View Full Version : Arlington to Yards Park

08-26-2013, 09:09 AM
With the routing help from the awesome forum-ers, my family biked from Arlington (Cherrydale) to Yards Park on Saturday. It was far, but really, really great.

First of all, Yards Park. It's absolutely awesome with toddlers on warm-hot days. It's basically two sets of water fountains/shallow pools that the kids can play in. There are benches and picnic tables near the pools (basically on one side of each set) that are conveniently shaded, either by a bridge or by beautiful trees. It seems most of the young families of Capital Hill-Eastern Market know about it, and like to throw birthday parties there (which is why we were there), so there were a fair number of people there on Saturday. Still, it didn't seem crowded. I believe there were bathroom options (though maybe just portapotty) and there seemed to be at least one restaurant (sushi) nearby. The only thing I missed was a play structure, but that probably would have been overkill in the toddler-awesomeness spectrum. Take away: I highly recommend Yards Park.

Now, the ride. Short version: it was awesome. We all had a great time, and felt safe the entire route. But I'm guessing there are people reading this who (1) want to know all the issues so they can plan for them and (2) can get these issues addressed in the long run. So the rest is mainly a run down of things that should have been better.

We wanted to ride past the March on Washington, so we decided to to Arlington streets - Fort Myer - Arlington National Cemetery - Memorial Bridge. The Arlington part was fine. It's a little annoying that you can't get from Kirkwood into the neighborhood of Ashton Heights/Lyon Park without either crossing Wilson without a light or biking on Fairfax/10th for a couple blocks. But you only bike on Fairfax for a couple blocks, and you've just turned there with a turn signal from Kirkwood, so it's ok. (The real issue is 10th, which could be improved with a bike lane, and getting rid of the slip lane at the intersection with Wilson). Also, that "trail" on the West side of Washington Blvd under 50 and along the exit ramp from 50W to Washington Blvd S just needs work. It's hard to get on it, it's not wide enough, there's usually gravel in it, and the plants just attack the part where it comes out from under 50 to the South. There needs to be a painted crosswalk to get from the trail behind Long Branch Elementary to Lyon Park to the trail along the road. Fort Myer should open the Henry Gate at Pershing St to pedestrians during all daylight hours (at least).

Riding through Fort Myer and down through the Cemetery was beautiful, as always.

The Memorial Bridge was closed to cars, but not bikes. We stayed on the road through Memorial Circle so we could use the lanes on the bridge. DCPD was too zealous, in my opinion, in putting up barriers, and left little room for bikes. It wasn't a big deal, but we had to wait for a car basically to stop and let us ride over to the only gap big enough for the bakfiets (and only just). Silly, when they could have left a nice gap over to the left, where bikes could have merged into circle traffic and out onto the closed bridge without disrupting the (already slow) traffic. Biking over the closed bridge was just awesome.

Once we got to the Lincoln side, there were barriers for crowd control at the March, and it was evident that no one had thought about bikes. Ugh. It really would have been easy to place the barriers in the road, leaving a partial lane for bikes to skirt them and get to the light at Ohio. Nope. The barriers were on the grass, and there was no sidewalk on the bridge side of them. And no curb cut at the end of them. And no record online of where barriers would be, so no way to plan around them. For us, it wasn't a big deal -- we biked through the grass and bumped down off the curb. For someone in a wheelchair... I have no idea what they would have done. And this was the route from the ANC Metro stop, which is the stop Metro was encouraging people to take to the March. Anyway, DC has so many events where they put up crowd control barriers. It's far past time they started planning for bikes (and others on wheels) when they put them up.

Riding down Ohio, past the Jefferson (on sidewalks) was nice, though signage leaves a lot to be desired. Like everything: there are no signs.

We took the lane on Maine, which was fine on Saturday morning. To get to Water, we had to go through the parking lot of the fish market, which was a ZOO. Drivers were cautious, and saw us, so it wasn't unsafe, but it was slow going to stay safe, and I may have been worried about a kid on her/his own bike. It's disappointing, because it seems like it would be easy to have a bike-friendly path from Maine to Water just past this crazy parking lot.

At the end of Water, we rode up to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. It was great - nice shade from trees, beautiful views, wonderfully wide, lots of 1970s design. Husband remarked it was like biking through the 70s. Except in a few places, it was like the sidewalk hadn't been maintained since the 70s. Ok, that's overstating it -- I believe there were 4-5 places where tree roots were pushing the entire trail up and creating joints at the top. Luckily, most had at least one line that was fine for a bike to take. One was just bad for the entire width of the trail. So that was slow going.

We took P from the end of the trail, then skirted around the South side of Nats Stadium, and rode on the completely empty Potomac St. It was great. Back on the ART to Yards Park was also great and beautifully designed.

Coming home, we took largely the same route, except we stayed on Potomac to cross South Capital (mainly because we got the green) and took Half back to P. We saw the Case Bridge, and I think we could have gotten around those hairpins with the ebakfiets -- they looked plenty big. But we didn't try that and just went back on Water - parking lot - Maine Ave sidewalk - E Basin Drive. Then we took the 14th St Bridge, and then went by the Columbia Island Marina to the Pentagon parking lot so we could take the gentler hill on Southgate Road (we were tired and not excited about the Rosslyn hill). Back through the base and basically the rest of the route in reverse.

Here's the Strava : http://www.strava.com/activities/77139444

08-26-2013, 09:16 AM
In summary, the main policy/infrastructure changes that would have made the trip better:

1) DC thinking about bikes when they put up crowd control barriers
2) Arlington getting the path along 50 finished (in the ST, the connection under Courthouse Road; LT, the trail on the South/East side of 50)
3) Opening the Henry Gate at Fort Myer to peds and bikes (ok, we wouldn't have needed 3 if we had 2)
4) A rational bike connection between Maine Ave and Water St
5) A rational bike connection to the Case Bridge
6) Maintenance of the ART by the Titantic Memorial (wait! we didn't see that!)
7) Signs! Signs! Signs!

08-26-2013, 09:33 AM
Once we got to the Lincoln side, there were barriers for crowd control at the March ... For someone in a wheelchair... I have no idea what they would have done.

I came through there after my morning ride about 11:30 and I watched two Park Police officers lifting a poor guy in a wheelchair over the curb and on to the grass.

08-26-2013, 09:41 AM
We go to Yards Park all the time. It's a much easier ride for us - there are bike lanes almost the entire trip from Columbia Heights. I don't think there are currently any bathrooms besides the portapotties. There's a PotBelly a block away, and pretty soon there are going to be a bunch of restaurants, though I think most are not open yet.

As for the birthday parties - we were there on Sunday and ran into a friend of my older daughter - she was there for not one but two simultaneous parties.

08-26-2013, 11:55 AM
I don't think there are currently any bathrooms besides the portapotties.

Of course, we bring our own potty...


(Yes, we're in the midst of potty training, and yes, we've pulled over to the side of the trail and used it)

08-26-2013, 02:16 PM
You basically took the alternative (in DC) to my commute (which I've done thrice so far) I do Water street (the fish market is quiet friday AM, and not always THAT bad friday PM and if it is I take the sidewalk - Maine Ave on weekdays does not appeal to me) and then I head east on the Eye Street bike lane - since Eye is in miserable shape I've been thinking of doing to the riverwalk to to P to Potomac and then N street instead.

08-26-2013, 02:27 PM
4) A rational bike connection between Maine Ave and Water St

from the FAQ for the Wharf development

How are potential bicycle and pedestrian conflicts on Maine Avenue going to be managed?
The bicycle path along Maine Avenue will be separated from the primary pedestrian sidewalk by a low-impact development (LID) planting zone or café zone. Potential crossing points are highlighted and designed to the highest safety standards to protect both pedestrians and cyclists.

08-26-2013, 03:13 PM
I've been thinking of doing to the riverwalk to to P to Potomac and then N street instead.

Do it! Though the first few times, be wary of the pavement on the ART wherever there's a tree -- many of the bad spots are over humps -- the humps don't seem too bad, and they hide the bad spots...

08-27-2013, 06:51 AM
I would not recommend the anacostia river trail/ P street after dark, but on a nice sunny Saturday morning it is nicely shaded and pretty much free of traffic. Crime in that section of town is a little bit higher, but the Warf redevelopment/ DC United stadium should help.