Draft of Letter from Reston Association on Plowing of W&OD Trail

Appeal to the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority.

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail. (Patch file photo.)
The Washington & Old Dominion Trail. (Patch file photo.)
The Reston Association Board of Directors will consider the following letter at Thursday's meeting.

From: Reston Association To: Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority (NVRPA)


Reston Association (RA) would like to encourage NVRPA to snow plow and de-ice the segment of the Washington & Old Dominion trail (W&OD) that runs through Reston to support the safety and access needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. For Reston residents, the W&OD is more than just a recreational facility – it is the backbone of the network of roads and paths that connects Reston to other destinations in the region and makes cycling a viable means of transportation.

RA understands that NVRPA has opposed snow plowing and de-icing in the past, however numerous significant changes involving bicyclists and pedestrians in our area have occurred that warrant reconsideration.

These changes along with other relevant information include:

• Fairfax County has invested in its first enclosed, bike parking facility with a capacity for 200+ bikes at the Silver Line Metro station, which is on Wiehle Avenue and adjacent to the W&OD trail.

• An increasing number of bicyclists and pedestrians use the W&OD. Actual usage data from RA’s National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation surveys show that during a two-hour period in September 2012 there were 301 bicycles and 236 pedestrians using the W&OD at Wiehle Avenue. During the same period of time in 2013, it was raining yet the survey counted 42 bicyclists and 52 pedestrians using the trail.

• Bike use is increasing in our area even during the winter season, as recently highlighted in a Washington Post article (Link): 

• Currently, Fairfax County is undertaking a feasibility study for Bike Sharing in Reston and the W&OD plays an important part of this infrastructure. At a January 2013 public meeting, Fairfax County residents made several recommendations to locate Bike Sharing docks near or next to the trail.

• Once Bike Sharing docks are established, the lack of W&OD access due to snow and/or ice will result in lost revenue for the County and inconvenience for those depending on the W&OD for their transportation needs.

· The Post article, above, reported 104,431 Bike Share rides in the D.C. Metropolitan Area during this winter’s coldest January on record.

• Even without Bike Sharing in place, the W&OD is an important transportation link between the Metro, businesses, schools, government, residences and other municipalities. It is, in effect, the I-66 for bicycle commuters from the West to the Tysons area and further east. Authorities would never leave important automobile routes untreated after snow and ice. Bicycle and pedestrian transportation deserves the same consideration.

• As a Bike Friendly Community, Reston actively promotes safe, dependable, and accessible infrastructure to support bicycle and pedestrian transportation modes.

• The W&OD is also used by low income, car-less people, particularly people trying to get to Reston Town Center for transportation needs or for their jobs. Poor trail conditions due to lack of clearing creates a disproportionate hardship for these residents.

• Regarding use of the W&OD for cross country skiing, there are two such skiers on Reston’s Pedestrian and Bicycling Advisory Committee who have skied on the W&OD. They report that the horse path is an alternative in the Reston area, as is Lake Fairfax Park. 

Mark R February 28, 2014 at 06:39 PM
W&OD trail is not a good choice for cross-country skiing - this trail has very frequent road crossings.
Bruce Wright February 28, 2014 at 06:42 PM
This year NVRPA did clear snow on the trail after the heaviest snow. A few years ago they purchased a snow blower (not a plow) and I think now have a policy to clear snow shortly after a major snowstorm.


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