Coalition Hopes to Connect Every Bike Trail in Washington

Bikers in the Washington area have over 200 miles of trails to choose from, but getting from one trail to another can prove tricky. Not all of the trails are connected.

"They were designed as individual trails without a lot of thought given to connectivity, so that you could actually get from one place to another, like our street system," said Keith Laughlin, a member of the Capital Trails Coalition.

The Capital Trails Coalition, a group of government agencies, non-profits and businesses, hopes to build new bike trails to connect every existing path in the Washington area.

"What we're really looking to do is create safe routes everywhere for everyone," Laughlin said at a press conference Thursday. "We can build hundreds of miles of trails for the cost of one mile of an interstate, so we think it’s a really great value for the community."

The project is still in the planning phases, but the Coalition says by next spring it will have an estimate of where the new trails could be and how many miles they could span. Sporting goods store REI has pledged $500,000 to the project over the next three years.

Some cyclists said they were glad that someone was tackling the issue.

"One of the biggest fears I have is being hit as a cyclist. So the fact that they’re connecting the trails is amazing to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to go out and do what we love to do without the fear of being hit," said Maryland resident Jesse Tubb.

In addition to being safer, bike trails represent a way to "catalyze economic development," Laughlin said.

"It’s those places that give people an opportunity to walk and bike that will be able to attract a young, highly educated workforce," he said.

D.C. realtor Jeanne Harrison said she uses her bike and the D.C. trails whenever she takes clients to look at houses.

"I’m so excited to have trails connecting because it really makes it easier to get around," Harrison said. "Biking is the best way to get around the city. It’s environmentally friendly, it’s good for you, it’s good for the environment, and it cuts down on traffic."

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