Bike trail at Jefferson - Part 2 of 3
This is a continuation of the earlier posting.
We walked up to the point where the bike path on the bridge began (the path changed from asphalt to concrete). We discussed the potential for a wider, better trail down from the bridge and highlighted the problem with the support for the highway sign and light pole. They are located well behind the roadway barrier and a desire line has formed in the dirt between the sign posts and the roadway barrier.
I said that a “perfect” solution might involve moving the light pole and sign posts much closer to the roadway barrier and then widening the trail to the outside of the moved posts. We discussed the possibility of paving on both sides of the sign post (where my bike is in the photo) as an approach that might be implemented quickly. This would place the mother of all bollards in the center of the trail. What are your thoughts?
A bit further down we looked at the railroad tie retaining wall with a 3 or 4 foot drop. We discussed some kind of barrier to keep cyclists from the drop-off along the trail. Mr. Kennealy suggested something like the rails along the MVT trail on the boardwalk sections to illustrate the concept. I’m not sure if the drop along the trail is a problem. While I'd prefer not to cycle next to a drop, I have not heard of any crashes at that location. Thoughts?
At the bottom of the railroad tie retaining wall; there are a bunch of stakes and ropes that seem to prevent trail users from immediately heading downhill across the grass. Mr. Kennealy suggested that barrier didn't need to be there and he would consider having it removed. Thoughts?
Moving the sign posts will be a pretty expensive fix and is probably outside the bounds of what the Park Service can do, though they can certainly influence it. Paving the inside track is not a perfect solution, but as long as we slow down when approaching it, it will work better than the status quo. I don't see the drop off as an issue, but I would like to see the existing stakes removed. In my opinion, the stakes and a pipe type guardrail would be more dangerous and life threatening than the drop off alone.
If you think that would be the mother of all bollards, you must not ride the W&OD where they have the power towers in the middle of the path?
Excellent point! I'd forgotten about that one. I'd expect that at some point, when you strike a bollard like structure the size stops mattering when the bollard gets big enough.
Originally Posted by mstone
Here's what I think they should do with this "bollard" and the ones along the W&OD (since they also do not have arrows):
I think the railroad tie retaining wall needs to have a fence at least 3 feet taller than the level of the trail. I get very nervous traveling west when there is someone coming east because there is no room to bail on my side.
The weird stake and rope fence just looks ugly and serves no immediate purpose, so it can be removed.
Alright, no more photoshopping for me, time for a bike ride!
The other issue with this section is the stairs going down ro Ohio Dr, There is absolutely no warning that there is a sudden drop odd ahead on the right. I remember reading either in another thread on this forum or another forum altogether, that there was a similar setup somewhere in California where a cyclist wnet over and wa skilled.
Originally Posted by consularrider
There is a tiny little sign but it would be really easy for someone to miss it and fall down those stairs.
People coming up the stairs can also turn right into the bike path without knowing the bike path is there. I have no idea what signage is there to tell them about it, I've never stopped. But whatever it is, at least some people don't notice since I've had pedestrians step in front of me.
The railroad tie retaining wall is not a problem from my perspective.
The stupid-looking rope and stakes is probably useful. Without those, cyclists heading along east along the sidewalk parallel to E Basin Dr SW will be even more likely to try to shortcut across the grass to the bikepath. As it is, I've had cyclists try to cut across the grass and whip onto the path in front of me. This would just extend the problem further along the path. And then those dumb short-cutters would be merging onto the path at a place where the sight-lines are worse, just after the trees, and they won't be able to see the oncoming cyclist coming down the trail, or vice versa.
Personally, I'd prefer that the rope and stakes be extended all the way down to the rental bike stand.
From the photo, it looks like putting the path to the right of the sign might possibly work. But that might actually make the merge point getting onto and off the bridge more dangerous since people coming up toward the bridge have had "the whole trail" to themselves for that little bit, and may psychologically be more likely to be too far to the left as they come toward the bridge. So then people coming down the bridge (where there are bad sightlines and the stairs to worry about) may be confronted by cyclists who are too far to the left.
FWIW, I've ridden this section of trail every work day since 2004, except for the month of snow a few years ago when the snow was deeper than my axles. It could clearly be improved but with a little care it is not the worst part of my commute.
I think this is the section of the bike trails near the Jefferson Memorial most in need of improvement. I agree that the entire path from the bridge down to the CaBi station needs to be widened. It's very dicey when riding up to the bridge next to that drop-off, especially when passing traffic coming in the other direction.
It wouldn't be too bad if they just paved the dirt track on the other side of the street light. They could add diagonal striping to warn cyclists of the pole, even though it's pretty easy to notice already. Then they could continue to widen the path down the hill to the bike station.
Good point about the stairway. I've always wondered if people have accidentally ridden down those stairs. There are a lot of tourists in that area, so it's not unrealistic to imagine that someone might get confused at that spot.
Like some other commenters, I think there should be a fence on the side of the trail at the drop-off. A wooden fence shouldn't be too expensive.
If they don't have to move the street light, then widening the trail might not be overly expensive. However, they would have to level out the turf on the side of the trail to continue to widen it on the rest of the hill.
Given the popularity of this trail and the area around the Memorial among local residents and tourists, this should be a higher priority renovation for the NPS, in my opinion. The work area is small enough that any renovation shouldn't take too long, once everything is planned out. A warning sign for the stairway won't cost much money. That could be added quickly. The trail section that could be widened isn't too long. The fence might take longer to install. But if the trail were wider, then the fence wouldn't be quite as urgent a need.
I like to compare that hill to the terrible connections to the too-narrow sidewalk on the old Humpback Bridge. As we know, those trail connections were redesigned, improved and replaced (as part of the new bridge project) with an excellent new trail connector and bridge bike lane. I'd like to see something similar happen with the trail near the Jefferson Memorial. Not a bridge replacement, just a better trail connection to/from the bridge.
Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 02-03-2013 at 02:22 PM.
I agree that paving to the right of the sign posts and separating the traffic into east and westbound lanes (as shown in the photoshopped pic above) would be a *great* idea. I rode through there yesterday and heading eastbound I was struck by how natural it felt to stay to the right of the signposts since that was the most direct line of travel. I would wrap the signposts in yellow reflective tape and paint arrows and signs to indicate where people are supposed to go. At the merges I would paint a short yellow line down the middle of the trail. Regarding the bollard effect, if you can't see something that big you shouldn't be on a bike.
The metal stakes with rope have gotta go. If a cyclist crashes into them he or she will likely be *impaled* by the stakes. It would be a very ugly accident and one accident is one too many. If they want to stop people riding down the grass extend the fence discussed below or plant some bushes.
I think a tall wooden fence (like the ones they have along the boardwalks) would be most appropriate and look the best. A three foot high fence is rather useless since a cyclist can still topple over such a barrier. While building the fence, they could also use that time to bring in some dirt infill and widen the trail a bit too. With the new Cabi station at that location there is going to be a large uptick in people unfamiliar with the trails and who are also novices at riding in an urban environment.
I've always thought the stairway was a lawsuit waiting to happen. I don't have any brillant ideas on how to fix it except perhaps to put a fence there with an opening wide enough for a ped to walk through and a larger sign. At a minimum, putting in a paving stripe would help. Again, I could see an out of town Cabi rider accidentally going down the steps or a parent looking backwards at his or her kids while riding up the hill.
Thanks for all your good work on this dbb!