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joshkaplowitz
11-15-2010, 09:13 PM
I moved to Arlington back in May and commute from the Leeway area down to Georgetown on the Custis Trail 4-5 days a week. Although there is a lot to love about the trail, I am dismayed by how poorly maintained the pavement is. Given how well-used the trail is by bikers and runners alike, I wonder if there is a "Friends of the Custis Trail" organization (along the lines of Friends of W&OD) which can raise private funds to assist the county in repairing the trail. If not, has there ever been talk of starting such an organization?

While I'm complaining, is there a proposal out there to build a bike/pedestrian bridge over the intersection of Lee Highway and Ft. Myer/Lynn St? It is only a matter of time before I witness someone get killed there. I'm no civil engineer, but it seems like it would make sense to direct bike traffic over the preexisting bridge in front of the Key Marriott, through Arlington Gateway Park, and then over a new bridge from the park to the eastern side of that intersection.

Dirt
11-16-2010, 10:30 AM
Hey Josh. Thanks for your post.

What about the Custis trail do you think needs maintenance? There are some tree-root-induced bumps leading into the bridge over Lee Hwy just west of Lyon Village. There are a few puddles here and there that become lovely ice patches in the next month or two. Much of the section between Lyon Village east to Rosslyn were repaved this year. There are a variety of dips at different spots. I guess it could use a little love. I'm not aware of anything really horrible on it. I guess my expectations are pretty low. ;)

As for the Rosslyn Death Zone... I'd love to see something done there. All 4 or 5 of those intersections are very dangerous.... not because of any design issue with the intersections... just because cars often don't yield or look for bikes. I've been hit at 4 of the intersections once in the last 2 years. I survived all with bruises and soreness. Each of the people who hit me were very polite and nice. I always get hit by the nicest people.

The easy solution that would help the intersection @Lynn street most would be a combination of a "No turn on right" sign, a longer dedicated walk signal and a 2-week enforcement campaign for both Cyclists and motorists. Cars are not the only ones doing stupid things at that intersection. Cyclists and pedestrians are the ones with the most to lose there though.

Belated welcome to the area. Welcome to the forum. I look forward to hearing your response.

Pete

joshkaplowitz
11-17-2010, 09:24 AM
I've certainly biked on much worse trails, and I agree that there are plenty of stretches that are in good shape. (It also doesn't help that my bike has no suspension.) But an awful lot of the trail could stand to be repaved-- or at least leveled where tree roots have cracked the pavement. I'm thinking in particular about the stretch between Lincoln and Lee Hwy that you cite, the stretch under the parking garage along 66, and the stretch just after the recently paved segment as you are biking toward DC. Also, the newly-paved segment still doesn't have a center stripe, which has caused me some heartburn when it is dark or the sun is in my eyes. I was just throwing out the idea that private funding may help get some of these improvements done sooner. I bet it would be easy to get business sponsorship and small contributions from the thousands of us who ride the trail daily.

I think your Rosslyn Death Zone ideas would definitely help, and I agree that the fault is shared by bikes and cars. However, it seems like the most dangerous time in the is when bikes have the walk signal amd cars have the green, since half the cars are trying to get from 66 to the Key Bridge. I'm not sure a "no turn on red" sign is going to do the trick there. A bridge through the gateway park strikes me as the best long-term solution, and would immensely benefit pedestrians going between Rosslyn and Georgetown as well... though again, the money.

Mark Blacknell
11-17-2010, 12:16 PM
The Rosslyn Death Zone (I heartily endorse that, tho' we've (thankfully) not had any deaths there in recent memory, I think) has been the subject of many a study. The most recent iteration is here - http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/cpe/capprojects/page63515.aspx. The lack of implementation is, as you might have guessed, a function of funding. It's partly funded, but I can't remember what the shortfall remains.

~

The state of Custis paving is less than ideal, for sure. The only really dangerous spot (and I've not checked it out, lately - I'd love to know that it's been repaired) is near St. Ann's School/N. Frederick St. Last I saw it, the buckle against the wall was growing, and could do some serious damage to an inattentive cyclist heading east.

A Friends of the Custis would be nice, and I'd certainly support one. But the costs for paving is quite extraordinary, really, and I think a group would find itself tapped out pretty quickly. In any event, I think all Custis trail users should let the County Board know that they should take paving the Custis as seriously as they do Wilson Blvd. Both are heavily used transportation corridors, and should be treated similarly (tho' proportionally).

Dirt
11-17-2010, 01:16 PM
I noticed that some of the areas near St. Ann's school had been fixed lately. I don't know if that was utility based or not, but three bumpy areas were removed and there's new pavement there.

@Josh: I agree with your identification of areas that need love. I too am 100% suspension-free, though I'll likely go to slightly wider tires this week since my Special-ed Armadillos are finally showing signs of mortality.

As a side note, I'm completely disappointed with those tires. The things cost me $105 and barely lasted me 3 seasons and a total accumulated mileage of close to 15,000. I got so ripped off. ;)

I rely on the bumps between Lincoln and Lee Highway to wake me up before the S of Certain Death. ;)

Tim Kelley
11-17-2010, 01:33 PM
If I recall correctly, the area around St. Ann's was redone shortly after the October BAC meeting in which there was a discussion on the roots/bumps in the trail...

joshkaplowitz
11-17-2010, 09:11 PM
I was envisioning that Friends of the Custis would supplement (rather than supplant) whatever County money has already been allocated to trail maintenance-- and also do advocacy work alongside existing orgs. I profess total ignorance as to the costs of paving, plowing, etc., so I have no idea how well-funded such an organization would need to be in order to make a difference. I'm curious as to what Friends of W&OD does with its money. I know that the trail is under the auspices of a regional authority, so maybe that is what primarily accounts for the lack of tree-root bumps.

That Lynn St intersection proposal is interesting, if a little dense. How does one lobby to move a project like this up the priority list? Also, if cost is an issue, my gut tells me a tunnel would be more expensive than a bridge.

invisiblehand
11-19-2010, 11:33 AM
The Rosslyn Death Zone (I heartily endorse that, tho' we've (thankfully) not had any deaths there in recent memory, I think) has been the subject of many a study. The most recent iteration is here - http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/cpe/capprojects/page63515.aspx. The lack of implementation is, as you might have guessed, a function of funding. It's partly funded, but I can't remember what the shortfall remains.

~

The state of Custis paving is less than ideal, for sure. The only really dangerous spot (and I've not checked it out, lately - I'd love to know that it's been repaired) is near St. Ann's School/N. Frederick St. Last I saw it, the buckle against the wall was growing, and could do some serious damage to an inattentive cyclist heading east.

The Roslynn Death Zone!

I've never heard of a cyclist getting killed nor seriously injured there. Assuming that it is true, I speculate that it is because just about everyone knows how nutty those intersections are and exercises more care. Wouldn't it be perverse if Lynn and Lee Highway was statistically safer as a consequence? Just curious, are these intersections considered dangerous due to an increased incidence of collisions or just our common sense?

Looking at the diagram, the proposal makes some small improvements for Custis Trail users. But fundamentally, the conflicts remain the same.

(1) I see that the wall/bushes/trees separating the I-66 WB exit ramp to Lee Highway and the trail coming from Teddy Roosevelt as they both approach Lynn St is supposed to be removed. That is a big plus.

(2) Unfortunately, at that same intersection you still have two lane of right turning traffic crossing the Custis Trail there. I see the trail is widened there. Presummably to increase distance to give everyone more time to react. Although I suspect that it will lead to cyclists crossing faster ... especially those travelling EB on the Custis Trail.

(3) I also see that trees are planted between the Custis Trail and WB Lee Highway. I understand that making roads seem more residential is supposedly correlated with slower vehicular speeds; although I don't know how well this translates to a three lane arterial. My concern is that trees and such could obscure the vision of drivers and cyclists alike as they approach the Lynn St and Lee Highway intersection. Especially with EB cyclists that might be coming down the hill very fast.

(4) I see that the "intersection" between the walkway and entrance rame from the GW PKWY is circumvented. That is nice too.

(5) Anecdotally, the Lynn St bike lanes heading towards the Key Bridge are typically blocked about 1/2 the time by something. Moreover, I believe that there is a garage, loading/unloading area, or something similar prior to the I-66 EB entrance ramp. Cars tend to pass in the through lane and cut across to pass slow traffic heading to the garage or unloading people on a regular basis. So pretty frequently, I slide over into the through lane all the way across the bridge when travelling northbound on Lynn St.

I think that a bike box would be appropriate for the I-66 entrance ramp referenced at (1) above since there is no way to merge early and get to the left side of Lee Highway without interferring with traffic in the pedestrian crosswalk. It would also keep right-turning traffic further back and better able to observe cycling and pedestrian traffic at the Custis Trail waiting to cross Lynn St.

I also recall that others mentioned raising the crosswalks at these intersections to slow motorized traffic. That might help; but I understand that it comes with other costs.

As for the pavement on the Custis Trail, I think that the section of St Ann's church/school has been addressed. But more generally, the trail is still bumpy enough that when I ride my recumbent there my neck is usually fairly irritated by the extra jarring relative to simply riding on Fairfax and Wilson. And I ride with 40mm wide tires pumped to 60/70 PSI on a flexy steel frame. So I rarely ride the Custis Trail any long length. I find the WOD heading towards Shirlington much more tolerable.

consularrider
11-19-2010, 01:41 PM
[QUOTE=invisiblehand;1248]The Roslynn Death Zone!

(5) Anecdotally, the Lynn St bike lanes heading towards the Key Bridge are typically blocked about 1/2 the time by something. Moreover, I believe that there is a garage, loading/unloading area, or something similar prior to the I-66 EB entrance ramp. Cars tend to pass in the through lane and cut across to pass slow traffic heading to the garage or unloading people on a regular basis. So pretty frequently, I slide over into the through lane all the way across the bridge when travelling northbound on Lynn St.

Since Arlington County was supposed to be having an increase presence in Rosslyn, I wish they had made more of an enforcement effort along Lynn St. I haven't been able to figure out the reasoning or design for the bike lane on Lynn St from Wilson Blvd to Lee Hwy. As mentioned above, the bike lane is blocked 99% of the time by commuter buses in front of Cosi for the evening rush hour. Also, the lane there goes right over the Metro ventilation grills that are extremely slick when wet. Just before this, there are two parking garages where drivers always seem to come part way out because otherwise they can't see around cars parked along that side of the street. The drop off just before the I-66 entrance ramp is frequently full of cars waiting and extending into the right turn lane. This causes drivers to drive in the bike lane that is to the left of it. Then the bike lane suddenly ends at the eastbound Lee Highway light and cyclists have to deal with the sudden merger with cars as they cross the I-66 overpass bridge before getting on the Custis/MV Trail at the westbound Lee Highway light. A rethinking of this design needs to be done immediately, or last least have a heavy enforcement effort that keeps the bike lane open. Given all the dangers of riding in this bike lane for just two blocks, I take the lane here.

WillStewart
12-17-2010, 12:26 PM
The Roslynn Death Zone!

As for the pavement on the Custis Trail, I think that the section of St Ann's church/school has been addressed. But more generally, the trail is still bumpy enough that when I ride my recumbent there my neck is usually fairly irritated by the extra jarring relative to simply riding on Fairfax and Wilson. And I ride with 40mm wide tires pumped to 60/70 PSI on a flexy steel frame. So I rarely ride the Custis Trail any long length. I find the WOD heading towards Shirlington much more tolerable.

This is good to know since I planning on riding a recumbent from West Falls church Metro to Ballston, though have not purchased one yet. Would a suspended recumbent likely solve the irritation problem?