Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dr Gridlock on the Importance of Urban Trails

In the Sunday Post Dr Gridlock devotes an entire column on the importance of trails as part of our transportation network: We need to accept urban trails as part of the commuter network. While the focus of the article is the clearing of bike commuter trails on National Park Service land, it applies to all of our regional major paved trails. We are very grateful that NovaParks and Reston Association have devoted resources to clearing snow from the W&OD Trail and over 50 miles of RA trails. They have set an example for Fairfax Co to do the same for our major transportation trails.

Update: See GGW's David Alpert's opinion piece also in the Sunday Post: Walkers were left out in the cold after the 'Snozilla' blizzard.

Snow blocking trail access to
Wiehe-Reston East Metro station
Many of us have been struggling with large amounts of snow on trails, sidewalks and at intersections after the most recent snow storm. While it was an historic storm, these same trails and sidewalks are blocked after almost every storm in the area. The compacted piles of snow take weeks to melt. In my area, bicycle and pedestrian access to the Wiehle Metro station is still blocked by snow and ice around the station, most of it dumped there by VDOT snow clearing crews.

From the Dr Gridlock article:

Times have changed, and trails in urban areas are commuter routes for many. In recognition of that, the park service in the capital region is considering a change in its policy that would incorporate the trails into the post-storm cleanup plans.
Snow dumped on Wiehle Ave trail by
VDOT contractor on an already passable road

That’s a welcome idea to Gregory Billing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. You may see fewer people out on bikes in the winter, but cold weather doesn’t stop people from commuting via bicycle. Ice and snow on the trail does stop them.

If a cyclist can’t use a bike lane on a city street, the commuter can shift to a regular lane. Commuters who use trails, such as the popular Mount Vernon Trail along the Virginia side of the Potomac River, are in a tougher spot. “Often, there are no safe alternatives for miles,” Billing said.
We have written to our local House representative and others urging them to coordinate with VDOT to prioritize snow clearing efforts to provide safe access to Metro stations, schools, and along major commuting trails. Chairman Bulova plans to hold a snow summit and cyclists and pedestrians need to make sure the county gets the message that we deserve safe passage on major access routes.

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  Bike to Work Day 2015 at Wiehle Station

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