MoCo Councilmember Berliner Focuses on CCT Safety

The Capital Crescent Trail busy with walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers.

Last week, WABA board member Casey Anderson and I attended a meeting convened by Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner to discuss trail safety on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT).  Also in attendance were officials from the relevant parks, planning, and police agencies, as well as citizen representatives and representatives of the Coalition for the CCT.

The meeting was intended to allow all to discuss how to more safely share the trail and was notable for its focus on a variety of solutions and on the willingness of all users to work together to make the trail a better option for cyclists and walkers.

The county is looking into numerous educational and infrastructure improvements designed to minimize conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, including increased signage, side-of-path improvements, and other engineered solutions.

I reiterated our concerns regarding the 15mph speed limit that, if enforced, would undermine the usefulness of the trail as a transportation path and raised the point that an across-the-board imposition of a speed limit does not address the myriad of behaviors — on the part of both cyclists and non-cyclists — that lead to conflicts on the trail. I acknowledged, however, that both cyclists and non-cyclists have a responsibility to be considerate of other trail users and to work for solutions that will make the trail safer and more pleasant for everyone.

The meeting focused primarily on low-cost solutions that those of us in the room could bring about in the near term. So while the officials will continue to look into the longer-term, infrastructure-based solutions, we want to remind our members and supporters to:

— Be courteous and respectful on the trails.
— Give notice as you pass, even if the pedestrian or jogger is wearing headphones.
— Give other trail users plenty of space.
— Pass safely, and accept that sometimes safety and civility may dictate that you put a foot down.

WABA will remain vigilant in asserting the rights of cyclists to use appropriate recreational and transportation facilities like the CCT, and we’re happy to report that no one at the meeting proposed draconian measures to keep cyclists off the trail or lessen its effectiveness as a significant commuter route. But acting with consideration and care for others can, and should, go together with defending our rights.

Representatives of walkers and other trail users from neighborhoods along the trail agreed to communicate with their constituents with similar safety reminders in the spirit of working together to make the CCT safer and more pleasant for everyone.

We’d like to thank Councilmember Berliner for convening this meeting. It is always helpful to know that the county is seeking solutions, even if they are in the exploratory phases. And we appreciate the frank but friendly discussion among all officials and users.

We look forward to working with Councilman Berliner’s office and the Coalition for the CCT in the coming weeks to expand our outreach efforts on the trail.

If any of our members or supporters would be interested in volunteering to conduct outreach on the CCT, please email us at waba@waba.org.

— Shane Farthing, Executive Director