The Prince William County Department of Transportation is looking for input from bike riders in the community to help develop a Bicycle Skill Level Map. The purpose of the map is assist bicyclists – commuters and recreational – in finding routes in the county that best fit their skill level. Cyclists can help by assigning skill levels that are needed to ride the bike routes by using an online survey. The survey will run from now until Oct. 31.
Adam Weigel, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, said the department has a preliminary map drawn out with skill levels assigned to various routes. However, they are hoping cyclists can help refine the map. “We’ve got this initial map based on measurable data – speed and volume of traffic and what facilities are there. Our efforts now are to try to get feedback from the public to see if those initial ratings make sense based on their experience,” Weigel said. (Click to take the survey.
On the map, roads are color-coded based on rider skill level – beginner, occasional, frequent and confident/experienced. A beginning rider would need a path separated from the road to mostly avoid traffic. An occasional rider would be comfortable in neighborhoods with slower traffic, but would be willing to use bike lanes. Frequent riders, with above average skill, would be comfortable using bicycle lanes and shoulders. Confident and experienced cyclists would be comfortable navigating routes with heavy traffic and difficult intersections on roads in dense urban settings, Weigel said.
The department wants to hear from riders of all skill levels in order to draw a better map, Weigel said. “We’re not trying to build a map only for these higher skilled riders. We don’t want to tell people that they need to reach a certain skill level to ride all these routes. This is an inventory for us so that we can think about how we can improve our infrastructure. The goal is to make it as suitable for as many skill levels as we possibly can.”
Once the input from people who use the routes is gathered, staff will go out and evaluate the bicycle route and then present that information to the Prince William County Trails and Blueways Council, an advisory council established by the Board of County Supervisors to provide input for the development of trails and blueways in the county. The council will aid the County in determining modifications to the map.
At the end of the initial survey period, Prince William County will post changes to the map on its website. They will continue to accept public feedback on an ad-hoc basis.