RailTrailPolitics

All politics is local, in some cases exponentially so. In my neighborhood there's a tense struggle going on between well-intentioned people who want to expand east-west public transit facilities versus well-intentioned people who want to preserve the lovely foliage and quiet ambience along the route proposed for that transit line. One side accuses the other of being elitist country-clubbers who have chopped down the trees in their own pesticide-treated yards and now want to block the County from using public land to solve serious traffic problems. --- "Au contraire," is the reply, "we just want to preserve green space and a bikeway/jogging-path." --- "No, you just want to keep your property values up, even if it means poor folks of other races from the wrong side of the tracks can't get to their jobs via an energy-efficient light-rail system." --- "You're wrong; the rail line would be dangerous, noisy, and wouldn't hook up to the places people need to go." --- "Aw, you're just showing the NIMBY syndrome, Not In My Back Yard. Without the mass transit construction a safe trail will never get built on the east side of the creek." --- "Wrong again, the transit would destroy the trail." --- "Would not!" --- "Would so!" --- ...

And so the dialogue degenerates. A few days ago someone posted a rather one-sided note to the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) discussion group concerning this question, and suggested that club members write their elected officials to support a particular position.

I have taken no public stance on the "Inner Purple Line", and tried to craft a balanced (some might say wishy-washy) message on the subject. A lightly-edited excerpt:

This is an extraordinarily complex topic, and I expect that people on all sides of it will condemn me for not fully agreeing with them. It is impossible to discuss adequately in a short note, so instead I suggest that MCRRC members look at pages by Wayne Phyillaier (http://home.earthlink.net/~wphyilla/purple.html etc.) and the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (http://www.cctrail.org/ etc.) for thoughtful commentary on why mass transit along the Georgetown Branch could "... result in a CCT that most equitably serves neighborhoods on both sides of Rock Creek Park and that best completes the regional trail network". On the other side of the aisle, MCRRC members should study Pam Browning's pages (http://mysite.verizon.net/pbrow/ etc.) and the web site of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Save The Trail (http://www.savethetrail.org/ etc.) for thoughtful commentary on why the Inner Purple Line "... would have a devastating effect on the Capital Crescent Trail and the surrounding communities".

I see good arguments in all directions here --- as is the case with almost every interesting and important political topic --- and I must gently disagree that "... this one is very easy ..." to decide upon. As for the MCRRC membership, I would encourage all runners to study the issues and talk with Wayne, Pam, and others before signing on to any position. (BTW, beware of sending form letters to politicians --- such letters carry far less weight than a personal note or phone call.)

I'll cc: this note to Pam & Wayne, in hopes that they may wish to offer additional suggestions and commments.

I myself cherish the Georgetown Branch Trail; I frequently jog along it between Silver Spring and Bethesda; my home is within a mile of it. I am delighted to see the improvements that have occurred on the Trail in recent years. I salute all those who are working so hard to preserve and enhance it.

... and now, I've gotta change clothes and go out for a run along the Trail, to get my pitiful legs semi-ready for the MitP!!

Best,
^z = Mark Zimmermann

Personal aside: The "MitP" alluded to above is the 9 November 2003 Marathon in the Parks. I've strained the quadriceps muscle (or something associated with it) in my left leg and have tried resting up for the past couple of weeks: zero running, not easy for me to do. But the leg still aches. A few days ago I gave up and started jogging again --- thus far without observable effects, either pro or con, on the healing process. Today's 14 miler was slow and exhausting but tolerable. I'm now busily lowering my performance expectations for the race itself ...

(see also LivingPhilosophy (12 Jun 1999), SlowerRunnersGuide (30 Oct 2002), Rocky Run (17 Nov 2002), HealthyTrails (24 Nov 2002), CapitalCrescentCoordinates (5 May 2003), ... )


TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety - TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - Datetag20031024


(correlates: CodeOfTheWoosters, SteveCisler, 1 Comment on Critical Eyes, ...)