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Would it be more effective to just have a tiny 1 foot grass median between the two "trails"?

Otherwise I feel people will just balloon out when walking in a group anyway.

At least that's my experience with wide sidewalks around the area at least.

Won't wider trails just induce more demand?

Drums, I read a good argument against the green strip. In short without it people will take the opportunity to cross back and forth; but they're more likely to do that for good (to avoid a crash) than evil (pass safely)

Why should pedestrians be forced to walk on a grass strip? So, bicyclists can race by? Nonsense, the trail isn't a road. Slow down your bike.

I always thought trail widening would be necessary, and glad to see it starting to be considered. Seems like an unusual and confusing design to have the 8' walking strip on one side though.

@Contrarian, of course it will induce demand! Just like building a trail in the first place induces use, creating a safer and more enjoyable riding experience will attract and allow more people to use the trail. The difference is that the demand is for an activity contributing positively to society, which is kind of the point, right?

Matt - I think you are misunderstanding the design, the grass strip would seperate the directions. The walking strip would still be paved.

As for slowing down - even at a very cycling pace of 10 MPH, the need to pass constantly is an annoyance to riders, to walkers, and possibly a danger. And of course the trail IS a transportation facility - many people use it to commute.

"very modest cycling pace"

Can they make all the road crossings like the one at TR Island -- crosswalk raised to the level of the trail, trail markings continue through the raised roadway portion?

The W&OD and other trails are a type of facility we probably want to have greater usage. So induced demand is a benefit rather than a drawback.

The issue with highways is that induced demand is either ignored or played down.

I can be persuaded on a grass strip. I've not seen very many trails that do have separate walking/biking paths so I'd trust the word of an actual designer or planner.

Widening trails in parks destroys the natural environment near the trails, makes the trails unsightly and adds impermeable surfaces, increasing run-off into the Chesapeake Bay.

This is of little, if any, concern to cycling advocates. However, the damage that widening trails does to parks destroys the frequent contention that cycling helps protect the environment. As a result, trail widening reduces public support for cycling-related expenditures.

The W&Od Trail is a former rail corridor, so the natural environment comes pre-destroyed. But, expanding bike infrastructure does come with some trade offs. We might disagree about what is "unsightly" but runoff is a definite tradeoff. I'd support efforts to reduce or mitigate that. But I don't see how the park - which is mostly a linear trail park- is damaged by making that trail better.

It's possible to use pervious paving, at some cost. If taht can't be done, there is some tradeoff. I seldom see the loss of pervious syrface mentioned wrt to road widenings, libraries, shopping centers, etc. The best approach would be a pervious surface tax, which the projet would have to absorb.

However the claim that widening the W&OD would ruin the W&OD linear park makes me suspect Mr.Berne is not very familiar with it.

So now soccer moms can cluelessly walk 6-abreast with their strollers. Oh goody.

The slower walkers should keep right not hogging the left side and faster runners and bikes pass left when the W&OD trail is less crowded.


I rode 27 MPH on the less crowded part of CCT but when I pass a walker or runner I slowed down to 10 MPH which not many cyclist do when I walk or run on CCT.

The W&OD isn't meant to be preserved as wilderness. It's meant to open up what was a railroad corridor to others (not just cyclists btw).

There is an environment there because mother nature takes over what isn't being used though.

But widening the trail wouldn't be free of environmental impact. No one really argues that it won't be. So we should measure what those impacts would be and mitigate them. Doing that isn't hard.

As both a biker and a walker, I've had recent good experience with the parallel trail concept and really like the design. I used the bikeshare in Brisbane, Australia recently on part of their extensive network of trails. They use the parallel design and it worked really well in busy weekend use. They used lots of paint so everyone knew where they were supposed to be (bike lanes painted green, checkerboard in mixing zones at trail junctions, numerous pedestrian and cyclist/rollerblader symbols with directional arrows, etc). I also recently took a walk in Newport Beach, CA, along some water in a nature reserve. They also had similar parallel design (though one direction of the bikeway was a sharrow for one-way, slow, car traffic). Not as much paint, but it still worked well in my experience on a weekday morning. As a pedestrian, I was glad to have my own space.

"Widening trails in parks destroys the natural environment near the trails, makes the trails unsightly and adds impermeable surfaces, increasing run-off into the Chesapeake Bay."

How do you feel about the project to make I-66 wider?

In this part of the world bikeshare has gained momentum with 200 bikes being hired out in a day.

I am not in favor of widening I-66. The widening destroys trees and shrubs on the side of the road. The official name of I-66 inside the Beltway is the "Custis Memorial Parkway".

Parkways have trees, shrubs and other vegetation that enhance the driving experience. That is the reason that it is more enjoyable to travel on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Clara Barton Parkway than it is to travel on parts of I-66 that have been widened.

Widening roads and highways reduces traffic congestion for only a short time. Before long, people change their driving patterns and developers construct new buildings near the widened roads because the decreased congestion has decreased travel times.

The resulting increase in traffic again congests the road or highway. Highway users gain nothing, but lose their views of the destroyed trees and shrubs.
Wildlife also loses its habitat.

Widening paved trails has the same effect. The W&OD Regional Park contains meadow areas, which are uncommon in suburbs and cities. These unique natural features provide habitat for pollinators, wildflowers, and wildlife that are rapidly disappearing from Northern Virginia.

The W&OD Railroad had only one set of tracks in the area that the Regional Park now occupies. The wider portions of the W&OD Trail now occupy more space than the railroad ever did.

Any further widening of the W&OD Trail will decrease the further the size of the meadows and other natural areas that once bordered the railroad and now border the W&OD Trail. This will decrease the attractiveness of the Regional Park and will result in a loss of wildlife habitat.

Further, there are no studies that demonstrate that widening a trail increases safety. Widening trails encourage cyclists to increase their speeds. At the same time, widening trails encourage both cyclists and pedestrians to travel side-by-side.

The combination of increased speeding and side-by-side traveling creates conflicts between trail users and increases the severity injuries resulting from accidental collisions. As a result, widening a trail decreases its safety, rather than increasing it.

Parallel paved cycling and pedestrian trails don't work. Speeding cyclists use the pedestrian trail, as it is often less congested than the cycling trail. This creates conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.

"Widening paved trails has the same effect. "

Well no. Bike trails don't cause sprawl or congestion, it does pave over some previously unpaved land. In that sense it is true that widening comes with some negative environmental trade-offs. But if a better trail leads to more transportation by bike (as opposed to by car) those benefits should outweigh the costs. And then there are other benefits to consider as well. You've made a case that there are costs, not that the costs exceed the benefits.

Wider trails are recommended by AASHTO, NACTO and FHWA as ways to improve trail LOS.

Good cycling amenities work, improving overall transportation, benefiting the environment, reducing the need for roads and saves lives.

Proof it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

Thanks for passing this information along, Berne. The NVRPA doesn't mention that the entire stretch of trail from Shirlington to EFC is in a Chesapeake Bay Watershed Resource Protection Area (RPA).

I see that WashCycle is good with that. It replied to you saying:

"Well no. Bike trails don't cause sprawl or congestion, it does pave over some previously unpaved land. In that sense it is true that widening comes with some negative environmental trade-offs. But if a better trail leads to more transportation by bike (as opposed to by car) those benefits should outweigh the costs. And then there are other benefits to consider as well. You've made a case that they're are costs, not that the costs exceed the benefits."

Essentially WashCycle is saying that the environmental degradation of an RPA is fine so long as it's caused by paved trails rather than paved roads. So much for the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

Do you know when this is going to happen? Are there any public hearings scheduled?

P.S. I am an avid biker who lives one block from the intersection of W&OD and Custis Trails.

Pretty sure the CBPA does not ban any new pavement. It is also of course possible to add pervious pavement.

Audrey, I think you'll be better off if you avoid re-characterizing other people's words, but since you did, let me try to restate it since clearly you got confused.

In no way did I claim that "the environmental degradation of an RPA is fine so long as it's caused by paved trails." What I said was that environmental degradation of one type would be ok IF it made possible larger environmental gains elsewhere. My point was that we should be pragmatic rather than dogmatic.

In the real world we have to make all kinds of trade-offs unfortunately. Wind power kills birds, Electric cars require harmful mining. Narrow bike trails lead to more driving. Etc...

So I'm OK with environmental degradation as long as the benefits of that (as we define them together) exceed the costs. Why would a reasonable person support a policy where the costs exceed the benefits? But then, I guess a reasonable person would support the best viable candidate rather than running a quixotic campaign that siphoned votes away from them thereby actually hurting the causes they support. So, there's that.

Not sure who Audrey Clement is, but her narrow-minded view puts her in the corner with the most radical environmentalists who never want to make any progress and just automatically say no to everything. We have enough trouble convincing our government leaders to give us the most basic cycling infrastructure without having to deal with these apocolyptics.

Sort of sad how she tries to validate her views with her pithy claim that she is an avid cyclist. I'd invite her to tag along with me on my commute one morning. Out of 15 miles, only about 1 mile is on a path like the W&OD, and it is *by far* the best and safest stretch of my commute. If she has an open mind, she might get a better perspective on the tradeoffs of building better bike infrastructure.

AC is the Arlington cyclist/politician wannabee who, for instance, complains about the Armed Forces Cycling Classic because it inconveniences her by making her alter her cycling route. So, many grains of salt needed.

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