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I like the way Arlington does things. Too bad they have to struggle with NPS and VDOT.

Part of the reason for the holdup on RCP Trail was NPS requiring an EA. Within the NEPA rules, bicycle projects are generally allowed a "Categorical Exclusion" from the EA/EIS requirement. However NPS requires it anyway. This makes sense if you are talking about Yosemite, Great Falls, or Gettysburg, you don't want paved trails popping up in these wilderness parks and battlefields without thorough oversight. However, Rte 110 and RCP trails are different since they are already adjacent to major highways with huge car volumes, and in the case of RCP, there already is a trail.

NPS in general needs to create new rules that recognize the unique needs of urban parks and trails. Applying a standard developed for wilderness and battlefields does residents of this region a disservice since most of our open space is under NPS jurisdiction.

with regard to repaving: Pathetic.

And i say this with full recognition that what arlington has done for sane urban design and transport, comparatively speaking, is worth the highest praise.

RE: Repaving: The life-cycle report for paving has been drafted. Only $50,000/yr is currently available for trail repaving. County staff are tracking details on the trail conditions and maintenance costs for various sections of the Custis Trail west of Lee Highway. Correcting problems on sections of this trail is still a matter of concern for the BAC. The BAC is hopeful that the approval of the bond issues will improve the situation.

@ wil: plus 1000.

how in the hell can this be complicated?...why is this culture so damn stupifying and feaful of change, so feaful of making exceptions in exceptional circumstances, when it trumpets it ability to be otherwise so loudly and often?...

"County staff noted that other jurisdictions do nothing for trails as a result of any snowfall."

FWIW, the Wilson Bridge Trail is plowed by the Maryland-National Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). I've been told that the person to thank for this is

Laura Connelly, RLA, Planner Coordinator
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Department of Parks and Recreation
6600 Kenilworth Avenue
Riverdale, MD 20737

This one trail being plowed has been enough to keep me biking to work throughout the winter, though conditions have often been bad enough to need snow tires. It has made all the difference.

As for the National Park Service, I think they need to explain why they don't seem to want non-motorists in their parks. I see the NPS as a regional problem that needs a coordinated regional response involving as many local congressional representatives as possible.

@Jonathan, not sure I understand your comment about NPS "not wanting non-motorized users" in the parks? Could you explain that comment? I have seen nothing in NPS policy that supports your statement.

Wil's assessment of the situation, wrt NPS operations in the DC area, is spot-on: they operate under rules that make sense in most park properties, but not in urban parks.

@Purple Eagle: My statement was an exaggeration. However, the NPS is quick to clear roads and never clears pedestrian/bicycle trails. Further, they often provide roadway access to parks without equivalent access via non-motorized transportation. This is the case for many of the parkways and freeways in the NPS system.

I understand that the NPS wishes to minimize user impact to the environment within their parks. It seems to me that a good way to do that would be to minimize motorized access while maximizing non-motorized access. Unfortunately, they seem to be doing the opposite.

Thanks for clarifying.

With regard to clearing of paved trails, I think we need to challenge NPS to modify their policy. Leaving snow for skiers makes sense for the first couple of days after a storm, but beyond that time frame the snow quality become signficantly degraded (because of partial thawing as well as walkers using the trail), to the point that skiers cannot use the trail either. The video of the CCT from one of yesterday's posts illustrates this problem well - that section of trail is now difficult to use via any travel mode.

I would be happy to see NPS continue to leave trails snow covered for a day or two (full disclosure - I am an avid skier as well as a cyclist and runner), but I think they should clear the trails at that point and not simply rely on the sun do to the work.

The situation in the DC area with regard to NPS managing major commuter roads is unusual . . they really don't have any comparable facilties in other parks (with a few possible exceptions such as the Blue Ridge Parkway around Roanoke). Parkways such as the BW and Suitland are primarily commuter roads, not access roads to parks or scenic areas, so it's a little strange, to me, that NPS is involved in their maintenance at all.

CaBi's Chris Eatough isn't *the* Chris Eatough, is he?

If you mean the former pro cyclist, then I believe the answer is yes. He is that Chris Eatough.

@Purple Eagle "Parkways such as the BW and Suitland are primarily commuter roads, not access roads to parks or scenic areas, so it's a little strange, to me, that NPS is involved in their maintenance at all."

Perhaps the NPS needs to re-examine its parkways to see if they are still serving the NPS mission and, if not, to update those parkways so that they once again serve the NPS mission. See, for example, http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/unrau-williss/adhi4j.htm

@Oboe - yes, that's the same Chris. Ask him about his commute, some time. (And he runs Bike Arlington, not CaBi.)


I sometimes think I'm being a bit too harsh in my characterization of NPS' near complete lack of interest in accommodating cyclists. And then I come back around.

I know they've got many many challenges, but the problems seem almost willful, around here.

Someday I might make a list of all the times that NPS has been the barrier to some facility or some change. I'm a little scared of what it would look like.

NPS is a huge problem for bicycles in this region, cut-off as we are usually are from many on-road routes the go "through": many commutes usually require a small "connector" on a dedicated bike trail to make the trip possible.

The NPS discussion here by everyone is very refreshing. They should be a target of advocacy efforts. Theyve been in the way for far too long.

There is reason to hope things have gotten better. There was a recent change in the head of Rock Creek Park, for example. The DC BAC has tried to reach out to NPS several times.

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