Critiquing the Proposal to Locate a Bike Lane on an Interstate

The current plan for the widening of I-66 in Virginia would place a bike lane between vehicle traffic and a sound wall.
June 15, 2017, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Canaan Merchant critiques plans "to widen I-66 include building a new bike trail that runs from where the Custis Trail ends in Arlington all the way out to Centreville."

The bike lane would be added to the Outside the Beltway Project—the proposal to widen I-66 that David Alpert critiqued in April 2012. The public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), and private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, will expand I-66 to ten lanes between Haymarket and Falls Church.

According to Merchant, "one positive aspect is that the project will include a new trail that extends from the Custis Trail, which runs parallel to I-66 in Arlington, from its western end to Centreville (it'd go there at first, but then even farther). The 22-mile extension would make the Custis one of the longest trails in the region, giving a lot of local neighborhoods a new option for biking and walking."

Merchant's argument, however, is that for all the benefits of gaining a new bike trail, this one could be a lot better:

As it is currently planned, the new trail would put trail users in a squeeze, literally. Plans show it running along the highway side of the sound barrier, the big wall that separates 66 from where people live. That means trail users would be closer to high-speed traffic and farther from the neighborhood connections, which likely means far fewer people would be willing to get out and use it. 

To help conjure an idea about what the experience of this trail would be like, the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling created the following visualization.

Merchant has a better idea: "move the trail to the opposite side of the sound wall, and make it at least 12 feet wide."

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Published on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in Greater Greater Washington
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