Cyclist along a completed section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
Map of Trail
Metropolitan Branch Trail
Years: 2006 to present
This project is part of RTC's Urban Pathways Initiative. Learn more about this work.
District of Columbia Department of Transportation; Coalition for the Metropolitan Branch Trail
Survey and Recommendations to Encourage Trail Use in the Eckington and Edgewood Neighborhoods
Stretching 8.25 miles from Union Station in downtown Washington, D.C., to Silver Spring, Md., just across the border from the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Branch Trail has long been a goal of neighborhood residents and planners in Washington. Sections of the trail have already been completed in Takoma Park and near Catholic University, and a significant section from Franklin Street to New York Avenue is now in the design-build phase.
While there are many benefits that trails provide to adjacent neighborhoods, one of the most important is the improved opportunity to engage in healthy lifestyles. With funding from Kaiser Permanente, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy produced a report that highlighted the opportunities for residents of the underserved Eckington and Edgewood neighborhoods to take advantage of this new community asset. RTC's goal is to foster the development of the trail in a way that engages the community by implementing programs like Safe Routes to School, while also utilizing marketing and programs that will encourage more residents to use the trail regularly.
So far, RTC has been extrememly active and successful in organizing activities that encourage greater use of the Met Branch Trail. With a recent two-year grant awarded from Kaiser Permanente in 2011, we are excited to continue these efforts. Some highlights of RTC's work thus far include partnering with a public charter school to install an educational garden along the trail in 2010, and adding a part-time gardening instructor in 2011 to offer classes on nutrition and gardening. RTC also worked with the local citizen-led safety patrol, the Guardian Angels, to help institute a volunteer patrol along the trail that has helped improve trail safety. Watch our short film Is It Safe? Crime and Perceptions of Safety on Urban Trails, which features some of these local efforts.
Throughout the summer months, RTC helped implement regular trail programming, including Fresh Eats, a weekly "no-cook" food demonstration providing nutritious snacks from the trailside garden, the Creative Corner activity booth led by a local artist, trail clean-ups and service days. RTC also worked with local Eckington neighborhood residents to design and install new signage that both gives identity to the neighborhood and helps direct residents to the trail.
In 2012, RTC is extending our Urban Pathways assistance to Baltimore, Md., where we are working with local schools and organizations to develop an Earn-a-Bike program for 7th and 8th graders who live near the Herring Run Trail in northeast Baltimore.