For a few years FCDOT has been analyzing concepts for the Vesper Trail, a connection from North Vienna to Tysons and the Silver Line metro. The focal connection is a 2000 foot trail connection which extends from Spring Hill Road to Vesper Street.
This is a great start to connecting thousands of residents in North Vienna to the Silver Line, but because of the circuitousness of the suburban streets in this neighborhood, most cyclists will find it near impossible to find the trail. The trail crossing itself also has minimal capability to logically extend further to the W&OD. From this location the best that could be hoped for are painted sharrows; difficult to navigate, and in suburban areas with long blind curves a dangerous design.
The Vesper Trail connection is a good one, and necessary, but it is only a short term solution to a larger need. Connecting Northern Virginia’s original Cycling Highway, the W&OD trail, to growing communities of urban development. This can be achieved with minimal construction costs, no demolition of existing homes, and no additional street right of way. If done right, the trail can be painted to provide navigation and wayfinding, one of the critical obstacles to traversing bike trails through suburban neighborhoods.
This straighter path that relies less on sharrows will be simpler for cyclists to find and use. The new trail provides an opportunity for placemaking. Unique paint coloration, signage, lighting, and integration with the surrounding natural forests can be value added elements to both encourage use and improve safety. This expanded concept for trail connectivity will build on years of cycling growth in Fairfax County and help continue network multi-modality.