The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has announced that, for the very first time, cyclists and pedestrians will now have access to the W&OD Trail beyond normal daylight hours. The extended hours program went into effect March 1.
The new W&OD Trail hours are from 5 a.m.-9 p.m., from Shirlington in Arlington County, all the way to the western town limit of Herndon in Fairfax County. Previously, the trail was considered off limits once the sun set.
“I am happy to see that NVRPA sees the W&OD as the premiere bike route in the region,” Allen Muchnick, a board member at the Virginia Bicycling Federation, stated.
“This pilot program will help many cyclists that want to use their bikes for transportation and not just recreation.”
NVRPA has accordingly created a few new rules to ensure that the extended hours are as safe as possible for its users. For cyclists, riders are required to wear reflective clothing that can be easily seen from the front and rear. All bicycles must be equipped with at least one white headlight light that is visible in clear weather from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a red reflector visible from 600 feet to the rear. Additionally bicycles must be equipped with a taillight visible from a distance of at least 500 feet. This taillight may be affixed to the bicycle or rider and may be steady or blinking. Pedestrians, are required to wear reflective clothing that can be easily seen from the front and rear and must carry a light or wear a flashing light.
In addition, NVRPA notes that exceptional care should be taken when crossing highways including obeying all laws and posted signage. Trail users are also required to follow all existing rules and regulations governing the use the trail.
“As we all look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and improve both our health and environment, cycling to work is one great option. We want to be part of the solution, and help make this kind of healthy choice an option,” NVPRA Executive Director Paul Gilbert said in a statement.
“Making the W&OD available during commuting hours is a significant step in the movement to encourage more non-motorized transportation.”
NVRPA has posted nearly a dozen signs along the extended hours route to help make riders and pedestrians aware of the rules governing the new hours. For more information, go to www.nvrpa.org.