Cinder Bed Road Bikeway proposal and its impacts on Amberleigh HOA

Natural surface trail in Newington Conservation Site on Amberleigh HOA property
Natural surface trail in Newington Conservation Site on Amberleigh HOA property. Photo courtesy of Friends of Accotink Creek

Fairfax County is proposing to build a ten-foot wide paved and lit trail, a segment of the Cinder Bed Road Bikeway, located primarily on common forested property in the Amberleigh HOA. It would connect to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station through an area known to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as the Newington Conservation Site, most of which is on the Amberleigh HOA property.

Nature Forward, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, and Friends of Accotink Creek have worked together to document our concerns with this segment of the trail. Nature Forward’s webpage on Cinder Bed has more detailed information (and we have also summarized our perspective below as well).

Decisions for the Amberleigh HOA are coming

Because the proposed path goes through Amberleigh HOA property, a vote will be put out to the HOA homeowners asking if they support granting the right-of-way to Fairfax County to build the bikeway.

Watch the April 19, 2023 Zoom meeting to learn more

On Thursday, April 19, we invited residents of Amberleigh HOA to an online Zoom meeting, hosted by Nature Forward, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, and Friends of Accotink Creek, to discuss this complex problem. If you would like to watch the presentation, please email Renee Grebe:

Our environmental concerns

At Nature Forward, we advocate for walkable, bikeable communities. Given the worsening climate crisis, we must take every action we can to reduce and capture carbon emissions and plan development in urban areas for both climate resiliency and sustainability. 

Skunk cabbage, a plant only growing in wetlands, covers the forest floor in the Newington Conservation Site. Photo courtesy of Friends of Accotink Creek.

However, preserving globally rare habitats and wetlands, as are contained in the Newington Conservation Site, is important for biodiversity and resilience. If fact, the October 2022 Resilient Fairfax plan clearly states: “Adaptive Environments improve the county’s overall resilience to climate impacts by supporting ecosystems’ ability to naturally mitigate risks and provide ecosystem services. When ecosystems are healthy and protected, they are better able to provide critical services that support county-wide resilience. For example, wetlands, thriving stream valley parks, and green infrastructure are able to naturally absorb excess flood waters.” At the global scale, the March 2023 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report identified “reduce conversion of natural ecosystems” as second only to solar power in its potential to mitigate the impacts of coming climate change.

That’s why a project proposal like the Cinder Bed Road Bikeway in Fairfax County is so complex.

We oppose a Cinder Bed Road Bikeway proposal that goes through this special area

In June 2022, after considerable discussions with staff and our partners, Nature Forward opposed the proposed trail alignment through the Newington Conservation Site. This is not a position that we take lightly or have come to easily. The location of active transportation trails must avoid our most valuable natural resources, Unfortunately, this one does not.

We documented our concerns in two different sign-on letters to decision makers:

  • March 2022 letter with concerns regarding process and environmental impacts.
  • July 2022 letter outlining our opposition to this segment, alternative routes via the significant amount of cycling infrastructure that exists today, and the need to maintain what we have for both cycling infrastructure and natural resources. 

Our Nature Forward webpage on Cinder Bed contains additional context as well.

We urge the Amberleigh HOA members to learn more about Cinder Bed Road Bikeway proposal, and reject the easement the county would need to build the paved bikeway across their common forested property.