Tysons Corner motorists frequently complain about the nightmare of navigating the area’s traffic-congested highways and construction-altered roads.
Imagine trying it on a bicycle.
For whatever hazards exist for bicyclists in Tysons — and there are many — developers and business owners in the area want bicyclists to imagine Tysons as a place to ride, given plans to dramatically urbanize the area and line many of the roads with bike lanes, sidewalks, park benches and the like.
Many of those improvements are a long way off, but the Tour de Tysons Grand Prix bicycle races are coming Sunday. The Tysons Partnership, a group organized by developers, got approval from Fairfax County to close some lanes of traffic on a one-mile loop comprised of Westpark Drive, Westbranch Drive and Jones Branch Drive, just south of the Gannett headquarters and the Dulles Toll Road.
The group plans a day full of races beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m., including those for kids, seniors and experienced riders. Michael Caplin, executive director of the Tysons Partnership, said the purpose of the event was to “celebrate the fact that Tysons is bicycle-friendly” and “to demonstrate alternative modes of transportation to the automobile.”
What with almost no bike lanes, it’s difficult to argue that Tysons Corner — or just “Tysons,” as it is being branded — really is all that friendly to bicyclists at the moment. (BikeWashington.org has a listing of a few decent bike routes.)
But as Caplin points out, there are a lot of changes on the way. In 2006, the county’s board of supervisors approved a comprehensive bicycle initiative and in 2011 it passed a bicycle master plan for Tysons that lays out where the county plans to add miles of signage and lanes for bicycles.
The county also requires developers of new offices, shopping centers and apartment buildings in Tysons to build bicycle parking. Apartment and condominium builders, for instance, need to provide one bike space for every five units and an additional visitor bike space for every 25 units. Most office builders need to build one employee space for every 7,500 square feet of offices plus one visitor space for every 20,000 square feet.
“They are going to be installing bike paths like mad in Tysons,” Caplin said.
There is still space for riders to sign up for Sunday’s races. Caplin said the elite race was fully booked, with 30 participants already registered, but that there was space available in other categories.
And in case the name “Tour de Tysons” didn’t sufficiently bring to mind the world’s most prominent bicycle race, the Tour de France, Caplin said organizers will have French music and French food on hand.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz