My View and That's How I See It - Save the Capital Crescent Trail

The Capital Crescent Trail is overun with walkers, joggers, and bikers of all ages. On May 28th, over 400 participated in the “Save the Trail 5K. Why does the trail need saving?

Capital Crescent Trail 5K—May 28, 2011

When my daughter was very young and couldn’t pronounce words correctly, she would say, “I’m ‘fused,” indicating that she was confused about something.  Today as I volunteered for Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail Save the Trail 5K I shared her feeling, “I’m ‘fused.” 

Over 400 runners and walkers and scores of volunteers gathered early this morning at the Elm Street Park in Bethesda, Maryland, to participate in the Save the Trail 5K hosted by Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail.  Runners completed the 5K in as little as 14 minutes. It was a beautiful day and many volunteers gathered to assist in registration, poster making, food distribution, course preparation, and cheering. There were many white-shirted volunteers standing throughout the area, and the participants happily thanked them for their help. It was a picture-perfect day with the sun shining and motorists gladly stopping while the large group passed down the streets.

The purpose of Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail is to preserve land and open space.  According to their website, the Capital Crescent Trail is in danger of being destroyed. 

“If the current Purple Line plans are approved, 20 acres of mature trees on the Capital Crescent Trail will be clear-cut. An entire forest ecosystem inside the Beltway will be destroyed forever. 10,000 hikers, joggers, and bicyclists, young and old enjoy this shaded trail every week.”

And herein lays the basis of my confusion. Rarely a week passes without another study about the prevalence of obesity in adolescents in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The existence of obesity in children aged 6 to 11 years has increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. Among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years, the prevalence of obesity has increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent

The article, “Obesity Prevalence in the United States - Up, Down, or Sideways” (The New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2011), reports that, “most concerning are the effects of childhood obesity on health in both childhood and adulthood. Growing numbers of children now have diseases once considered to be “adult” conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hypertension, and there is evidence that an earlier age of onset of obesity-related diseases may be associated with more severe health consequences in adulthood.”

“Obesity Threatens a Generation”, an article in the Washington Post (May 17, 2009), states that, “an epidemic of obesity is compromising the lives of millions of American children, with burgeoning problems that reveal how much more vulnerable young bodies are to the toxic effects of fat.”

What are the suggestions for preventing obesity in children?  To create healthy lifestyle habits which include healthy eating and physical activity.  The Capital Crescent Trail provides a venue for such activity.  It is a trail that runs from Silver Spring to Georgetown.  Along the way you can visit downtown Bethesda or take a dip at the Bethesda Community pool.  On a recent walk from downtown Bethesda to Little Falls Parkway there were literally hundreds of walkers, bicyclists, and runners, many of whom were adolescents.  Clearly the trail is being used. 

I overheard John, a young boy who participated in the 5K, tell his friend that he uses the trail almost every day to get to his high school, , and to hang out with his friends in Bethesda or Chevy Chase.  He doesn’t like getting a ride because the traffic makes the trip take too long.  Instead he runs or bikes down the Capital Crescent Trail. What does this require of John and the countless other adolescents using the trail? It requires physical activity. 

I cannot fathom why there is even a proposal to destroy a trail that is providing a place for adolescents to get physical activity. We read the articles about childhood obesity and ponder the ways to prevent it.  Does it make sense to anyone that the way to teach our kids to get the exercise they need is by putting in a train that will allow them to “ride”, a sedentary activity, rather than walk, bike, or run? Does it make sense to anyone that rather than keep a trail surrounded by nature that is being used we convert it to an asphalt rail line? It does not make sense to me and leaves me feeling as my daughter said, “ ’fused.” 

We need to stop thinking of ways to fight childhood obesity and recognize that we already have the answer in the Capital Crescent Trail. We know it and the adolescents of Montgomery County know it; they are using it. We need to stop playing politics and keep fighting for our kids. This may not be your opinion, but it’s my view and how I see it.

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Mark Blacknell June 03, 2011 at 02:56 PM
The Purple Line isn't destroying the CCT at all. In fact, as a result, we'll end up with MORE CCT. Which, if you're interested in providing kids with more places to get out and move, should make you happier, no? More info here, from an organization (Washington Area Bicyclist Association) that has been advocating the CCT for a very long time - http://www.waba.org/blog/2011/04/the-purple-line-is-good-for-the-trail/
Pam Browning June 03, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Who will use the Trail when trains are passing within 10 feet every three minutes, with all the beautiful shade trees destroyed, and overhead electrical wires replacing the tree canopy? I guess high speed bikers. What I don't understand is why WABA doesn't get behind saving the Trail and the trees, and improving and extending the Trail. The funding for the Purple Line is not going to cover rebuilding the bulldozed Trail -- other sources will have to be found. If there is $60 million to be found for rebuilding, then why not use that money for extending and improving the Trail, without destroying it? WABA is on the wrong side of this issue.
Bill Schulz June 03, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Mark Blacknell could not be more wrong. What we will end up with if the Purple Line is built is a shade-less strip of asphalt next to trains going 50 MPH (at 3-minute intervals during peak). The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has made a deal with the devil - in exchange for a $65 million shadeless paved bikepath all the way to Silver Spring, they've gotten behind the Purple Line. (The longer explanation is that it's shade-less because construction requires bulldozing thousands of trees along this three-mile section in order to construct the rail lines, and, because the trains will depend on high-power overhead catenary wire, trees can't be planted where they would interfere with the wire.) Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail could certainly support a tree-shaded multi-use recreational trail between Silver Spring and Bethesda, and one could be constructed for much less than $65 million. But we'll oppose spending $2 billion for an unnecessary and reckless project that destroys unique open space and park land that's enjoyed by so many people like Gina Hardiman.
Bonnie Naradzay June 03, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Who's this Mark Blacknell? He sounds like a shill for the Connecticut Avenue development. I have seen the architectural drawings for the CCT after the frequent two-way trains are in place. I am a thru-cyclist from Silver Spring and enjoy commuting to my job downtown near Capitol Hill. WABA is advocating the destruction of the CCT and has clearly not studied the underlying facts put out by his "purple line" PR machine. Otherwise they would admit that cyclists will need to carry their bikes up dangerous steel stairs over the top of the high speed trains. And there will be no CCT as opposed to "more."
Homewood resident June 03, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Ms. Hardiman says: "Along the way you can ... take a dip at the Bethesda Community pool. On a recent walk from downtown Bethesda to Little Falls Parkway there were literally hundreds of walkers, bicyclists, and runners, many of whom were adolescents. Clearly the trail is being used. " The Purple Line will not go beyond Woodmont Ave., so the section of the trail that you describe will not be affected in any way by the Purple Line. She also says, "It is a trail that runs from Silver Spring to Georgetown." Not true: the trail ends over a mile from downtown Silver Spring. It won't go to Silver Spring until the Purple line controversy is resolved. If anyone has the opportunity, I recommend that you visit Brookline, Mass., where there is a light rail line -- the Riverside Green Line--running through the Back Bay Fens (a beautiful park designed by Frederick law Olmstead) safely and in harmony.
Mark Blacknell June 03, 2011 at 07:16 PM
The cool thing about the internet, Bonnie, is that it's pretty easy to find out just who someone is before you cast aspersions. You don't even have to Google my name - just click on it. I am many things*, but I'm not a shill for Connecticut Avenue development. I'm a big fan and user of shaded multi-user paths myself, and am never happy to see a tree come down. But I also recognize that there are other needs that sometimes require it - such as with the construction of the Purple Line (which will certainly be a big net benefit to the area, in my view - fewer cars, less congestion, etc.). *Including a member of the board of directors for WABA, though I am just speaking for myself, here.
Bonnie Naradzay June 03, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Nothing personal. I simply said "sounds like," and I don't need to resort to Google for that. You fail to respond to anything I said, except to flash your credentials as a WABA board of directors member. All you say in favor of the so-called Purple Line (which has nothing to do with the Metro system) is "fewer cars." In fact, a number of studies have shown, the vast majority of anticipated riders will be those who take existing public transportation anyway. Big net benefit to the area?? Never happy to see a tree come down? Seen the plans? The convoluted Rube Goldberg fixes for benighted bicyclists in the plans? Let's talk facts. Appreciate your input, but are you on the right side for cyclists here? (I mean the ones who use that trail NOW.)
Wayne Phyillaier June 04, 2011 at 02:03 AM
I agree with Mark - the CCT will not be destroyed by the Purple Line. I live in Silver Spring, and am one of those cyclists who use that trail NOW. I am tired of the hassle of cycling across 6 lane 16th Street at a dangerous intersection, then weaving down narrow residentail streets in North Woodside and Rosemary Hills, then having to cycle on a gravel trail (that is a muddy trail after each rain) to ride to Bethesda. The off-road trail does NOT go to Silver Spring now, it only goes a little beyond Rock Creek. I've studied the plans for the Purple Line very closely. They are on the MTA website for all to see. Those dangerous steel stairs Bonnie says are in the plans where "cyclists will need to carry their bikes up dangerous steel stairs over the top of the high speed trains" don't exist in the plans. I know that Bonnie may dismiss me as a "schill for Connecticut Ave. development" for daring to have a different view from her, but I am far from alone among cyclists who use the trail now.
Bonnie Naradzay June 04, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Nothing personal, please ("daring" to have a different view??). My comments relate specifically to the section of the trail from Jones Mill through the tunnel in Bethesda, which is where that section connects with the CCT, which ends up in Georgetown, at the waterfront.
Bill Schulz June 05, 2011 at 06:27 PM
The price tag for the Purple line is now $1.93 billion to construct. The paved shade-less strip of asphalt from Bethesda to Silver Spring is an estimated $65 million. That doesn't include the plans for the first several hundred feet of the "trail" on which cyclists will walk their bikes up a narrow switchbacked corridor inside an office building in downtown Bethesda, then go through a suspended cage above the railroad tracks. Wayne P., who says he's "tired of the hassle of cycling across 6-lane 16th Street at a dangerous intersection, then weaving down narrow residential streets in North Woodside and Rosemary Park," like many cyclists who went out in support of the Purple Line before they realized what they were in for, has boxed himself into a corner with developers that want to turn acres of residential communities into high-rise urban-like developments. In the process, they've abandoned hope for maintaining the parks and open space that make today's trail unique and special for its users. Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail (www.SaveTheTrail.org) hasn't. We want to preserve and protect open space, park land and quality of life in our communities.
Bonnie Naradzay June 05, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Thank you, Bill. Wayne and WABA officials don't realize that the plans are NOT on the MTA website. MTA has good reasons for shielding the plans from the public, and you have explained some of those reasons.
Wayne Phyillaier June 05, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Bonnie: The plans are indeed on the MTA website - in several places, and have been for some time. Go to www.purplelinemd.com You can find engineering drawings for the whole project in the "Maps and Graphics" section. You can find plans for the Georgetown Branch Trail under the section on "Public Involvement/Work Groups" at http://www.purplelinemd.com/public-involvement/work-sessions/77-georgetown-branchcapital-crescent-trail-station-area MTA presented these plans at the recent focus group meeting at B-CC High School, and had engineers at that meeting to answer detailed questions. I was there, and Bill Schulz was also there and asked questions - so he can verify that the MTA plans have been presented to the public. I also have numerous blog postings on the plans on my own blog, www.silverspringtrails.org . MTA will be having more focus group meetings to show their plans and answer questions as the preliminary design progresses.


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