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View Full Version : Alternate Route to West Bound Custis Trail



JeffC
06-15-2011, 07:37 PM
So I commute from my home in Falls Church City (about a mile from where the W&OD trail crosses Route 7 to downtown DC). My commute is normally on the W&OD, Custis Trail, Mt. Vernon, and then across the 14th Street Bridge into DC. I never have problems any time of the year in the morning nor in the fall or winter.

However, in the afternoons headed west in the spring and summer (especially on Tuesday through Friday) when the temps are under 80F the heavy residential areas on the Custis Trail (starting from approximately Spout Run (behind the Italian Store by the "S Curve of Death") until connection with the W&OD) have just become annoying to ride on for me so I am looking for an alternate route.

The only other easy option for me is to take the Mt. Vernon trail south past National Airport and take the 4 Mile Run Connector to the start of the W&OD in Shirlington.

However, in staring at the map I see one other option to leave the Custis trail around Spout Run and pick up the W&OD trail later. I would like your feedback on this and any other alternatives you might have taken.

So the alternative is to take Lorcom Lane and then some how make it over to 22nd and take that all the way to Sycamore and EFC Metro and pick up the W&OD there. I have never ridden this or even driven it in a car but I was hoping one of you might have feedback or some other suggestions on how to avoid the Custis Trail at this very busy time of the year.

CCrew
06-15-2011, 08:44 PM
Hmm. I can think of ways to avoid parts of it, but are you looking to avoid the Custis altogether?

Jumping off on Veitch, to Wilson, to Fairfax and jump back on the Custis at Glebe takes out all the rollers and is all set up with bike lanes.

JeffC
06-15-2011, 09:08 PM
Hey CCrew (recognize your avatar from Bikeforums.net and just recently discovered this cite which is kind of like a regional subforum for DC), I want to avoid the heavy residential parts from approximately Spout Run until it ends at the W&OD. The first part in Rosslyn is easy as is the short stretch between the 66 overpass until the S curve behind the Italian store, then it is narrow, poor visibility, tree roots, and too many people until the W&OD when good visibility, fewer people, and better trail conditions began again.

As I said I can take the south route but I need another route to the north. It seems to get worse and worse year after year. If I recall you have more off hour commute times so you may avoid some of the insanity during the spring when the weather is 75. Actually last week when the weather was 95F was very nice for the commute.

eminva
06-15-2011, 09:27 PM
Hello Jeff --

I take the same route through the streets of North Arlington that CCrew mentioned when I have local business. I often find excuses for stops along the way home on the really congested days so I can avoid the Custis Trail. Those are major streets but they move pretty well.

If you want to avoid the Custis in its entirety, you can pick up the Bluemont Junction Trail at Glebe and Fairfax (which takes you to W&OD), but that is just as thick with pedestrians, if not more so.

Take a look at the Arlington County bike map, maybe you can find something on the surface streets. Ask Tim Kelley for one if you don't have it yet!

Liz

DismalScientist
06-16-2011, 06:26 AM
The other option in Kirkwood from where the trail goes behind the stores to Fairfax Dr. and Fairfax Drive to Glebe, where you can take the path back to the Custis or the Bluemont path to the W&OD.

OneEighth
06-16-2011, 07:15 AM
JeffC,
If you want to keep the commute short and fast, then I would suggest that you hop off the W&OD around Patrick Street (or hop off the Custis at Westover just where it goes under I-66) and take Washington Blvd. I see lots of other cyclists on Washington Blvd and use it quite a bit myself. From Washington, either go left on Kirkwood and take 29 into Rosslyn to the MVT trail by the Marriott or take Clarendon Blvd to Rosslyn and hop on the MVT from there.
Just bear in mind you will be trading one kind of traffic for another.

Tim Kelley
06-16-2011, 07:38 AM
Ask Tim Kelley for one if you don't have it yet!

You can download a PDF of the Arlington County map here (http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/maps-rides/) or request that a hard copy be mailed to you free of charge here (https://www.commuterpage.com/freepubs/freepubrequest.cfm).

Enjoy!

DismalScientist
06-16-2011, 08:15 AM
OneEighth,

Washington Blvd is fine West of Glebe, but between Glebe and Clarendon, I would take Fairfax. Going east, I take Washington to George Mason south and take the Ballston Custis connector down to Fairfax. Between Glebe and Clarendon, Washington is the narrowest four lane street I have ever seen.

JeffC
06-16-2011, 08:49 AM
OneEighth and DismalScientist,
your suggestion on using Washington Blvd is interesting. I've driven that a lot in my car and often thought it would be a great bike route from EFC until Glebe Road. It's only two lane so nice wide shoulders and good visibility albeit some hills but relatively low traffic. However, it is a better route for headed east. I would never get off the Custis Trail headed west near Westover as at that point I have already passed the worst of the residential areas of the Custis Trail.

It is really the areas on the Custis Trail from Spout Run to W&OD that are getting bad in the afternoons in spring and summer when I am headed west, pedestrians double abreast, other cyclists that never announce they are passing, lots of walkers, even some groups of several people (maybe 100) that are doing organized walks near the Glebe Road hills. I can't take it anymore. It's never a problem in the morning, the trail volume is just quite low then, it is only the afternoon in spring and summer that begins to grate on my misanthropic bike oriented nerves, it's more stressful than driving, I'm going hoarse from saying "passing" or else getting a blister on my thumb from dinging my bell continuously. Oh to have a bike only trail (like in Davis, CA or Boulder, CO).

In contrast, the W&OD is not as heavily populated with pedestrians and the Mt. Vernon tends to have more of the professional jogger types who know mostly to stick far right and not go double abreast and there are not lots of houses on the stretches I use.

StopMeansStop
06-16-2011, 09:06 AM
Get off the Custis after the Rosslyn hill and make a left onto Vietch.
Make a right onto Key Blvd.

From here you can pick up Washington Blvd to the WOD or you can hop onto Fairfax and make a left after Glebe to catch the Bluemont Junction trail.

CCrew
06-16-2011, 09:58 AM
I just ride like a drunk through the middle of town :p
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/92771998

consularrider
06-16-2011, 10:01 AM
Get off the Custis after the Rosslyn hill and make a left onto Vietch.
Make a right onto Key Blvd.

From here you can pick up Washington Blvd to the WOD or you can hop onto Fairfax and make a left after Glebe to catch the Bluemont Junction trail.

Or from Key Blvd, take a short left on N Jackson, then over 13th to Quincy, right on Quincy to left on 15th, a jog right at the light at N Glebe, and then left on 16th to Westover. Much less traffic than Washington Blvd with about the same terrain. The block from N Jackson down to N Kirkwood almost looks like a driveway into the townhouses on N Johnson.

Justin Antos
06-16-2011, 10:45 AM
This thread is something of a good sign... a good, legitimate discussion about how to avoid a dedicated bike path because traffic is too heavy! From the long view - this is a good problem to have.

JeffC
06-16-2011, 10:49 AM
This thread is something of a good sign... a good, legitimate discussion about how to avoid a dedicated bike path because traffic is too heavy! From the long view - this is a good problem to have.

Justin, you are confused about the nature of the route I am trying to avoid. It is definitely not a "dedicated bike path." It is a multi-user shared path or trail, also known as a MUP or MUT, etc. If it was really dedicated for bikes only, I would not be trying to avoid it.

After starting at the map, I think I am going to try Consularrider's suggested route to Patrick Henry and then take that to the W&OD just to avoid the Custis at this busy time of the year.

Justin Antos
06-16-2011, 11:03 AM
JeffC- you're right, I very much understand why you want to avoid that section. I ride the Custis regularly, and I know well how busy it gets with pedestrians, joggers, bikers, etc., especially at rush hours! I'm just saying that from a long-term perspective, it's good that our region has such strong demand for bike/ped infrastructure. Good luck with the new route!

Justin Antos
06-16-2011, 11:07 AM
P.S. I also like the Veitch > Key Boulevard route. Just be careful for car drivers who think it's safe to pass while dodging roundabouts :).

OneEighth
06-16-2011, 11:30 AM
If I'm in a hurry westbound, I just hop onto 29 at Lynn Street and stay on there until cutting left on either Danville or on Kirkwood. Danville to Wilson to Washington. Or just Kirkwood to Washington.
29 has a bike lane once you reach Veitch Street, though it does disappear around Kirkwood.

eminva
06-16-2011, 12:30 PM
Oh to have a bike only trail (like in Davis, CA or Boulder, CO).

In contrast, the W&OD is not as heavily populated with pedestrians and the Mt. Vernon tends to have more of the professional jogger types who know mostly to stick far right and not go double abreast and there are not lots of houses on the stretches I use.

Or those darned European cities.

I don't have your good luck on the W&OD, however. I find lots of pedestrians and cyclists of all skill/wisdom levels.

And if you come in on the really late shift, like I do from time to time, you meet up with the kids from PE class from the local middle school taking a jog (well, some of them anyway) right where the W&OD and Custis meet. Had one dramatically fall out right in front of my front wheel a few months ago, sending me off the side of the trail to avoid running over him.

Liz

JeffC
06-30-2011, 08:57 PM
Or from Key Blvd, take a short left on N Jackson, then over 13th to Quincy, right on Quincy to left on 15th, a jog right at the light at N Glebe, and then left on 16th to Westover. Much less traffic than Washington Blvd with about the same terrain. The block from N Jackson down to N Kirkwood almost looks like a driveway into the townhouses on N Johnson.

I have been off the bike for about 2 weeks due to a stressful and unusual work situation but I biked today for the first time recently and used the Veitch off Custis Trail/Key Blvd/13th/Qunicy/15th/16th until Westover and Washington Blvd route. I drove it first just to see what it was like. Other than some torn up roads on 15th Street this is a very nice route with few cars and no pedestrians to deal with. At Westover I kind of lose sight of any other route so I just took Washington Blvd at near the Lost Dog Cafe/Ayers Hardware and then took that to Sycamore and then cut through the side streets until I got near home. This is an excellent route for anybody tired of the Custis Trail. I actually think it shaved a few minutes off my commute as well although I don't really keep strict track of time. There are fewer hills and things to slow down for. Excellent suggestion, thanks!

Brendan von Buckingham
07-02-2011, 07:25 AM
I once was a regular Washington Blvd user between EFC Metro and the Clarendon Circle (The crazy intersection at Silver Diner used to be a circle around the war memorial with the little cannon on top, so I still call it a circle. Take that.)

I find that between EFC and Glebe, the shoulders are comfortably wide enough to give me my own lane. Between Glebe and Clarendon Circle the lanes are so narrow that I can unambiguously take the lane and keep up well with congested rush hour traffic. Washington Blvd has two lanes for a reason. If someone wants to pass me, they can change lanes.

JeffC
07-02-2011, 06:16 PM
I stared at the map again and on Friday instead of taking Washington Blvd at Westover, I took Lexington to 22nd Street and then took that to Sycamore. I think Washginton Blvd is a bit more direct and shorter, the hills are about the same but definitely more traffic on Washington Blvd. It's kind of a tossup as to what is better.

Brendan von Buckingham
07-03-2011, 07:35 AM
Eastbound I would also use 22nd Street between Sycamore and Lee Hwy. It hits Lee Hwy at the McDonald's just short of Glebe. Then I'd take Lee to the trail behind Big Wheel Bikes in Lyon Park. The Lee Hwy segment is a good downhill that offer 25+ MPH speeds. No problem keeping up with AM rush hour traffic. Not practical westbound in the evening rush though.

consularrider
07-05-2011, 08:45 AM
FYI: Big Wheel is at Lyon Village, Lyon Park is a different neighborhood over off Pershing.