Trails and Planning
First the good news:
1. The NE Branch trail from Riverdale Road to Decatur Street in Hyattsville is now completely repaved. The construction project to raise the levees seems to be finished in that section, and the trail is functionally open. (There's still a "trail closed" sign at the northbound entrance by Decatur Street, but you can just ride around it.)
And the not-so-good news:
2. The section of the NE Branch trail that's still under construction, just south of Decatur Street, is very rough but passable when they're not working -- you just have to walk your bike in a couple short spots. When they're working, you have to detour up Decatur Street, over the train tracks, and take a left on Alt Route 1 to get back to the trail system by where Armentrout Road intersects Alt Route 1. (Note, that latter intersection is pretty hairy -- I think it must have been designed by a sadist -- so it might be better to use the trail to go under and come back up on the other side when using the detour northbound, back toward Greenbelt. Otherwise, that left turn from Armentrout Road or the NW Branch Trail on to Alt Route 1 can be pretty nasty.)
3. The roundabout at the intersection of Cherrywood Lane and Greenbelt Metro drive seems like a missed opportunity for cyclists. I still support this roundabout, because I think it will improve pedestrian safety, reduce car wrecks, and reduce car delays exiting the Metro station during the evening rush hour. However, the northbound bike lane, which was supposed to be a protected cycletrack, looks like it was constructed instead as a standard sidewalk, with awkward entrances and exits built more like sidewalk ramps. Moreover, there's no curb cut at the roundabout itself, so cyclists exiting the Greenbelt Metro can't enter the cycletrack going up the hill toward the Beltway overpass. Finally, there's no crosswalk on the north side of the roundabout to help reduce speeds. Drivers speeding into the Metro on the ramp lane conflict with cyclists trying to merge left from the bike lane to get into the roundabout. This merge is worse than before, although in my opinion a crosswalk would help make it better by reducing speeds, especially in the morning rush hour. Finally, I do like the protection we get from speeding traffic (buses!) coming out of Metro to go southbound on Cherrywood. That part is better than before.
And the bad news:
4. The Greenbelt Bike and Pedestrian master plan is delayed again. It was supposed to come out early this year, then delayed until summer, now delayed until fall. I don't know why. I sit on the Greenbelt Advisory Planning Board, and the Board members have continued to ask the City to get this done and start operationalizing its recommendations, developing funding estimates, getting projects started. I wish these plans were a higher priority for the City.
5. The Greenbelt Road Neighborhood Preservation plan, which the APB thinks was initially developed by the State Highway Administration when Glendening was governor, seems to be lost. Right now, Greenbelt's big project request for state funding seems to be to get a new Beltway interchange constructed at the Greenbelt Metro (future, maybe) development site. I think that's ridiculous.
Instead, local towns need to be asking for funds to gradually improve our current roads, such as Greenbelt Road or Route 1 in College Park, to improve their landscaping and make them "complete streets" with pleasant and functional sidewalks and bike lanes, and easier car access to and from neighborhoods and side streets. This will be hard and expensive -- it will require burying power lines and re-landscaping the roads themselves. But this is how we need to be spending our transportation funds, not building even more ramps and interchanges.
For decades, Maryland has tried to turn Greenbelt into a giant mass of highways that are hostile to bikes and walkers, and frankly are kind of nasty to drive on too! The Kenilworth/Greenbelt Road interchange was the most obvious highway mess. But all though Greenbelt, it has become unpleasant even to drive around on these crazy roads. The highway-ization of Greenbelt Road and 201 has increased speeds and created a hit-the-gas/slam-on-the-brakes driving mentality, especially from through traffic. It's no wonder businesses don't want to locate here any more. It's not a pleasant environment, at least not near our main roads. Much of Greenbelt has gone from green to grey -- a big mess of ramps, asphalt, and parking lots.
However, things may be changing for the better. The new Greenbelt Road/193 draft sector plan is now available from the City, and public hearings will be held in October. I got my copy last night, and I hope to read through it this weekend. On first glance, it looks like there are some very good concepts.
There are some bad ideas too -- the double-reverse "diverging diamond" interchange proposal for rebuilding the Kenilworth/Greenbelt Road interchange would take us from bad to worse. That idea should be buried fast. We don't need to double down on even more convoluted highway building in our City.
But on the whole, the sector plan seems to have a very helpful vision for rebuilding our roads to be more oriented for the needs of local residents and businesses and less for high-speed through traffic.
Sunday, September 16th. The "Bishop's Ride" is being held at Holy Trinity Church, 13106 Annapolis Rd, Bowie, MD 20720 and will be followed by a picnic at Collington Episcopal Lifecare Community in Lanham.
There will be three distance rides: 10, 20 and 32. 10 is all trails and paths. 20 is trails and very low traffic wide roads. 32 is a typical road ride mostly on low traffic roads. There will be a SAG support wagon available to help riders. Free -- all are welcome, but signups are requested. I'll post more route information in the comments as soon as I get it.
Saturday, September 22nd. The Ride for Natasha will be held out of Community Temple Church in Cheverly. We're planning to ride down to Cheverly from Proteus bike shop in north College Park to meet up with the Ride for Natasha lunch and their afternoon 1pm memorial cruise ride. We'd leave Proteus at 10am, stop for snacks at Shortcake bakery (if you want), and then continue down the trails to Bladensburg marina. From there, it's through a couple neighborhoods, under the Parkway (there's a sidewalk if traffic is heavy), and through Cheverly (which is very nice but it has some substantial hills). Here is the route I'm proposing: http://goo.gl/maps/OnUmh . (For Greenbelt riders wishing to head over to the shop with us, we'd leave from the New Deal Cafe at 9:30am.)
We'd get lunch at the Community Temple Church, and then do their 13 mile cruise ride to the memorial at 1pm, then back to the church and then back to the shop. All in all, it would probably be about 33 mile round trip. 10 miles to the church, 13 mile cruise, then 10 miles back to Proteus. Mostly on paved trails and low-traffic streets. Here is the link to the memorial ride route from the church: http://goo.gl/maps/zho73 . We'd probably take the route version on the lower traffic streets, and would get back to the shop probably around 3 or 4pm.
Here is a link to the Ride's Facebook page with more info (which I've also pasted below): https://www.facebook.com/events/433274840049848/
Here's a link to the Proteus Rides page, with directions to the shop etc.: http://www.proteusbicycles.com/eventsrides/
All are welcome to join us or meet up along the way. -Jeff
September 22, 2012. Join us to honor Natasha Pettigrew and celebrate what's been achieved for biking in Prince George's County.
Meet in Cheverly to ride to Upper Marlboro and return to the ride start for lunch and a discussion about how we can make our county a better place for all road users. Then a shorter ride will depart for a memorial bicycle dedication near Prince George's County Community College.
8am 40 mile Ride for Natasha departs
11.30am Lunch celebration
1pm 13 mile ride departs
2pm Memorial bike dedication (Campus Way S. & 202, Largo)
Natasha Pettigrew was a triathlete, Green Party candidate for Maryland Senate and law student who was killed by a car while riding on Sept 19, 2010.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...122204421.html
Since then, Natasha's mother, Kenniss Henry, has been fighting to improve bicycle safety laws and to increase penalties for drivers who kill bikers.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...111807032.html
The driver's sentencing: