Monday, June 24, 2013
Exploring Fairfax County by bikeThe W&OD and Mt. Vernon trails are the two primary bike facilities in Fairfax. Both of those trails have become overcrowded. The W&OD Trail is one of the premier rail trails in the U.S. On busy summer weekends it seems that every cyclist in the county has decided to ride the trail. I think many of us are in a trail rut; we need to get off the trail and explore the county.
|FFX Co Parkway Trail at Route 50|
|FFX Co Parkway Trail still unpaved between|
Rt 50 and Fair Lakes Blvd
|FFX Co Parkway Trail south of Lee Hwy|
Bad news - The trail is in bad shape
Good news - The trail is not crowded
We continued on the Fairfax Co Parkway trail all the way to Burke Centre Parkway where there is another FFX Co Parkway trail
|Rt 123/Burke Centre Parkway|
FFX Co Parkway detour signs
We had lunch in Burke where we saw two bike racks installed incorrectly, a common theme in the county. After lunch we returned to Route 123 where we headed north for a short stretch and then followed a route on the map along very quiet neighborhood streets, a good alternative to riding on the 123 trail that is in very poor condition as you approach Braddock Road and GMU.
We ended up on Sideburn Road where we headed north to Braddock Road and on to GMU. We rode the bike lanes along Patriot Circle to University Drive, through the City of Fairfax all the way to Route 50. We could have taken the wide sidewalk but we rode on 50 to Plantation Parkway. There's a connecting trail at the end of Plantation Parkway that leads to Five Oaks Road, which turns into Saintsbury Drive after crossing Blake Lane. We passed the Vienna Metro station and continued on Vaden Drive to the trail through Nottoway Park.
|Incorrectly installed bike rack|
at Burke Centre
From Nottoway Park there is a short cut-through trail to Tapawingo Rd. We followed neighborhood streets back to the W&OD Trail. Sometimes the W&OD Trail can't be avoided. Between Vienna and Reston the trail is about the only decent route. Usually later in the day the trail is less crowded.
During the 2 hours and 45 minutes we rode before reaching the W&OD Trail we saw a total of 15 bicyclists. It took less than 3 minutes to see that many bicyclists on the W
&OD Trail. There are many, many miles of roads and trails in Fairfax that are almost unused by bicyclists. It takes some effort to find them, but the bicycle route map is a great resource. We're told the new interactive route map is available as a smartphone app using ArcGIS. We'll write about that later.
Let's get out of our W&OD Trail rut and ride on some of the other bike-friendly routes in the county. Most county residents who are not familiar with the W&OD Trail have no idea how busy it is. They see almost no bicyclists. Why not get out and explore the county by bike?
It's the only maintained trail option, as you pointed out. Most of the trails are an embarrassment, and our elected representatives seem to prefer building new roads to any kind of maintenance.