Do you have a favorite trail near your neighborhood? Beauties like the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Metropolitan Branch Trail, Custis Trail, Capital Crescent Trail, and more provide opportunities for a refreshing walk, run, or ride away from traffic. For me as WABA’s Trails Coalition Manger, seeing the joy on someone’s face when they discover a new trail connection never gets old….which is why, together with 7500 WABA members, we’re going to keep improving and expanding our region’s trails in 2023.
We’ve seen the benefits trails bring to our communities. They make it easy to access active transportation options, lead to reduced carbon emissions, and bring support to businesses. And where else is there space for streams of families on cargo bikes, little ones joyfully scootering along, and other folks commuting, exercising, and enjoying time with friends…all at the same time?
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing that could be better than a beloved neighborhood trail: a seamless network of nearly 1,000 miles of wide, smooth, well-maintained trails—connecting every neighborhood across our region— for people of all ages and abilities. While one trail is an opportunity, this trails network? It’s going to be a transformation.
When complete, the Capital Trail Network will connect DC, Virginia, and Maryland with 990 miles of trails for walking, biking, jogging, scooting, and playing. To make it happen, WABA and our partners in the Capital Trails Coalition are organizing to complete connections between trail segments, improve and maintain trails you already know and love, and build new trails:
A wider Washington & Old Dominion trail through Arlington, with space for even more people to enjoy.
A new bike and pedestrian bridge from the Mount Vernon Trail into DC.
A connection between Oxon Run in Prince George’s County to Anacostia Park…leading right into the heart of DC on the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.
Your support for WABA means the Capital Trails Network is becoming a new kind of green highway system, dedicated to bicyclists and pedestrians, making it possible to travel from one corner of our region to the other without a car. Thank you! Now, let’s get these trails built.
Late last year, after more than two years of organizing and work from advocates, Mayor Bowser committed DC to redesigning 3+ miles of Connecticut Ave with continuous, protected bike lanes and advancing the project to the next steps. Next week, we need your help and your voice to get it done right. Read on for details.
Connecticut Avenue is just one of the many campaigns WABA supporters are pushing forward. Join our monthly Low Stress Network Advocate Meetup on Monday, June 27 at 7pm to meet advocates from across the city, share updates on citywide opportunities, and join a work session on a campaign to build a piece of the low stress network near you.
A Tenuous Opportunity On Connecticut Ave – next week, DDOT is finally sharing detailed plans for safety improvements and what will be the longest protected bike lane in DC on Connecticut Ave. But two critical questions remain: Will the lanes stop short of Chevy Chase, DC, leaving this neighborhood and retail corridor cut off from the network? And will the block-by-block design stick to the ambitious vision or cave to demands for preserving parking. Come to UDC to have your say on Wednesday, June 29 at 6pm.
Rock Creek Park Trail opening soon – major sections of the Rock Creek Park Trail are opening south of Calvert Street, around the Zoo tunnel, and across Rock Creek on a new bridge (watch the full presentation). Plus, a new tunnel takes the trail under the Roosevelt Bridge near the Kennedy Center (check it out).
7th Street Open Streets – last month, DC closed a few miles of 7th St. to cars and opened it up to people! And boy did they show up! Check it out!
Things To Do
Good things happen when advocates like you are speaking up for DC’s Low Stress Bike Network. Here are some quick actions to support building parts of the network. Find the most recent actions at waba.org/action.
Safety First on Q And R Streets NW / NE
DC has many north-south protected bike lanes in Ward 2, but the lack of high-quality, east-west routes put people who bike in constant danger. It’s time to put Safety First on Q & R St with continuous, protected bike lanes from Dupont to the Met Branch Trail.
Share Your Big Ideas with the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force
What are your transformative ideas for a bigger, better, more equitable transportation system in DC? Up to $3 billion in federal funding may be coming DC’s way and DC’s Infrastructure Task Force wants to hear your ideas.
Support DDOT’s Plan to Finish the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE
DDOT has a new, thoughtful, & all-around better plan to complete the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE with wide protected bike lanes, orderly school pickup/dropoff, and traffic calming. Sign your support! Take Action
Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!
Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.
Get updates on campaigns across DC and get involved in one near you. Monday, June 27 at 7pm Register on Zoom
Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lanes Design Update
Get the latest on this transformational safety project. Weigh in on the block-by-block design, and help us make the case for continuing the protected bike lanes though Chevy Chase to the Maryland line. Two ways to attend:
When will we say not another? (GGWash) – a troubling look at the horrible impact cars and guns have on children’s lives in DC and why it’s time to stop talking and instead take action.
Step Up Your Advocacy
WABA’s Low Stress Network campaign is powered and lead by community advocates like you. So we have tons of resources to share. Visit waba.org/network for videos of past trainings, helpful how-tos, and more.
Grab a slot at my Advocate Office Hours to dig into an issue, find opportunities to get involved in a campaign, or plot the first steps of your own. Sign up for office hours here.
Please join ANC 4B Commissioners, DDOT Trail planning staff, and members of the Takoma DC community for a walkthrough of the proposed Northern segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail to learn more about options for constructing the segment from Blair Rd to Piney Branch Rd and give feedback.
Meet on Friday, February 11 at 3:30 pm at the intersection of Van Buren and Blair Rd NW. Sponsored by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Evan Yeats (4B01), Erin Palmer (4B02) and Geoff Bromaghim (4B07).
The hosts ask that all who attend be fully vaccinated (boosted if applicable) and wear a mask.
While construction nears completion on the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Fort Totten, and final design nears completion to Takoma, DDOT has begun detailed planning for the half-mile between Blair Rd and Piney Branch Rd on the west side of the rail tracks in Takoma DC. DDOT held a public meeting in December 2021 and wants your feedback on the design concepts presented. The online survey closes on Friday, January 7, 2022.
Two Critical Points for Advocates
On Segment 6: none of the proposed on-street facility types for Whitter or 4th St are sufficient to create a continuous and safe trail experience that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Instead, we propose a new multi-use trail on the south side of Whittier St (using park land and DDOT right of way) and a continuous 2-way protected bike lane along the east curb of 4th St. from Whittier to Cedar St (converting 4th one-way southbound and repurposing existing parking)
On Segment 5: only alternative 3 delivers a manageable slope and a wider trail. The others are quite steep.
View DDOT’s presentation and other meeting materials on the project website, here.
See our detailed comments below. Segments are listed in reverse numerical order (south to north) to highlight the importance of the longest segment in need of most attention.
Segment 6 (Bair Rd to Cedar St)
WABA supports branching the through-running trail from Blair Rd starting at Whittier St, then turning north on 4th St. NW. However, none of the proposed on-street facility types for Whitter or 4th St are sufficient to create a continuous and safe walking and biking trail experience that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Instead, we propose:
A new multi-use trail on the south side of Whittier St (using park land and DDOT right of way),
A continuous 2-way protected bike lane (PBL) along the east curb of 4th St. NW from Whittier to Cedar St (as proposed from Aspen to Cedar and by converting 4th one-way southbound plus repurposing east side vehicle parking between Aspen to Whittier), and
A new traffic signal at Whittier St and Blair Rd to facilitate a safe trail crossing.
Why is a PBL is critical for 4th street?
If the PBL is not continuous, southbound bicyclists must transition from the east side of the street to the general travel lane at a stop-controlled intersection (either Aspen or Butternut). This is not intuitive and drivers will not expect it. Furthermore, less confident riders will not feel safe navigating this transition.
This would eliminate no more than 8-11 legal/safe parking spaces. All west side parking spaces would remain.
This block has 5 homes on the east side and 2 have driveways for off-street parking.
The safety and all-ages usability of a regional trail should be a priority versus residential car parking 1,000 feet from a Metro Station.
At the Cedar/Blair intersection, WABA supports alternative 1 which directs people on bikes to cross Cedar to the west of the pedestrian crosswalk. This locates potential bike and pedestrian conflicts on the widened north side sidewalk rather than the middle of the intersection, where additional conflicts are possible and the potential for injury is higher. If the north side travel lane removal is, for unforeseen traffic reasons, not possible, consider removing the south side travel/parking lane and narrowing the median island to find the needed road width. Widening the north side sidewalk should be a priority for improving the inadequate pedestrian spaces near the Metro and retail corridor.
Segment 5 (343 Cedar Trail)
WABA supports alternative 3 which provides a 12 ft trail and the most gentle slope behind 343 Cedar St. A 12’ trail is preferable here because it will be a popular pedestrian path to the Metro and shops for residents. The additional width allows for more comfort near the tall retaining wall. Most importantly, the gentler 5% grade will be much easier to climb than the 8% grade proposed for alternatives 1 and 2.
Segment 4 (Spring St)
WABA supports alternative 2 with chokers and chicanes. As the vehicle parking and alley access for many Cedar St and Blair Rd buildings, Spring St sees more frequent vehicle use and is a tempting location for illegal parking. Chokers and chicanes will keep vehicle speeds low while discouraging illegal parking that may block sightlines and endanger more vulnerable trail users (like children). This design prioritizes safety for vulnerable road users and trail users while they walk and bike in the shared street.
Segment 3 (Chestnut St)
WABA supports the proposed street design. Vehicle traffic is for the few local addresses only, so a new speed bump and in-street sharrow markings should be sufficient. Additional MBT branded wayfinding signage would also be helpful and should be planned for.
Segment 2 (Ramp to Chestnut St)
WABA is supportive of either alternative 4 or 5. Though all five alternatives have similar slopes and are ADA compliant, the smoother turns of alt 4 and 5 will be easier to navigate by bike. Stairs create potential conflict points between walking and rolling users if they use the ramp simultaneously, but stairs also offer a more convenient path for pedestrians. WABA supports either alt 4 or 5, whichever is more popular with the public.
We also recommend that DDOT explore options and neighborhood interest for a small pocket park with benches at the top of the hill or partner with DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation to explore a recreation use for this public space.
Segment 1 (Piney Branch Rd)
WABA supports Alternative 1 which constructs a new off-street multi-use trail on the south side of Piney Branch Road from the ramp to Eastern Ave. Alternative 2 (2-way protected bike lane) does not provide enough space for a comfortable 2-way protected bike lane and creates a complicated intersection at the bottom of the ramp that requires sharp turns without adequate space. Alternative 1, with appropriate wayfinding signage for southbound trail users, will avoid any confusion about where and how to cross PIney Branch Rd.