- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2007

The roads between the District and Baltimore are built for cars, not bikes, but one group of environmentally-minded cyclists is seeking to change that.

Members of the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) yesterday completed a three-day, 100-mile tour of the D.C.-Baltimore-Annapolis triangle to promote urban bike trails.

“The purpose of this ride was to pick a section [of the East Coast Greenway] that was virtually complete,” Charles A. Flink, chairman of the ECGA board of trustees, said at a press conference at Union Station yesterday.

The East Coast Greenway is a set of coastal trails that stretches 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. A section of the seven-mile-long Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), which stretches from Union Station to Takoma Park, makes up a portion of the greenway.

ECGA members want the District to complete the trail as soon as possible. It is not scheduled to be completed until 2009, said Jim Sebastian, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat who rode his bike to the event, said the estimated $25 million project is budgeted.

Still, design plans for some segments have not been finalized.

DDOT Director Emeka Moneme congratulated the cyclists on their ride and said he is committed to finishing the trail.

“I plan to ride many miles on that MBT when it’s built, and I hope to see you guys out there with me, he said.

The cyclists used their journey to promote alternative transportation in light of rising gas prices, healthy living and scenic tourism.

The bikers passed historic sites along the way such as Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a British bombardment in 1812, and cycled along the path of the now-defunct Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad.

The group also took a two-hour bike tour in Annapolis that highlighted the Maryland capital’s green initiatives.

Unfortunately, we’re 20 years too late, said Elizabeth Brody, 75, who sported black Spandex shorts and a fanny pack. It’s difficult to thread a path through dense areas.

She said streets in Baltimore and the District are the hardest to navigate because so many lack bike paths.

Mr. Moneme said DDOT this autumn will begin building a futuristic, efficient and well-designed bike station on the west side of Union Station a $2 million, glass-enclosed structure that will feature 150 parking spaces, a maintenance shop and bike rentals.

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