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Old 07-16-12, 08:15 AM   #1
Andy Stanton
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Crummy Bike Paths

I've become very frustrated in that all the bike paths in my general area of northern VA are very poorly maintained. I rode on the path bordering route 7100 (also called 286) and was shocked at the trash strewn all over it. Everything from piles of grass, branches, rubber, paper, tar, rocks. It's very unsafe and I won't be riding it again. I've been hearing about the W&OD bike trail which I intend to try out this coming weekend, but it requires a 3/4 hour drive. Are the bike paths OK where you live?
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Old 07-16-12, 08:41 AM   #2
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Move down to Florida. Our bike paths are awesome. The one I ride in is cleared of debris every day by the park rangers. Nothing on the side of the path. When we get storms that blow debris all over the place, they get people who have to serve community service hours (by the courts) to come in and clean the parks up. All the bike paths that I have ridden here in Florida are pretty much the same; very well maintained.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:21 AM   #3
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Rhode Island is a vacation destination so an good effort is made to maintain bike paths and state parks. Somehow state legislators need to fund park and recreation departments or it will not happen. Here in R. I. the bike club is old and well established and places emphasis on cycling advocacy. If you wand nice trails, you have to get after the legislature. Maybe a bike shop coalition could get the ball rolling with volunteer cleanup days.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:42 AM   #4
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Hello, Andy. I live close to you, and am familiar with that stretch of VA 7100, now 286, and must agree with your assessment of the path that borders it. But there is an explanation...

The 7100 is a commuting corridor - it has no retail access and no adjacent park lands, with very few exceptions along a 40-mile stretch. It is maintained by Virginia DOT, whose landscaping and grounds care skills are...well...not stellar. It also has construction vehicles on it and through it for years on end as it's widened, intersections are removed/replaced with overpasses, and utilities are serviced. These all combine to make it much less than scenic.

The W&OD trail is, by contrast, a converted rails-to-trail park and is maintained by both volunteers and state and county park/rec employees. It cuts across three counties and doesn't (except for a small portion in Arlington, I66) share its route with any commuting roadways. It crosses residential areas and parklands, farms and woodlands, so is scenic for the best part of its 45 mile length.

In my experience, the best riding is on the roads in western Loudoun and northern Fauquier counties. Stay away from Fairfax county, as it's too congested and is basically a huge bedroom community for Wash DC jobs.

Good luck.

Also, if you'd like to ride sometime, PM me. Phil G.

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Old 07-16-12, 10:18 AM   #5
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Pictures? Are they like this or worse?

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Old 07-16-12, 10:20 AM   #6
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In Montgomery County PA the county commissioners asked resident if they would bear a tax hike to keep some quality of life services in place. The parks and local bike paths were highlighted. Residents showed great support for this, and I'm pleased to say the bike paths continue to be in very good condition.
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Old 07-16-12, 11:57 AM   #7
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Worse, unfortunately.
Andy

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Pictures? Are they like this or worse?

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Old 07-16-12, 12:35 PM   #8
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I feel your pain, here in Colorado Springs, the paths/trails use to be mainted by "City General Funds" but since our city is HURTING badly money wise, there's been NO funds for upkeep and the main East/West trail (Rock Island Trail) that we use is just falling apart and getting dangerous!! Add to that that the city STREET, that use to be considered a "bike route", before the path has 2 inch, wide 2 inch deep cracks every 10 feet, some even worse so there's really NO safe and mainted route out of our area. The Rock Island is considered a Tier 1 trail but with no funding source, specificly for maint. it's dying a slow, sad death. BUMMER! Many of our trails don't connect and they too are discenagrating back into dirt, ok if you ride a fat tire comfort bike or a MTB, SUCKS if you ride a thin tire machine! (Note: this area has had the "asphalt chunks" removed and has been filled with sand so it's tiny bit better than the photo, still I put my road bike on my shoulder and "carry" it over the area we now call the "BEACH"! )
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Old 07-16-12, 01:41 PM   #9
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Pretty good over here until you get into towns. Our Cuckoo trail is well maintained in general with patching done on bad asphalt and verges cut back to keep brambles away from the edge. Litter is not too bad but Dog Crap around residential areas is. Then you get into Eastbourne and at least the dog crap is not there but roots from trees are erupting in the path and the verges are not cut for about 3 months. Nettles and brambles along with Hawthorn growing over the trail do cause a problem and the debris from when they are cut is all over the trail.

That is why I prefer to ride on our back roads or offroad trails where you know what to expect round the next corner--Probably Cow muck as you have just followed the Farmer as he moves his cattle from field to field.
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Old 07-16-12, 02:24 PM   #10
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Ours have people on them.
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Old 07-16-12, 02:28 PM   #11
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bjjoondo, I have to admit your bike path is worse than the ones around me. You can't even tell from the photo that it is a bike path.
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Old 07-16-12, 03:02 PM   #12
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Start an adopt a path affinity group .. you can take up a bit of trail maintenance
with some friends, tidy it up, have food and drinks when finished.


Mine are shared with rails, riverfront trolley, summer and weekend days

so crossing and staying on the planked in spaces around the tracks
on Trestles requires attention.. relative sobriety.

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Old 07-16-12, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjjoondo View Post
ok if you ride a fat tire comfort bike or a MTB, SUCKS if you ride a thin tire machine!
"There is no bad weather. There are only bad clothes."

The easy answer to your problem is n+1. Fun too.
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Old 07-16-12, 05:34 PM   #14
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The Great Allegheny Passage--runs for ~135 miles between Pittsburgh, PA, and Cumberland, MD--is beautifully maintained by volunteers and in Allegheny County, PA, (Pittsburgh) it receives some proceeds from a special 1% county sales tax that funds parks, libraries, the GAP, the arts, etc. Come and see it!!
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Old 07-16-12, 05:57 PM   #15
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The Great Allegheny Passage--runs for ~135 miles between Pittsburgh, PA, and Cumberland, MD--is beautifully maintained by volunteers and in Allegheny County, PA, (Pittsburgh) it receives some proceeds from a special 1% county sales tax that funds parks, libraries, the GAP, the arts, etc. Come and see it!!
That one is definitely on our list. We can get to the Pittsburgh end of the trail in less than 6 hrs from home, so we're going to do it some day.
I've heard access at the Pittsburgh end was a bit of an issue, but apparently that is being dealt with.
Actually, we had tentative plans to do it in 2010, but ended up going to Europe instead.
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Old 07-16-12, 07:15 PM   #16
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This brings up a minor beef I have. For the most part, the local MUP is pretty clean. However, some of our women hikers & riders don't stash their TP when taking a trailside leak. Sooo tacky. C'mon girls, carry a ziplock sandwich bag with you & put it in the trash barrels so kindly provided by the park district. 'nuff said. bk
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Old 07-16-12, 08:14 PM   #17
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I think an additional issue with the trail beside 7100 (FFX Cty Pkwy) is that it isn't continuous. It stops and starts at major intersections, so doesn't really go from / to anywhere. Otherwise, I would consider riding the length of it sometime.

The W&OD is much better maintained, but is very heavily travelled. If you live anywhere near 7100, you should be able to get to a point on the W&OD in 20 minutes.
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Old 07-17-12, 10:10 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Stanton View Post
Quote:
I've become very frustrated in that all the bike paths in my general area of northern VA are very poorly maintained. I rode on the path bordering route 7100 (also called 286) and was shocked at the trash strewn all over it. Everything from piles of grass, branches, rubber, paper, tar, rocks. It's very unsafe and I won't be riding it again. I've been hearing about the W&OD bike trail which I intend to try out this coming weekend, but it requires a 3/4 hour drive. Are the bike paths OK where you live
?
How about the Mt. Vernon Trail? I haven't done it in 15 yrs but it was always a nice paved, scenic trail on the VA side, bordering the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial to Mt. Vernon. It's 16 miles one way.
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Old 07-17-12, 04:27 PM   #19
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The Great Allegheny Passage--runs for ~135 miles between Pittsburgh, PA, and Cumberland, MD--is beautifully maintained by volunteers and in Allegheny County, PA, (Pittsburgh) it receives some proceeds from a special 1% county sales tax that funds parks, libraries, the GAP, the arts, etc. Come and see it!!
Sounds wonderful. I hope to do a small part of it one day.
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Old 07-17-12, 04:28 PM   #20
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How about the Mt. Vernon Trail? I haven't done it in 15 yrs but it was always a nice paved, scenic trail on the VA side, bordering the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial to Mt. Vernon. It's 16 miles one way.
That sounds great. I'll look into it.
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Old 07-17-12, 05:44 PM   #21
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Start an adopt a path affinity group .. you can take up a bit of trail maintenance
with some friends, tidy it up, have food and drinks when finished.
Volunteerism works but it takes dedicated people to begin and to get the effort started. The Appalachian Mountain Club here in New England maintains hundreds of miles to trails as does the Dartmouth Outing Club and the Green Mountain Club and some smaller clubs. Heavy rock work needed for maintenance is performed by paid summer crews. Much maintenance such as brush cutting, cleaning out water bars and cutting up downed trees is done by volunteers. I have spent weekends on trail work on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut and New Hampshire. The 2100 miles of this long distance trail is maintained in this way.

Locally, I've seen volunteers working at the local state park, along Narragansett Bay, picking up trash washed up at high tide. It takes some organizational skill or sheer determination to get these efforts going but oh so worth it. The paving is out of our hands but we certainly can pick up trash. Maybe if authorities see that people care about these things, they will care.
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Old 07-18-12, 01:37 PM   #22
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I'm sure this is a fake but it sure is scary.

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Old 07-19-12, 12:40 PM   #23
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AS - You probably picked the worst trail around here for your example. VDOT doesn't have money for maintenance outside of the actual roadbed. They don't even mow the medians anymore.
The trail along 123 is much better maintained. I think a lot more people use 123 vs 7100, so they try to keep up appearances.

W&OD, Custis, Four Mile Run, Mount Vernon, are all in much better shape. I like the trails that connect to Wakefield and Lake Accotink (gravel but not bad).
Some good choices across the river, too. Capital Crescent, Rock Creek (but not near the zoo), C&O, Metropolitan Branch, Henson and the most of the Anacostia trail system.

Don't limit yourself to the trails. There is also a good system of rideable roads.
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Old 07-23-12, 05:45 AM   #24
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I'm sure this is a fake but it sure is scary.

This is to separate the cyclists from the POBs..... POB's would actually attempt to ride the bike lane, cyclist's would use the lane to the left of it.

For those who do not know, a POB is a Person On Bicycle, when there isn't a bike lane, they ride the wrong way or on the sidewalk.... I don't know how many times I have informed one that you ride WITH traffic, walk against. When they mention a fear of being rear ended, I have two things I show them, my rear blinkie flashing, and my Taka-a-look helmet mounted mirror.

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Old 07-23-12, 06:16 AM   #25
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Pittsburgh Rails-To-Trails

We in Pittsburgh have been blessed with several beautiful, well built and well maintained rails-to-trails systems... And, most all of it was organized, funded -- and the work performed by -- volunteers... Actually, there are 3 major trail systems:
1) Montour (46 miles) is complete except for about 100 yard stretch where you have to get back on the road.
2) Panhandle is 29 miles from from Collier PA to Collier WV and it intersects with the Montour
3) Three Rivers & Heritage trails along the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. These are incomplete but cover about 20 miles in total.

All but the last were built by and continue to be maintained by volunteers.

On Saturday I was happy to see that 2 new bridges had been completed and opened on the Montour trail (which eliminated a mile of dangerous road). In the nearby parking lot I saw several volunteers painting benches and spreading mulch. One woman explained that 20 years ago her husband and others would come out after work to lift and remove the old railroad ties and rails and lay down the limestone. She said that since then some of them have died and some have moved away -- but some, like her and her husband continue to build and maintain these wonderful trails....

They handed me one of their volunteer newsletters and it had a story about how volunteers recently dug a 250 foot trench to run a power line to the National Tunnel on the Montour trail in order to light it... They then installed the lighting (which I think was donated by a local vendor).

They also explained that other volunteers were busy doing the engineering work to intall yet another bridge over state Rt88 to extend the trail even further ....

I have been using these trails a great deal -- and I am very grateful for those who have donated such an incredible amount of time, energy and money to make this possible...

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