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Thread: Pentagon maze

  1. #1
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    Default Pentagon maze

    Yesterday, I decided to try an experiment and see if I could find my way from the path under the Humpbacked Bridge to Columbia Pike. It's true that I didn't do my research beforehand and laboriously plot the route on the computer, but sometimes a person likes to go a little crazy. I followed the trail to the mass of parking lots and highways surrounding the Pentagon, hitting dead end after dead end, carrying my bicycle up and down stairs. I hit one gate that I possibly could have entered, but figured there was probably an angry guard behind the one-way glass who would not take kindly to that. However, since there was no sign telling me what I could and could not do, I have no idea. Eventually, I caught sight of the North Parking lot and rode through the miles of parking lot (yay forward thinking design) to the trail along 27. I'm sure there was a better way to go, but I didn't figure it out.

    Along the way, I found 2 other cyclists who appeared to be out of towners and who seemed even more lost than I was. One poor German guy (silly Germans who come from bicycle-friendly places and then end up at the Pentagon) was looking for the mall and going in the wrong direction. I was able to help him out. I wonder how many lost cyclists roam around that area with frustration each day...

    I recognize that the Pentagon evidently does not want cyclists in its area at all, but isn't there anything we can do? Would it kill them to put up some signs or a map? If they hate cyclists so much, at least it would help them get rid of the cyclists faster, right?

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    One of my riding groups did this the other way, coming from Crystal City. We rode through the new Long Bridge Park, along Old Jefferson Davis Highway (now almost nothing more than a series of connected potholes ;(), picked up two lost German tourists on CaBi bikes, and over Boundry Channel Dr to the bridge over to Columbia Island. The couple of other times I've tried the new path under the Humpback Bridge going the other way, I went right on Connector Rd which dumps you out at the Pentagon South Parking lot where you can get on S Eads St. Not a great place to be as the Pentagon empties out in the evening. On a Saturday morning there was not much traffic, so not so bad. One time I tried going over the bridge crossing Jefferson Davis Highway, and the Pentagon police were not happy with me at all.

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    When our crossed over from Columbia Island, you exited the small parking lot on the south end?

    The first time I ever came from Columbia Island to the Pentagon, was about ten years ago -- dashing across the GW Parkway. Since I'd ridden around by the Pentagon countless times, it was obvious that I'd just have to ride along the road around the perimeter of the north side, up to Route 27 and then head back towards Columbia Pike. As Charlie Denney once said, the Pentagon blocks Columbia Pike from D.C. and when get across, it's right there, o you have to get around it -- either go south and ride around most of it or go along the north side and ride around a smaller portion.

    I've given directions to people a number of times and it's more confusing to tell someone how to get from the Pentagon to Columbia Island, since the bridge is behind the sign.

    I've never had a problem with the Pentagon Police, even on the rare morning -- maybe once a month -- when I take that route. (I had a problem with a rent-a-cop at the Pentagon Memorial, once, who told me the trail was one-way at that point.)

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    Guess I'm not the only one who regularly runs into lost German tourists around the Pentagon...probably headed to pick up their cheap Apple gear at Pentagon City before flying back to Germany. I still don't understand why the Pentagon has to be so osbtructionist.

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    I've started riding my bike from DC to the Pentagon to catch a bus home to Fairfax. I'm always amazed how few bikes I see at the Pentagon transit center. Just about every bus in Northern Virginia terminates at the Pentagon. It would be the perfect place for some last-mile bike infrastructure (like a CaBi station?). That said, I have ridden from Columbia Island to the right, up the ramp to Washington Blvd, counterflow along the sidewalk/path on Washington Blvd by the 911 memorial to the south parking lot (1.1 miles). It works pretty well but seemed a little circuitous (traveling around 3 of the 5 faces of the Pentagon). Now I turn left out of the parking lot at Columbia Island and head down boundary channel drive to the connector road which dumps you right at the Pentagon Transit Center (0.5 Miles). To get to Columbia Pike I think you could cross over washington blvd near the south lot, but I would have to check the map.

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    Thanks for your descriptions. It is left out of the parking lot (I guess you mean left after the bridge) to get to the Transit Center that I struggled with.

    Tonight, yet again, I was bicycling over 14th and ran into a guy who was trying to cross the road (as opposed to going down to the MVT) with his 11-year old daughter on the way to Pentagon City Mall. I took him through Columbia Island with me because I wasn't sure what he and his daughter had ahead of them going that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by essigmw View Post
    To get to Columbia Pike I think you could cross over washington blvd near the south lot, but I would have to check the map.
    Just head to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and veer slightly left at the restrooms. That's the east end of Columbia Pike. Take the road or the sidewalk under Washington Boulevard. (At Washington Boulevard, the sidewalk is designated as a Bike Trail.) Although traffic getting on and off Washington Boulevard can be a pain, I find the road easier.

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    Three times in the past week, I have been asked for directions by lost cyclists around the Pentagon. I know they're going to stop me when I see the telltale signs: smartphone in hand, befuddled expression on face as head spins around looking for a clue, often on a CABI bike and an international visitor who understimated how easy it would be to spin around the major sites by bicycle (physically, very easy; mentally, not so much). It would be really great if some signs could be posted in this area. There is no need for this level of confusion and frustration by cyclists and I can't man my bike route-advice stand every day.

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    I'm thinking of taking the Kidical Mass ride back from LBJ Memorial/Columbia Island Marina to PC via the Pentagon Connector Rode. I've ride the route and it was fine. Any reason not to take a group of kids and parents (and others!) that way on a Sunday morning?

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    Across the bridge, south on Boundary Channel Drive and then into the north end of Crystal City on Long Bridge Drive? On Sunday the traffic on Boundary Channel Drive should be real light. The curb cuts on the Pentagon side of the bridge are a little tight but taken slowly are fine. Long Bridge Drive is pretty rough, but passable. The E-W roads from Crystal City to Pentagon City are pretty good.

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