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Fingers crossed. Not ridden this for quite some time, but the southbound access road this will replace was one of the scariest pieces of high-curbed, zooming-car real estate I ever cycled.

Thanks for the write-up!

I rode this (south-bound) regularly this summer. As Read Scott Martin notes, it can put you near some fast traffic, but the road is so wide that it never really made me cringe. So, for southbound purposes, this'll be a nice plus, but not necessary. On the other hand, this will make a world's worth of difference heading north, to the point that I wonder if it won't attract some new across-the-Wilson-Bridge commuters for Bolling AFB.

The only thing is that the Shared Use Path Level of Service document recommends a minimum 11 foot width, even though the draft AASHTO guide on bicycle facilities still says 10 feet.


You could argue with me about the interpretation. What it says is that the AASHTO recommendations are fine, but higher use situations support wider widths.

Here's what it says exactly:

The findings of this study provide strong support for the standard trail width guidance provided in the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities .(2) Trails having 2.4-m (8.0-ft) width, which AASHTO recommends only in "rare instances," were found to have poor LOS, except at very low volumes or with user mixes that included few pedestrians and runners. The findings of this research support AASHTO's minimum "recommended paved width for a two-directional shared-use path of [3.0 m] ten feet." [8]

The study found that widths of 3.4–4.6 m (11.0–15.0 ft) provide improved LOS for higher volumes and more balanced user mixes than narrower widths. This is consistent with AASHTO recommendations that "under certain conditions it may be necessary or desirable to increase the width of a shared-use path to 3.8 m (12.0 ft) or even to 4.3 m (14.0 ft), due to substantial use by bicycles, joggers, skaters and pedestrians, ...." [9] Trails of 3.4–4.6 m (11.0–15.0 ft) are wide enough to operate as three-lane paths. The increased passing capacity provided by a trail that operates as three lanes improves LOS and increases the trail's ability to absorb higher volumes and more diverse mode splits without severely degrading service.

Any idea whether this is--or would logically become--the Potomac Heritage Trail alignment? I've asked Potomac Heritage Trail Association for a map, but most website on that trail are all talk.

South Capitol Street trail is key to motivating a bridge over I-295 in MD to connect Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Oxon Run bridge, which you obviously are thinking about with the link to Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I am thinking that the Potomac Heritage Trail might provide the bureaucratic logic to get MD and DC to keep eachother in the loop, as well as a third voice paying attention.

Good strategy.

I had assumed that the PHT would follow the Mt. Vernon Trail along the VA side of the river . . that might even be the designated route now. I know that the hiking trail from Roosevelt Island to the Am. Legion Bridge is part of the PHT.

Below the head of tide, the trail is on both sides of the river. From Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail, it follows Oxon Hill road as shown in this map of the Prince Georges County section of the Potomac Heritage Trail.

The NPS website provides a crude overview of the Potomac Heritage Trail showing a route through DC. But that map does not show any roads, making the actual alignment impossible to discern. One get the impression that there might be two alignments, one along South Capitol and one along Oxon Run--but that is a wild guess looking at that map.

Jim Hudnall responded to the email to the Potomac Heritage Trail group, and stated:

"The South Capitol Street Trail would become a segment of the PHNST after designation by NPS." I think we can assume that such designation would be forthcoming. Meanwhile, he writes:

"From the entrance to the Anacostia Naval Air Station, the route goes on Firth Sterling, Sumner Place, Martin Luther King Avenue, and Blue Plains Drive to the Oxon Cove Trail. The route could have gone on South Capitol Street and Overlook Avenue to Blue Plains, but that route is not good going northbound because part of Overlook Avenue by Bolling AFB is one-way southbound. It is a shame the route cannot use the trail along the Potomac River, but DOD will never let that happen."

@Washcycle. Do you think maybe its time to add a Potomac Heritage Trail category?

Is the PHT a bike trail? My impression is that it is primarily a hiking trail.

Probably both. The NPS Potomac heritage website shows several cyclists passing a horse. From the Anacostia River to Point Lookout in Maryland, it is mostly an on-road bike trail, with some offroad segments planned. In Prince Georges County, the primary local stakeholder group is the Oxon Hill Bicycle Club, which is pushing PG-DPTW to post signs for the trail from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the Charles County Line.

To follow up on Jim's response - officially, the PHT follows the C&O Canal towpath from DC to Cumberland, and the new (ish) paved multi-user trail from there to Pittsubrgh. All of that is bike-able. The only parts of the route that are primarily for hiking are the trail from Roosevelt Is. to the American Legion Bridge, and the Laurel Highlands Trail.

Any idea when all this is supposed to be complete and bikeable?

Several years. Detailed engineering, a Categorical Exclusion (for environmental impacts), and of course finding funding for construction all have to take place first.

I haven't seen any dates.

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