Greenbelt East Trail Progress -- Good News but Also Frustrations and Fatalities

This is our 16th Greenbelt East Trail Newsletter. If you're new to the project, our website for Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail is www.greenbeltnasatrail.org and our August newsletter (click for link) gave a summary of our first year's effort.


Here's the Greenbelt East Trail news for September:


  1. The first round of illustrations from the Neighborhood Design Center is finished. Don't they look great?
  2. Our next stakeholders call will be at 12-1pm on Friday, October 23rd. Please reply to this email if you'd like to be invited.
  3. Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail (www.greenbeltnasatrail.org) will be at the Greenbelt Farmers Market on Sunday, October 22nd from 10-2pm. Please stop by for the latest gossip and trail news.
  4. No news yet from the MDOT/SHA Feasibility Study -- will update the group as soon as I learn how the study is going. It's supposed to be finished in December.
  5. We will also have a table at the WABA Cider Ride pitstop at Proteus Bicycles & Brews, from about 9am to 2pm on Saturday November 4th.
  6. We're working to summarize the raw data on overall and non-motorist crashes along the proposed route for the Greenbelt East Trail. On first glance, it looks like there has been at least one bike/walk fatality along the route in recent years. I promised I'd have that data ready by this newsletter, but I've been too busy -- hopefully I'll have more info by next month. In the meantime, crowdsourced analysis is welcome! We need to better understand the data set, and possibly clean out non-relevant records, and then summarize the crashes by year, location etc. Email us with your work or suggestions at info@greenbeltnasatrail.org.
  7. At a public meeting on street safety and economic development last month, I learned that the State Highway Administration's Prince George's County office has now approved "vertical features" like the flexposts and curbstops on local state roads to address the speeding problem and calm traffic. That's terrific news, and it's exactly what we're proposing for the Greenbelt East Trail.
  8. The bad news is I also learned that the Greenbelt East Trail was turned down for a "quick build" option for the section in front of NASA -- essentially adding those curbstops and flexposts right away -- because of concerns that buses stopping to pick up passengers would sink in to the asphalt unless new concrete bus pads were added.
  9. Of course, the current bus stops on Greenbelt Road don't all have concrete pads -- you can see one that doesn't in the inset "before" picture of the proposed future bus stop design above! And there's no indentation where the buses stop now. So this this just a mostly made-up excuse, not a valid reason.


The really bad news was another pedestrian fatality in Greenbelt last week. This one was near the Greenbelt Road (Route 193) and Kenilworth Ave (Route 201) interchange, according to a preliminary report from the Greenbelt News Review (you have to scroll to page 8).


I Googled "Greenbelt pedestrian fatality," but there isn't much more information yet on this most recent killing. There are lots of other reports on other fatalities along Greenbelt Road in recent years though. The Google list goes on and on.


The reason we have so many crashes and fatalities is that Greenbelt Road is built like a highway. We can blame drivers for speeding or police for not enforcing speed limits. But when a street looks and feels like a highway, with high-speed ramps and merge lanes and guard rails and highway-style signs, we have to expect drivers to speed and weave. That's why bikeways and walkways and bus stops need to be protected with curbs. And curbs and other "vertical features" have a natural traffic calming effect.


That's also why the Greenbelt East Trail needs to expedited, not delayed. We can't wait for more crashes and deaths while we fiddle around over bus pads. And bus pads can always be installed later. We're proposing the construct the Greenbelt East Trail with moveable materials like pre-fabricated curbstops, precisely so that we could move or re-orient them later to make further improvements.

A Two-Stage Approach to Fixing Dangerous Ramps.


The NDC illustrations above for the NASA entrance show two options. In the first "quicker build" option, we could just put a speed hump on the ramp where there's a natural crosswalk. And then put a stop sign at the end of the ramp where it would cross the trail, so that drivers would have to make a complete stop and look both ways before merging.


An even better approach would be to just close the ramp and add another "straight" lane for right turns next to the current left turn lane. That way, right turners would make a squared-off turn with the green light rather than merging into moving traffic.


One of our next projects will be to raise enough money to commission another set of design illustrations from NDC, this time focusing on the intersection of Greenbelt Road and Lanham-Severn Road, the site of many high-speed crashes!


You can Donate Here (click) to help us cover the cost of more excellent illustrations.

Future Cherrywood Lane "Green Street" in Greenbelt would Continue the Greenbelt East Trail Connection to the ARTS


Once the Greenbelt East Trail is complete, and riders can safely get from the WB&A Trail to Greenbelt, we plan to start working to improving the connection between Greenbelt and the Anacostia River Trail System.


Right now, Greenbelt has a safe crossing over the BW Parkway on the Spellman Overpass, which is near Eleanor Roosevelt HS. Then, Greenbelt has OK bike lanes crossing the Beltway over toward the the Greenbelt Metro Station on Crescent Road, Ivy Lane, and Cherrywood Lane, eventually connecting to a short section of the Indian Creek Trail and finally to Branchville Ave. toward Lake Artemesia and the rest of the Anacostia River Trails.


The City of Greenbelt has proposed to improve Cherrywood Lane into a full "green street" with protected bike lanes, full sidewalks on both sides, and better drainage. See the pics above for the before and after. Right now Cherrywood Lane's unprotected bike lanes are pretty good as long as drivers are paying attention and aren't street racing. However, the protected "green street" would be wonderful! That will be our next project!

Our Motto: "Less than 2 Years, Less than $2 Million, Start Sector 2 now!" Let's get this project done and show what's possible in Prince George's County!


Full Trail Resources:


Sector 2 (NASA) Resources:


Our community partners in this effort are the City of Greenbelt, WABA, ATHA, the East Coast Greenway, the Greenbelt Community Development Corp., and the Glenn Dale Citizens Association. Would your company or organization like to help the trail effort? Please use reply to this newsletter or email us at info@greenbeltnasatrail.org for more info. -Jeff

How Can You Help?

Please don't hesitate to reply to this email with info and corrections and ideas! Send this newsletter to your friends and encourage them to sign up for these emails too. Share this link to the video of our trail walk with Delegate Nicole Williams and many local and state officials: https://youtu.be/4_EmhBTbFRE. We will need to reach out to more stakeholders and public officials whose help we will need to make www.GreenbeltNASATrail.org a reality! -Jeff