by John Campanile
Being relatively new to Greenbelt – having moved to Our Fair City in December 2016 – I have explored both on- and off-street trails and roads in and around Greenbelt. From what I’ve seen, there are quite a few residents who either walk or bicycle, perhaps running errands, getting in some exercise, or walking the dog.
But I find Greenbelt lacking in some basic infrastructure that may get more people to choose non-motorized transportation. When I mentioned this to the editor of Greenbelt Online, she urged me to write about it. So here goes.
Something about Greenbelt that my wife and I learned while we looked for a home – indeed, it was an important factor in our decision to live here – is the historically realized vision of 1937 Greenbelt as one of the country’s first planned communities. This planning took into consideration the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists, namely well-maintained sidewalks and trails separate from driving lanes. Now, some 80 years later, many cities and communities have brought the concept of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure into their planning and budgeting. But what I have observed in my short time as a resident in GHI is that Greenbelt needs to take these same steps to improve non-auto infrastructure throughout the city.
For example, why aren’t more roads marked as shared access – both automobile and bicycles – with “Share the Road” signs and road sharrows (pavement stencils) placed at regular intervals? Wouldn’t it be nice to see roads such as Crescent, Ridge and Southway, among others, marked as shared-use routes, such is currently the case on Cherrywood Road, and a 1/4-mile portion of Crescent Road leading into the city from Kenilworth Avenue? (And why isn’t the latter extended into and through the city?)
Education is another factor. Pedestrians must wonder why some drivers do not stop at crosswalks as they attempt to cross the street. How many know that Maryland law stipulates that drivers yield to crossing pedestrians? How many drivers know that bicyclists have full use of our roadways (except for limited access highways such as 95 or the Beltway) and have the same rights and obligations as drivers? Do bicyclists know about these provisions?
My understanding is that the Greenbelt City Council is considering the creation of a bicycle committee (one did exist in the not-so-distant past). I recently expressed my interest at seeing such a committee formed during the public comment portion of the January 8 City Council meeting. Feedback from the Council members present at that meeting was positive.
Well, it’s high time we restore.The GHI community has its own bicycle advocacy group that meets every third Wednesday of the month in the GHI Building (1 Hamilton Place, at 7 pm). Perhaps the city at-large could use its own advocacy group to create a culture for bicycling by improving street infrastructure while promoting education and safety. We could sure use it, IMHO.
Your thoughts are welcomed, especially pedestrian issues. How would you rate our sidewalks? The location and frequency of crosswalks? If you would like to see a pedestrian/bicycle group here in Greenbelt, what would you like to see that group accomplish?
John Campanile resides in the GHI community with his wife Lynn Poirier, moving here in December 2016 from Mt. Rainier, Md. John has served as secretary to the GHI Bicycle Task Force since it’s inception in September 2017. Prior to that he served as newsletter editor for the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail and as an occasional volunteer for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.