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The advances you advocate-- and I advocate -- are not on the historical agenda for at least the next 5 years.

This country and culture are simply in decline at such a rapid and profound rate that that we would do well to look at the UK's likewise spectacular drop in the last century.

Ive never read anything like this by Washcycle before. Im a bit stunned. The level of desperation is clear; and the frustration, too, is evident because no one ever in charge ever gives a reason for most institutional action (or in this case inaction). This defines the iron cage of bureaucracy as opposed to democracy. Moreover, theyre insulated-- so its very very difficult to corner them and have them answer direct questions.

The USA is one of the most rigid ideological societies in the world...and if youre not part of the mainstream you might as well be invisible..ask the black folk who live in Anacostia, where (among many examples) graduation rates are about 1/3!!...

A "bottomless pot of money..." for roads!! I love it! Youre right. BUT WHO CAN YOU CALL TO ACCOUNT FOR THIS INEQUITY? If there is no fulcrum for social change, then you dont live in a democracy my friend.

And bikes? Well...

Also, the W&OD trail is maintained by NVRPA: http://www.nvrpa.org/parks/wod/?pg=contactus.html

As a cross country skier as well as a cyclist and runner, and I will agree that it's nice to have the trails available for skiing when we get a big snow like this. But good ski conditions usually only last a day or two after the storm. In DC we usually see temperatures well above freezing soon after a snow, and pedestrians around here have no understanding of ski trail etiquette and trample the the trails. So I would suggest that it's a good idea to clear the multi-user trails a few days after the snow, because the ski conditions are lousy by that time anyway. One exception - I would advocate for not clearing the C&O towpath, because (1) the most popular section has the parallel CCT as a potential bike route and (2) it would be harder to clear the dirt/gravel surface effectively.

I have just emailed them, after a failed attempt at running in the MVT this morning (the conditions were treacherous!).

I emailed the NPS re the MVT. I don't think it's pushy to have people email the relevant authorities and Dr. Gridlock. I also agree on the importance of being respectful in all communications with the agencies and NPS. Those employees are likely to tune out any long-winded rants and political speeches that don't have much to do with snow removal.

Is the 14th St. Bridge sidewalk/bike lane cleared? I didn't email DDOT since I'm not sure about the condition of that bridge.

Thanks WC...

My note to Ms. Marshall also pointed out that people with mobility disabilities are being effectively shut out of using the MVT facilities, and this point wasn't addressed in her reply.

And to her point about XCskiing, "multi-use trail" shouldn't mean a misguided attempt to accomodate one use (and the pockmarked snow indicates that they aren't anyway) at the expense of everybody else who wants to use the trail.

The temperatures will be in the low to mid 40s for at least the next week, with even the overnight lows staying above freezing, except maybe Thur. and Fri. nights. We're going to have a lot of melting going on next week, thankfully. No matter what the NPS, DDOT and other agencies do, it looks like the trails should be in much better shape by the end of the month.

@Michael H -- I've heard that the 14th St Bridge trail has not been plowed, but that it also hasn't been piled high with road snow, which was my fear. I'm trekking out with camera and mountain bike tomorrow to see if I'll be serving another week in Metro commuting jail.

Quote from someone tonight, "It's like they're treating 100% of the roadways and the sidewalks as a higher priority than 99% of the trail network. That seems improbable." Exactly.

I owe you a beer after reading this.

The snow certainly revealed the true colors of regional DOTs. They talk a lot, with little follow through.

I wish this problem was limited to trails. I went to a friend's home in capitol hill last night and was...I was going to say 'shocked,' but honestly I think the word is 'unsurprised' or maybe 'nonplussed'...to find huge piles of snow along the East Capitol Street Bike Lanes, and cars parked all over them as well.

This city needs to start hearing from area cyclists in significant numbers. It is so frustrating.

The W&OD Trail staff will begin clearing snow during the week of February 22 to speed up the melting process. This is in line with our policies of the past which included leaving snow for cross country skiers and then clearing intersections and plowing deeper accumulations.

When we plow, we won't put the blades right on the pavement but will leave an inch or so which will melt off fairly quickly. If we were to scrape right down to the asphalt, we'd do just as much damage as road plows do on the streets and then the W&OD would have rough, patched sections throughout the year. We don't have the funds to pave the trail more often than every 15 years so it's important to preserve the surface any way we can.

Thanks Paul (NVRPA)...thats probably all we cyclists are asking. A single run with a blade to get the snow down at a level that it is rideable, and can melt away. As it is, we won't be on the CCT or RCP for several weeks.

Paul, thanks. That's good news. And I understand the desire to not damage the trail. But, a commenter above made the point that cross-country skiing is only viable for a day or two. Is that true? Were you still seeing skiers this weekend? When did you last see skiers and if it was a while ago, what is the reason for the gap between skiing and clearing the trail?

Maybe I should clarify my comment about skiing . . I think it would be possible to ski for more than a few days on area trails if walkers would stay out of the ski tracks. When it freezes overnight, tracks set by skiers can stay intact for quite a while. It's hard to say if this would be worthwhile here given the frequency of the snow, but in parts of the country where snow is a regular occurrence, it is common to see signs at trail heads advising walkers/runners to stay out of the ski tracks.

Glad to hear the W&OD will get some attention. Sounds like a good future policy would be to plow half the trail, ASAP; that way, pedestrians would tend not to walk in the other half, preserving ski tracks and benefiting cross-country skiers as well.

Witness the HAPPY cyclists making lemonade out of lemons, outside, on the trail, instead of sitting inside stewing in front of their monitors and whining about how unfair it is that the rest of the world ignores them.


O2, what is your point? Is it that instead of trying to make the world a better place we should all go dancing? Whenever someone makes a valid complaint, and another person can't argue with the merits, they accuse them of whining. Whining, however is usually associated with a childish complaint. Do you think this complaint is childish?

02: I saw the link, and it showed people X-country skiing in, what I assume is PA. That is great for them but
1. Is not relevant to DC, since the conditions are no longer appropriate for skiiing
2. Is not relevant to people trying to get to work.

If cycling or walking is supposed to be a valid mode of transport, then trails should be plowed. Its pretty straightforward.

If only the snow here in DC looked like O2's link. As a native northerner, I would love to ski up the MVT (or even a frozen Potomac) into the city every day. But the daily thaw/freeze cycles here mean that footprints ruin the trail for everyone.

When the snow is riddled with deep frozen pits, a Multi-Use Path becomes unusable by anyone - skiers and bikers can't track a straight line, and walkers and runners risk twisted and sprained ankles.

I think it was two years ago that freezing rain formed a crust over the snow. The trail where people had walked was absolutely treacherous, but I was able to bike, with my studded tires, across the top of the smoother areas to the side at a very respectable pace (much faster than the choked-up parkway). That crust was a very atypical situation, but the footprints are not - the condition of the trails now has happened at least briefly every winter I've been in DC.

To any trail staffers listening - for trails with room off the sides (most of the MVT, much of the W&OD that I've been on; less so for Custis in Arlington), why aren't the trails cleared, leaving the snow covering the grassy areas for skiers to use? Seems like everyone would be better served this way, especially since the snow on the grass lasts longer anyway (the dark pavement causes faster melting).

To clarify: if the temperature stays below freezing (like it does in Polar Bear land), the shape of the footprints doesn't get "set" into the snow and you can easily push through/across them with skis/feet/bike tires. The reason footprints cause such big problems here is the daily freeze-thaw like we've been getting this past week.

O2, I bike for transportation, not for fun. Not trying to be cliché, but the W&OD's closure has effectively prevented me from visiting my elderly grandmother in Fairfax, who lives alone. Roads out there are unsafe, and I simply don't have time for a long trip on on multiple buses. I don't see how some people going skiing in the woods (and nowhere near D.C., it seems) addresses my complaint.

Reading through O2's past comments he's about as close to a real troll as I think this blog has ever had. He shows up, mostly on the weekends, and drops a few anti-cycling comments and then goes on. Unless he actually adds something to the debate, which he hasn't done yet, I think he's best ignored.

If you are thinking of sending a question to Dr. Gridlock's chat, remember that flattery never hurts. Since Robert Thompson took over the column he has dramatically changed the tone, from one that only cared about motorists to one that covers all types of transportation. Thank him for that.

Then mention that 40% of households in DC don't have a car, and the majority of DC residents don't drive to work but use Metro, walk, or bike. And every Metro trip begins or ends with a walking or biking trip. Ask if he knows why the snow removal effort is ignoring the majority of the city's residents?

Called Mont. County about the CCT plowing at 301-495-2595. I would suggest anyone using that trail to at least voice their need for it to be cleared. Even though I was immediately told they have no plans whatsoever to clear the trail in the near future, they certainly won't ever do it unless people start requesting it. Please, please start calling and voice your need for that to change, and leave your name and address with them so it become a record of change.

Left a msg for MoCo and Dr. G. I can't wait until the spring thaw...who's got a shovel in their apartment???

Great post, WC. Was out of town in NYC over the weekend, so I'm just catchiung up on the posts and the comments from the weekend.

In addition to contacting those departments that have so far ignored the condition of the trails, I think it might also be important to praise those jurisdictions that have done something and let them know we appreciate it and are using the facilities now that they are cleared again. I plan on e-mailing someone in Alexandria city government (not sure who yet - will have to cruise the site for appropriate contact information) and thanking them for clearing Four Mile Run trail.

I should also add that the route from Crystal City around the Pentagon on Boundary Dr), then over to the Memorial Bridge is now completely bikeable. I took it this morning, and even the paths on Columbia Island have had the snow completely melt away.

Just spoke with Mike Seibert at NPS about clearing the CCT in DC. He seemed genuinely working on trying to clear the snow - they had been trying to assess damage to their buildings and first working to clear the parking lots effectively. He said they are about to purchase a snowblower that could attach to one of their small tractors, and this would greatly speed up the process of clearing snow and clearing fallen trees from the CCT. At first he did seem to say they were waiting to hear from Montgomery County on whether they were going to clear their section of the CCT, but I tried to explain that any clearing by any jurisdiction regardless of what the other is doing would be beneficial.

Jan I agree with your last statement. A sort of detente can set in where one jurisdiction says without their piece, ours is useless, and then the other says, without their piece ours is useless - so no one does anything. Ironically, I think the MoCo section of the CCT is more useful without the DC section than the other way around, but the DC section is the one that gets cleared.

Perhaps we should take it upon ourselves to shovel the main trails, CCT, W&OD, Custis, MV to Alex.

We'll see how things go with plowing this week and consider changes to our policies. The cross country skiers were out during the first few weeks but I haven't seen too many since (I live near the trail in Loudoun).

I got a report that the trail has been cleared from Ashburn to the west side of Leesburg (almost ten miles) and that the plow will work east today. The going is slow due to the large piles which must be dug out at each road crossing but the warmer weather is making it easier.

I just got an email from Mike Seibert at NPS and they are going to start plowing and clearing the CCT trail in DC today.
Yeah !

Does that mean that Mike Seibert got some positive notion that Montgomery County will be doing some clearing for their part of the CCT?

Paul....will the trail be cleared/plowed just west of Hunter MIll Road...that section is quite covered and always the last to melt anyway...so a plow will speed the process easily by weeks.

While attempting to use the Metropolitan Branch Trail today (2/28), I noticed that the entire trail is obstructed and impassable by 2 giant piles (at least 15 feet) of snow blocking the entire intersection of Fort Totten Dr NE / Brookland Ave NE.

I understand that snow removal has been a monumental task, but this is beyond a failure to remove snow. Snow was clearly deliberately placed IN the roadway completely blocking the trail. There is no way around, over, or through this pile of snow, and that amount of snow will not melt for some time.

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