Trails – Little Things Mean a Lot

The DC area has some truly wonderful multiuse paths, or what we humans call bike trails. As the DC bicycling community grows, these trails become more than just a recreational resource. Thousands of people use these trails every day to get to and from work and to run carfree errands. So it is important that they are maintained properly.

I came across two good examples of trail maintenance today. In Arlington, the Four Mile Run Trail connects the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail to the Mount Vernon Trail. The entire Four Mile Run Trail had been treated with brine to keep rain from freezing. Unfortunately, the treatment stops at the Mount Vernon Trail which is maintained by the National Park Service.


Alexandria City doesn’t treat their trails either. But somebody, either the city or the Park Service or a landowner, fixed a troublesome spot on the Mount Vernon Trail yesterday. At the north end of Old Town in a mixed use development called Canal Place, the trail zig zags across a set of railroad tracks that run parallel to the trail. (Of course, these tracks are a hazard in and of themselves. I watched a man crash his bike a couple of years ago when his wheel got caught up in the rails).

To continue north, you have to ride across the tracks at a 90 degree angle to the right then you turn 90 degrees to the left to stay on the trail. While doing this second turn you have to squeeze between a pole and a concrete curb. Between the curb and the pole there was a big bump and several smaller ones. (There used to be a hole which made things even more interesting.)

Whoever does such things came along yesterday and smoothed all these bumps out. You still have to negotiate the tracks and do a zigzag but one aspect of this hazardous little trail segment has been fixed.


5 thoughts on “Trails – Little Things Mean a Lot

  1. I have thought in the past that those bumps had a slight usefulness in slowing trail traffic down at that intersection.

    I also think the stop signs on the intersection s along that stretch of trailshould be reverse. I think I’m keeping with Vision Zero, street traffic should have to stop. rather than trail traffic. If a mistake is made, trail traffic would do less harm than a car or truck.

    1. I totally agree about the stop signs. As for the bumps, I nearly crashed several times trying to negotiate them with on coming traffic so I’m not sorry to see them go

  2. I have crashed on rails crossing bike trails, it was low speed but I literally saw stars (like bugs bunny) after my head bounced off the trail, despite wearing a helmet, it has made me a stalwart helmet wearer.

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