Sunday was the deadline to comment on Vision 2045, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments 25 year transportation plan. I haven't done a good job of reporting on it, which is unfortunate because it's important
People working on bike and pedestrian improvements also want a more visionary goal for bike trails, and pedestrian safety across the region to be sure there are real and safe options available to get around in the future in a way that is more accessible to everyone.
“A successful long-range plan needs to put biking, walking and transit at its core. If we want to achieve our environmental, air quality and sustainability goals as a region, we need to be much more forward-thinking in planning for people who bike and walk,” Katie Harris of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association wrote.
Katie Harris has more to say about it here. She points out that there are 3 bike projects recommended for TA funding - the Palisades-Georgetown Trail feasibility study, improved connections between the Capital Crescent Trail and the C&O Canal Trail, and the Military Road feasibility study. Meanwhile the bike/ped subcommittee has said that the focus on the National Capitol Trail or "Bicycle Beltway" is too limited, and not aspirational enough as the things is mostly built by now. Instead we need to start building a regional trails network (one of which, the Trails Coalition has already defined).
Anyway, I coincidentally stumbled on an article and follow-up letters about COG's early 1990's effort in which they decided on a plan to unify the region's "haphazard collection of unconnected bike trails" into a modern, unified network (Turnham, Stephen. "Giant Network of Bicycle Trails Envisioned". Washington Post. 12/5/1991).
The $61 million plan called for "thousands of miles" from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I should point out that by bike trails, they mean off-street trails and bike lanes. This system would help the DC region "meet the demands of the Clean Air Act and ease congestion". Between 1987 and 1990 the number of bike commuters who ride into downtown DC had increased from 777 to 1242, and about 1000 of them used Metro for part of their commute. [Things have changed]. In DC 226 miles of bike facilities were planned, half on-street and half off - at the time they (reportedly) had 91 miles (??). Anyway, the whole thing was to be built in "10 to 20 years" according to Ron Kirby.
Not everyone was stoked. Someone from Potomac wrote in to call it all a Boondoggle.
The 2,358 bike riders who would be new commuter cyclists would cost more than $25,000 per person, assuming that the estimated $61 million needed for the region's paths does, in fact, produce more cyclists.
But as the Executive Director of COG wrote in a letter that corrected his many errors.
Our recent data show that 1,242 people now bike to work on the main roads into downtown Washington alone. Unfortunately, Mr. Evans inaccurately attributes this amount to the entire region. The total number -- including those commuting in such high-employment areas as Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria -- is substantially higher.
In his defense, the original article is written in a way that it could be easily confused. I couldn't find the 1991 plan online, so I don't know which projects they were planning, but in 2000 the list consisted of
- The MBT
- Anacostia River Trail and Watts Branch Trail rehab
- The Cross County Trail in Fairfax County
- Extension of the Northwest Branch Tail to Olney (Sorry)
- the Monocacy River Greenway from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River in Frederick County (sorry)
- Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Trail in Prince George’s County
And a couple others either farther out, or not for biking.