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Bicycling


Nobody cleared the Mount Vernon Trail after Snowzilla. Future storms might be different.

The National Park Service did not clear snow the Mount Vernon Trail after the blizzard, leaving it one of the most prominent uncleared trails in our region's network. Better late than never, the agency says it might clear snow off the trail in the future.


The Mount Vernon Trail south of Four Mile Run on Friday, January 29. Photo by the author.

Snowzilla temporarily brought the region to a standstill with more than two feet of snow. The storm ended Saturday night and the digging out began in earnest that Sunday. Roads gradually became clear and Metro reopened with severely limited service on Monday, January 25.

Trails gradually became usable as well. Montgomery County plowed the Capital Crescent Trail on the Sunday after the storm, and Arlington cleared the Custis Trail and the District the Metropolitan Branch Trail that Monday.

By Friday, Alexandria had cleared the Potomac Yard Trail.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) compiled a good list of which trails and bike lanes were cleared of snow and which were not after Snowzilla.

The Mount Vernon Trail was one of the trails left untouched. While not alone in this distinction, it stands out due to how important it is: it connects the District and the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor to Crystal City, Ronald Reagan Washington National airport, Potomac Yard, Old Town Alexandria, and eastern Fairfax County.

Why isn't the Mount Vernon Trail cleared?

"It's not the policy to clear snow from any of the trails in the National Capital Region," says Aaron LaRocca, chief of staff for the National Park Service's George Washington Memorial Parkway division, which includes the Mount Vernon Trail. A four-mile stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail that the park service's Chesapeake & Ohio Canal division clears of snow is the one exception to this policy, he adds.

As for why this is NPS policy, he simply says: "It just hasn't been something we've come up against in the past."

LaRocca does point to the fact that the Mount Vernon Trail has a lot of curves and hills, something that makes clearing it of snow more challenging than the Capital Crescent Trail, which is built on a former railroad bed.

Previous Park Service comments on clearing snow from the Mount Vernon Trail have emphasised the multi-use aspects of the trail, such as for cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter.

Indeed, cross-country ski tracks were visible in the flat, open areas next to the trail between Four Mile Run and Old Town during a run on January 29. None were on the paved trail itself.

Cyclists use the trail in winter

Arlington County data shows 456 cyclists using the Mount Vernon Trail at its airport south counter just north of the junction with Four Mile Run on January 20, two days before Snowzilla hit. The high temperature that day was 30 degrees farenheit, according to the county.


Data from Arlington County.

The county's 14th Street Bridge counter recorded 526 cyclists the same day, with some likely heading north on the Mount Vernon Trail or exiting to Crystal City or National airport before the airport south counter.

The number of cyclists passing the airport south mark fell to zero during and immediately after Snowzilla. The number of cyclists remained low, rising to just three by the Friday after the storm, despite temperatures that ranged from 41 degrees to 51 degrees—at least 10 degrees warmer than the prior week—during the week after Snowzilla, the data shows.

The District cleared snow off the 14th Street Bridge pedestrian path on January 26.

The uncleared snow on the Mount Vernon Trail is the most likely explanation for the lack of cyclists on the trail during what was otherwise a nicer week to ride than the one before.

NPS is considering clearing snow

"We understand that we manage major commuter routes within the boundaries of the National Park, which is both a challenge and an opportunity," says LaRocca, acknowledging the year-round usage of Mount Vernon Trail by bike commuters and other users.

The NPS is in the process of engaging with stakeholders and jurisdictions on "creative ways" to manage trail operations, including snow removal, he says. This includes meeting with WABA and attending a meeting of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Arlington County would be happy to meet and share best practices on trail plowing with NPS, a spokeswoman says. Nearly five-miles of the Mount Vernon Trail traverse the Potomac riverfront in the county.

The final plan, whatever that may be, will take a "holistic" approach to managing all of the NPS trails in the National Capital Region, says LaRocca. However, he was unable to commit to a timeline for when snow may be cleared from the Mount Vernon Trail or other federally-managed trails in the region.

That plan, ideally with a snow removal policy, will be welcome news to the commuters, joggers, walkers and tourists who use the Mount Vernon Trail throughout the year.

Edward Russell is an air transport reporter by day with a passion for all things transportation. He is a resident of Eckington and tweets frequently about planes, trains and bikes. 

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Fortunately, Mother Nature has decided to clear the trail today ;-)

by Alan on Feb 3, 2016 2:55 pm • linkreport

Right around here is the only place I ever fell off a Cabi, on a patch of ice a few years ago. The big beast was sliding beneath me, and I thought I'd recovered after an initial slide, but alas I came pounding down.

by spookiness on Feb 3, 2016 3:02 pm • linkreport

An important point to make is that NPS clears the roads but not the trails. I tried to ride Rock Creek Park on Sunday but the trail was completely impassable - meanwhile, four lanes of traffic sped by on totally clear roads.

Is NPS a highway administration or a park service? They devote resources to get drivers through the park but not to let pedestrians/cyclists experience the park. They need to refocus on the needs of park users and not area commuters.

by Joe Flood on Feb 3, 2016 3:21 pm • linkreport

Who is responsible for maintaining Rock Creek trail? On Sunday I encountered numerous areas of the trail along Rock Creek Parkway between the Roosevelt Bridge and the ramp up to Georgetown that was still covered with snow (and slush & ice) 8 days after the blizzard ended. It's such a heavily trafficked corridor, yet clearing the path of snow seemed to be an afterthought.

by Aaron on Feb 3, 2016 3:38 pm • linkreport

Fortunately, the weather this year has quickly melted everything. I haven’t ridden it since the storm, but presumably, after today’s 60 degree temperatures and all the rain, the trail should be passable again. In past years, that hasn’t always been the case. After people walk on the trail following a snowstorm, all the snow gets packed into ice, which is incredibly dangerous for cyclists. If temps stay below freezing (which can happen for weeks at a time), the surface is an unusable icy mess. Even if temps hover a small bit about freezing, it takes a long time to melt snow that’s been packed into ice; that stuff can linger even after snow in the surrounding grass melts. Like with roads, the key is to plow early enough to make sure any residual snow left on the trail melts in the midday sun, even if overnight temps still drop below freezing. The hills on the MVT shouldn’t be particularly challenging for snow removal. After all, the Custis Trail is much steeper, and it seems Arlington was able to address it promptly. All the wooden bridges on the MVT might be a little challenging for plows though. You can’t just drive a pickup truck over those things if they’re not built to withstand that weight. It’s not an insurmountable problem (if it’s a problem at all), but probably worth considering.

by Jason S. on Feb 3, 2016 3:57 pm • linkreport

@ Joe Flood: Is NPS a highway administration or a park service?

+1

NPS is a park service that keeps the roads clear so drivers can access nature, while not disturbing any of the nature that drivers can see through their windshields. Are there people who are not drivers?

I saw a couple of people shoveling snow last Sunday afternoon at the Pentagon Bridge. Whomever you are, thanks!

I was walking on the Mall on Sunday and noticed that the NPS had cleared areas they needed to drive and done nothing else, whereas visitors had worn out many soggy paths along the trails. Embarrassing.

by Jasper on Feb 3, 2016 5:12 pm • linkreport

NPS should be plowing the MVT, or at least coordinating with Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax to ensure that it gets plowed. If NPS can plow parking lots, it can plow the MVT.

by Citizen on Feb 3, 2016 5:15 pm • linkreport

NPS takes the prize for the region in terms of absolutely failing at removing snow. Granted their mission is unique compared to that of local and state governments. Additionally, they probably have a bigger problem seeking funding out to clear these roadways- not sidewalks and bikeways.

I think much needs to be studied in regards to the response to the blizzard. Specifically the region should focus its resources on how better to timely clear alternative travel-ways, as many residents use forms of transportation other than the automobile. Not to mention for a week afterwards it seemed like the buses were bursting at the seams. I'd like those responsible for tracking the number of riders to look specifically at the week following the storm to get a worst (or best depending on your perspective) case scenario.

by RBAP on Feb 3, 2016 5:20 pm • linkreport

It would be nice to see someone clear the W & OD Trail as well.

by Jon on Feb 3, 2016 7:36 pm • linkreport

This is completely unacceptable. As someone who bikes to the Pentagon from the District on a daily basis In all conditions I find it troubling that the NPS could not be bothered to make even the slightest effort to clear snow on the MVT. Where is the common sense approach to safety, knowing that people rely upon the MVT as a commuter route? Why were roads cleared but trails neglected? I fell hard earlier this week on the MVT despite biking carefully. The NPS should (1) better explain its "policy" (2) apologize for not making even a minimum effort and (3) immediately change its policy on snow removal. These are the American people's trails - the NPS just manage them. We deserve better.

by Mark on Feb 3, 2016 8:06 pm • linkreport

Not only do they not clear the trail, they doubly screw it over by dumping plowed snow from the Parkway right into it in areas where the trail closely abuts the highway itself.

I don't consider myself an unreasonable person when it comes to how long this takes, but I was mighty pissed when on tuesday, NINE DAYS after the last snow fell, I had to dismount and wall probably 15 times between Rosslyn and the 14th Street bridge. That's unacceptable.

by JES on Feb 4, 2016 7:47 am • linkreport

*walk. Oops. Pays to proofread I guess.

by JES on Feb 4, 2016 7:50 am • linkreport

FWIW, because the NPS doesn't think it's in the transportation business, they don't think about this. Has the NPS ever released the National Capital Region transportation study that they were working on back in 2010/2011?

That doesn't mean it's right, but this happens all the time wrt parks departments and trails, because shared use paths are frequently a mix of park and transportation/public works responsibility.

In Maryland, they defined all such paths as transportation, but probably there is inconsistent practice across the state in winter maintenance, since it is provided by local parks agencies.

In Baltimore County, the Patapsco Valley State Park is noteworthy because they created a "commuter permit" which allows cyclists to use the paths after the park is typically closed (at dusk).

http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/patapscoavalon.aspx

It's an important example of a parks authority stepping up and creating an "out of the ordinary" policy and process which recognizes their place, in this instance, within the transportation network.

Anyway, because you can't expect parks departments, especially the NPS, to do this, both the City of Alexandria and Arlington County should have stepped up and made this an issue in their respective transportation/bike plans, and need to work with NPS to get this taken care of. Maybe they have. I haven't looked at those respective documents for a long time.

Who clears the Parkway? I presume it is VDOT under some kind of MOU. The same approach can be applied to the MVT. Similarly, in DC, DC DOT has taken responsibility for the street (and path) maintenance aspects of the NPS owned Suitland Parkway, which is an element of the city's transportation system comparable to Mount Vernon Parkway's position in the transportation network in Northern Virginia.

by Richard Layman on Feb 4, 2016 7:54 am • linkreport

In a couple posts I wrote about a not dissimilar problem in Rock Creek Park vis a vis Military Road:

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2015/12/lost-opportunity-to-build-cycletrack-on.html

the second post was a response to a point made by a commenter, that the real issue is poor access planning in general for all modes as it relates to NPS facilities.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2015/12/a-gap-in-planning-across-agencies.html

I am not intimately familiar with how NPS plans, but I think it's fair to say that they access planning paradigm needs to be more rigorous and include specific attention, by mode, to all parks.

Again, these kinds of issues need to be raised by the localities in their respective planning processes and documents, and no opportunity should be ignored when presented, to address access issues.

Sadly, that opportunity was lost with Military Road.

2. Similarly, one of the holdups with the MBT is dealing with segments in the vicinity of Fort Totten that involve NPS controlled land... and who knows when DDOT will get around to repaving the Suitland Parkway Trail, which in many places is in abominable condition.

by Richard Layman on Feb 4, 2016 8:05 am • linkreport

@ Joe Flood: Is NPS a highway administration or a park service?

Yep. Never thought about it that way but another example of clear prioritization of drivers over cyclists and walkers.

I also find an almost willful ignorance at play with NPS's comments on the snow policy (or lack thereof). While suggesting that the policy doesn't include snow removal because it hasn't come up before since the Washington region doesn't get that much snow (which maybe not compared to New England but we do get snowfall almost every year), NPS also suggests that its snowy trails offer a benefit to snowshoers and cross country skiers.

So...we don't get enough snow to warrant a snow removal policy on the trails, but we get enough snow that we should leave it there for the benefit of snowshoers? Something isn't adding up.

by Katy Lang on Feb 4, 2016 8:22 am • linkreport

@ Richard Layman

NPS is not in the transportation business when they don't want to be in the transportation business. At the recent NPS meeting discussing the plans for rebuilding Rock Creek Pkwy north of Calvert Street, there was a very clear focus on how NPS would manage car traffic during the construction. To NPS credit, they did at least say they were hoping to keep the bike trail open during construction, and that their contractor had been thinking about that issue. We'll see.

Seems like from that anecdote, there is a marked difference between how NPS thinks of its role in our area, as a car traffic management agency, versus how the more well-informed traffic engineer contractors think about it.

Another anecdote. At that meeting, the NPS folks introduced the new NPS communications person. His role: to tweet out information on car traffic delays on the various parkways. When it was mentioned that perhaps other users (like cyclists) would be interested in updates on trail conditions, the NPS reaction was this was a great idea that had not thought of.

Car traffic management.

by fongfong on Feb 4, 2016 8:53 am • linkreport

Just ran into a similar problem with Sligo Creek Trail (SCT) in MoCo. Great weather this week for a jog and/or bike ride but when I got to the trailhead I found SCT to be completely covered in snow.

I didn't think much of it until I learned that MoCo has thoroughly plowed the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) but ignored the SCT. So I decided to write my Takoma Park councilmember and copied the President of advocacy group Friends of Sligo Creek for some answers.

I'll probably venture out again today to see if the snow's melted away now, but clearly trail plowing parity is an issue across the whole DMV area.

by Cambro on Feb 4, 2016 8:56 am • linkreport

So if I were keeping score, which county plowed first? Sounds like Arlington cleared first, but I'm not sure. I'm still smarting from having to stop attending a class in Montgomery County because they never bothered to clear the CCT in winter.

"Trails gradually became usable as well. Montgomery County plowed the Capital Crescent Trail on the Sunday after the storm, and Arlington cleared the Custis Trail and the District the Metropolitan Branch Trail that Monday."

WABA doesn't mention the Route 50 Trail on its website but that's another annoying one and even last night, it was far from clear.

by elbows on Feb 4, 2016 9:19 am • linkreport

fongfong -- thanks for that. Good point about NPS traffic engineers vs. more enlightened ones in full blown transportation departments (not that it isn't an issue still with DDOT, VDOT, and other car focused transportation agencies).

Frankly, I believe that in DC, there needs to be a comprehensive MOU with the city (NPS, DDOT, OP, DPR) about the NPS roads and DDOT should be primarily responsible.

At the same time, OP, NCPC, DPR and NPS need to develop a comprehensive management and access plan for all "the parks" in the city.

These are examples of the point I have made for a number of years, that if local agencies don't provide recommendations for county, other regional agencies, state, and federal installations, open spaces, etc., within their jurisdiction, then no one is adequately representing local interests, and the local jurisdiction may be "caught with their pants down" when there are exogeneous changes to conditions (like a federal shutdown or when a state budget emergency closes state parks).

One of the recommendations that stayed in the plan I did in Balt. County I was very proud of: there are three parks adjacent to each other, one is run by the county, one by the state, and one by Baltimore City ("the park" surrounds a waterworks reservoir) and there are "mountain bike" issues. Anyway, I recommended that the three agencies come together and create a joint management plan as it related to biking.

Given this and previous discussions, now I'd say it needs to be part of broader "park access planning."

by Richard Layman on Feb 4, 2016 9:25 am • linkreport

wrt SCT, this is an illustration of the parks agency issue in a nutshell and the failure to have a systematic plan. There is a group, Friends of the CCT that advocates for the CCT and has pushed snow clearance issues for many years.

So it's an ad hoc initiative.

SCT doesn't have a friends group pushing for snow clearance.

Again, MoCo Parks and Planning should have a consistent approach.

Ironically, they don't have an excuse because MoCo Planning is the primary planner for the county, including on tansportation, and the Parks agency is also within the combined agency.

Everywhere else, planning and parks are disconnected agencies.

by Richard Layman on Feb 4, 2016 9:27 am • linkreport

Cambro -- MoCo Planning is doing a new bike master plan. Note that the parks dept. has a separate trails plan. Nonetheless, you should raise winter maintenance of trails as an issue in the planning process.

What I recommended in Balt. County was this: for the trails in the county's defined urban area, there should be planning for snow maintenance; for the trails in the county's defined rural area, they should not plan for snow clearance--the trails are used by horses and cross county skiing. However, if trails are defined as part of the transportation network even within the rural area, then they should be cleared. Arguably that could apply to the NCR Trail, but probably not.

MoCo should make a similar determination.

For snow clearance, I'd recommend the section on winter maintenance in the Minneapolis bike facility plan. And figure out what the relationship is between the parks dept. and the DPW for snow clearance.

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@publicworks/documents/webcontent/convert_261656.pdf

I haven't been able to determine what "Hennepin County's parks department" (the "Three Rivers Park District") does. Some of the trails are listed as closed and others the snow policy is not mentioned. Perhaps they clear some and not others. I don't know. Anyway, some of their facilities are more comparable to the ones in Montgomery County.

by Richard Layman on Feb 4, 2016 9:43 am • linkreport

Here's my interpretation of the situation. Historically, the NPS perspective on the trails was that they did not get used much by cyclists in the winter, and that snow gave park users a rare opportunity to experience the park in a different way, by snowshoeing or skiing. So they would promote these alternative means of recreation, and save some money at the same time by not clearing the trails. Now that bicycle commuting has grown so much more popular, what we essentially have is a conflict between snow-based recreation and cyclists. So the question is which is more important - allowing people to ski and snowshoe for a few days after the storm, or clearing the snow so that people can ride (and run/walk) again? If it were possible I would argue for waiting 2-3 days after the storm to clear snow, so that people get a chance for alternative recreation for a few days. However it's a lot harder to clear the snow after there have been a few freeze/thaw cycles, and given the increase in popularity of cycling, I think it makes sense to clear the snow from the major commuting routes. NPS could continue to not clear snow from the C&O canal towpath, which provides a good alternative location for skiing and snowshoeing when conditions are good.

by Purple Eagle on Feb 4, 2016 10:12 am • linkreport

Anyone know if the towpath north of Chain Bridge is usable? I'm hoping the rain and warmer weather has melted away most of the snow.

by sam on Feb 4, 2016 10:29 am • linkreport

Walks crossing the canal in Georgetown were not cleared; walking in the middle of the road was the only way to cross

by gee on Feb 4, 2016 11:01 am • linkreport

This is the kind of thing where influence could yield results very fast.

"Hey Barrack, can you tell NPS to clear the trail so I can get to work?"

by JJJ on Feb 4, 2016 11:47 am • linkreport

So the question is which is more important - allowing people to ski and snowshoe for a few days after the storm, or clearing the snow so that people can ride (and run/walk) again? If it were possible I would argue for waiting 2-3 days after the storm to clear snow

Two comments here. One, it's not like there isn't any other space along the MVT for cross country skiing. there's 50 feet of grass in many cases between the trail and the Potomac that they could use. Two, if you're talking about waiting 2-3 days after, that'd be fine. The issue here is that NINE DAYS after the snow, the trail still hadn't been touched by a shovel or plow. That's way way too long.

by JES on Feb 4, 2016 12:37 pm • linkreport

@Joe Flood--

The best thing for the National Park Service to do would be to implement unobtrusive automatic tolling equipment, like on the ICC, on the GW, Rock Creek and Clara Barton Parkways. Charge 50 cents or a dollar, but at least NPS would recoup some of the cost of providing and maintaining free commuter roads. Think of the diversion of National Park Police time and resources to writing tickets and sweeping RCP when the lanes shift several times a day. Then NPS should use the toll money to upgrade and maintain the bike trails and for general enhancement of the national parks in this area.

by Bob on Feb 4, 2016 1:37 pm • linkreport

When i lived in Franklin Farm, the HOA never cleared the paths -- there are very few sidewalks -- nor did the county clear the Fairfax County Parkway Trail.

If buses were running, people just walked through the snow to the bus. Bikes just rode in the street, even on VA 286. Less than ideal, but thus it was. To be fair, 286 has many more lights than does the GWMP, making it a a safer place to bike on the bit of shoulder cleared in deep snow.

I do think NPS not clearing it all, not even a week later, was a poor decision on their part.

@Bob's idea of a minimal toll i think is a good one.

by dcseain on Feb 4, 2016 2:12 pm • linkreport

I remember many years ago when I was living in the California high desert, that people would use the Joshua Tree National Monument as a shortcut to get to certain places. This required a paid park admission. Some who needed to do this often simply paid for yearly passes.

I could see that being used here. Just set up a fee for vehicle entry into the park and offer yearly passes. Foot/bike traffic would have free entry. All this functionality already exists in the NPS rules/SOP. No legislative action needed! (Unless Congress specifically said these parks cannot have a fee.)

by The Truthô on Feb 4, 2016 2:22 pm • linkreport

@Bob

I like that idea! I'm sure Maryland commuters would scream about it though.

I don't things will change until a member of Congress gets involved. Federal bureaucracies just don't respond to tweets or emails from the public. They only move when contacted by a Congressperson.

by Joe Flood on Feb 4, 2016 2:23 pm • linkreport

@JES, yes, one can ski in the grass along the MVT - except on bridges and the boardwalk sections (eg just south of Roosevelt Island and by Dyke Marsh). So it's not really a perfect solution. Skiers could probably also use the unpaved right-of-way on the W&OD. But no such option exists for the Rock Creek Trail or Sligo Creek.

by Purple Eagle on Feb 4, 2016 9:42 pm • linkreport

I am a cyclist AND skier. I can cycle most of the year. I only get to ski a few days a year, if that.

Let the skiers have their rare moment of glory.

And let me say that it disturbs me when a few cyclists dismiss the needs of skiers in exactly the same way that motorists like to dismiss the needs of cyclists, such as with: "Skiing is just a hobby, while I need to get to work." (I've skied to Metro to get to work several times.) It's a multi-use path. Let's find a way to accommodate users who almost never get a chance to use it.

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 10:31 am • linkreport

I don't think anyone has criticized keeping the trail covered for a few days for the benefit of skiers. Rather that days (leading into weeks, more if the weather hadn't warmed) later nothing had been done. And these trails aren't just recreational. They do actually serve a transportation function much like the highway in the same corridor that definitely got cleared even though it would have been consistent for NPS to say that they aren't plowing the GW Parkway either to keep things a bit more natural.

The issue is that NPS says they need to balance things between park management and transportation management but that balance is mostly just them deciding to do whatever they want.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2016 10:44 am • linkreport

drumz-

Let me clarify - I have actually read comments elsewhere in which cyclists criticized keeping the trail covered for a few days for the benefit of skiers, even when the snow is fresh. And some of those comments were derisive in the same way that motorists can be derisive toward cyclists.

It's true that after a few days, melting and compaction makes the trails of no use to skiers either and they might as well be cleared for cyclists and pedestrians.

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 11:13 am • linkreport

Well, I think some of NPS' move for skiers is/was mostly an excuse whereas now they're admitting that they just never thought about it before.

For this specific storm it was probably ok to wait until Monday or so to start clearing the trail. People started going back to work and all.

But it goes back to what the trail is for. It has a dual purpose for recreation and transportation (so do roads, which is why commuter complaints about cyclists are similarly unfounded) but when it comes to snow NPS says its only for recreation instead.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2016 11:21 am • linkreport

guy

A. The cross country skier arguments seems silly after the snow and ice blocking the trail for cyclists is no longer close to being able to be skied upon

B. There are other places, some adjacent to the MVT, where it would be possible to ski even if the MVT were plowed (I suppose there are a few bridges and underpasses where there really is direct conflict, but not that many

C. It is true that a very considerable portion of cyclists are out for transportation, mostly commuting (the time patterns shown by the Arlington County trackers indicate rush hour weekday peaks) and at least some of them attempt to commute all year, and cutting the MVT is an issue for them. AFAICT commuting by ski is very very rare in this region, and even the most dedicated clearly do not rely on it (since it is impossible more than a few days a year)

What all the above suggests is that X-country skis should be accommodated in park areas that are not key bike commuter routes.

The analogy with motorists I would suggest is that cyclists accept that they cannot use interstate highways in our area. The MVT is for cyclists, what I395 is for motorists.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Feb 5, 2016 11:21 am • linkreport

CBF:

A. No skier has defended not plowing the trail after a few days. I'm referring to cyclists who want it plowed immediately, even when the snow is fresh and skiable.

B. True, and I'm willing to ski there, but do you see how this comment resembles the contrary when targeting cyclists? "Don't ride in the roads - there are trails and sidewalks." Now, your comment was reasonable, but some I've seen weren't.

C. Yes, I'm willing to compromise. I'm just dismayed that some cyclists want to dismiss skiers entirely.

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 11:29 am • linkreport

NPS did a terrible job everywhere. I biked to work on Friday and still:
1)The trail through the Iwo Jima Memorial hadn't been plowed
2)The Memorial Bridge was snow-covered

They suck.

I cannot believe people are serious about keeping snow for people to ski.

by VJU on Feb 5, 2016 12:16 pm • linkreport

guy, as an urban trail that serves as a major transportation element in the bikeways network, I would argue it's not reasonable to delay plowing MVT to facilitate recreational use. The NCR trail in North Baltimore County's rural area is a different case. However, as that trail crosses into Pennsylvania, and in some cases, is part of the bikeways transportation system (such as in York) it should be plowed.

by Richard Layman on Feb 5, 2016 12:22 pm • linkreport

VJU

Thanks for proving my point. Somewhere out there a motorist is saying "I can't believe they take road space to make bike lanes or tax money to build bike trails."

Richard,

So is there no room for recreation on bike trails? They must become major commuter routes just like our highways? Even for a few days every five years or so? I hope we never reach that point.

In fact, your argument could easily lead to someone proposing tearing up a bike path and building a commuter highway or railway in the right-of-way. And this is not an idle fear either - a highway was once planned for the W&OD, and then there's the Purple Line.

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 12:34 pm • linkreport

"So is there no room for recreation on bike trails? They must become major commuter routes just like our highways? Even for a few days every five years or so? I hope we never reach that point."

There is plenty of room for recreation on the MVT, (which BTW, is a MUT, not a bike trail) That includes recreational bikers, runners, walkers, roller bladers. But since it is also a commuter route, recreational uses not compatible, perhaps should not be accommodated on it.

And of course that does not apply to all MUTs. There are some (like the Cross County Trail in Fairfax) which are not important commuter routes. There are also places (including many adjacent to the MVT where skiing is possible, off the trail.

"In fact, your argument could easily lead to someone proposing tearing up a bike path and building a commuter highway or railway in the right-of-way."

I am not sure how it could. We already have highways and railways. The MVT is really unique for cyclists. In particular most of the access points to DC bridges run through it. When it is not clear, it is almost impossible to ride from Virginia to DC. This would be like closing ALL the road bridges from NoVa into downtown DC for the benefit of cyclists. Can you see that happening?

" And this is not an idle fear either - a highway was once planned for the W&OD, and then there's the Purple Line."

Most cyclists support the Purple Line. I do.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Feb 5, 2016 12:46 pm • linkreport

CBF

"But since it is also a commuter route, recreational uses not compatible, perhaps should not be accommodated on it."

And now you sound exactly like a motorist saying "bikes should get off the roads!"

Would you support a Purple line with no parallel bike path? Or a rail line down the W&OD?

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 12:59 pm • linkreport

"LaRocca does point to the fact that the Mount Vernon Trail has a lot of curves and hills, something that makes clearing it of snow more challenging than the Capital Crescent Trail, which is built on a former railroad bed. "

Have they not seen the Custis Trail?

by WHAT? on Feb 5, 2016 1:27 pm • linkreport

I saw people shoveling their streets when the authorities failed to plow. I guess maybe we cyclists can be more proactive as well.

by Roger the Cyclist on Feb 5, 2016 1:34 pm • linkreport

I saw people shoveling their streets when the authorities failed to plow. I guess maybe we cyclists can be more proactive as well.

It's already happened.

http://www.thewashcycle.com/2016/01/saturday-self-serving-shoveling.html

by CyclistinAlexandria on Feb 5, 2016 1:41 pm • linkreport

Big deal, I've shoveled my whole street (with some help of course) in several storms in years past.

by Old-Timer on Feb 5, 2016 1:46 pm • linkreport

"But since it is also a commuter route, recreational uses not compatible, perhaps should not be accommodated on it."

And now you sound exactly like a motorist saying "bikes should get off the roads!""

How? A. It is quite possible for cyclists to share roads with motor vehicles. Similarly, when I bike on the trails, I try to treat walkers, runners, and roller bladers as I would want a car to treat me. But you are asking that that the MVT be unavaible to cyclists - surely you can see why that is different?

B. I would be willing to consider leaving SOME trails for skiers (did you read my mention of the Cross County Trail?) Again MVT is unique - for someone riding across the 14th Street or Memorial bridges, there is no detour to the MVT.

Would you support a Purple line with no parallel bike path? Or a rail line down the W&OD?

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Feb 5, 2016 2:13 pm • linkreport

Re The Purple Line or the W&OD

If the benefit cost case could be made, I would consider it. The reason that was not done is not because cyclist use was sacrosanct but because in the case of the PL there was sufficient width to accommodate both moders, and in the case of the W&OD (as has been explained on GGW several times) restoring rail is not feasible.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Feb 5, 2016 2:15 pm • linkreport

How many hours do you need to be able to ski?

The storm lasted 31 hours (1 pm to about 8 pm next day).
Probably not reasonable to expect plowing until at least Monday (another 30+ hours).

That's 60 hours to ski. Should we shut the MVT down for a week?

by VJU on Feb 5, 2016 2:58 pm • linkreport

60 hours is fine. Maybe give me all day Monday.

by guy on Feb 5, 2016 3:12 pm • linkreport

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