Green shirts, pruning shears, good vibes.

Trail rangers in green shirts ride along the Anacostia River Trail with trailers

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!

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.

Support more inclusive park trails!

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. 

Submit your comments

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:

  1. 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.”
  1. 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.

Trail Ambassadors could come to Prince George’s County.

Kids on a trail in the Anacostia Tributary Trails System. Photo Credit: Robert Meyers.

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. 

Support better trails!

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. 

Click here for more information on WABA’s Trail Ranger program in the District of Columbia and here for more information about the Prince George’s County Planning Board’s annual budget process.

Public Meeting for the WB&A Trail Bridge!

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 (rpthom00@aacounty.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.

At Patuxent River Park looking over the gap into Anne Arundel County, MD.

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!

MLK Day of Service: Find a trail cleanup near you!

Join in a Day of Service for Martin Luther King Jr Day on the Capital Trails Network. The Capital Trails Network is a regional network of world-class current and planned trails connecting the region. With 456 miles of trails currently in the Network, there is certain to be something! Our region is connected by its trails, rivers and roads. Your efforts at one trail spot will not only help that trail but the neighbors down the watershed by reducing trash flow or making the trails a more pleasant place to be. World-class means thoughtfully designed but also trash-free, well cared for, and free of invasive plants. Join a local organization (WABA is running one cleanup but there are lots more!) for MLK Day of Service to make our region’s trails and the landscapes they connect better.

Click on the map to find your local trail!

Double-check with event organizers that cleanups are still on! Many events are cancelling due to weather forecast and or lack of government appropriations. We’ll try to keep this page as updated as possible. District of Columbia Pope Branch Park Hosted By: Pope Branch Restoration Alliance and Anacostia Riverkeeper Monday, January 21st 2900 M Place SE 10:00 am – 1:00 pm Status: Confirmed on as of Friday 1/18 Register here Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Hosted By: Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Saturday, January 19th 1550 Anacostia Ave NE 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Status: Cancelled due to government shutdown Register here Anacostia Park Hosted By: Student Conservation Association Monday, January 21st 1900 Anacostia Ave SE 10:00 am – 12:30 pm Status: Cancelled due to government shutdown Register here Metropolitan Branch Trail Hosted By: WABA and Carlos Rosario School Monday, January 21st 514 V St NE 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Status: Postponed due to inclement weather Register here Marvin Gaye Trail Hosted By: Washington Parks & People Monday, January 21st 601 Division Ave NE 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Register by emailing: info@washingtonparks.net Prince George’s County Bladensburg Waterfront Park Hosted By: Friends of Quincy Run, Washington Rowing School, Town of Bladensburg Monday, January 21st 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg MD Status: Confirmed on as of Friday 1/18 9:30 am – 12:30 pm Register here City of Alexandria Belle Haven Park Hosted By: Friends of the Mt Vernon Trail Monday, January 21st 10:00 am – 12:00 pm Register here Arlington County Washington & Old Dominion Milepoint 0 in Shirlington Hosted By: Friends of the W&OD and Trail Patrol Monday, January 21st 10:00 am For more information and to register, please email kmohle@nvrpa.org Montgomery County Sligo Creek Park Hosted By: Montgomery Parks and Friends of Sligo Creek Monday, January 21st 9:00 am – 11:00 am Register here Rock Creek Regional Park Hosted By: Montgomery Parks Monday, January 21st 9:00 am – 11:00 am Register here

See you on the trails!

Know of a cleanup on a trail in the Capital Trails Network that we should add to this roundup? Email Ursula, Trail Ranger Coordinator at trailranger@waba.org.

Prince George’s County Has A New Countywide Trail Plan

Last month, Prince George’s County’s Planning Board adopted a new plan to improve, greatly expand and better care for the county’s network of paved off-street trails. The plan is an important step towards better trails and more options for getting around by bike in the region. Prince George’s County has some of the most popular and well-connected trails in the region. The Anacostia Tributary Trails, the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, and the Henson Creek Trail are fantastic. But those trails only reach a subset of the county and need substantial attention to meet increasing demand. Residents in Largo, Oxon Hill, and Glenarden rightfully want a trail near them that links into a broader network. They want safe, reliable options for getting around without a car, and they see new trails as the obvious choice. These are some of the many issues the new plan tackles.   The Strategic Trails Plan lays out a new vision for what the county’s trail system could and should be. It proposes an interconnected, countywide network of high-quality trails that link parks, major destinations, and neighborhoods. The plan calls for 250 new miles of primary trails and a feeder network of secondary trails to bring convenient trail and park access for 300,000 more county residents. The future network will encourage walking and biking by creating safe, convenient, and connected routes.

Kids riding along a trail on the Anacostia Tributary Trails System in Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County doesn’t currently reward folks who travel by bike with safe, protected, dedicated infrastructure. In fact, in many places, the roads discourage and punish people who get around without a car. But this plan changes that. The vision is a connected county that is easy to navigate by foot and by bike. To achieve that vision, the Department of Parks & Recreation needs to make significant changes to its approach to planning and managing trails. The plan identifies a comprehensive roadmap of strategic investments, policy changes and new programs to support existing trails and develop new ones. The county will need more dedicated funding, additional staff, new partnerships with state and local land stakeholders, and a new, proactive approach to fix trail problems before issues become irreversible. But the payoff—a connected county that encourages active transportation—is more than worth it. There is a lot of work to do, but for the first time, Prince George’s County has a countywide vision and a roadmap to implement it. And WABA, the Capital Trails Coalition, and the broader community of trail advocates are ready to help make it happen! Click here to see the approved network map and read the full plan.

Show up for Biking in Bethesda on Oct 9

Big improvements are in the works for low-stress and safe bicycling in downtown Bethesda. Following public outcry from bicyclists and Georgetown Branch Trail neighbors over the trail’s closure and worsening bicycling conditions in downtown Bethesda, Montgomery County committed to fund and build a core, low-stress bicycle network. On Tuesday, October 9, residents and advocates can finally see plans and give feedback on a slate of protected bike lanes, intersection upgrades, and trail improvements.

RSVP Here

Network map.

With only a few painted bike lanes, several multi-lane road barriers, and increasingly disruptive construction, Bethesda is a challenging place to bike, and a non-starter for parents with kids. The core bike network, pictured above, will significantly improve options for bicyclists of all abilities, correct some of the flagrant deficiencies in the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, and lay the groundwork for other improvements coming later with the completion of the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail. The following projects will be discussed at the meeting: Woodmont Ave. Protected Bike Lanes – a north-south two-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave. to Norfolk Ave. Capital Crescent Surface Trail – a protected bike lane crossing of Wisconsin Ave. on Bethesda Ave. and Willow Ln. This project will rebuild the Bethesda Ave. & Woodmont Ave. intersection into a safe, intuitive, protected intersection. Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway – Parks staff will present three designs for permanent fixes to this high-conflict trail intersection. See the original 12 alternatives here. WABA opposes any plan that restores Little Falls Parkway to four lanes because this would restore the perilous conditions that contributed to a fatality and multiple crashes. Read our letter for the full reasons. Montgomery Ln/Ave Protected Bike Lanes -an east-west two-way protected bike lane from Woodmont Ave to Pearl St. Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel – a new trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave. to seamlessly connect the Purple Line, secure bike parking, and the trail to Silver Spring. Pearl St. Norfolk Ave. and Cheltenham Dr – bike lanes, traffic calming, and intersection improvements. We need you there Continued pressure and support are what make these projects possible. Will you show up to give county staff the support they need to get these projects in the ground? We need your voice to insist on safe streets for people who walk and bike. We need your help to counter those who will be there to insist that moving cars quickly is the only priority. Together, we can reshape Bethesda into a great place for biking and walking.

I’ll Be There!

Don’t Forget Bikes on A New Columbia Pike

Getting from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City by bike is a roundabout and tricky ordeal. As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s Southern Expansion plan, that trip will become a little more direct, but not much better.

New alignment in white. Road to be demolished in yellow.

The Army is working with Arlington County to reroute and build anew, three quarters of a mile of east Columbia Pike to make room for more burial sites. Their preferred plan would create a new 4 lane road with a 10 foot wide sidewalk for biking and walking on the north side. We know we can do better.

Speak Up

This brand new Columbia Pike will be the only bikeable connection across I-395, so it must be great for people on foot and bike. With the Washington Blvd Trail expected to open this fall, new protected bike lanes coming to Pentagon City, and the Cemetery planning a new southern pedestrian entrance, this corridor will be buzzing with activity. A 10 foot shared sidewalk will create continuous conflicts between people biking and walking. Instead, the new Columbia Pike should include separate spaces for all modes: sidewalks for walking, curb-protected bike lanes for bicycling, and driving lanes for cars and buses. This is not too much to ask for a new road, built from scratch. We only get one shot at getting this right.

Ask for something better

For full details on the plan, visit the Southern Expansion project page.