|Route 29 is labelled as a "high stress" biking environment on the Montgomery County Planning Department's Bicycle Stress Map, while local streets are labelled blue for "low stress".|
What if there were a safer path paralleling Route 29 (while not being right next to it) which cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians could use to traverse this part of the corridor in comfort? I have an idea for such a path across land that is already publicly owned, which I have drawn on the map below. This post will be a description of the proposed route and my reasoning for choosing it.
Proceeding from north to south, the route would begin at the former WSSC buildings near Northwest Branch, on the northbound side of Route 29. The trail would be a 10 foot wide asphalt path, and ideally it would cross Northwest Branch on its own wood and steel bridge like the one used by the Sligo Creek trail adjacent to New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park, shown below.
Upon crossing the creek, the path would follow the route of a current dirt trail which runs along the ridge above Route 29 between the creek and Crestmoor Drive. This dirt trail was formerly the way to walk along Route 29 before the sidewalk opened in 2008. The grade leading up from the creek towards Crestmoor on this trail is fairly gradual, and conducive to the construction of a paved trail.
|Area where the paved path would ascend the hill at left to continue towards Crestmoor. Photo by the autthor.|
|The existing dirt trail along the ridgeline above and parallel to Route 29. The fence is the edge of the property line for the homes on Whittmoor Terrace. Photo by the author.|
|This is where the current dirt trail ends, on the hill behind the two newer homes at the base of Crestmoor Drive. Photo by the author.|
|This is the hill behind the homes as seen from the sidewalk. There seems to be enough space for a paved path to descend the hill and run with or next to the current sidewalk until reaching Crestmoor. Photo by the author.|
|Leftover pavement from the old Colesville Road south of Crestmoor Drive. Photo by the author.|
|Grassy area just north of the Southwood intersection where the trail could run. There is a small creek hidden behind some trees at left. Photo by the author.|
|The trail would run with or next to this sidewalk past the intersection with Southwood Avenue, seen at right. Photo by the author.|
|Rough trail between the Southwood intersection and Eastmoor Drive. Photo by the author.|
Once at Eastmoor the trail would use a somewhat abandoned alleyway behind Pierce Drive. This alley runs from the end of Eastmoor near Colesville towards Lorain Avenue, emptying out onto Pierce just before Lorain. Part of it is still in active use, and part of it is overgrown with shrubs and vines. Since it is an alley, it is probably county-owned, as it appears to be outside of the property lines of all the adjacent homes. Access to the three driveways on the alley could retained if the area were used as a trail, since it's a very low speed environment.
|The overgrown portion of the alley looking towards Eastmoor. Photo by the author.|
|The end of the alley near Pierce Drive and Lorain Avenue. Photo by the author.|
|With 50 MPH traffic on one side and a retaining wall on another, a fall off a bike on a sidewalk like this can easily result in death. We need a safer alternative in the form of a separated path. Photo by the author.|
The short video below is a good sampling of what it's like to walk or bike along Colesville Road. We can do better.