Last month, Prince George’s County’s Planning Board adopted a new plan to improve, greatly expand and better care for the county’s network of paved off-street trails. The plan is an important step towards better trails and more options for getting around by bike in the region.
Prince George’s County has some of the most popular and well-connected trails in the region. The Anacostia Tributary Trails, the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, and the Henson Creek Trail are fantastic. But those trails only reach a subset of the county and need substantial attention to meet increasing demand. Residents in Largo, Oxon Hill, and Glenarden rightfully want a trail near them that links into a broader network. They want safe, reliable options for getting around without a car, and they see new trails as the obvious choice. These are some of the many issues the new plan tackles.
The Strategic Trails Plan lays out a new vision for what the county’s trail system could and should be. It proposes an interconnected, countywide network of high-quality trails that link parks, major destinations, and neighborhoods. The plan calls for 250 new miles of primary trails and a feeder network of secondary trails to bring convenient trail and park access for 300,000 more county residents. The future network will encourage walking and biking by creating safe, convenient, and connected routes.
Prince George’s County doesn’t currently reward folks who travel by bike with safe, protected, dedicated infrastructure. In fact, in many places, the roads discourage and punish people who get around without a car.
But this plan changes that. The vision is a connected county that is easy to navigate by foot and by bike. To achieve that vision, the Department of Parks & Recreation needs to make significant changes to its approach to planning and managing trails. The plan identifies a comprehensive roadmap of strategic investments, policy changes and new programs to support existing trails and develop new ones.
The county will need more dedicated funding, additional staff, new partnerships with state and local land stakeholders, and a new, proactive approach to fix trail problems before issues become irreversible. But the payoff—a connected county that encourages active transportation—is more than worth it.
There is a lot of work to do, but for the first time, Prince George’s County has a countywide vision and a roadmap to implement it. And WABA, the Capital Trails Coalition, and the broader community of trail advocates are ready to help make it happen!
Click here to see the approved network map and read the full plan.