Monday, August 21, 2006

Use of W&OD Trail on the Rise

On Agust 18th the Washington Post ran a front page story titles Bicycling on Popular W&OD Trail No Longer a Breeze. This story focused on the increased use of the W&OD trail and several cycling accidents over the last year an a half. Below is a letter to the editor that I sent in response to this article.

Dear Editor of the Washington Post,

Your August 18th article about cycling on the W&OD Trail and other popular trails in our area pointed out how many more trail users there are today than in the past. In the most recent park needs survey in Fairfax County, 54% of households had used walking/biking trails in the last 12 months, and 64% of households expressed a need for such amenities in the future. With interest in trail use on the rise at the same time our population continues to grow in Northern Virginia, it is little wonder that so many trail users are finding their way to the W&OD. This is the premier multi-use recreational trail in our region, stretching 45 miles from Arlington to Purcellville. In many ways the W&OD is the community commons for Northern Virginia. It links our communities, creates opportunities for healthy recreation, and is a unifying thread through a very diverse region. It is great news that so many in our area are making healthy choices to increase their physical activity, spend time outside with family and friends, and seek clean alternatives to our congested roads. Expanding use of the W&OD and other trails in the region argue for more interconnected trails making non-motorized travel easier.

I appreciate the Post highlighting trail rules and etiquette. Following these simple guidelines will enhance the experience of all the users of the trail, from equestrians, walkers, skaters, and cyclists. It is also very important to note that the four accident related fatalities in the trail’s 31 year history were all the result of cyclist riding into cross streets without stopping at posted signs. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has installed stop ahead, and stop signs at every cross street, this fall we will be adding rumble strips and large lettering on the trail surface letting cyclists and other trail users know that they are approaching a cross street and need to stop and pay attention to road traffic. We are also working with the Virginia DOT to improve the safety of these crossings, with better signage, and grade separated crossings or traffic lights wherever feasible.

Even with the inherent risks of crossing streets, the Trail is a very safe place to recreate. I have cycled long stretches of the W&OD with my young daughter on the back of my bike and never felt the trail offered anything less than a family friendly place to recreate with beautiful scenery and interesting lessons in history.

For a complete list of rules and tips for playing it safe along the W&OD trail, I would encourage your readers to visit the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority website at


Anonymous said...

I was wondering if the Park Authority is considering the establishment of a Police Force for the parks similiar to the Maryland National Capitol Park Authority

Kim said...

would you please add an RSS feed to this blog?