These trails are going to transform our region

Something exciting is growing in the DMV: a world-class trails network that will provide car-free connections between job centers, schools, and neighborhoods across our region. These gorgeous trails are a destination in themselves, creating much-needed outdoor space for exercise and play in addition to transportation.

With more than 10 miles of trails under construction right now, we’re closer than ever to a region where trails are an everyday option for transportation. There are priority trail projects in progress across our region:

  • The I-66 Trail in Fairfax County will improve transportation options, bicycle connectivity and safety throughout the I-66 corridor 
  • A new section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, won by decades of advocacy, will fill an important gap between Brookland and Fort Totten
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation has broken ground on the Capital Crescent Trail extension (a part of The Purple Line project). When complete, this project will be transformative for the region—finally completing the vision of a Capital Crescent Trail directly linking downtown Silver Spring to Bethesda to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. 

Despite this good progress, there are over 300 miles of planned trails that haven’t seen a shovel yet. We can change that in 2021  by making sure our elected officials know that trails are important to us.

Learn more about WABA’s work to build trails with the Capital Trails Coalition and the Coalition’s priority projects here.

The Papal Visit might affect your bike ride

The Pope is visiting DC next week, and everyone’s bracing for transportation chaos. Your bike ride may well be affected. DDOT has a set of maps at, but there’s not much useful information for bicyclists. Pertinent points are:
  • Roads that are closed to cars are also closed to bicyclists. Note that this also means you won’t be able to walk your bike through the restricted areas.
  • Bikeshare stations inside closed area will be inaccessible, but there will be Bikeshare corrals at major papal events.
  • Don’t lock your bike to temporary security barriers.
  • Expect crowds of people on foot, including lots of folks from out of town, so be polite and cautious.
Here’s a day-by-day breakdown:


Starting Tuesday and continuing through Thursday, Masschussetts Ave NW around the Observatory will be closed. DDOT’s recommended detours to Wisconsin or Calvert & Cathedral are probably your best bet.Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.00.19 AM


Avoid the area around the White House and Washington Monument entirely if you can.
  • You will definitely not be able to connect from the 15th St NW protected bike lane to the Pennsylvania Ave lanes.
  • To get across town East-West, your best bet is probably the L & M St Protected Bike Lanes, though there may also be intermittent closures on M Street at 17th during the morning.
  • North-South, you’ll be able to reach the Memorial Bridge from the West side of the Lincoln Memorial, although 23rd St is not a particularly bike friendly street.
  • Also North-South, the 14th St Bridge will be open, but the popular commuter route up 15th SW to Jefferson St SW will be closed. The lowest-stress detour is probably to take Maine Ave to the 4th St SW bike lanes.
Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.00.38 AM
Major connections will also be closed around Catholic University and in the Brookland and Edgewood neighborhoods. Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.01.26 AM Most notably:
  • The section the Met Branch Trail along John McCormack drive from the Brookland Metro to the Taylor St Bridge will be closed. For through traffic on the trail, we recommend Taylor -> 10th St NE -> Franklin. Note that Franklin St will have extra car traffic as it is serving as the auto detour for Michigan Ave. Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.49.25 AM
  • If you normally ride on Michigan and Irving to cross from Northeast into Northwest, your lowest stress detour option is to take the Met Branch trail south to R St and head west.
  • the 4th St bike lane from Franklin to Michigan will be inaccessible.


The streets around the Capitol Building will be closed Thursday morning. Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.04.13 AM
  • You will not be able to ride through the Capitol grounds to connect from Capitol Hill to the Pennsylvania Ave protected bike lanes.
  • Though Massachusetts Ave will be open, Columbus Circle around Union Station will probably be pretty chaotic.
  • The lowest stress connection from Capitol Hill to downtown will be the bike lanes on 4th & 6th NE and K St through NoMa and Mt Vernon Triangle.
There will also be closures on Thursday around the National Portrait Gallery and St. Patrick’s Church. Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.03.38 AM
  • If you normally ride in the bike lanes on G St NW, your best detour is to use the bike lanes on E St NW instead.
  • If you normally ride in the 9th or 10th St NW bike lanes, your best detour is to use the bike lanes on 11th St NW.

Let’s Talk About The Met Branch Trail

  Support the Met Branch Trail at the upcoming public meeting on March 21st.Photo credit: DDOT DC
Here’s your chance to discuss the Met Branch Trail with DDOT— The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B will hold a joint meeting on the preliminary design of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Brookland to Takoma Park on Saturday, March 21. You can attend the meeting to show your support for the trail. Representatives from DDOT will present the trail alignment and solicit feedback from the general public. The Metropolitan Branch Trail is a planned eight-mile, paved bicycle and pedestrian trail from Union Station in Ward 6 to Silver Spring, Md. The portion between Union Station and Brookland in Ward 5 is very popular, averaging more than 500 users a day. Design is underway for the section that’s north of Brookland. The new section, as currently proposed, will run along the railroad tracks from Bates Road to the Ft. Totten Metro station, then along First Place, Riggs Road, First Street, all in Northeast, and Blair Road, NW. Comments on the preliminary design, as well as requests for more information should be directed to Jim Sebastian at WABA will host an informal happy hour on Thursday, March 19th from 6 pm to 8 pm at Simple Bar in Brightwood. We want to connect you with other trail supporters, answer your questions so that you can feel prepared for the public meeting. WABA advocacy staff will be available at the happy hour to discuss the Met Branch Trail project or other advocacy priorities. We hope you can attend both the happy hour and trail open house. Metropolitan Branch Trail Open House Saturday, March 21, 2015, 1 pm to 4 pm Metropolitan Police Department – Fourth District Station 6001 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20011 Google Map directions WABA Met Branch Trail Happy Hour Thursday, March 19, 2015, 6 pm to 8 pm Simple Bar 5828 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011 Google Map directions RSVP for the WABA Happy Hour Please help us show strong community support for completion of the northern section of the Met Branch Trail.

Funding for the Met Branch Trail Should Be Restored in Montgomery County’s Budget

Yesterday, representatives of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation provided the County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee with an update on its work on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Work on the MBT been stalled for some time due to disputes over its crossing at Georgia Avenue and proposed routing that would have the trail pass by the historic Silver Spring train station. The train station is controlled by the nonprofit Montgomery Preservation Inc. Despite protestations on its website that MPI is not stalling the project, MCDOT’s update yesterday showed that MPI is in fact preventing the project’s moving forward. Delays are attributable to MPI’s unwillingness to accommodate the master plan trail alignment, which led Montgomery County’s county executive to propose delaying the funding of the project for a year. Fortunately, all three members of the T&E Committee—Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, and Hans Riemer—as well as Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who is not on T&E Committee but represents the District that houses the MBT and the train station, expressed strong support for the trail as well as frustration at MPI’s unwillingness to support proposed solutions. Specifically, because the train station is historically designated, changes must be approved by the Maryland Historic Trust.  However, only MPI—due to its control of the station–can make that submission and initiate the review. According to MCDOT, it refuses to do. As a result, the county is being blocked from building a trail that will serve hundreds of thousands of regional residents, is included in the County master plan, and was previously supported by MPI. During the hearing, councilmembers expressed frustration with the situation and asked the county attorney to review the situation. They hope that agreements with the county that have, over the years, given MPI control of the property and funding  will provide a way to move forward. This impasse is unfortunate, but we appreciate the strong showing of support from the T&E Committee and Councilmember Ervin. We firmly believe that the county should assert its rights and authority over the project and the process and continue to move forward with its design, which respects both the community’s need and demand for the trail and the historic significance of the train station. MCDOT’s Edgar Gonzalez stated that the delays stemmed from past action and that within two months the county should be prepared to move forward, with or without Montgomery Preservation Inc. Therefore, this year’s delay in funding for the trail is unjustified. For all the complexity of MPI’s involvement and the historic land use issues surrounding the Silver Spring train station, the County’s representatives are in agreement that it is time to move forward with the Met Branch Trail. MCDOT says it will have a way to do so within two months. Montgomery County should budget accordingly by restoring funding for the trail in this year’s budget. Watch a video of the Transportation and Environment Committee discussing the MBT (the discussion runs from 12:25 to 33:00) here. Photo via Wikimedia Commons