Biking and walking across the Arlington Memorial Bridge can be confusing and dangerous. The planned $227 million repair of the aging bridge presents a critical opportunity to also address safety and access issues for people on foot and on bikes. For a small fraction of the cost of the bridge project, improvements to the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Memorial traffic circles would improve safety and reduce frustration.
Biking and walking trails offer several benefits: Enabling commutes by foot and bike relieves traffic congestion; bicycle tourism of the area's businesses and historical attractions boosts local economic development; safe, accessible facilities encourage exercise to improve health. A 2016 study identified 18 high-priority capital projects; 10 are directly connected to or within one mile of the Memorial Bridge.
The economic boost from walking and biking trails isn't limited to local visits. The trail that runs along the Mall, across the Arlington bridge and onto the Mount Vernon Trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a developing 3,000-mile route stretching from Florida to Maine along our nation's most populated corridor. The 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail is one of the most widely used segments, with more than 500,000 trips in 2016.
Undertaking a major Washington metropolitan area capital project to keep the bridge from falling into the Potomac River is an easy decision. Doing so without also increasing the safety of people on foot and on bike would be a squandered opportunity.
Tom Kaiden, Alexandria
The writer is a member of the board of the
East Coast Greenway Alliance.