How Route 1 Became a Bike Haven

Route 1 has become a great place for bicycling, with shops, trails, bike-sharing stations and strong local support.

There are several locally owned bike shops: Hyattsville’s Arrow Bicycle, College Park Bicycles and Proteus Bicycles. And the Mount Rainier Bike Co-op offers free workshops on bicycle repair and even provides used parts and bikes to volunteers who need them.

Several great bike trails connect at Lake Artemesia. From there, you can head north to Greenbelt on the Indian Creek Trail, north through the University of Maryland to the Beltway on the Paint Branch Trail, or south to Bladensburg on the Northeast Branch Trail.

South of downtown Hyattsville, you can link up with the Anacostia River Trail through Bladensburg’s waterfront, take the Northwest Branch Trail to the Beltway near Adelphi, or head north on the Rhode Island Trolley Trail, which follows the old streetcar route.

There are also on-street bike routes in Hyattsville and University Park that add another option for casual cyclists.

College Park’s mBike bike-sharing system has proved wildly popular, with more than 21,000 trips in its first 11 months, and is set to expand. Bike rentals are also available at the Greenbelt and College Park metro stations, the Trolley Trail and University Park, making the system even more useful to area residents.

Meantime, Capital Bikeshare will soon add stations from Mount Rainier to Riverdale Park, connecting Route 1 to the popular D.C. system.

There are great local events, like Arrow Bicycle’s weekly 32-mile rides on Sunday mornings, the University of Maryland cycling team’s weekly rides, Hyattsville’s annual Route 1 Rampage races, the annual Cyclocross race staged by Route 1 Velo and solid local participation in Bike to Work Day.

And there’s even smaller touches that show the area is thinking about biking, like a bike repair station outside Whole Foods at the new Riverdale Park Station, public bike racks at places like the Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville, and artsy markers for the Trolley Trail and the Northwest Branch Trail that are laid into the path.

That’s not to say more couldn’t be done.

For one thing, area roads could be better. Few have dedicated bicycle lanes (some parts of University Park don’t even have sidewalks because town leaders in the 1950s figured people of the future would drive everywhere). Major thoroughfares like Route 1 and East-West Highway can be intimidating and even unsafe for casual bikers. Better signage is always welcome.

There are still gaps in the trail system, including a missing segment in the Trolley Trail while Riverdale Park Station is under construction and a much-needed connection between the Trolley Trail at its southern end and the Northwest Branch Trail. More bike racks and more bike-sharing stations, especially at Hyattsville’s two metro stations, would be helpful.

But overall, Route 1 communities have made great strides in promoting bicycling in recent years.

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