A chain-link fence has been placed across the popular bike path between the Whole Foods development and the Calvert Hills neighborhood to the north.
A sign posted facing the community says: “Due to ongoing vandalism and community concern regarding safety, the hike bike trail will be closed until community concerns are addressed.”
According to an email sent to local officials, developers made the decision for three reasons. First, someone recently removed a barricade which closed off bike traffic to the portion of the site still under construction. Second, a local citizen sent a letter raising concerns about people using the alley leading up to the trail connection after dark. And third, the city of College Park had noted two times when a car was seen using the trail illegally as a cut-through.
Because the development is not yet complete, the homeowners association is still run by the developers, who are typically cautious when faced with liability concerns. The barricade issue is a problem: Bikers may be frustrated by the lack of access, but moving a fence is not going to help matters. Adding a simple bollard and some lighting could solve the problem, but it will require getting the proper permits, which could take time.
The closure comes at a problematic time because the Trolley Trail has been a key link between Riverdale Park and the College Park Metro station until a bridge over the CSX railroad opens and a sidewalk improvement along Route 1 is completed, currently expected to be on March 23.
The unexpected closure has prompted criticism and widespread discussion on local message boards, blogs and listservs, but until developers and local officials can resolve the liability concerns with some new lighting, an alternate route and/or a bollard or two to stop cars, the trail is not likely to be reopened.