Los Angeles' new Orange Line opens Oct 29th. Third Rail reported on the line - which is the first Bus Rapid Transit system in LA, but one of the cooler things about it is that it opens with a 14-mile Bikeway. It looks pretty awesome. The bike lanes are separated from an area for pedestrians and that's downright luxurious. And the name "bikeway" is great - it creates the idea that it's transit and not just for recreation. Maybe we'll see something like this along the Dulles corridor rail.
Though it doesn't appear to be mentioned in any of the papers, today when I drove by the CPTT on my way to REI, I noticed that Phase II is done. This section isn't technically a trail, since it's all bike lane, but it's well marked with both paint and signs. While it's narrow in some spots, it's still nicer than just a shoulder. The new section runs along Rhode Island Avenue from Greenbelt Road to Paducah Road, which is just outside the beltway. It also includes some cutaways in the curbs so you don't have to slow down. Phase III, which pushes the trail south to Albion road has already been approved. As mentioned before the rail bed this trail is built on is part of the old Washington to Laurel trolley. It's feasible this trail could someday run from Hyattsville all the way to Beltsville, but phase III is the only expansion approved right now.
It's been 6 years since DC's political elite
gathered together for the Metropolitan Branch Trail ribbon cutting ceremony
and there isn't much to show for it. There's a small stretch of bike lane by Union Station,
a shrub infested stretch along John McCormack Road near
Catholic University (that ends at the trash transfer station) and another short
piece from the Takoma
Campus of Montgomery College that ends abruptly at the DC line. There's
also the piece they built with the New York Avenue Metro station, but it was
open for exactly one day and has sat unused for almost a year.
And there's controversy.
1) In Montgomery County, project planners, after
presenting three designs for public input, recommended an option
that included a bridge over Georgia Avenue and a tunnel under the East-West
highway. But DPWT management rejected it as too expensive and forced them back
to the drawing board for a "no tunnel, no
bridge" option. The new option is not in keeping with the master plan
and threatens to slip the schedule enough that the trail misses the two-year
2) The section of land north of the New York Avenue metro
needed to open that section of trail has been held up by complicated land
The northern tract - owned by Pepco and WMATA (Not CSX as previously reported
here) - was supposed to be given to DDOT. WMATA needed to survey it first,
something they completed in July 2005. In May, DDOT sent a letter to WMATA
asking them to complete the trail, but they have not acted on the letter.
3) Originally the trail was to
pass through Fort Totten Park and over Riggs
road on a trail bridge, but the National Park Service put the kabash on the
bridge because it would have too large an impact on environmental and
historical aspects of the park.
The 50 States Ride was this past Saturday and all things considered, it was a success. I did this ride in 2003 and it was much better this year - mostly due to the weather. The 2003 ride was on Flag day and it was just too hot. Also better were the numerous bike lanes. You can really see the 18 miles the city has added since the bike plan was completed. The only downside was that the "$10 recommended donation" came with something of a hard sell, but I guess WABA's gotta make money. This ride is not an easy one. DC has more hills than you might think, and the stop and go nature of the ride makes the 60 miles feel more like a century. I also would not recommend doing the ride after staying out drinking till 4:00 am.
The National Park Service is studying the prospect of extending the Mt. Vernon Trail north from its current terminus at Roosevelt Island all the way to the American Legion Bridge. At some point later, a connection would be built across the Bridge to Maryland. At this point they've only completed a Feasibility Study but this has identified some limitations created by the Parkway, the Potomac, the steep topography and limited right-of-way - all of which force the trail onto county streets for much of the way. Oh yeah, and the CIA headquarters is right in the way - and you know how they love visitors. NPS next has to decide whether or not to go forward with the project and if so, with which of the feasible alternatives to go. WABA has been pursing this project for years. All in all it's a good project, but it won't be as nice as the Mt. Vernon Trail segments that already exist.
This is not a DC specific subject, but one many riders should be worried about. Apparently, there is more research indicating that riding a bike can lead to impotence. The most concerning quote is this one:
There was a Green Festival at the Washington Convention Center the weekend of September 30th. One of the things it featured was collapsible bikes. They may not be as pretty as a Bianchi, but they can get you around Metro's inane rush hour restrictions.
The craziest bike ride in DC - the 50 States Ride - is this Saturday at 8:00 am. If you ever wanted to bike the entire city in one day, this is your chance. You'll bike in every direction, up hills, double back, and never be more than 5 miles from where you started - even though the course is roughly 60 miles. Metro is your sag wagon. Fun and weird washcycle recommends it. This year they're adding a 13 colonies ride for those who don't want to spend the whole day on DC's glass-infested streets.