Memorial Circle Safety Improvement project seems to have hit a dead-end


Not so much anymore

The partial closure of Arlington Memorial Bridge had me thinking about NPS's project to reduce conflicts at Memorial Circle. Though there was a meeting in 2015, it seems that's where it ended unfortunately. Which is too bad because Memorial Circle has so much room for improvement. 

The really frustrating thing is that NPS has the bones of a pretty good plan, and they've had it for a long time. It was in their 1990 Paved Trails plan. Back they they planned to grade separate most of the trail crossing with an underpass. And extend a trail north from the circle to the Roosevelt Bridge. And that new trail - between the Parkway and Arlington Blvd - would connect to the MVT two more times on the north side of Columbia Island. Another trail would connect to the LBJ grove. They were also going to realign the lane of Washington Blvd that goes under the bridge. None of that happened. 

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Memorial Circle from the 1990 Paved Trails Plan

Still, back in 2014 they announced they were going back to the drawing board.

The National Park Service (NPS) is starting a Transportation Plan and Environmental Assessment (plan/EA) for the Memorial Circle area of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (the park). The purpose of the plan is to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway, and roadway users and to increase overall visitor safety, while maintaining the memorial character of the area and improving mobility for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.

They held a design charrette in February of 2015 to discuss possible concepts and then posted those drawings in March. And then....nothing. They were supposed to perform and Alternatives Refinement and then an Analysis of Environmental Impacts of
Alternatives in the latter part of 2015. In early 2016 there was to be a Public Review of the Plan/Environmental Assessment and then an NPS decision by the end of the year. None of that happen. The project has just been able to linger in no man's land ever since. There isn't even a project schedule or a map. Making matters worse, the paved trails plan doesn't include any suggestions because it just cites the Memorial Circle plan that NPS was to be working on. 

So I guess this is where we are. That 1990 plan looks better and better. 

Capital Crescent Trail plaza ribbon cutting Nov 3


Montgomery Parks, Montgomery County, The Montgomery Parks Foundation and the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) will name a new park plaza on the Capital Crescent Trail after the late Neal Potter, former Montgomery County Executive and six-term member of the County Council on November 3, 2018 at 10 a.m.

The public is welcome to attend!

The plaza is located at River Road on the Capital Crescent Trail, in the open space adjacent to the bridge.

Potter is known as one of the architects of the modern Montgomery County for his leadership in tax policy, land-use planning, and transportation. The "Neal Potter Plaza at the Capital Crescent Trail" will also honor the late David Burwell, co-founder of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the late Lee Wick Dennison, an avid trail user whose generous donation to the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail helped support the construction of the plaza.

A path leading from River Road to the plaza serves as a new entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail. The plaza will feature benches, two stone sitting walls, a pergola, trees, lawn areas, bike racks and a repair station.  A three-panel kiosk will be installed with information about Potter, Burwell and Dennison as well as a map and historic photographs.


For the first time ever, I noticed that their are railroad tracks embedded in Landy Lane next to the CCT.

Detours at Arlington Memorial Bridge have begun


On Monday morning the Arlington Memorial Bridge renovation project hit the road closure portion of its work and as a result the downstream sidewalk is now closed for a year. 

The six-lane bridge will be narrowed down to three lanes by 4 a.m. Monday as crews get to work on the meat of a $227 million renovation project for the 86-year-old span across the Potomac River.

Prep work has been underway for several months with a staging area set up adjacent to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Mount Vernon Trail near the bridge.  

The detour for cyclists is on the map at the top. But I suspect many trail users will use the billygoat path instead.  We'll see if there are any crashes as a result.

Keep an eye out for directional signage as the construction work may necessitate sporadic changes in the walk and bike lane locations. Access points for both pedestrians and cyclists will be available from the Mount Vernon Trail, Metro, or Arlington National Cemetery from Virginia. 

The project began in August and MVT users have already seen impacts to the trail area. 

Cyclists and pedestrians on the Mount Vernon Trail may also experience delays during this process. While the trail won’t close, the equipment will be passing over the trail and workers onsite will be directing traffic on the trail.

In exchange cyclists aren't getting much. The new bridge will be the same as the old one.

The bridge’s sidewalks show de-lamination and spalling of the concrete surface, and displacement of the granite curbs. Aluminum structures have already been placed across sections of the bridge’s sidewalks to protect pedestrians from falling at deteriorated areas.

Since no bike facilities will be added, the only thing of relevance to cyclists are the sidewalks. There, the rehabilitation is going to consist of removing and replacing the sidewalks with exposed aggregate finish to  match the existing exposed aggregate finish in texture and color. Personally, I don't care for aggregate finish. I think it makes for a rough and, when wet, slippery ride. I would have preferred dividing the sidewalk into two parts, with an asphalt section for cyclists, but that's not happening. 

Community Meeting for Seminary Road Complete Streets Project Postponed

From an email:
A community meeting to share concepts for potential changes to improve Seminary Road for all users, originally scheduled for Thursday, October 18, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., has been postponed until a later date to be determined.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has recently notified the City that Transurban, the I-395 Express Lanes concessionaire, is proposing to evaluate the current use of the Seminary Road high-occupant vehicle-only (HOV) ramp and to consider potential operational changes at the ramp for express lane/high-occupancy toll (HOT) traffic. 
Prior to this new information, staff had performed a traffic study which it used to develop concepts and materials in advance of the Seminary Road community meeting. Those materials will be posted on the project website by Thursday.
However, based on this new information, staff believes it is appropriate to postpone the community meeting until staff can fully evaluate any analysis or proposal by Transurban. Transurban has informed the City that it is beginning a traffic data collection effort in October to inform its proposed analysis. The City intends to closely monitor this effort so that it can actively participate in the process and data-gathering methodology. The City’s Seminary Road project team will also update the existing Seminary Road analysis once any new information comes available. 
As soon as the Seminary Road project team can update its analysis, a new meeting time and location will be announced. Staff will also update the project website as new information comes available.
Seminary Road is a key corridor in the City of Alexandria’s transportation network. The Vision Zero Action PlanPedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, and Safe Routes to School Plan Program recommendations all identify potential safety and mobility improvements for Seminary Road. The City's Complete Streets Policy recommends that staff use repaving as an opportunity to consider and incorporate changes to enhance the safety and convenience of all users.

Getting Around Washington By Bicycle, 1982

On DDOT's website, I stumbled across this pamphlet from 1982 "Getting Around Washington By Bicycle" That's from before I moved here, so I was interested to see what stood out.  There's quite a lot

Bike routes

There's a list of "bikeways," but they're not what we would call bikeways today, they're more like signed bike routes. Some are on sidewalks and others are just wide curb lanes. Rhode Island and 13th Street NW are listed, but they doesn't even have sharrows, just signs that say that bicyclists can use the full lane DURING RUSH HOUR. 11th St SE has bike lanes from East Capitol to the 11th Street bridge, but I remember when bike lanes were put in during the early '00s so they must've been removed at some point in between. 


There are several pages showing how to cross bridges. Interestingly, the map predates any TR Bridge connections on the Virginia side, so the bridge can only be used to access TR Island or to get a view of the River. There is still no Virginia connection to the downstream sidewalk. (There are notes on the map on the VA ends of the sidewalks, but I can't read them). It also doesn't show the upstream side of the Sousa Bridge as usable, and says that a connection to the East Capital Street Bridge's downstream east side is forthcoming (It wasn't and still isn't). 


Bike shops.

In the section for bike rentals, bikes are priced by how many speeds they had. It was a different time. 


There is a strong vehicular cycling influence in this pamphlet. Hazardous storm grates are listed as a hazard instead of...y'know...being replaced. "Wear white at night" they advise in the pre-safety vest days. There were still railroad tracks on Water Street and bikes were banned on O and P because of the streetcar tracks (so there was some history there when DDOT tried to ban them on H Street). 


Back in the 70's and 80's the Youth Hostel organization was probably the area's most influential bike advocacy organization, so they get listed here. I don't know when they stopped being one.  The WABA office was on Eye Street. LAB was still LAW. 


The Washington City Paper wrote about this years ago and noticed that it said "The majority of bicyclist/motor vehicle accidents in the District are caused by bicyclists." Yikes. Michael Jackson, now with MDOT, was the bicycle coordinator then. I wonder if he regrets that. 

Upgrades to Little Falls Parkway/CCT intersection

As I wrote about last month, Montgomery County had a meeting to present options for improving the safety of the Little Falls Parkway/CCT. The effort stems from the death of 81 year old Ned Gaylin at the intersection two years ago. 

Since the fatal crash the county has temporarily reduced Little Falls Parkway to two lanes, one in each direction at the trail crossing.

The county said with the temporary measures in place there were two driver crashes and one bicycle crash over a year’s time; There were six driver and six bicycle crashes over a year’s period when the parkway had four lanes — two in each direction — the condition that existed at the time of Gaylin’s fatal crash on Oct. 16, 2016.

From the 10 designs outlined over the summer, they've dropped down to just three - a trail overpass, reduced lanes with a speed table and a reoriented trail with a traffic light. I personally think the overpass is the best - now that the underpass has been eliminated - but it's also the most expensive. It will cost $4M and Alternatives A and B cost $800k and $1.5M respectively.

I like the overpass (Alternative C) best because it makes the trail safest (there's no red light to run) and fastest.



The addition of trails along LFP and Hillandale Road is nice addition too.

The permanent road diet option (Alternative A) is my second favorite, because it leaves the trail much as it is, with some added safety benefits. 


And then at the bottom is rerouting the trail to Arlington Road (Alternative B) and to cross the street. It will cause the most delay for trail users (more than 30 seconds on average), and make the trail into a sidepath for a half block. There's a nice buffer, so safety doesn't concern me, but it just won't be like riding through the woods. In that option the part of the CCT just north of LFP will be torn our and replanted.


Parks staff is seeking public input on the preferred concept plan.  Visit the Open Town Hall web page and leave your comment on the preferred concept plan.

I wonder how much the underpass would have cost. I know some people don't like the underpasses but underpasses are a key piece of the Davis, CA system and one that works really well. In fact Davis, CA is a great example of an American answer to the question of how do you get more people to bike. They built a bike system that results in high ridership and high safety without emulating Copenhagen or Amsterdam.  

[There's another report on the meeting here. It doesn't have any new information, but do I like the use of a photo of hiking boots for the "hiker/biker" trail graphic]

Speaking of the Little Falls Parkway I just recently learned that the Little Falls Parkway Trail was pretty controversial at the time it was proposed. Like Purple Line level controversial. And that it was originally to be longer.

In 1978, the county had to rebuild a sewer line under the park between Massachusetts Ave and MacArthur Boulevard and decided that as part of the project it would build a hiker/biker trail on top, and then extend that all the way to Bethesda. They had done similar sewer/trail combinations along Rock Creek and the NW Branch and planned to add trails to most stream valleys. The park had been bought for the parkway, but in 1970 they dropped the part of the parkway south of Massachusetts and the trail seemed like a nice way to allow it to serve as a transportation corridor without extending the road. 

Proponents expected it to become one of the county's most popular bike commuter and recreation routes - which might have happened had it been built all the way to Bradley and had the Capital Crescent Trail not been built. 

Little falls

Trail plan in 1979

Residents of Westmoreland Woods sued because they didn't want the trail - and the tree cutting it would require - near their homes and they thought it would bring crime; and in 1979 the Court ordered the County to do an environmental impact report. A subsequent NCPC report noted that since 3600 trees would be cut for the sewer, only 5 additional trees would be removed for the trail; that the trail would result in little noise beyond the occasional police motor scooter or conversations among trail users; that there is no evidence of an uptick in crime associated with trails; and that the closest house would be 40 feet from the trail. A lawsuit in 1978 had also delayed the project north of Massachusetts while planners considered the impact of the trail on the park and neighbors. 

One Westmoreland Woods resident was quoted as saying "Being against a bicycle trail is like being against God and motherhood...but I'm still against it."

In November of 1979 the judge dissolved the injunction against building the trail south of Massachusetts. Work was to start that fall or the next spring, but I couldn't find any reports on when it was actually done. Nor could I find why the trail north of Massachusetts was never built as shown in the 1979 plan above. 

BTW, in 1983, during a fight over a trail from Rock Creek to Weymouth that residents of Parkside Condominiums were apparently able to block, trail advocates noted that after the Little Falls Trail was built, crime went down. 


"Residents of Westmoreland Woods Fight Proposed Bike Trail, Sewer", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, July 27, 1978

"Court Delays Construction on Bicycle Path", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, Aug 3, 1978

"Montgomery Bike Trail Heading for Approval", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, June 7, 1979

"Judge Okays Stalled Section of Little Falls Bike Trail", The Washington Post, November 29, 1979


Nice Bridge might lose bike/ped lane due to high cost/low ridership estimates


WTOP recently reported, as was mentioned here in January,  that the Maryland Transportation Authority is considering removing the bike/ped path from the new Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, which is the last bridge over the Potomac River before it gets to the Chesapeake. Cyclists would be allowed to/required to cross in the regular travel lanes. Pedestrians would have no way to cross. 

The smaller bridge would be cheaper, a factor which could be more important after Maryland cut tolls a few years ago.

The savings would be $60 million. 

The originally selected alternative announced in 2012 promised two lanes for cars each way and a 10-foot-wide path that would have provided enough room for people walking or biking in opposite directions, and was estimated to cost close to $1 billion. 

In a draft memo, the planners raise significant concerns about safety if people riding bikes are told to share a lane with speeding cars on the bridge, especially given the steep slopes needed to create enough room for large ships to pass underneath the bridge.

“High speed differences mean more fatal crashes,” a summary said. “Only ‘fit and fearless’ bicyclists will dare use it.”

Even if people do use it, growing traffic beyond the millions of vehicles that use the bridge each year now could lead to restrictions on when people can bike across the bridge, restricting commuter options even as new trails are added on either side, the report said.

If there is no separate path, it also means people will not be able to walk across the bridge between Maryland and Virginia.

MDTA estimates about 50 people would bike across the bridge each day, and no one would walk.

The estimates are based on numbers from the Wilson Bridge's bike path.

In 2013 the trip count on the Wilson Bridge helped inform the MDTA forecast for bike trips on the Nice Bridge. Mr. Patton asked if there could be a spike on the week-ends. Mr. Mr. [Will] Pines [of MDTA] replied that there numbers were an average. There was a question about the hours bikes are allowed on the Hatem Bridge; apparently it is daylight and non-rush hours. Bike usage on the Hatem Bridge is very low. The bike community has also been dodging the tolls by hopping onto the sidewalk.

Currently many bicyclists on the Hatem Bridge dodge the toll. Counts on the Hatem are very low, just one or two riders per month. Mr. Brenner replied that if the accommodation were better, the counts would likely be higher. They are much higher on the Wilson Bridge, and the majority of the people are pedestrian, often tourists. Mr. Patton said that focusing on commuters was the wrong way to look at it. Done right, a bicycle and pedestrian path on a bridge can be a major attraction. It’s mistaken to look at ridership under very hostile conditions as indicative of what ridership might be under better conditions.

At the May TBP meeting people wondered if collecting tolls from cyclists was more trouble than it's worth. Or if maybe a coin basket/honor system would work better.

If there are 50 cyclists per day, every day for the 100 year life of the bridge, then that would mean they were spending about $32 per bike crossing. If 50 is right. As noted by one person at the May meeting, Virginia is planning to extend the Dahlgren Rail Trail to the bridge and Charles County wants to extend bike facilities to it as well, meaning the numbers could go up. In a typical exchange, the MDTA representative defending the choice of dropping the path says that the Dahlgren expansion is not in VDOT's 6-year plan, but bike advocates say it's not in the 6 year plan, because there is no bridge right now to extend the trail to. Chicken meet egg. Mr Pines went on:

Of the 6,000 people who watched the video, only 10% offered comments. Only 15 comments came from people living within 10 miles of the bridge, and some of those were opposed to the bike path, calling it a waste of money.

Based on the low local interest, MDTA does not think that a bike path will be a major commuter facility or economic driver. The people who will actually use this bridge don’t care about a bike path.

The TPB and Charles County leaders would like to see the path included. 

With a planned 100-year lifespan of a replacement bridge, this represents a once-in-100-years opportunity to provide such a bicycle and pedestrian connection, with important community and economic benefits. Including a bicycle and pedestrian connection would also be consistent with the TPB’s adopted Complete Streets policy. Additionally, the Charles County Commissioners’ letter asked for consideration of keeping and repurposing the existing Harry Nice Bridge as a bicycle and pedestrian facility.

That's the first I've heard of the idea of reusing the old bridge for bikes and peds. Such a facility would likely be better. 

Unfortunately the successful opening of the Hatem Bridge is working against cyclists here

Working with the bike community successfully on lane sharing on the Hatem Bridge has opened the door to using that approach on the Nice Bridge.

But the TPB doesn't see it as a perfect match.

The Hatem seems relatively flat, and so might offer a different bicycling experience than the Nice Bridge. Bicyclists might have trouble maintaining high speeds on the uphill portion of the Nice Bridge.

if a bicyclist is going 7 mph on the uphill portion, because that’s as fast as they can go, cars are going to be catching up with them a lot faster than if they’re riding 20 mph on the flat. It makes for a very different riding experience. If there is a dedicated path the bicyclist can safely stop to rest, or enjoy the view. Having cars on your tail is a very different experience from a dedicated path. 

And then there's this exchange 

Mr. Pines noted that the uphill grade on the Tour de France is as much as 11%, versus 4% on the Nice Bridge. Mr. [John] Wetmore [of Perils for Pedestrians] asked if the expected user would be a world-class bicyclist athlete, or the family rider

Mr. Wetmore added that on the Hatem the bicycle community’s preferred option would be to add a cantilevered shared use path. The preferred option is a separated facility that would provide 24 hour access to all levels and abilities.


The full Transportation Planning Board is scheduled to discuss pushing for the path at a meeting Oct. 17.

In other news, the date for choosing a design has slipped from 2018 to late 2019, but the opening day is still listed as 2023, so we'll see. 

Cyclists and pedestrians need safe accommodations near construction


Back in 2014, the District adopted the final rules to implement the provisions of the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013, which required construction projects to treat blocking a bike lane or sidewalk in the same way as blocking a traffic lane - meaning they need a permit and a safe accommodation plan. This is serious business because according to a 2015 paper

Almost 17% of work zone fatalities involved a pedestrian or bicyclist. The authors’ evaluation of 219 ped/bike crashes that occurred in Wisconsin work zones over a 10 year period indicates that many of the crashes involve workers on foot,
discontinuous or inadequate physical accommodations, or construction‐related visual obstructions.

Approximately 120 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in work zones in the United States each year. Approximately 2% of all pedestrian/bicyclist deaths occurred in work zones....about 93% involved pedestrians and the remaining 7% involved bicyclists.

At the time of adoption they wrote:

The new rules require any construction site that blocks a sidewalk or bicycle lane to provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists through or around the work zone. This safe route must be equal to the accommodation that was blocked, such as providing a bike lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic if a protected bike lane is blocked. Also, the safe pedestrian or bicycle route must be free of obstructions and surface hazards such as loose gravel or uneven surfaces, and must follow the path of the original pedestrian or bicycle route as closely as is practical. 

You can see the actual regulations here

The routing for a safe accommodation for bicyclists shall replicate the safety level of the existing bicycle route, such as by providing, a route that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic if a protected bicycle lane is blocked or providing a route that is for the exclusive use by bicyclists if a bicycle lane is blocked whenever feasible; a route which is free of obstructions and surface hazards, such as construction equipment, construction materials, debris, holes, mud, loose gravel, milled surfaces and uneven pavement; and a route that does not share a covered or open walkway with pedestrians.

Needless to say, they don't always hit the mark  - or they let the "whenever feasible" part do a lot of work. The intersection of L and 15th Streets NW in downtown D.C., where the massive demolition of the old Washington Post building resulted in the closure of a sidewalk and protected bike lane and traffic lane, stands out in people's mind, even as that project has wound down and the protected bike lanes restored (which are very nice last I saw). In 2016, WAMU reported

Safety advocates contend the regulations are largely ignored across the city until people speak up and complain, garnering the attention of DDOT’s permit inspectors.

DDOT officials say the charges are not true. On the contrary, they say a team of nearly 30 inspectors and supervisors aggressively police construction sites and work with contractors and real estate developers to foster compliance.

And from what I've seen on Twitter and my own riding around, things have not gotten much better. DDOT has created a tool to manage work zones and all the complexities involved in permitting and safe accommodations that tries to take safety and mobility into account. It also considers LOS. This powerpoint presentation might give you some more information on it, but it doesn't seem to be in the right format, and it clearly is meant to be presented only. 

Anyway, things got so bad that WABA put a post last year on how to report construction-related bike lane blockages

Any time construction closes a protected bike lane, trail or sidewalk, the contractor must provide a route through the construction area that equivalent to the level of protection of what is being closed (subject to a few exceptions covered below). 

image from

They also put information about it in the new bike law guide

In a 2017 presentation on pedestrian and bicycle safe accommodation, DDOT stated that

  1. Maintaining the existing or creating an equivalent bike lane is most convenient and always preferred when feasible and safe, as determined by DDOT
  2. Merging a separated bike lane into a travel lane is the least preferred alternative other than closing a bike lane all together. It will be approved as a last resort only if
    1. There is insufficient space on the roadway to maintain the existing bike facility and
    2. travel and parking cannot be reduced further without creating an unsafe roadway condition as determined by DDOT

That presentation  calls the L Street plan "a case study in trade offs and limitations", but also notes that they try to enforce standard designs based on the situation such as a mid-block cycletrack or contraflow lane closure (page 13).

This is good practice according to the 2015 study mentioned above.  They recommend standardized designs that are considered early in the process, not as some tack-on at the end. This can allow for temporary easements if needed, or the construction of a sidewalk on the other side of the street before construction instead of after. They also recommend

  • Use of more traffic control devices like plastic fencing
  • Low-cost surfacing re‐usable textured plastic panels that can be placed over grass or dirt for a limited duration.
  • In some cases the ped/bike impacts of  construction can be reduced by using newer, minimally invasive, construction techniques
  • Creative use of alternatives - like modifying an alley to be a bicycle detour. 
  • Use of temporary bicycle and pedestrian lighting

I feel like the 2013 law is good (Thanks Will!) and the regulations are good. But somewhere in the safe accommodation plan or enforcement area we're coming up a bit short. But if we want to achieve VisionZero, then we're going to need to figure out where - and how to fix it. 

Montgomery County opens new utility corridor trail in North Potomac

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6 mile Trail open now

Last Friday, Montgomery County held a ribbon cutting on a new natural surface trail on a Pepco Right-of-Way in the North Potomac area.

The new six-mile, natural surface, multi-use trail will run along Pepco’s transmission right-of-way and will connect the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreational Park. The trail is being created and maintained through a collaboration between Montgomery Parks, Pepco and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE). Pepco is the landowner of the trail and served as a design and permitting partner; Montgomery Parks will complete construction and patrol the trail, and MORE will maintain it.

The trail, and a 13 mile paved trail in the same corridor to be built later, is a pilot project between PEPCO and the county, and the only one required in the PEPCO/Exelon merger agreement but the county is hoping to build others.  The county promises that "This is the first of several projects slated for Pepco land." So, we'll see. Because utility corridor trails like this one - or better yet paved ones - represent the next big opportunity in city-to-city bike routes.

This trail looks like a nice recreation facility and might even be a way for some to bike around, but I think the paved trail - should that happen, has the better potential for utility - especially since it will connect to Tuckerman Lane, Montgomery Mall and the Soccer Plex.


Despite the unobtrusive nature of it - especially when compared to the power lines - it managed to draw a protester.

Also attending the event was Danija Kreslins who lives along the trail. She was holding a sign that said the trail passed too close to her home — within 30 feet of her house and within 4 feet of the property line.

People on the trail could easily see into her windows, she said.

Ben Armstrong, Pepco’s senior manager of regional communications, said the company would work with Montgomery Parks to move the trail.

Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson said the board had received any complaints about the trail. Abutting property owners often have concerns about new trails. He noted that Maine senator Edmund Muskie, who ran for president in 1968, testified against the Capital Crescent Trail.

“We’ll work through any concerns people have,” Anderson said.

Still, mostly people are happy about it.

Officials broke ground on the trail in January and residents have been traversing the path for months. But attendees of the Friday ribbon cutting took a “ceremonial first ride” to mark the official completion following a brief ceremony. Many people rode bikes, while others walked and admired what Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett called a “major success.”

The thing is, the 13 mile trail below only scratches the surface. From the Soccer Plex, the line extends west all the way to Dickerson, MD along the Potomac and a not far from the C&O Canal Trail. And there's another corridor that connects to the midpoint of this trail, it goes east all the way to Burtonsville. 

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Full 13 mile trail

From the Archives: COG's 1991 Bicycle Plan

Sunday was the deadline to comment on Vision 2045, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments 25 year transportation plan. I haven't done a good job of reporting on it, which is unfortunate because it's important

People working on bike and pedestrian improvements also want a more visionary goal for bike trails, and pedestrian safety across the region to be sure there are real and safe options available to get around in the future in a way that is more accessible to everyone.

“A successful long-range plan needs to put biking, walking and transit at its core. If we want to achieve our environmental, air quality and sustainability goals as a region, we need to be much more forward-thinking in planning for people who bike and walk,” Katie Harris of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association wrote.

Katie Harris has more to say about it here. She points out that there are 3 bike projects recommended for TA funding - the Palisades-Georgetown Trail feasibility study, improved connections between the Capital Crescent Trail and the C&O Canal Trail, and the Military Road feasibility study. Meanwhile the bike/ped subcommittee has said that the focus on the National Capitol Trail or "Bicycle Beltway" is too limited, and not aspirational enough as the things is mostly built by now. Instead we need to start building a regional trails network (one of which, the Trails Coalition has already defined). 

image from

Anyway, I coincidentally stumbled on an article and follow-up letters about COG's early 1990's effort in which they decided on a plan to unify the region's "haphazard collection of unconnected bike trails" into a modern, unified network (Turnham, Stephen. "Giant Network of Bicycle Trails Envisioned". Washington Post. 12/5/1991).

The $61 million plan called for "thousands of miles" from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I should point out that by bike trails, they mean off-street trails and bike lanes. This system would help the DC region "meet the demands of the Clean Air Act and ease congestion". Between 1987 and 1990 the number of bike commuters who ride into downtown DC had increased from 777 to 1242, and about 1000 of them used Metro for part of their commute. [Things have changed].  In DC 226 miles of bike facilities were planned, half on-street and half off - at the time they (reportedly) had 91 miles (??). Anyway, the whole thing was to be built in "10 to 20 years" according to Ron Kirby.

Not everyone was stoked. Someone from Potomac wrote in to call it all a Boondoggle

The 2,358 bike riders who would be new commuter cyclists would cost more than $25,000 per person, assuming that the estimated $61 million needed for the region's paths does, in fact, produce more cyclists.

But as the Executive Director of COG wrote in a letter that corrected his many errors.

Our recent data show that 1,242 people now bike to work on the main roads into downtown Washington alone. Unfortunately, Mr. Evans inaccurately attributes this amount to the entire region. The total number -- including those commuting in such high-employment areas as Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria -- is substantially higher. 

In his defense, the original article is written in a way that it could be easily confused. I couldn't find the 1991 plan online, so I don't know which projects they were planning, but in 2000 the list consisted of

  • The MBT
  • Anacostia River Trail and Watts Branch Trail rehab
  • The Cross County Trail in Fairfax County
  • Extension of the Northwest Branch Tail to Olney (Sorry)
  • the Monocacy River Greenway from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River in Frederick County (sorry)
  • Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Trail in Prince George’s County

And a couple others either farther out, or not for biking. 

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