I believe D.C. has to create a connected, physically separated trail from Union Station through Silver Spring. Just like D.C. needs a connected, protected bike lane network. It has to be safe enough for parents to let their young bike-riding children ride the whole distance. We need the designs for the trail’s northernmost D.C. section to encourage more people to use the trail, instead of just accommodating ride-on-highway-in-spandex crazies like me.
Please fill out the MBT survey if you at all interact with D.C.‘s bike network or if your loved ones do. Due tonight!
I live above the Met Branch Trail at Rhode Island Avenue NE. I watch every day: most trail users turn back around when the path hits 8th Street NE, where D.C. forces them to share the road with heavy construction vehicles and aggressive school parents in cars doing pick-up/drop-off. About 1.5 miles to the South, I see every day that many trail users turn back around at the steep M Street NE ramp in NoMA. In short, most people are not comfortable sharing space with cars, ever.
A similar thing happens at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center in Brookland: many people drive their cars to Turkey Thicket, park on the street, and walk laps of the paved loop around the soccer fields. I’ve asked folks a few times why they didn’t just walk from home if they live nearby? They’ve all said some variation of “I don’t feel safe walking on the sidewalk from my home to this Rec Center, even though I can physically do so.” Note that Turkey Thicket sits on Michigan Avenue NE, where several serious crashes happen per year with pedestrians or cyclists, and where several cars per year are driven so irresponsibly that they catapult onto the sidewalk and into adjacent houses. The 480-meter loop at Turkey Thicket is boring and frequently busy with other walkers and runners, but many people feel comfortable walking on it — physically separated from cars.
Protected bike lanes aren’t for “avid cyclists.” Safe-for-all bike/walk designs are for the vast majority of people who believe correctly that “drivers are crazy.” The majority of people, surveys show, are interested in so-called “active transportation” methods like (e-)bikes and getting more physically active with walking/running. But, those people will not change their car-focused ways unless we re-design the roads to encourage them and to make them feel safe.
Please fill out the MBT survey if you at all interact with D.C.’s bike network or if your loved ones do. Due tonight!