WASHINGTON — A popular commuter biking trail will soon be easier to navigate for cyclists and first responders.
The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) links Montgomery County to Union Station and, after an attack and attempted sexual assault this month, the District Department of Transportation will be adding mile markers at every tenth of a mile.
“What that allows is both for a trail user to have a much better sense of where they are on the trail and should something come up on the trail, where 911 actually has to be called, it gives those dispatchers a much better way of locating where that user is and where the problem is,” said Garrett Hennigen, the grassroots advocacy coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA).
Since the trail opened five years ago there have been a number of instances in which 911 dispatchers have been confused over the location of an emergency call.
Installing these mile markers will give users of the trail a concrete location, instead of trying to rely on landmarks during what may already be a confusing situation.
Ultimately, though, safety issues on the MBT depend on more than just mile markers.
“What we’re looking for is completion of the trail,” says Nelle Pierson, interim executive director for WABA. “When the entire eight miles of the trail is done there will be more people out, and when you have more people out on a trail, people are more safe.”
The markers will be posted on the southernmost four miles of the trail, which runs from Union Station through the Brookland neighborhood. The MBT serves an average of 1,200 users per day.
“This is a vibrant community asset, this is a way for people to get to work, to school to drop off kids. This is a trail that’s used for recreation, but it’s also a transportation arterial for our city,” says Pierson.
And soon mile markers will make the trail a little bit safer.