Paul Meijer Tulip Garden Dedication on the Met Branch Trail


The Metropolitan Branch Trail has been in development for a long time—since the mid ‘80s. Riding or walking on the trail, it’s easy to forget the three decades of work that it took to bring it to its current (partly) complete state.

This beloved trail is only as successful as it is today because of dedicated individuals pushing the project from vision to reality. Since the beginning, one of the Met Branch Trail’s “super-advocates” has been Paul Meijer. WABA and the Capital Trails Coalition recently honored him with a dedication of the tulip garden near the Rhode Island Ave. Metro station.

The tulip garden was built in November 2014 and pays homage to Paul’s Dutch roots. Last Saturday, we spiffed up the garden, adorned it with a plaque and held a dedication ceremony with Paul’s friends, family and other Met Branch Trail champions.

After a spring of growth, the garden needed a little love before it was photo ready. The WABA Trail Ranger team joined with Friends of Edgewood and Gearin’ Up to remove grass & weeds, and reshape the boxwood into “MBT.” Tulip bulbs remain undisturbed in the soil – ready to flower next spring.

While Paul was unable to attend the ceremony, his children and grandchildren were present and brought back a recording of the event to share with him. Paul was 95 years old and passed away the day after the dedication ceremony.

Many thanks to the DC Trail Rangers, Friends of Edgewood Gearin’ Up Bicycles, and citizen volunteers for cleaning up the tulip garden and trail. Thanks also to the Carlos Rosario School who joined us on the trail (which runs through their “backyard”) and spoke to the importance of the trail to their school community.

Paul’s relentless work over three decades with countless others brought the trail from dream to reality. We owe him our gratitude for his dedication to the Met Branch Trail, and we hope that the garden inspires other super- advocates for projects across the region!

Fairfax County Advocacy Updates

There are a few big projects in Fairfax County that we’re working on this month that you should know about:

The I-66 Trail

Thanks to the hard work of a number of advocates, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is extending the Custis Trail from Dunn Loring to Centreville as part of the Transform I-66 project, but the designs we’ve seen don’t look good. In many sections, the trail is squeezed between the highway and the sound barrier, which limits access and makes for an extremely unpleasant trail experience.

Like this, but without the grass. Doesn’t that look fun?

VDOT needs to hear that this design is not good enough.

The agency is hosting three meetings next week, if you’d like to tell the project managers that the design needs to be improved.

Monday, June 12, 2017
6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session.
Oakton High School Cafeteria
2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session.
Stone Middle School Cafeteria
5500 Sully Park Drive, Centreville, VA 20120

Thursday, June 15, 2017
6-8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session.
Piney Branch Elementary School Cafeteria/Gym
8301 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136

You can find more information about the Transform I-66 project here.

Support Bike Lanes on Rose Hill Drive:

Despite having almost no impact on parking or existing travel lanes, the County has received vocal pushback to proposed bike lanes on Rose Hill Drive.

The comment period is open until June 19, so share your support for bike lanes in Fairfax today: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/rosehillbikelanes2017.htm

Also some good news: Have you seen Fairfax County’s new bike map?

You can obtain a free copy of the print version of this map at a variety of locations around the County, or you can see the online version here.

You can provide feedback, too! If you have input or feedback on the map, give the bike team a call at 703-324-BIKE (2453).

What’s the Status of the Rock Creek Park Trail Reconstruction?

We’re eight months into the reconstruction of Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. In total, this will be a 3.7 mile trail reconstruction, but it’s broken into four segments. Let’s take a look at the status of the project, and what’s on the horizon for this summer and fall.

Beach Drive and Rock Creek Park Trail Reconstruction. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Segment 1 (Shoreham Drive to Tilden Street/Park Road) will be completed mid-late summer. This segment includes a repaved and widened trail alongside Beach Drive and the (slight) widening of the sidewalk within the Zoo tunnel.

Take note- the trail that goes through the Zoo property (that allows trail users to bypass the tunnel) will be reconstructed by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in a subsequent phase. It’s still in bad shape right now, but there are plans in motion to reconstruct that segment.

Immediately following completion of Segment 1, Beach Drive will close from Park Road/Tilden Street NW to Joyce Road NW (immediately south of Military Road NW). Originally planned to be addressed as two separate phases, both segments 2 and 3 will close at the same time so that work can begin concurrently on both.

Just like Segment 1, bike and pedestrian access will be maintained while the road is closed for Segments 2 and 3. And just like Segment 1, it’s important that people biking and walking stay out of the active construction zone.

WABA has been advocating for this project for decades. More than 2500 WABA supporters demanded the rehabilitation get back on track in 2014, and many have fought for years prior to prioritize this project with NPS and other relevant agencies.

DDOT will tackle the trail sections through Rose Park, northwest of Rock Creek (the trail on the Zoo property), a new bridge across Rock Creek near the Zoo, and a trail extension on Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT’s trail construction will start after Federal Highway Administration (FHWA, the lead agency on the Beach Drive segments) is done with their work.

If you want more info, visit the project website: go.nps.gov/beachdrive

Make New York Avenue a Better Place to Bike

Biking along New York Avenue NE is not for the faint of heart. High speeds and no bicycle infrastructure along much of the corridor makes it a loud, scary ride. To address these concerns, DDOT is working on streetscape improvements for the corridor from Florida Ave east to Bladensburg Road NE. And they want your input!

The goal of the New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project is to improve pedestrian and cyclist connections and safety along New York Avenue. DDOT is accepting comments on the concepts until May 17.

Find more info, and take their survey here: newyorkavenueproject.com/


Here’s our take on what’s good, and what can be improved.

What is the scope of the project?

The project includes New York Ave and some of the neighborhoods to the south from Florida Avenue NE east to Bladensburg Road NE.

What improvements are being proposed?

The most exciting part of the study are the proposed concepts in Segment 2. Four concepts are outlined in that segment:

  • Concept 1: Raised cycletrack (2-way protected bike lane) on the north side of NY Ave, with sidewalks on both sides
  • Concept 2: Shared use path on the north side of New York Ave, with a wide sidewalk on the south side
  • Concept 3: Cycletrack on the south side of New York Ave, with a small sidewalk on the north side
  • Concept 4: Sidewalks only, with no bicycle accommodations on NY Ave, with proposed neighborhood routes instead.

Which concept is best for people who bike?

We encourage you to look at each of the concepts to decide for yourself what’s best, but here are some pros and cons to each concept:

Concept 1

  • Pro: Modes are separated, so bicyclists and walkers don’t need to share a sidewalk or trail. This reduces user conflict. Because the cycletrack is on the north side of New York Ave, there would be fewer interruptions by cars turning into businesses and roads on the south side. This means less interactions with cars than concept 3.
  • Con: Bicyclists would need to cross New York Ave to get to the south side of the street. This could be done at signalized intersections (Segment 3 shows what those intersections could look like), but might be less convenient for getting to the businesses and neighborhood streets along the corridor.

Concept 2

  • Pro: Because the trail is on the north side of New York Ave, there would be fewer interruptions by cars turning into businesses and roads on the south side. This means less interactions with cars than concept 3.
  • Con: Having bicyclists mix with pedestrians on a shared use path could mean more interactions (and possibly conflicts) between users, as compared to a sidewalk and cycletrack, like concepts 1 and 3. Bicyclists would need to cross New York Ave to get to the south side of the street. This could be done at signalized intersections, but might be less convenient for getting to the businesses and neighborhoods along the corridor.

Concept 3

  • Pro: Bicyclists would be closer to the businesses and neighborhoods along the corridor, because the cycletrack is on the south side. Bicyclists and pedestrians would be separated, reducing user conflict.
  • Con: The entire roadway would need to be shifted to the north in this concept. That would be incredibly expensive! There would be more exposure to turning cars, as drivers would come off of New York Ave and cross the cycletrack as they turned into the driveways and streets to the south. Segment 3 shows what those crossings could look like.

Concept 4

  • Pro: The neighborhoods south of New York Ave would get bicycle infrastructure. You can see those improvements here.
  • Con: No bicycle accommodations would be added to New York Ave itself. The corridor would remain an unfriendly route for bicyclists.

Give feedback to DDOT before May 17 via this survey: https://www.newyorkavenueproject.com/interactive-survey/

What’s missing?

While DDOT presents some promising concepts for Segment 2, there is much to be desired about the other segments.

Segment 1 Florida Ave to 4th St. NE: On the west end of the project, people walking and biking would reach Florida Ave and possibly the Metropolitan Branch Trail via the unmodified New York Ave Bridge. Unfortunately, this solution all but ignores the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. The proposed plan would encourage bicyclists to use the north side sidewalk of the New York Ave bridge and pedestrians the south. But, these sidewalks are just 5 feet wide between two railings and will not safely handle two-way bicycle traffic or safely mix pedestrians and bicyclists. Furthermore, major changes are needed to the New York and Florida Ave intersection to create safe access to the bridge. In its current configuration, the bridge is not suitable for people on bikes.

How could this segment be improved?

  • It’s not OK to give bicyclists the scraps from the bottom of the barrel. People on bikes need more space on the New York Ave bridge, and if we are encouraged to use the north side, we need a safe way to get there.
  • At the bridge, while the bicyclists get squeezed to a too-small and inaccessible sidewalk, New York Ave widens from 71 feet to 82 feet across and driving lanes lanes widen from 11 feet to 12 and 13 feet with a generous median. Though expensive, this extra road space could be repurposed to widen the sidewalks.

Segment 3 – Montana Ave Intersection: The intersection of New York Ave and Montana Ave NE is tough to navigate by ANY mode, but is especially daunting for those on bike or foot.

How could this segment be improved?

  • Ask DDOT to include more safety improvements into the design for this intersection. DDOT should remove slip lanes, which encourage high speed vehicle turns, widen medians, and reduce the number of lanes entering the circle. While they are nice amenities, public art and green infrastructure are not enough, and do not make bicyclists and pedestrians safer from vehicles.

Segment 3- Bladensburg Road Intersection: The intersection of New York Ave and Bladensburg Rd. NE is dangerous. In fact, it ranks among DDOT’s Top 10 most dangerous intersections in the District based on crash data. The recommendations within the New York Ave Streetscape and Trail Project don’t go nearly far enough to address the safety concerns at that intersection.

How could this segment be improved?

  • DDOT has a list of recommendations generated from Vision Zero site visits. Encourage DDOT to implement those recommendations at this intersection.

 Give feedback to DDOT before May 17 via this survey: https://www.newyorkavenueproject.com/interactive-survey/

What’s the story with the abandoned railroad bridge concept?

After DDOT’s February meeting, they integrated a trail concept that uses two old railroad bridges- one that crosses New York Ave and one that crosses Montana Ave. (You can see that trail in Segment 3.)While this concept has the possibility of providing a car-free route north of New York Ave, the feasibility is unknown, and challenges listed in the segment profile are not promising (private railroad bridge ownership, cost of railroad bridge rehabilitation, etc.).

How could this segment be improved?

  • Encourage DDOT to show another option for bicyclists, in case the old railroad bridge concept isn’t feasible.

How can I give feedback to DDOT?

Take DDOT’s survey (https://www.newyorkavenueproject.com/interactive-survey/) by Wednesday May 17.

If you’d like to share your thoughts with WABA’s advocacy team, you can email us at advocacy@waba.org.

Speak up for a bridge across the Patuxent River!

The Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail (WB&A) is a 12-mile rail trail in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel County. It’s a wonderful trail- except for one critical gap.

The trail has no connection over the Patuxent River. No bridge means the two segments of the trail are totally disconnected. It’s a critical gap that stands in the way of what could be an incredible trail experience.

But, with your help, that could change! Anne Arundel County has proposed a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the river. Please sign the petition to show your support!

Why is the connection important? With the bridge, the trail could connect communities on either side of the river to jobs, retail, parks, amenities, and much more.

Why is this significant, regionally? The WB&A Trail is not a stand-alone project. It’s an important piece of a handful of regional and national trails, including the East Coast Greenway, the American Discovery Trail, and the September 11th National Memorial Trail. It’s also a key spoke of a network being defined by the Capital Trails Coalition, a collaborative effort to connect the regional trail network in the Washington, DC region.

Where are we in the process? Anne Arundel County is considering three alternatives (a no-build alternative and two build alternatives) and accepting public comments. From that point, the county will move into the initial design of the bridge, which will allow the counties to pursue funding to complete the design work and construction.

Patuxent River bicycle and pedestrian bridge- Alternative #2

Patuxent River bicycle and pedestrian bridge- Alternative #3

What are the two build alternatives? There is a northern and a southern option.

Alternative #2 is the northern option. It is the shortest distance and the most direct route. During the initial assessment, the County noted this alternative will have the least negative environmental impact, although the approach to the bridge will be a bit steeper than Alternative #3.

Alternative #3 uses a previously cleared segment on the Anne Arundel County side of the river, and would include building a longer section of trail to approach the bridge. The bridge would cross into Prince George’s County a bit further south than Alternative #2. The County anticipates a larger environmental impact, and would require that easements from an adjacent homeowners’ association be secured. Both of these factors could slow the process down.

How else can I take action? WABA will submit the petition signatures to Anne Arundel County before the deadline, but if you’d like to dive deeper with your comments, you’re welcome to send your thoughts directly to the county, using this form.

When is the deadline for submitting comments? The deadline is April 17.

Did you know? The WB&A Trail is one of WABA’s advocacy priorities. You can learn more about our continuing work on the development of the trail here.

Speak up for Anacostia Park!

National Park Service (NPS) has a management plan for Anacostia Park, 1100+ acres along the banks of the Anacostia River. Do you want to have a bike campus in Anacostia Park, or do you believe there should be better neighborhood access to the park? It’s time to chime in! Share your thoughts with NPS.

Map of Anacostia Park, Alternative 3. Find more maps and details about each alternative here.

NPS is looking for feedback and are accepting comments until March 31. The park includes Poplar Point, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Langston Golf Course, and James Creek Marina.

Here’s how it works:

  • The management plan is a framework that provides guidance to NPS for the next 15-20 years.
  • Different parts of Anacostia Park are managed in certain ways. In some places, there is a skating rink, in other places there are historic lily ponds. So NPS manages those zones in different ways.
  • National Park Service wants your input on what portions of the park should be managed for certain activities. Does the community want to see more organized sports facilities? Do they want large sections of the park to be reserved for wild space and restoration?
  • NPS has developed four alternatives, plus a no-build option. Their preferred choice is Alternative #3, which provides a balance of conservation and recreation, and looks just fine to us.

WABA believes that bicycle access to and through Anacostia Park is an integral part of successful park management.

That’s why we’re encouraging NPS to do the following things:

  • We strongly support the use of bicycles being included in each of the six management zones. Biking should be considered an appropriate use throughout the park.
  • Capital Bikeshare should be included in the Organized Sports and Recreation Zone.
  • Bicycle facilities, like a Bike Campus, should be an appropriate use within the Organized Sports and Recreation Zone.
  • Bicycle facilities and use should be prioritized in the Natural Resource Recreation, Community Activities and Special Events, and Organized Sport and Recreation Zones.
  • Access to Anacostia Park from nearby neighborhoods is hugely important! Currently, there are major physical barriers to park, including Interstate 295. WABA supports the management plan’s attention on park access and connectivity with city neighborhoods.

And while this plan specifically focuses on the management zones, we encourage NPS to consider the following in all management discussions and park policies:

  • Keeping paved trails open for use at all times of day is incredibly important- for many residents in the region, trails are transportation infrastructure, and the hours of operation should be the same as a roadway.
  • Consistent access to bathrooms, trash cans, benches and shade should be a priority.

Do you share our opinion on what should be included in the plan? Share these recommendations, and any additional thoughts, with National Park Service here. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, March 31.

Trail is Integral to Buzzard Point Park Plans

Buzzard Point Park, a two-block section of waterfront at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, will soon become a part of the Anacostia River Trail network.

National Park Service (NPS) is looking for feedback on two concepts for the Buzzard Point Development Concept Site Plan. The agency is looking for your feedback, and the deadline is January 27. Share your thoughts with NPS here.

Concepts for Buzzard Point Park, courtesy of National Park Service.

WABA is pleased to see that the Anacostia Riverwalk (an urban segment of the entire Anacostia River Trail system) was a prominent element of both concepts.

With development plans adding more than a thousand new residents to the neighborhood, increasing non-motorized transportation options is critical to the design of Buzzard Point Park. A connected trail that links into the street network is a vital piece of the park’s design, and we applaud NPS for including the Anacostia Riverwalk as a prominent feature.

Elements of the design concepts that WABA supports:

  • Inclusion of the Anacostia Riverwalk. WABA believes that the trail is a community asset and integration into Buzzard Point Park will enhance both the park and the trail.
  • Trail user separation. Providing the trail and an additional pedestrian promenade separated by landscaping lessens the chance for negative interactions between trail users. WABA supports providing this dedicated space for pedestrians.
  • Width of the trail. WABA appreciates that the width of the trail will be 20 feet and encourage NPS to maintain that width.

Which of these two concepts do you like best? Tell NPS what you think!

Concept 1, courtesy of National Park Service. The trail and pedestrian promenade are within the park.

Concept 2, courtesy of National Park Service. The trail is offshore, elevated over the Anacostia River, while the pedestrian promenade stays on shore.

Concept 1 and 2 both include elements that are essential for successful multi-use trails. This includes suitable width for an urban trail (both concepts have a 20-foot wide trail) and separate space for bicyclists and pedestrians. Both concepts include a pedestrian promenade that is distinct from the trail.

Which of the two concepts do you prefer? Submit your comments to NPS before January 27 at 11:59 pm EST.

(Want more information about the plans for Buzzard Point? You can find additional resources on the project website, here.)

Resounding Regional Support for Trails

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The Announcement Ceremony for the Capital Trails Coalition was held on October 13 (more information here). We were joined by a few fantastic speakers, including Congressman Don Beyer, multiple National Park Service leaders, a representative from REI, and transportation leaders from Maryland and DC who spoke to the importance of coordination and collaboration in the Coalition’s effort to connect the region’s trail network. Here’s a recap:


Beth Porter with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program, who has been an integral part of the Coalition’s creation over the past year.

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Beth Porter, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program, National Park Service

We heard from Deputy Superintendent Blanca Stransky, who welcomed us to the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) and touched on the importance and the heavy use of the Mount Vernon Trail.

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Blanca Stransky, Deputy Superintendent of George Washington Memorial Parkway, National Park Service

She mentioned the challenges that come with that heavy trail use (including speed enforcement, snow removal, overcrowding of the trail, and overall trail safety) and welcomed GWMP’s involvement with the Capital Trails Coalition. According to Stransky, “By us working together, we’ll find solutions to these complex problems, and start planning for future trail users.” We couldn’t agree more!

After the Deputy Superintendent, we were honored to have Congressman Don Beyer come to the podium. Congressman Beyer, who represents Virginia’s 8th District, understands that biking and walking are essential to how Northern Virginians get around.

“We can’t consider biking a secondary mode of transportation. This is now a primary mode of transportation for many, many people in this area.”

-Congressman Don Beyer, Jr.

Congressman Beyer gave a shout out to important trail connections, like from the Mount Vernon Trail to Memorial Bridge. He noted that “…In the past, we’ve invited NPS and WABA to check out the problem spots together. These discussions help people to plan, react and take things to the next level.”

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Congressman Don Beyer, Jr.

We were so pleased to hear the Congressman mention that collaboration, because that’s one key piece of why the Capital Trail Coalition exists. By having all stakeholders visit the gaps in the system, and build consensus about strategies to fill those gaps, we will build a more robust network that will serve the needs of our entire community.

Congressman Beyer also noted that trails are what the residents of Northern Virginia are asking for. In the 2016 Needs Assessment Survey in the Public Spaces Master Plan in Arlington VA, paved, multi-use trails were the most desired outdoor facility, with 87% of respondents indicating that their household has a need for trails! As he notes, those statistics “…speaks to their role as a transportation asset AND community necessities. Walkable, bikeable communities are more livable communities.”

Peter May, Associate Regional Director – Lands and Planning with National Park Service noted that the announcement of the Capital Trails Coalition means “…our work to furthering a regional trail system can jump into high gear.”

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Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands, Planning, and Design for the National Capital Region for the National Park Service

May mentioned the recently completed Paved Trails Study, the regional vision and goals that will strengthen and expand the paved trails system in the National Capital Region. And yet that planning is happening in other jurisdictions, too, and for regional success, collaboration is paramount.

“The only way to establish a truly regional trail network is to work together with local governments and trail partners. And this is where the Coalition is a game-changer. The Coalition can be a cohesive element, bringing us together and providing a forum for planning and sharing resources, coordinating activities to strengthen and expand the trail network throughout the Washington Area.”

-Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands and Planning, National Park Service

We heard from Captain Sara Newman, Director of the Office of Public Health for the National Park Service. She encouraged the Coalition members look at trails and parks in a new role, “one in which they are solutions for many of the social service needs of the American public,” such as preventative chronic disease.

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Captain Sara Newman, DrPH, MCP, Director of Office of Public Health, National Park Service

“…existing parks, trails, and green space in the DC area are the largest healthcare facility that we have.”

-Captain Sara Newman, DrPH, MCP, Director of the Office of Public Health, National Park Service

Matt Liddle from REI told the inception story of REI’s involvement in the Capital Trails Coalition, from funding Trails Symposiums in 2014 and 2015, and seeing how important trails are to the DC region. He announced that REI is investing $500,000 in the project over the next three years, and explained that REI is investing in this way because they know they’re members in this region want this work to be done, and will benefit in both the short and long term.

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Matt Liddle,  Outdoor Programs and Outreach Mid-Atlantic Manager, REI

We heard from two transportation professionals, Charles Glass from Maryland Department of Transportation and Sam Zimbabwe from District Department of Transportation. The message was clear: trails are transportation, and coordination is vital.

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Charles Glass, Assistant Secretary for Policy Analysis & Planning, and Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Access for the state of Maryland at Maryland Department of Transportation

“The District is a key part of this regional puzzle. The Capital Trails Coalition can help us make sure everyone in the DC and region as a whole has access to this incredible resource.”

-Sam Zimbabwe, Acting Chief Project Delivery Officer, District Department of Transportation

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Sam Zimbabwe, Acting Chief Project Delivery Officer, DDOT

Keith Laughlin, President of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), explained that one of the reasons the national trails organization is investing time and energy with the Capital Trails Coalition is because of the demonstration effect:

“What better place than the nation’s capital to demonstrate what this kind of system would look like. The Washington DC region gets over 20 million visitors per year. Imagine if some small percentage of them can experience this trail network and can take those ideas back home and say ‘We want that too.’”

-Keith Laughlin, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

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Keith Laughlin, President of RTC

And the demonstration doesn’t stop at visitors. It also applies to members of Congress who can learn from what is done in the region and implement similar projects in their home districts. (You can find RTC’s coverage of the event here.)

Greg Billing, WABA’s Executive Director provided the closing remarks. He reminded attendees that we have many questions yet to be answered, including how many miles of trails need to be built and what the price tag of the network will be. We don’t know those answers yet, and this is the perfect time to get involved in the process to help shape the vision of the network.

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Greg Billing, Executive Director of WABA


If you represent an organization or agency and would like to be involved with the Capital Trails Coalition, you can find more information here.

For more information, and to sign up for updates, visit www.capitaltrailscoalition.org

Meet the Capital Trails Coalition!

WABA is thrilled to announce an initiative we’ve been hard at work on for the past year.

On Thursday, Oct. 13 we will stand with our partners along the Mount Vernon Trail to announce the creation of the Capital Trails Coalition, a collaboration of public and private organizations, agencies, and citizen volunteers working to advance completion of an interconnected network of multi-use trails for metropolitan Washington, DC.

The Coalition convenes and coordinates among the public and private stakeholders who are critical to accomplishing the vision of an interconnected network.

In addition, the Capital Trails Coalition continually works to identify trail funding, broaden the base of support, and cultivate widespread consensus that a capital trail network is a regional priority.

As more and more people rely on bicycles to get where they’re going, it’s important to ensure that our bike network is connected, easy to use, and easy to navigate.

WABA is proud to serve as a partner in the Capital Trails Coalition. We are committed to the vision of a completed regional trail network and are very, very excited to have such a powerhouse team of agencies, nonprofits and corporate partners to work with.

The Coalition has been meeting regularly since the 2015 Trails Symposium last November and has made tremendous progress, including establishing a steering committee, three working groups, developing governance structures and a graphic identity. We have begun the gritty work of defining the trails system and establishing criteria for inclusion in the network.

But there is a lot to be done! And we are excited to share the news of the Coalition’s formation so that we can begin talking to the public about the trail network and garnering feedback and input.

For more information, and to sign up for updates, visit capitaltrailscoalition.org.

New Connections: Proposed improvements between Capital Crescent and Rock Creek Park Trails

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The southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail. Photo by Kevin Posey.

Last week, I had one of the nicest bike rides of the summer. I cruised blissfully down the Capital Crescent Trail, soaking in the views of the Potomac and enjoying the shady tree cover. But the transition back to the on-street bike network was a harsh one, and my trail euphoria evaporated immediately.

For those of you who have ridden or walked along the Capital Crescent Trail and finished the trip at the southern terminus in Georgetown, you probably relate to the experience.

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The Capital Crescent Trail ends at the dead end of Water St. NW.

The K Street/Water St NW situation is a scary one for bikes. Between the U-turning buses, trucks and vehicles, frustrated rush-hour commuters, lots of back-in parking, and missing sidewalks that force people to walk in the street, there is no clear area for cyclists to position themselves to avoid conflicts. And despite thousands of people using the corridor every day, it remains a mess.

Fortunately, there’s a plan to transform the corridor into something that works for people on bikes and on foot.

The Georgetown Business Improvement District (Georgetown BID) and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are working to provide a better solution for K Street/Water St NW (this is the road beneath the Whitehurst Freeway- it is Water St. on the western end, and turns into K St. at Wisconsin Ave.) between the southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail (near Potomac Boat Club) to Rock Creek Park Trail, just east of 29th St. NW.

With funding through Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Transportation-Land Use Connections Program, the project has taken off. Since January of 2016, Georgetown BID and DDOT have been gathering information and assessing the corridor, as well as reaching out to the public and business owners. They produced the conceptual design for the corridor in June 2016, and WABA and other stakeholders recently received an on-the-ground tour of what the concept plan entails.

Here’s what we learned:

The Capital Crescent Trail is a bicycle superhighway.

  • We all know it, but the numbers back up our instinct: The CCT is a bicycle superhighway. On this year’s peak day (Labor Day), more than 3,700 people rode under the Aqueduct Bridge at the southern end of the Capital Crescent Trail. That’s a boatload of folks on two wheels. In fact, if the Capital Crescent Trail traffic was measured like a road, it would be equivalent to a collector street! We must serve bicyclists better when they enter the on-road network.
    Beneath the Aqueduct Bridge, the Southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail, in Georgetown.

    Beneath the Aqueduct Bridge, the Southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail, in Georgetown.

Things will be A LOT better for bicycling.

  • Riding with car traffic along K/Water Street is not for the faint of heart. But the concept plan includes a two-way protected bike lane on the south side of K/Water Street. By providing protected infrastructure for bicyclists, it’s clear where to ride (away from cars) and allows many more people to access the corridor by bike.
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    Georgetown BID is proposing horse troughs as potential buffers for the protected bike lane in the K St./Water St. Bicycle and Pedestrian Enhancements project.

And it will be a lot better for walking.

  • By providing protected infrastructure for bicyclists, there is a clear directive of where to ride. This will reduce the number of bicyclists within Georgetown Waterfront Park. Many ride through the Park because the on-street traffic is so unpredictable (read: dangerous).
  • The trail adjacent to K/Water Street is a fantastic connector, but is not all the way connected, and some would argue is better suited for pedestrians.
  • Additionally, the concept plan includes widening sidewalks on both sides of the street, meaning more room in front of Malmaison to drink your coffee, more space in front of Gypsy Sally’s to meet your friends before a show, and more room to simply WALK.
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Will Handsfield from Georgetown BID explains the specifics of the concept plan.

But it’s not all about bicyclists and pedestrians.

  • The plan includes other enhancements that will make car traffic flow smoother, too, like the addition of a left turn lane for eastbound cars turning onto Wisconsin Avenue, and reducing the attractive nuisance of free parking spaces at the dead-end of the road, which causes significant traffic congestion.
  • Tour buses will also get a central drop off location on lower Wisconsin Avenue along with locations within a mile of Georgetown where they can reliably park and lay over.
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Looking down to Water St. NW and Georgetown Waterfront Park. Photo by Kevin Posey.

The concept plan is compatible with future long-term plans.

  • If/when the Streetcar makes it to Georgetown, or when additional boathouses are developed near the aqueduct by the National Park Service, the road and lane configuration can change to accommodate it. In the interim, using attractive planters as physical separation for bikes will create a cycling environment unlike anywhere else in the city.

There is an opportunity for a really neat bridge over Rock Creek at the eastern end of the corridor.

  • To connect to Rock Creek Park Trail, bicyclists would still need to squish onto a seven-foot sidewalk below an overpass, shared with pedestrians, and lacking safe sightlines. A temporary scaffolding bridge over Rock Creek where there is already a DDOT freeway overpass could be a temporary solution as NPS and others plan for a permanent bridge at the corridor’s east end. This area is nearly impossible to see from the road, but would be a vital solution for both walkers and bicyclists, and an innovative alternative to the too-narrow sidewalk that currently connects K St. walkers and bikers to the Rock Creek Park Trail.
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    A scaffolding bridge could span Rock Creek, an interim solution to connect the K St/Water St. improvements to the Rock Creek Park Trail.

This isn’t pie in the sky. It’s realistic, and many want to see it implemented.

  • The corridor is included in the 2005 DDOT Bicycle Master Plan, and is some of the lowest hanging fruit at this time.
  • Part of the corridor was also identified by National Park Service as one of 18 priority projects in their recently released Paved Trails Study (It’s project C1.1: Closure of Gap on Water Street NW b/w 30th and 31st St. NW.)
  • The community around this area is clamoring for improvements! The existing conditions are undesirable, and stakeholders from all different interest groups are eager to rally together to support a way forward.
  • This can be a great example of a public/private partnership. MWCOG, Georgetown BID, and DDOT have already shown a remarkable degree of cooperation in developing the concept plan, and the BID (a private entity) has stepped forward to offer various maintenance and implementation support that could make this streetscape the gold standard for a commercial area.

 

Something to note: The improvements in the concept plan relate to a current NPS Environmental Assessment regarding non-motorized boathouses in Georgetown. NPS has five proposed sites for new or refurbished boathouses along the waterfront. The Georgetown Nonmotorized Boathouse Zone Development Plan EA is open for comments until Sept. 30. We encourage you to comment!

We thank DDOT and Georgetown BID for their work on this project, and are excited to be part of the next stage.