Biking to work: Healthy trend causes more collisions

“It’s always been my way to escape, my way to get away.”

Floyd Alvarez has commuted to work on two wheels from McLean to Vienna for ten years, no matter how steady the rain or how cold the temperature.

“Some guys go for therapy. I get on my bike and ride,” he says.

More and more cyclists are following his lead for work and errands, but this healthy trend is leading to an unfortunate increase in collisions between bikes and cars in Fairfax County. A cyclist was killed on Columbia Pike earlier this month.

“It’s very difficult to ride on certain roads. It’s way too busy and traffic travels way too fast,” says one biker.

Fairfax County police report 44 collisions between cars and bikes in 2011 with no fatalities. So far this year there have been 54 collisions and one fatality.

The lack of bike lanes on major roads is a big challenge for cyclists in Fairfax County, unlike in more urban areas like Arlington and D.C.

“I’m not super observant of them to be honest,” says one driver.

“They have just as much right to be on the roadway,” says another driver.

Ellen Holt drives around Vienna, but wishes she didn’t have to.

“Because of this traffic I can’t bike in the town I live in,” says a driver.

There’s also the question of animosity between drivers and cyclists. Alvarez believes both sides share the blame.

“We’re all trying to get somewhere and we all have different ways to get there, but we need to share the road,” he says.