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Copenhagen snow removal. Note the difference in quality of the roads vs. the bikelanes.


I agree Dr. Gridlock completely missed the point. Few of us expect immediate snow removal. But it's nuts that many trails important to mobility and commuting, like the CCT in Mont. Co., are never cleared at all by deliberate policy.


Bravo Washcycle!

Excellent, excellent, excellent commentary!!! Im passing this along to friends in the bike advocacy world...

Yes to all. Ped/bike facilities are just not considered in the order of priority, it's not in the plan. And when they are not treated, I have YET to hear any government entity plead lack of funds. Instead we've heard:

"We need to accomodate XCskiers"
"Adjacent owners aren't doing anything, so we won't either"
"We can't find the proper equipment"

Tepid kudos to NVRPA and Arlington Co for their recent efforts to clear some of worst points on the trails. But didn't these efforts smack of being reactive? Like they never had any plans in place to identify equipment, personnel, and protocol to treat these facilities?

I appreciate that they are reacting to our feedback (unlike other entities...), and perhaps Doc Gridlock will consider me an ingrate, but the critical next step is to make a plan for next time that addresses when, where, who, and how they will treat our trails.

...and sidewalks. I'm a bit bikecentric, but we can't forget that the problems are much the same on the sidewalk network.

I agree, Washcycle, Dr. Gridlock missed the main point: we aren't even IN the line. Not even a single half-hearted attempt to plow. Whats more, the sidewalks and trails are used as dumping grounds for snow and debris.

The roads are now so nice that people can go back to driving like idiots, but the sidewalks and trails remain neglected, and so bikers and walkers are placed into the path of speeding cars. Not a good recipe for transportation harmony.

I have also noticed that, since the big snow storms, the traffic HAS been a lot worse. Its only anecdotal, but it is consistent with having more transit and bike users choosing to drive, as I have done.

SJE, I am in the same boat, actually car, as you. I have to drive because the Mount Vernon Trail is still coverednow and ice.

I agree that we shouldn't have equipment, budget and plans for the amount of snow we received, HOWEVER even if this was a more typical amount we'd still be having the same conversation. 3 feet or 3 inches, local jurisdictions simply don't have trail snow removal policies that truly bicycle-friendly cities do. I'm not talking Copenhagen levels either. Minneapolis and Boulder offer great examples.

Thanks for mentioning Minneapolis, so I looked it up:


Anyways, yes, while Robt. Thomson is so much better than the original Dr. Gridlock, likely he doesn't even begin to understand how much he is imprinted with the suburban automobile-centric mobility program.

Because yes, despite repeated questions in this thread, he didn't clue into the fact that jurisdictions don't have snow clearance plans for walkers and bicyclists.

Ironically, a BID that does a good job of keeping sidewalks clean was dumping snow into the roadway today (it's illegal) in a way that endangered cyclists, and at certain crosswalks, pedestrians.

I wrote to them once I got to work (I won't blog about it directly because I was concerned about them doing the right thing going forward, not pointing fingers) and they responded with a policy change and directive within a couple hours. Won't know til tomorrow a.m. when I ride through their area again if they removed the snow from the roadways.

Changing this practice will require advocacy and a constant drumbeat of the message at all levels.

It doesn't help us in the DC area, but all these problems will impact the recommendations on facilities maintenance generally and in the winter specifically in the Baltimore County Western County Pedestrian and Bicycle Access Plan, if it makes you feel any better...

As of now, all the road-based snow clearing has been done several days ago.

Yet the CCT remains unplowed and blocked with fallen trees, and this morning I noticed that many sidewalks on 16th street were not cleared and/or were blocked by huge mounds of snow.

Thus, the issue sof equipment or record snow are red herrings, since the very same equipment used to clear the road must now be free, and its several days later. Washcycle is exactly right: it has not even entered into the consciousness that ped/bike/transit needs to also be cared for.

Chapter on maintenance from the draft Minneapolis bike plan:


This thread reminded me of Michael Dresser's column in yesterday's Sun:


so I sent him my maintenance of way blog entry, and he blogged about it.

I think everyone is being kind of rough on Robert Thomson. There's a big difference between "not getting it" and being "actively unsympathetic to our concerns." Thomson is only somewhat part of the former category. And, what goes unmentioned in this otherwise meticulous WashCycle post, is the fact that snow removal on the roads IS snow removal from bike lanes. After all, we do have a legal right to use the roads, and for many of us bicyclists, the vast majority of our trips take place in a vehicle lane. So when vehicle lanes are plowed, bicycling is enabled.

I really am sorry for those that rely on the CCT, but the truth of the matter is that 90% (just exaggerating to make my point, not a verifiable statistic) of our biking space (the roads) has been cleared.

I really am sorry for those that rely on the CCT, but the truth of the matter is that 90% (just exaggerating to make my point, not a verifiable statistic) of our biking space (the roads) has been cleared

I'd say 97%. DC has roughly 1,000 miles of roads and 30 miles of bike lanes and paths.


While I see your point that bicyclists may/may not have a gripe with Mr. Thomson, and we're discussing this on a bicycle forum, pedestrians are getting just the same shabby treatment, they DON'T have the road as a reasonable alternative, and most of the questions and Dr. Gridlock's disconnect answers applied just as equally to them.

TFAK/Contrarian: we are critical only of Dr. G's failure to understand what we are saying. Our main gripe is with local Govt.

TFAK, I have mentioned that elsewhere - and I admit that I'm not good about treating each post as a unique work, but rather as part of a conversation, which is difficult for those who didn't read or don't remember what I wrote before. Yes, clearing roads is good for cyclists. But that was not done with the intent of helping cyclists, it is a byproduct of helping drivers. The Red Forest may be a great wildlife preserve, but that's doesn't make Chernobyl an environmental success.

Furthermore, there are several places where clearing the road doesn't help cyclists at all, but where the parallel bike facility is a necessary piece. I'm thinking about:

1) The GW Parkway/Mount Vernon Trail
2) The Beltway/the Wilson Bridge ATL
3) I-295/Oxon Cove Trail
4) I-395/Mason Bridge ATL
5) I-66/TR Bridge ATL
6) I-66/Custis Trail
7) I-295/11th Street Bridge ATL
8) S Capitol Street Bridge/Same ATL

And to a lesser degree, you can add S. Washington Blvd and it's sidepath.

I would add clearing the road doesnt help cyclists where snow and other debris from the streets is blocking access to, or the surface of, a bike trail. Second, while it is legal to ride on the streets, it is neither pleasant nor particularly safe to ride on upper 16th St in rush hour, or lower Rock Creek Parkway.

For the record, the Wilson Bridge ATL was cleared out long ago, as I'd posted about previously.

yes Froggie. I know. I'm not ignoring you. Though you did say it was mostly cleared which is different from all cleared (as Miracle Max will tell you). Furthermore, I was listing places where road clearing doesn't help cyclists but where parallel facilities do exist; I was not listing places where trails never got attention after this last storm.

Finally, I don't really know why it was cleared. Was it part of a larger plan or was it a one-off? Will it always be cleared or was this a fluke? Another thing that is lacking in all of this is communication. It would be useful for MNCCP, for example, to post its policy on the Wilson Bridge or for DOT's to post a trail status someplace ("it's a total mess" or "it's open for use") so that bike commuters can plan. And it might even be useful for them to say "We plan to clear this a week from Tuesday" which would at least reduce the anxiety about when the trail will be ready - kind of like NextBus reduces the anxiety about waiting for the bus.

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