Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

02 January 2018

A Bicycle Beltway?

During his 2016 campaign for the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders said he's "not an inside-the-Beltway guy."

What he meant is that he isn't part of that insular world of government officials and members of the media in and around the nation's capital who concern themselves with matters that are of little or no importance to most Americans.  He was implying that he has a vision that includes the whole nation and world, and not merely the incestuous dysfunction that seems to rule the corridors of authority.

The "Beltway" is a highway--Interstate 495, to be exact--that encircles the city of Washington, DC and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.  In this sense, it is similar to Interstates 128 and 285, which enclose the cities of Boston and Atlanta, respectively, along with their immediate suburbs.  

One of the ironies of these "ring" highways--and those around other cities, such as the Boulevard Peripherique in Paris--is that they were designed to alleviate the traffic tie-ups in central cities, but now they are among the most congested roads in the world.

Well, now it looks like Washington's regional Transportation Planning Board is about to endorse a "Bicycle Beltway"  plan for the US capital.  Interestingly, it will include trails through the heart of the city that will connect the outer arcs of he 45-mile (80-kilometer) outer loop.  

Much of the network already exists.  The plan, if approved (as expected), calls for improvements to existing paths in the Maryland suburb of Bethesda, and building new trails in neighboring Silver Spring as well as in the Virginia suburbs of Arlington and the southeastern part of the city itself.  These new and improved paths will connect the already-existing lanes to form the proposed "Bicycle Beltway."

Now I have to wonder whether this plan, when completed, will spawn a new breed of "Inside the Beltway" cyclists.

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