Maybe you’ve seen them sporting green shirts, trimming bushes and helping folks with flat tires. Regardless of what they’re doing, the WABA’s Trail Rangers keep our trails nice and usable.
Much of my job happens behind a computer, but this fall I got to experience working as a Trail Ranger firsthand. One day each week, a coworker and I threw on the iconic green shirt and biked around to sweep glass of trails and clean graffiti.
It was a lot of work—but it sure was rewarding. Every shift, enthusiastic folks approached us, wanting to know who we represented. “WABA!” we always shouted, heartwarmed that so many people wanted to pitch in themselves.
Like our trails themselves, the Trail Rangers bring people together. When you see us out on the trail, give us a wave or stop and say hi— we love to chat!
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.
In early April, several federal agencies, including the National Park Service, proposed new regulations for e-bike use on federal lands. Many of our region’s trails are managed by the NPS across the region, and a growing number of people across the region rely on e-bikes for transportation and recreation.
The proposed rule changes offer a clearer definition of e-bikes, and give park Superintendents more discretion to allow or restrict e-bike to meet the varying needs of individual parks. We support these changes, with a couple of reservations listed below.
The proposed rule for the National Park Service:
- Revises 36 CFR 1.4 to add a definition of e-bikes consistent with 15 U.S.C. 2085 and define the three classes of e-bikes.
- Excludes e-bikes from the definition of motor vehicle.
- Allows Superintendents to designate roads and trails that are open to bicycles as open to e-bikes. E-bikes would only be allowed in areas that have been designated by the Superintendent.
- Requires that e-bike riders comply with the laws that apply to bicycle riders.
- Prohibits the possession of an electric bicycle in designated wilderness.
- Allows Superintendents to limit or restrict e-bike use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection and other management activities and objectives.
- Prohibits the throttle-only use of an e-bike in non-motorized areas (i.e., the e-bike rider must be pedaling at all times). Throttle-only power would be allowed in areas open to motor vehicles.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association strongly supports the NPS’ decision to pass order No. 3376 in August 2019. Opening Park Service land to e-bikes increases recreational opportunities for people who may not be able to ride a traditional bike due to physical fitness, age, or ability. E-bikes allow riders to travel farther distances, carry heavier loads (like children), and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions when used as an alternative to gasoline or diesel-powered modes of transportation.
We are in alignment with many of the revisions in the proposed rule, but we would like to see the following amendments:
- Specify that e-bikes are permitted on both paved and unpaved trails: “Consistent with the Secretary’s Order and the Policy Memorandum, the proposed rule would state that e-bikes may be allowed on roads, parking areas, administrative roads and trails (paved and unpaved) that are open to traditional bicycles.”
- Allow for the use of throttle-only bikes or Class 2 e-bikes. Class 2 e-bikes make cycling possible for many individuals who are unable to pedal. These low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycles are equipped with motors that can exclusively propel the bicycle, but cannot provide assistance once the bike reaches 20 mph.
At WABA we believe that the joy and convenience of bicycling should not be limited to the physically and financially privileged. The public has until June 8th to comment on these proposed regulations. We encourage you to support this rulemaking and help improve access for e-bike riders of all abilities around the country.
Visit this page to read the proposed rule or submit your comments here! To make things easy, you can copy and paste our own comments in the comment field. The public comment period closes on June 8th.
Prince George’s County is home to miles of beautiful and well-used paved trails for transportation and recreation. Bladensburg Waterfront Park alone sees more than 1,000 people on an average summer Saturday, and the trails are a great place for walks with friends, training for a 5K or going to the grocery store on a car-free, stress-free corridor.
Prince George’s County is working towards creating and expanding a regional network of world-class trails, and world-class trails networks require consistent field presence to support trails users and address maintenance issues.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), in collaboration with Maryland Milestones/ATHA Inc., proposes an expansion of our current trail maintenance program into Prince George’s County. These trail ambassadors will help maintain the bicycle commuter and recreation routes made up by the Anacostia Tributary Trails (Northwest Branch and Northeast Branch) and Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail. The program is modeled on the success of the Trail Ranger program that has been in operation in the District of Columbia since 2013.
Are you a resident of Prince George’s County? Sign our petition to let the Prince George’s County Planning Board know that you would like to see WABA’s friendly ambassadors on County trails!
This petition will be included in WABA’s written comments to the County Planning Board’s annual budget process. Prince George’s County Planning Board is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), the bi-county agency that administers parks and planning in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland.
Do you know about the bridge across the Patuxent River that will connect the two pieces of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A) Trail?
Well, it’s going to be amazing. AND it’s one step closer to reality!
Anne Arundel County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Department of Recreation & Parks will host a public meeting to discuss the WB&A Trail Bridge at Patuxent River Capital Project.
What: WB&A Trail Bridge Public Meeting (more info)
When: Wednesday, February 13, 6 pm
Where: Two Rivers Community Center/Clubhouse, 1425 Two Rivers Blvd, Odenton, MD 21113
Submit written comments: Email Dawn Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The WB&A Trail has a gorgeous segment in Anne Arundel County, and an equally fantastic portion in Prince George’s County. But the trail is cut apart by a significant barrier—the Patuxent River.
Last year, the project was awarded $4.7M, proving that the bridge was a priority for Maryland. The WB&A Trail has been a WABA priority for decades, and this funding commitment was an important win.
The trail bridge will be located south of Conway Road in Odenton and will connect the two trail segments. And it’s not just about local connectivity—this link will be a component of national trails, like the East Coast Greenway and American Discovery Trail!