Met Branch Trail – Let’s Seal The Deal

by Shani on September 3, 2012

Met Branch Trail Brookand NE Washington DC

As a frequent rider on the Met Branch Trail (MBT), I view the abrupt ending of the trail under the Franklin St. bridge with mixed feelings. On one hand, it is a huge mental milestone – I am practically home! On the other hand, I have to get back into “city biking mode” – minding traffic, street conditions, pedestrians and the like. Often, I have wondered when the trail will finally be connected to Silver Spring as originally planned. The frustration with two years of inactivity towards MBT completion was recently explored in this post over at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’ s blog. The post is a call to action and lays the blame for inactivity squarely at the feet of both the city of DC and Montgomery County.

I found a different blog post on the topic to be of even greater interest. The Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space blog  proposes a “bicycle boulevard” in Brookland on 9th Street, between Franklin and Monroe Streets NE. According to Bicyclinginfo.org:

“Bicycle boulevards are low-volume streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through traffic calming and diversion, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments.”

For this solution to be viable, the Franklin Street bridge would have to be expanded to accommodate a bike lane. The writer, Richard Layman, puts forth that this may be the only way to provide a continuously bike-friendly environment when all is said and done. This is needed because Abdo / Catholic University plans have the MBT running between Michigan and Monroe Streets along the new development, but there will still be a gap between the end of the current trail and Monroe Street. Current development plans address this gap by having bikers riding along 8th Street - on the sidewalk.

So what to do? I think the 9th Street “bike boulevard” is an interesting idea. But, while 9th Street is not the busiest street, anyone familiar with that stretch knows that because of this, cars regularly fly down it at very high speeds. So there will be an enforcement element needed. But more that anything, will bikers really cross the Franklin Street bridge, bike 8 blocks, and then cross back over the tracks on the Monroe Street bridge to get back on the trail? Or will the shorter distance between two points be more tempting? I think that the latter is more likely. Thoughts?

(Hat tip: Greater Greater Washington)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

actor1 September 5, 2012 at 9:19 am

i use the m.b.t. all the time too! it’s a great resource. i wish that the city would put in speed bumps/humps/etc. to help cut down on the speeding (however, i can’t stand the thought of another traffic camera!). it would be an awesome option to continue the trail, but i don’t think it’s very well lit for night riding, nor do i think that those who are driving & using it as a “quick cut-through” would think twice about slowing down, or even considering that bikes would be there. as for the ‘end’ of the trail under the bridge, the issue is making that turn up the short rise to cross franklin. my 2 cents: create the ‘bike boulevard’ on 8th, where the travel lanes are wide enough & it’s a little more scenic. jon, 1oth st.

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Marchant Wentworth September 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Connecting to the trail could be even easier. For example, proceed south on ninth, cross through the Metro lot, get on the sidewalk on Franklin bridge and then at the west end, take an immediate right, to the side of the Jersey Barriers, down the hill and across the street is the head of the trail.

A few of us try to keep it cut back, with help from the church beside the alley way. But this way saves a wait on the light at Franklin and eighth. If we could get someone to move the barriers a bit over to accomodate my bike trailer, that would be even better.

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Mcruss4 February 25, 2014 at 10:24 am

Hello,
I am not a biker, but use the MBT regularly. I would love for there also be a consideration for walker/runners. Maybe a different lane so the bikers do not have to pass or avoid the people? I am so excited that there is an expansion to the north, and hope that the city sees that the community wants and needs this type of investment. Maybe Casey Tree would put together a project to add trees to the trail?

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