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Heads up to DC area W&OD riders

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Heads up to DC area W&OD riders

Old 11-01-10, 07:11 PM
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CCrew
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Heads up to DC area W&OD riders

Let's hope this morning was the exception rather than the rule.

Got pounced at 4am by a Vienna cop driving his cruiser up the trail near Cedar Lane. Full blue light treatment, checked my bag, had to produce ID, ran a radio check. Informed me that the trail is closed dusk to dawn. Fortunately for me my work ID made him take a bit of pause. He said there have been burglary issues near the trail, but considering the amount of scotchlite in clothing and bag and lights I run I'm far from being a ninja. Heck, I'd light up like Xmas with a AAA Maglite near me

Yeah, we all know it's *technically* closed but given it's a major east/west commuter route I've never seen it enforced in over 2 1/2 years of riding it. He was quick to inform me it was a trespassing ticket for being on the trail.

Let's hope it was just a slow crime morning and I was an easy target and it's not a sign of things to come.

-R
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Old 11-01-10, 07:35 PM
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I ride the W&OD and the Custis almost nightly very late (though not around Vienna) and never had a problem either.
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Old 11-01-10, 08:31 PM
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I was returning home (Springfield) from Leesburg a couple of weeks ago, came through Herndon about 1:00 am or so and ran into a Herndon cop on the trail. His cruiser looked like an UFO with all the white lights/search lights ablaze ( not the light bar). He ask me what I was doing, and I just said I was heading home. Told me to be careful, no ID check, no pat down. When I got to Vienna, 2 police cars sitting at Church Street and the trail didn't say anything. Maybe this was before the trouble started.

I really had no idea the trail was closed from dusk to dawn. I will have to be more careful in the future.
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Old 11-01-10, 10:09 PM
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That's some horsesh*t. Dusk starts at, what, 6 PM now? Right, as if everyone stops working in time to get home and off the trail before then. What a crock. Fight it.
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Old 11-02-10, 05:49 AM
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FWIW they have tried to close some trails in MD from dusk to dawn and we pulled out the fact that the trails were built with Transportation Enhancement funds that define the primary purpose as transportation, not recreation. Parks close from dusk to dawn but roads stay open. So far this has worked.
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Old 11-02-10, 06:43 AM
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With the end of DST this weekend, dusk will be around 5:30. What a great way to raise revenue in these tough economic times . . . start ticketing bike commuters! Unbelievable.
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Old 11-02-10, 07:00 AM
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I would not mind if they gave some of the ninja walkers and joggers tickets or at least convinced them to wear some more reflective clothing. I'm always struck by how much easier the Custis and certain parts of the W&OD are to navigate because they have street lights every few meters. Once the W&OD hits Falls Church City, it is lights out. I've never seen Falls Church City cops on the trail at night but I guess it could happen. I still thought I read somwhere that it was ok to use the W&OD at night as a bike commuter but it was probably wishful thinking. The whole W&OD is kind of a chaotic mess. While I would never want to give up the ability to ride at night, I would trade a certain amount of freedom for more predictability in the trail's users.
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Old 11-02-10, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
FWIW they have tried to close some trails in MD from dusk to dawn and we pulled out the fact that the trails were built with Transportation Enhancement funds that define the primary purpose as transportation, not recreation. Parks close from dusk to dawn but roads stay open. So far this has worked.
Yeah, unfortunately the W&OD is a regional park though - don't see that argument holding water here. I'd love to see some transportation funds go into it - it's crying to be repaved.

Cop was courteous/polite, and once he was done he let me on my way. What will be interesting is the next time he catches me since I'd consider this my warning. It's not going to interrupt my commute. Will have to see.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:09 AM
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As I was riding to work this morning, I thought that a statement from your employer would help.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:20 AM
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Wow. Thanks for posting. Good info.

The Human Carr has a good point, and I wouldn't be so sure that there isn't some similarly intended funding down in the bowels of the W&OD.

Independent of the money trail, there's a lot of night trail users here -- W&OD, CCT, C&O, etc. I think it might be time to do a little poll here of folks who support a position calling for our local advocacy groups -- WABA, Friends of CCT, Friends of W&OD, Rails to Trails, etc. to add this to their agenda. With a little buildup of numbers here, we can then point substantively to their policy folks and ask for some representation.

I'd hate to see you get charged for this, ccrew.

Gotta run right now, perhaps some folks can kick around the idea in this thread to frame up the first post for the poll -- the choices, the root question, etc.....
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Old 11-02-10, 11:10 AM
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I know that there has been an uptick in Burglary in certain neighborhoods in Falls Church, McLean, Reston/ Herndon and Vienna, as reported in many local papers. I haven't seen anything about the trail being implicated, and it seems pretty unlikely, all things considered. Many easier and less 'suspicious' methods of egress, even on foot. But it wouldn't surprise me to find that the boys in blue are trying to make some political hay.

Obviously there's almost no way to stick to commuting in daylight hours this time of year. Perhaps next time you're stopped, you can claim to be part of the neighborhood watch?
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Old 11-02-10, 11:22 AM
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This is really disturbing.. I'd noticed the "Closed Dusk to Dawn" Signs before and always just hoped they would only be enforced if someone was caught doing something illegal (Use the Closed status to tag on an extra trespassing charge or something like that).
It is impossible during the shorter days in the winter to work a full 40 hrs and only use the trail in the daylight. I've also noticed on my commute that many of the (most likely unintentional) Ninjas appear to be poorer folks using the trail as a means of transport between jobs/stores (at least in the Herndon area). It just seems anti-community to enforce this.
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Old 11-02-10, 11:34 AM
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I think this came up here in Texas and that, yes, the park can be closed from dusk to dawn but the trail, if built with transportation funds, must remain open. However, you can't leave the trail without trespassing.
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Old 11-02-10, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by grandjeanius View Post
This is really disturbing.. I'd noticed the "Closed Dusk to Dawn" Signs before and always just hoped they would only be enforced if someone was caught doing something illegal (Use the Closed status to tag on an extra trespassing charge or something like that).

That's always been my take on it - the rule was there and enforced as need be. Turn a blind eye to the commuters sort of thing. Thing is the regional govt's are looking for funding also and citations make easy pickings.

I'll say though, I'm not averse to a stop/check in the off hours. Not impressed with a search and I do have an issue with being threatened with a trespassing citation. There's not a soul that cycles on the west side of town that doesn't know that the trail is a major commuting route. Most I see in the wee hours however are Wal-Mart mountain bikes ridden ninja style.

Granted it was 4am, and most souls are still snug in their beds, but not everyone works a 9-5 job either. I like the idea of escalating to one of the advocacy orgs - I may pursue that. I'll bounce a well written email off the NVRPA first, I'm sure we have some direct contact info here somewhere.

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Old 11-02-10, 03:48 PM
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Please keep us updated if you hear back! PM me if there's something you think I could help with.. (I'm not sure what I could do).
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Old 11-02-10, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
There's not a soul that cycles on the west side of down that doesn't know that the trail is a major commuting route.
Yeah, no kidding. It doesn't take half a brain to realize that all those riders with loaded panniers or backpacks, lights and mirrors, and (usually) frowning faces aren't just riding for recreation.
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Old 11-02-10, 04:26 PM
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OP: Hey, you ever read the "washcycle" blog around this joint? https://www.thewashcycle.com/

I'd let him know about it, though he may already -- I dunno. I've emailed him regularly about problems with local traffic lights, etc. and he's a great guy for advocacy and for bringing things to light about local cycling issues.
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Old 11-02-10, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TurbineBlade View Post
OP: Hey, you ever read the "washcycle" blog around this joint? https://www.thewashcycle.com/

I'd let him know about it, though he may already -- I dunno. I've emailed him regularly about problems with local traffic lights, etc. and he's a great guy for advocacy and for bringing things to light about local cycling issues.
I read it. I have a bit of an ace in the hole though. An email from me when raising issues has the ability to attract an "oh crap" response when they look at the return address
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Old 11-03-10, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
Yeah, unfortunately the W&OD is a regional park though - don't see that argument holding water here. I'd love to see some transportation funds go into it - it's crying to be repaved.

Cop was courteous/polite, and once he was done he let me on my way. What will be interesting is the next time he catches me since I'd consider this my warning. It's not going to interrupt my commute. Will have to see.
Patapsco is a State Park that closes at night but the paved trails were paid for by TE. A ranger stopped me one night and I made my case and basically as long as I was commuting and staying on the pavement it was cool. Anyway a lot places here make the case that the grounds are closed but the trail is open. Have you brought this up with the Virginia Bicycling Federation?
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Old 11-03-10, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
I read it. I have a bit of an ace in the hole though. An email from me when raising issues has the ability to attract an "oh crap" response when they look at the return address
Where do you work? If you don't wish to say, that's fine. Just curious...
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Old 11-03-10, 04:17 PM
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All those pesky bike riding burglars, eh? 'avin' it away on their wheels with laptops, plasma screen tvs, home cinema setups, hifis and so on.

a truly cunning police force would be waiting on the trail with their lights off, ready to pounce
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