To say that there’s a stark divide in bike infrastructure between the western and eastern ends of the District is to understate the situation by an order of magnitude. However, the next stages of construction of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail aims to rectify this and could have profound implications for active transportation alongside the river.

Currently the eastern section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail stretches along the river from the Douglass Bridge to Benning Road NE. The section currently being built will extend the trail from Benning Road to the D.C. border where it will connect in Bladensburg to the extensive Anacostia Tributary Trails System network in Maryland. When finished, a bicyclist will be able to ride from College Park to Nationals Park on a completely car-free route.

“The Riverwalk Trail, especially the section to from Benning Road to the state line, will be great because it will connect 26 miles of existing trails in Maryland with 10 miles of existing trail along the Anacostia River in D.C.,” says Michael Alvino, bicycle program specialist at DDOT. “It will connect a major gap in the regional trail network.”

For the recreational cyclist, this is fantastic. No longer will you have to schlep over to the Mount Vernon Trail or W&OD if you want to log some serious miles. But even more importantly, this connection will be a huge boon to the cyclists in the communities along the river, long hemmed in by the highway and the river, and faced with roads with no cyclist accommodation. As an off-street alternative to Minnesota Avenue, this new section of trail will provide a welcome respite.  

While the trail isn’t done yet, it’s expected to be completed by the fall of this year. Currently, it’s a hodgepodge of freshly paved smooth-as-butter asphalt and considerably unpaved gravel. New bridges and boardwalk sections are currently under construction. Here are some pictures.

Map courtesy DDOT; photos by Brain McEntee