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Wilson Bridge Trail Opens

Just hours ago, I was referring to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail as the long-awaited pathway. Now it's so open, it's got rules.

The bridge project team passed them along after the 1 p.m. opening.

Rules Specific to the New Bridge Trail:
* Hours of operation: 5:30 a.m. to midnight.
* Speed limit is 10 miles per hour.
* The trail is a multi-use facility for cyclists, runners and walkers. Users must be considerate of others traveling at different speeds. Slower traffic should stay to the right. Cyclists must alert other trail users before passing.
* Trail users who stop must move to the side of the path to avoid impeding other trail traffic.
* A dashed yellow line separates directional traffic.
* The bridge drawspan may open periodically. Cyclists and pedestrians need to be pay attention to the lights, bells and signs near the bridge drawspan. The drawspan will not open until all traffic is a safe distance away.
* In an emergency, users should call 911. The closest and most appropriate responder from Maryland or Virginia will be dispatched. The Park Police emergency telephone number is (301) 459-3232.
* The bridge trail is close to moving traffic. It is illegal to throw debris or obstruct traffic in any way.
* Pets are allowed but must be on leashes and have proper licensing.
* Bicycle helmet laws will be enforced.
* Park only in designated areas. No parking after dark.

The opening was a great way to mark National Trails Day. In addition to the bridge trail, a new biker-pedestrian connection from Route 1 to the Washington Street deck in Virginia also opened. Another trail is scheduled to open in summer 2010 connecting the east side of Telegraph Road at Huntington Avenue with Eisenhower Avenue and the Holmes Run Trail.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 6, 2009; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  Biking , Wilson Bridge  | Tags: Washington, Wilson Bridge Trail, cycling, hiking, walking  
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The arbitrary and absurdly low 10 MPH speed limit is an outrage! Bicyclist speed per se is not a safety problem on well-designed shared use paths, such as the Wilson Bridge Trail, and the practical effect of this speed limit is to criminalize normal bicycling and to empower vigilante pedestrians to wrongly harass otherwise safe and considerate bicyclists.

Properly managed shared-use paths, where motorized travel is prohibited need no speed limit. This stupid speed limit needs to be removed immediately.

Posted by: allenmuchnick | June 7, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

"Cyclists must alert other trail users before passing" is the wrong rule and sends the wrong message. Cyclists must wait until it is safe to pass, and must not pass too closely. If they're doing those two things there's no need to alert the people they're passing.

Requiring a sound sends the message that it's OK to pass anytime, as long as you ring your bell or call out. That's not true on the road and it's not true on a path.

Posted by: washpost4 | June 8, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I am supportive of bicyclists and ride one myself but I disagree completely with the messages from cyclists saying there should be no speed limit, etc. I know as a pedestrian that it is really frightening when bicyclists go whizzing by only inches from my elbow. It is simply courtesy to sound a bell or say something. I think there is a real anger and rage inside of many bicyclists because of cars but they should not take it out on pedestrians. Bicyclists certainly are a non-humorous group.

Posted by: deejoshy | June 8, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the 10 mile an hour speed limit criminalizes normal biking--it is slow to the point of being difficult (pedestrians: imagine being required to come to a full stop after each step--it's about like that). The 10 mph speed limit needs to be removed or modified. Fortunately the bicycle-mounted park police I saw this morning on the bridge didn't stop me from cruising at 15 mph.

Posted by: NotDeadYet | June 8, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Federal money was used to build the new Wilson Bridge, and because of this, they CANNOT restrict operating hours. This point decided by the FHWA in Oregon....

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | June 8, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I, personally, would be very interested in knowing where they came up with the 10 MPH rule. Even as a purely recreational cyclist, I often naturally ride about 15 MPH. I'm not aware of any guidance on setting speed limits for non-motorized vehicle facilities. I think the speed limit should be higher, but there should be some limit. Often, on another trail in this area, I get passed by the Spandex-clad guys "training" at like 30+ MPH. That is just not safe. The trail is a transportation facility, not a training track. Just like I can't expect to run a timed 5k through downtown at rush hour (without stopping at intersections), just like I can't go for speed records in my sports car on the Beltway, I can't use the Wilson Bridge as a training ground for high-speed riding.

Now that being said, since the bridge is a transportation facility, I do expect that the bridge will be open 24-7-365 (minus draw-span openings of course!). We don't shut roads down at night, we don't shut sidewalks down at night, so therefore we shouldn't shut the bridge path down at night either.

Posted by: thetan | June 8, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

If a trail purportedly designed for cyclists can't be safely used at more than 10 mph, the people who designed it screwed up. It's that simple.

Posted by: washpost4 | June 9, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

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