Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snow plowing the W&OD Trail

The W&OD Trail is now somewhat clear between Church Street and Maple Ave. (Rt 123) in Vienna, thanks to the mystery snow plow man and his merry band of helpers. He just happened to have access to a Bobcat track loader and managed to clear about a 4 foot path along the trail.

This shouldn't be necessary; other communities (such as Reston) have figured out how to keep their trails, bike lanes, and wide curb lanes cleared of snow. Even with light snow, the W&OD Trail is sometimes not usable by most cyclists for several days, cyclists who depend on bicycles for getting to work and elsewhere. With a narrow, 4-foot cleared space for bicyclists and pedestrians, other winter users could use the other 8 feet of trail, or they could use the parallel gravel side path. There's plenty of trail to go around, if only it were cleared. (See Update below)

Thanks to the mystery snow man. We think his experiment was a success and we look forward to the day when local governments will give the same respect to other modes of transportation as they do cars and buses. See The Wash Cycle's recent informative post on this topic.

Update 2/22/2010: According to a comment on WashCycle by Paul McCray, Operations Manager for NVRPA, "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 to the BikeArlington Twitter feed for pointing to that info.

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