Links to W&OD Trail get asphalt, but no signs
The Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Northern Virginia is a major bike commuter route, but it's not always easy to reach from surrounding neighborhoods. Two newly-upgraded paths in Vienna will improve access and safety for local residents, but wayfinding remains an issue.
Two weeks ago, the Town of Vienna paved a path connecting the W&OD Trail to Tapawingo Road SE, taking bicyclists to the Vienna Metro station, and another link to Electric Avenue, part of a bicycle route to Tysons Corner and Gallows Road. I first noticed the improved paths while bicycling home from the Vienna Metro station to Ballston along my normal route.
Previously, the connection to Tapawingo Road was a dirt and gravel path. Due to a set of stairs and uneven terrain, I often had to dismount and walk my bicycle through this section. The town smoothed this portion out, letting me ride onto the W&OD Trail uninterrupted.
These upgrades represent a commitment to bicycle commuting and alternative transportation in Vienna. However, they left out an important element for commuters: wayfinding signs. There are no signs on the W&OD alerting people that there is a connection to Tapawingo Road, that there is a bicycle route, or that the route leads to a Metro station. Similarly, there is no signage that indicates the connection to Electric Avenue.
This isn't acceptable for drivers, and it shouldn't be for bicyclists either. Can anyone imagine an important intersection of two streets not being marked with street name signs?
This issue isn't limited to these two spots in Vienna. All along the W&OD Trail, there are connectors to neighborhood streets, but no signs to mark them, even when they serve as routes to Metro stations. These signs are a necessary element of the transportation system, and by making it easier to commute by bicycle, are well worth the cost. Good signage allows any user, whether familiar with the route or not, to be able to use the trail and get to their destination easily and safely. Hopefully, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which owns the trail, will add signage in the near future.
These two small improvements will make the commute for all cyclists easier and safer, but there's still more to do. Have you noticed any improvements elsewhere along your bicycle commute? Are there places in need of improvements?
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