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Was it unreasonable for me to ask that people make room for a dad using one lane of the bike trail to teach his kid how to ride?" Not unreasonable, IMO, but perhaps unwise.

Darwin award candidate--not the kid, but the Dad.

Great news about the Metro Center CaBi station. That will help with the bike balancing issues at some of the nearby stations.

I'm looking forward to the new stations later this year. And maybe the 40 additional stations that have been proposed. Greater density downtown will make CaBi even more useful, especially for midday trips to run errands. Or just to take a break and go for a short ride during the work day.

Unfortunately the CaBi stations don't do anything about some of the aggressive cab drivers who continue to be insistent about getting to the next red light before every cyclist. (Then the cabs just sit at that red light, with no time saved on their trip.)

As for teaching a kid how to ride, a nearby parking lot would be a much better idea. Or one of the many quieter side streets in Alexandria, just off the MVT. Sometimes I ride through Old Town just to look at the architecture. There is very little car traffic on many of those roads, at least in non-rush hour periods. A kid and his father would be perfectly safe riding on those streets.

Re the Walter Reed Drive/Four Mile Run intersection, I don't think the infrastructure contributed to the accident. It seems that the cyclist made a serious error in judgment by trying to make that right turn at speed coming off of the steep downhill of Walter Reed Dr. It's best for cyclists to slow down almost completely before even thinking about turning at that intersection.

What's so sad about so many of the trails around here is that so many people don't seem to realize they're overcrowded. Riding on Mt. Vernon or WO&D on a nice spring Saturday is like driving on the beltway at rush hour -- not something you'd do for fun, and certainly no place to teach a beginner. But it seems that people just don't know any better, they think bikes belong on trails and nowhere else. He'd be better off teaching his kid on just about any residential street in the area.

it was nice to see that Ray LaHood quote the other day about his concern over bicycle safety stemming from how drivers interact, rather than repeating the usual 'wear a helmet' incantation. helmets treat the symptoms, but we need to start treating the causes

Re: Kid riding on MUP

I agree that in this circumstance, given the kid's skill level, he should have been in a neighborhood park loop or school lot, etc. But at what age/skill level do you believe it is ok to have kids/novice riders on trails like CCT or MVT? This is an issue of all trails, really.

There is no doubt some cyclists have unrealistic expectations of trails. Reading the comments on the WP site, I cannot help but hear a bit of an automobile driver's bad attitude towards other trail users. Perhaps the cyclists who passed this kid should write in to Dr. Gridlock and complain about how these kids are slowing down their commute and holding up traffic. I know we are constantly being treated as 2nd class guests by all the other people with whom we share roads and trails, but I don't think co-opting their selfishness is going to help us any.

I know the plan for the Purple line adds separated cycle track to the GBT. Are there active efforts to add this to any of the other high use trails in the area? Or perhaps that is just too simple of a solution. It would seem every user type would be in favor of this, no?

The father of the kid learning to ride on the Mount Vernon Trail answered his own question - "...like trying to merge onto I 95..." You wouldn't attempt that move with your completely novice teenage driver either. It takes a certain amount of skill to operate in heavy traffic, no matter whether it is bike traffic or motor vehicle traffic.

Michael, I don't think we know enough to know why the cyclist made that turn. As someone else pointed out, that move makes sense if the cyclist was trying to avoid some other, more immediate threat, like a turning car.

Im worried about the number of drivers I see without helmets. 60mph and no protection for your head? Insane!

But at what age/skill level do you believe it is ok to have kids/novice riders on trails like CCT or MVT? This is an issue of all trails, really.

When you can hold a line.

My kids were not allowed on the MVT until they could show me that they were competent at holding their line and until they could maintain focus on cycling. Even then I would only take them on the MVT when it was lightly used.

It should be obvious that the MVT is not a place for a little kid learning to ride. My next door neighbor's kid learned the hard way; he missed a turn and rode straight off one of the bridges near Waynewood. He broke his femur.

Regarding Max's comment, there isn't a plan, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, to add cycletracks and create such a network.

After yesterday's MoCo bike summit, I am thinking that if the separate Rockville and White Flint plans could result in and demonstrate a cycletrack along that arterial, then there would be at least one demonstration, along with the U Blvd. one (which resulted in part from my Making Cycling Irresistible in DC paper being distributed through the planning department at SHA).

WRT the trails and the number of users, recommendations for trail width has not caught up to the reality of demand and levels of service.

I think it borders on the "criminal" for trails expected to be used for transportation in an urban core to be 8 or 10 feet wide--the AASHTO minimum is 10 feet.

Urban trails also used for transportation have to be wider. If they aren't, I call it "designing conflict in" and as washcycle knows, being an engineer, that is defined as a failure.


I think it borders on the "criminal" for trails expected to be used for transportation in an urban core to be 8 or 10 feet wide--the AASHTO minimum is 10 feet.


I'd like to add to that the PA Ave "midnight re-design" and the brilliant idea of running the lanes directly though the pedestrian refuge islands.

And the 15th St south bound cycletrack "rumble strips". It's so rough, even on a CaBi, that I feel like I need to make an appointment with my dentist to check for loose fillings after each trip.

Re Kids on Tails:

These trails are MUPs! So you should expect AND accommodate all manner of users. A little bit of consideration goes along way.

Twice this week during my commute I encountered kids on the trail.

The first instance - A mother was walking behind her 2 charges. The kids were young and using training wheels. But she was keeping them well on their side of the trail.

I had come upon them on the CCT on one of the many bends that create blind curves. This was just below the River Rd crossing.

As I was patiently waiting for the path to straighten to pass another cyclist flew by me on the inside of the curve. No warning at all.

Had another cyclist been coming the other way off the bridge it easily could have been a cyclist on cyclist head-on with closing speeds of 40+ MPH.

The second instance was similar. This time 2 parents were cycling behind their young son. I had come upon them on the long straight away heading south on the CCT between the tunnel and the bridge by the water treatment plant.

I was waiting behind them as both the young boy and parents passed a walker and a jogger.

We had just reached the approach to the bridge, which is another blind curve, when again some idiot blew past me, blew by both parents, and had just reach the young son when he realized that he had on-coming traffic.

He went to dive right - then realized that he couldn't because of the boy so he jammed on his brakes for all they were worth.

I have to give him props for being able to make a skidding stop with minimal rear wheel slide out and for not tumbling on top of the boy.

I'll take kids on the trail any day. I'd just like for these 2 idiots to find somewhere else to ride.

JeffB, did the two idiots say "on your left?"

You've pretty much confirmed what I've seen, which is that the biggest problem is people who just don't seem to get that you can't pass whenever you want to, you have to wait until it's safe to do so. The bigger issue -- as illustrated by the dad in the letter -- is that people just don't realize that trails are a busy, dangerous environment, and behave accordingly.

According to the Park Service, the rate of drowning in the Potomac has dropped significantly in recent years, as a result of an educational campaign to warn people that the inviting-looking river is in fact quite dangerous. Maybe they should consider a similar campaign for the trails.

To some extent this all reminds me of letters to Carolyn Hax where someone's significant other cheats on them and the letter writer is angry at the other man/woman. By that I mean the anger is pointed at the wrong person.

The REAL problem here, is that there are inadequate spaces for these types of activities. People are overwhelming what we do have - and it's not just nice weekends anymore. We need more trails, we need wider trails and where feasible we need dual trail systems like they have in Minneapolis. This guy's anger should be directed at NPS, VDOT, US DOT, DDOT etc...If every time a trail user had a bad interaction that was in part caused by the narrow, crowded trail, they wrote a letter to one of these groups, we'd have more/better trails pretty fast. But instead we blame the more immediate problem - that guy with his dog on a long leash.

@Contrarian - no warning from either rider.

You're right that the bigger issue is that there is no accepted standard on how to behave on the trails.

For example I refer to the occasional discussions here on whether to even to give some indication that you are passing. It seems 1/3 say not to. Another third say a vocal announcement (which may or may not be heard) is fine. And a final third believe you really need to use a bell to be heard.

The REAL problem here, is that there are inadequate spaces for these types of activities.

Well certainly we need more infrastructure and better accommodation. But elections do have consequences.

But there's never a good excuse for bad manners and inconsiderate behavior.

Afterall motorists face congested roads daily. But do we excuse their road rage and solely blame the DOT?

But there's never a good excuse for bad manners and inconsiderate behavior.

I agree (though never is high standard. It's OK to be rude if you're trying to save someone's life, for example.) But I think bad design can bring out the worst in people. Not an excuse, just an attempt to fix the root problem.

I'm not sure I would characterize it as an "inadequate spaces" problem. Sure, more trails would be nice, but "inadequate" implies that there is a certain level which is "adequate" which I'm not sure is the case. (It's kind of like when people complain about too many bikes on the road, I want to ask what would be the proper number.)

Trails can be crowded. I would estimate that the Bethesda section of the CCT on a nice spring Saturday has more people per square foot than the Mall on the fourth of July. But people aren't encouraged to treat it as a crowded public space. Can you imagine someone saying he took his kid down to the Mall on the Fourth to teach him to bike? Instead, the extent of education from both the local governments and WABA is "warn before passing."

Second, no effort is made to encourage alternatives. There are many, many local roads that are better places to bike than the crowded trails. If I have to go into Bethesda on a Saturday I take the Little Falls Parkway from Massachusetts Avenue to Bethesda. It's got a paved shoulder the whole way and it's fast and smooth with none of the insanity of the trail. I really don't understand why MoCo doesn't encourage cyclists -- especially fast cyclists -- to use it instead of the trail.

Washcycle, you do a pretty fair Carolyn Hax impression. Maybe you should run an advice column once a week to help your readers work out their issues.

I have a friend who's a brain surgeon and we joke that we should have a radio call-in advice show called "Ask a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon." Tagline: If we can't help you, you're screwed.

Bicyclists ask that cars share the road. This should be extended to people at any speed (even a kid learning to ride) on a multi-use trail.

Next time you see a kid learning to ride on the MVT or CCT, chant "One of us, One of us" and realize that in 20 years you might share the road with him/her on your way to work.

All these later comments are true.... but, Saturday for the first time I rode part of the CCT. There's no question it isn't wide enough. Yes, more rules signs should be posted. No there isn't decent signage if you're unfamiliar with the trail wrt what streets you're crossing. Yes signs are posted, including great map signs. The rest stop areas are nice too.

But the River Road to Bethesda section is impressively congested. (Oh, and now I know why those Chevy Chase people don't want the light rail in their backyards, because it will be in their backyards...)

The Shared Use Path LOS calculator would definitely demonstrate that the CCT isn't wide enough.

Anyway, wrt the other point about demanding better trails. True that. However, the conundrum is that parks departments, and this includes MoCo's, put their conservation mission before the use mission, and they are still torn about the transportational aspects of trails "in parks". That came out pretty clearly at the MoCo Bike Summit in the Parks presentation. I haven't done a writeup yet...

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