for additional Metro lines in Fairfax County.

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?

Candidate’s Response:

I live on Route 50. Several pedestrians have been killed near my condo building in the last couple of years, usually from an ill-advised dash across the road late at night. In Chicago, my brother, who is an avid cyclist, was hit while riding in a bicycle lane. His collarbone was broken and he was out of work for nearly nine months. Right now it is not safe to ride a bike in our areas. That has to change. Cycling will do a lot to make our people more fit as well.

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?

Candidate’s Response:

I would look closely at the recent Flex Program that is being implemented in Montgomery County, Maryland, which provides pickup for requesting customers at street corners to a rapid transit site. I have advocated and continue to do so for ‘bikeways’ that dedicate a street solely to bikes (except for autos of residents of that street). Those bikeways would lead to Metro stations or Rapid Transit (bus) hubs.

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: Yes.

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?

Candidate’s Response:

Panhandlers are a big safety issue, and an increasing one, on our roads. My understanding is that all Fairfax County can do is to have panhandlers stay on the medians. That is not working well. The state or county has to make that illegal. We can maintain second countdowns for pedestrian traffic without pushing a button – just make the countdowns standard. Lead Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) that give a pedestrian time to walk before the light changes at intersections.

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? 

Candidate’s Response:

Bike lanes and ‘bikeways’ to schools, and security for those bikes at schools.

Families for Safe Streets is a 501(c)(3) organization. This candidate questionnaire is strictly educational and has being shared with all candidates and the public. By law, our organization is strictly prohibited from participating in, or intervening in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

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