This is the eleventh project on my 12-item Christmas wish list for DC biking projects.
#11 Rebuilding the Rock Creek Trail
Cost: Depends on what is done
Status: Some projects could start this spring
Probability: That everything that needs to be done will be done - low. That something will be done - high.
Rock Creek Park is one of the nicest parts of DC to bike in...except for the traffic and bumpy trail. There are few areas in DC where biking and transportation policies are more contentious. It would be nice if the Park Service actually ran the area like a... well, park and gave preference to cyclists on the roads outside of rush hour times. But that probably isn't going to happen. Hopefully they can take some effective steps toward improving the safety of bike commuters using Beach Drive. But one thing they can do is redesign and rebuild the Rock Creek Trail.
For starters they need to bring it up to AASHTO standards where possible and repair all of the areas that are buckled or washed out. They need to build a dedicated or cantilevered trail bridge at the south end of Zoo Tunnel. They need to rebuild the trail bridges to eliminate the sharp turns that force cyclists to stop. They need to separate the trail from the road where possible and put in boundaries where not. Where the right of way allows it they should have several trails - one for experienced cyclist, one for novices (like Montgomery County's dual bike plan) and an area for runners. If a trail is made that works, only the most experienced of cyclists will find the road advantageous, and then everyone wins.