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Thread: No thank you, Fairfax County

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    It's hardly the only badly connected spot on the CCT--really, it's a wonder it all works as well as it does considering that they put together a bunch of disconnected trails with basically no funding.

    Actually much of the CCT has the advantage over the W&OD of not having to deal with traffic at intersections. And one of the reasons I choose to ride south from LRT on the CCT rather than north is that going north its not that far before I hit the mess around Pickett.

    I suppose if its worse south of FFX County Parkway (I've never ridden beyond that point) than this is probably a lower priority fix. I was just curious if folks (more particularly the County) were even aware of this particular issue.

    Plus it was to add balance to by thread of praise (and yeah, it was striking - my ride began with a section where FFX County had made a big improvement, and ended with this)

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    I think the issue is that the CCT is largely treated as an off-road trail, not a MUP/commuter route. The county is muuuuuuuch looser about road crossings on off-road trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    I think the issue is that the CCT is largely treated as an off-road trail, not a MUP/commuter route. The county is muuuuuuuch looser about road crossings on off-road trail.
    I guess the reason I am perhaps over sensititive to this is that so many cyclists where I live (in Annandale) salmon. Its less that I am afraid of getting a ticket there, or that I feel terribly unsafe there. It just seems to be sending the wrong message.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    I guess the reason I am perhaps over sensititive to this is that so many cyclists where I live (in Annandale) salmon. Its less that I am afraid of getting a ticket there, or that I feel terribly unsafe there. It just seems to be sending the wrong message.
    I understand what you're saying; I guess I've never really noticed because I've always been on one of my MTBs when I've ridden through there. Strange road crossings are the norm for off road trail. Theres no obvious safety issue, since there is a massive shoulder connecting where you come out of the woods to the crosswalk. It may not be technically 100% strictly speaking kosher, but the CCT is basically 60 miles of (very) loosely connected weirdness in my experience, so its not like it stands out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lordofthemark View Post
    A curb would I guess be the proper treatment. If thats too expensive, how much would a line of flex posts cost?
    Probably not that much in the grand scheme of things, but what problem would it solve? (Other than the problem of bike advocacy pedants not liking the current scheme?) If you're going to do it right, you'll need to extend the sidewalk over the grass from the existing sidewalk, to provide intersection access. Then you delineate the path along the road with some kind of barrier. The end result won't increase the level of real protection, but may improve visibility. (Though I'm curious whether there's some kind of documented problem with that at this intersection--do cars routinely veer off the road onto the shoulder there in the absence of a more visible delineation?) The far side of the crosswalk lacks a curb cut, and it looks like the near end isn't ADA compliant (though it's hard to tell from a picture). I don't know how much work they can do before they trigger the requirement to upgrade everything to current accessibility standards. Standing in the street on the far end waiting for the second crosswalk would be unpleasant at best and unsafe at worst, but putting in a sidewalk on the curb there would definitely mean digging up the flowers and disturbing the wall at the community entrance and probably taking the nearest tree. Maybe within the current public right of way, or maybe even an eminent domain fight, definitely a noisy fight with the residents either way. Also hard to tell from the picture, but you might need to rebuild the drainage ditch on the near end, to either bury it or add a guard rail (I'm not sure there's even enough width for the latter option). So I would guess the cost would be anything from a thousand or two to 10s of thousands. And at the end of the day you have no real change, except maybe you can feel better about it. Might even be worse from a cyclist standpoint, in practical terms. You can see why the county didn't bother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    I think the issue is that the CCT is largely treated as an off-road trail, not a MUP/commuter route. The county is muuuuuuuch looser about road crossings on off-road trail.
    That's because it's so varied. Some parts are easily rideable, some are barely suitable for bikes. Little of the system was really planned, and there's a lot of tension between cyclist interests and walker/hiker interests in terms of improvements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    That's because it's so varied. Some parts are easily rideable, some are barely suitable for bikes. Little of the system was really planned, and there's a lot of tension between cyclist interests and walker/hiker interests in terms of improvements.
    Some are barely suitable for commuter/road bikes. Its all perfectly fine on a mountain bike.

    I'm not super familiar with the history of the trail, but its ad-hoc nature is pretty obvious when you ride it. Its a cool thing to ride, has some fun sections, and parts of it may even be suitable as a commuting route, but expecting MUP standards along the whole thing is probably too much to ask. Its just not that sort of trail.

  9. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Probably not that much in the grand scheme of things, but what problem would it solve? (Other than the problem of bike advocacy pedants not liking the current scheme?) If you're going to do it right, you'll need to extend the sidewalk over the grass from the existing sidewalk, to provide intersection access. Then you delineate the path along the road with some kind of barrier. The end result won't increase the level of real protection, but may improve visibility. (Though I'm curious whether there's some kind of documented problem with that at this intersection--do cars routinely veer off the road onto the shoulder there in the absence of a more visible delineation?) The far side of the crosswalk lacks a curb cut, and it looks like the near end isn't ADA compliant (though it's hard to tell from a picture). I don't know how much work they can do before they trigger the requirement to upgrade everything to current accessibility standards. Standing in the street on the far end waiting for the second crosswalk would be unpleasant at best and unsafe at worst, but putting in a sidewalk on the curb there would definitely mean digging up the flowers and disturbing the wall at the community entrance and probably taking the nearest tree. Maybe within the current public right of way, or maybe even an eminent domain fight, definitely a noisy fight with the residents either way. Also hard to tell from the picture, but you might need to rebuild the drainage ditch on the near end, to either bury it or add a guard rail (I'm not sure there's even enough width for the latter option). So I would guess the cost would be anything from a thousand or two to 10s of thousands. And at the end of the day you have no real change, except maybe you can feel better about it. Might even be worse from a cyclist standpoint, in practical terms. You can see why the county didn't bother.


    Is it illegal to ride on the grass in that location? I don't know the law on riding on grass. (prior to the completion of the sidepath on LRT near the beltway bridge people routinely walked/rode on the grass there, but that was VDOT ROW) As Dismal pointed out, it is legal to cross on the implied crosswalk on the north side of Painted Daisy. I'm not sure that adding flex posts would change the status of the curbs wrt to ADA. So I'm not sure adding flex posts triggers anything else.

    Does it solve a real problem? I'm not sure. I guess, to be honest, the folks salmoning on Little River, on Hummer, and all around Annandale (and elsewhere in the County) probably have never head of Hunter Village Drive, and don't ride the CCT very often, so maybe the implication of that trail section that its okay to salmon is having no real impact from a cost benefit perspective. I got that.

    I guess I'm worn out from online discussions with motorists who think nothing should be done for cyclists cause "they are all scofflaws, the shoot through stop signes, etc" and having recently attended a RL meeting about a road with a posted limit of 25MPH where per FCDOT the average speed is 35MPH and 15% of drivers go 39MPH or above and where at least a couple of folks were defending the commuter nature of the road "no one should walk on Old Columbia Pike".

    Predictable, Alert, Lawful. I'd like to see that as a goal to strive for. At least to eliminate law breaking thats actually unsafe. IE lets at least stop speeding more than 10MPH over the speed limit. At least stop salmoning or riding without lights by cyclists. To me there's something troubling about a County designated trail that actually forces people to salmon - more so than any other problem on the CCT I am aware of. To me thats emblematic of so much wrong with cycling infra in FFX and elsewhere - you create an environment where its hard for cyclists to obey the law, and then watch as they get blamed for not obeying the law.

    I guess if I saw the County really pushing back hard and advocating for cycling, I wouldn't mind something like this.

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  11. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    Some are barely suitable for commuter/road bikes. Its all perfectly fine on a mountain bike.

    I'm not super familiar with the history of the trail, but its ad-hoc nature is pretty obvious when you ride it. Its a cool thing to ride, has some fun sections, and parts of it may even be suitable as a commuting route, but expecting MUP standards along the whole thing is probably too much to ask. Its just not that sort of trail.
    There were two seperate trails. Accotink Trail and the Difficult Run Trail. They designated it as the CCT, and paved over some connecting pieces on the Accotink Trail like the part between King Arthur and Wakefield Park (I'm not sure what was there before - if the Accotink had a gap there, or if it was unpaved trail - I think it was a gap).

    The County (and Gerry Connolly in particular) are quite proud of the CCT from all I can gather. And well they should be. Its not much as a commuter route, but its a pretty nice piece of recreational infra. Gaps and weirdnesses and all. Maybe I was more bothered by this because I so much like the CCT.

  12. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabberwocky View Post
    Some are barely suitable for commuter/road bikes. Its all perfectly fine on a mountain bike.
    There were at least a couple of stream crossings which would need a complete dismount & carry down & up a steep bank after the hurricane a couple of years ago. You could maybe make it happen on a bike, but not in a way that wouldn't rip the banks up even worse. Don't know if they've been reworked since then as I don't get out there much.

    I'm not super familiar with the history of the trail
    Fairfax started setting aside the stream valleys decades ago, partially to preserve some of the environment, partially because the land was fairly worthless for development and was an easy proffer to go after. (Proffers being the legal kickbacks developers provide to get breaks on zoning, permits, etc.) Another easy proffer was putting a path through the park the developer just provided. (They basically just run a bulldozer along the stream once they're done using it build houses.) So pretty much any development in FFX county near a stream has a little park with a path. Early on, there was no effort at all made to connect any of those, so they were usually just extremely underutilized neighborhood amenities. At some point someone looked at a map, saw all the skinny green places, and considered that it might be nice to hook them together to create a more extensive network. So they've spent a while now trying to figure out how to find connections for tiny parks which were never really intended to connect. Sometimes that's really easy, sometimes it's really hard. In the long-term the county expects to improve the connections over time as part of other projects, but it'll be decades before it's all seamless, if ever.

    That said, the stream valley park network is a really nice feature for the county. The alternative would have been to underground the streams and fill over them, which is what you see in most developed areas (Tiber River & Jones Falls are local examples that jump immediately to mind, and that's how Rock Creek would have ended up if it weren't a national park). Building on the stream valleys would be a lot harder with current environmental regulations, but the county very easily could have gone a different way in the 60s, and the loss would have been irreversible.

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