Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Braddock Road trail needs to be maintained - Rick Holt, guest blogger

The route I use for my bicycle commute to work is a little over twenty miles in length. By the time I reach Fairfax County I am halfway there. I normally prefer to ride on the road or in a bike lane on the road, as I consider it safer. However, since I have been pedaling for about 45 minutes at the time I reach Braddock Road I prefer to use the bike trail that runs parallel to the road. The fact that drivers are driving into the sun and are often driving too fast and distracted also encourages me to take the bike path.

Using the bike trail along Braddock Road is both a blessing and a curse. I like the opportunity to take my time, relax, look at the scenery, and take breaks along the way, which makes using the trail a wonderful option. On the downside the trail is somewhat hazardous. Debris, glass from broken bottles, craters in the pavement, grass growing up, or encroaching onto the trail, and other obstacles can create an unsafe travel environment. Having to replace a flat due to the condition of the trail, or having to replace a tire costs money and time. Worrying about the condition of the trail results in slower travel and more worries about safety issues.

Often I come across debris from accidents that have been piled up onto the trail making it unsafe for bicyclists. Gravel, and other debris, is a frequent issue I encounter when crossing over traffic cuts in the trail. In the winter time when it snows the snow is plowed up onto the trail making it impossible to use. This year when it snowed the snow plows left dirt clods and pieces of asphalt on the trail which are yet to be removed.

The Braddock Road bike trail should be repaved. A maintenance plan should be established for repairs and clearing debris off the trail. By taking these steps Fairfax County will be creating a safe, and fun, transportation option for bicyclists, and pedestrians, to negotiate their way through the county. The Braddock Road bike trail provides an important connection in bicycling from Prince William County, and western Fairfax, to Arlington and Washington, D.C. Once you reach Route 123 you can transition from Braddock Road going through the City of Fairfax over to the W&OD trail and head east to the District.

About Rick Holt - Rick has over 15 years of experience in the field of learning and professional development and is currently a trainer at George Mason University in HR & Payroll. Rick is also a graduate student in the field of Sport and Recreation, with a focus on exercise, health promotion and the sport of cycling. He is a certified bicycling safety instructor through the League of American Bicyclists. Rick frequently commutes the twenty plus miles from home to work on his bicycle. Rick is also the chair of the Prince William County Trails & Blueways Council. The mission of the Council is to advise the Board of County Supervisors in the development of a County-wide trails and blueways system in Prince William County.

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This isn't unique to Braddock road--all of the county's MUPs are in deplorable condition, and there is no maintenance budget for them. Unless the street gets rebuilt and they have to rebuild a trail as a side effect, nothing is done. We just saw them repave the fairfax county parkway again, with no attention at all to the decrepit side path.
I agree 100%. I'll be testifying before the Board of Supervisors today and am making the point that our trail system is falling apart due to lack (or total absence of) maintenance.
Thanks for the interesting post, Rick. I sometimes run on the Braddock Road trail and am always amazed by the amount of junk on it. In the last few years I've come across a dead deer, tires, trash, tree branches, and other debris. Mostly what bothers me is a lack of basic maintenance -- overgrown grass and shrubs encroaching on the trail, etc.
Accurate post, Rick. Thanks for sharing. I'm really curious how you get from Braddock and 123 over to the W&OD. I've been trying to figure out a safe way to do this for quite some time.
Right on the money, Rick, and thanks for posting. I'm curious how you get from 123 and Braddock over to the W&OD. I've been trying to find a safe way to do this for quite a while!
Mason has worked with the City of Fairfax to create bike routes through the city over to the Vienna metro. I will get a copy of the map and ask Bruce to post on the blog.

The route I take is on the road on University, over to Old Lee Hwy, take a right on on Old Pickett Rd, take the sidewalk on the east side of Pickett, cross over Rte 50, into the park picking up the cross county trail, cross over Rte 29 into East Blake Lane Park and head over to the metro. Go past the metro staying on Valden Rd, transition to the path at the end of Valden Rd into Nottoway Park. Go through the park and take a right on Courthouse Rd, cross Nutley St, right on Plum St., left on Elm St., left on Center St., right on Cherry St. and onto the W&OD by the Vienna Community Center.

You can take different roads but I like this route the best because of the trails and wider lanes and slower traffic speeds on the road.

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