A strong community of trail users and local residents around
the burgeoning Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, D.C. continues to have
great success in promoting and improving this vital nonmotorized connection
into the city.
Since this rail-with-trail was opened in 2008,
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has focused on fostering
a sense of community ownership, hosting listservs for regular commuters and
joggers, establishing a formal
neighborhood group and building a regular series of community
events on and around the trail. As a result, not only are more people using
the trail, but these same people are now invested in, and
solving, important safety issues, helping keep the corridor clean and cared
for, and exerting pressure on local authorities for new improvements.
Now, thanks to public pressure from trail users and
supporters, including Greater
Greater Washington blogger Geoff Hatchard and the District Department of
Transportation's Bicycle Program Specialist and Trail Planner, Heather Deutsch,
DDOT management has committed to better maintaining trailside lighting in order
to ensure the trail remains lit at night. Lighting is a critical issue for this
urban trail which has suffered from a number of muggings of trail users in
recent years. Though the number of incidents was reflective of the crime rate
in the surrounding neighborhoods and the trail does not attract a
disproportionate rate of crime, the prominence of this relatively new trail
resulted in thorough media coverage of the muggings and sparked a groundswell
of demands for increased police presence and other safety measures. Like
keeping the trail well lit.
Though solar LED lights have long been installed, the problem
was keeping them in working order, and a number of broken units meant pockets
of darkness along the trail.
Following a regular correspondence with DDOT's John Lisle,
Hatchard reported that DDOT has agreed to work with the contractor to get all
the lights functioning again, and would sign a new contract that included
regular maintenance of the lights. The result is sure to be more trail users,
safer trail users, and so the snowball rolls.
Great job, Met Branch peeps.
Photo by RTC
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037