Jones Falls Trail: Part Three Improvements

The Jones Falls Trail is a good trail, but like most things in life, it could be better.  From marketing, to signage, to maintenance-this is where we can point out parts of the trail that could be improved.

This post is about part three, the northern section between the intersection of Clipper Park Road/Clipper Road near the Woodberry light rail station to/from Cylburn Arboretum. (3.5 miles) To read Part One click here.  To read Part Two click here. Here is our article “Improving Signage on the Jones Falls Trail.”

Here’s our list. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.

  1. Add more and better “Wayfinding” signage. Getting lost or directionally confused is a sure fire way to downgrade your trail experience. Luckily, this is a really inexpensive thing to fix.  There are existing signs and blazes that help, but for trail newbies there are a number of places, intersections in particular, that can be disorienting. Adding destinations, mileage markers, and north/south indicators can help trail users more easily point themselves in the right direction. Also, the trail doesn’t always look like a trail, such as where it shares a roadbed and a sidewalk such as Clipper and Clipper Park Roads. In one place, the trail follows the road bed going against  a one way street. New users are likely to be confused.  Make sure the trail is easy to follow.
Jones Falls Trail signage does not provide enough information and are not always placed at places where trail users have to make a directional decision
Jones Falls Trail signage does not provide enough information and are not always placed at places where trail users have to make a directional decision
Wayfinding signage in Arlington, Virginia is very helpful
Wayfinding signage in Arlington, Virginia is very helpful

                                                                                                              

2. Add parking signage and a map at the trail heads. There is trail parking in Woodberry and at Cylburn Arboretum, but it is not marked.  Signs showing drivers how to get to the parking areas would help. What location should drivers put in their GPS’s to get to trail heads? At the trail heads there should be a trail map and directional signage.

There is no Jones Falls Trail signage at the Cylburn trailhead and parking area.
There is no Jones Falls Trail signage at the Cylburn trailhead and parking area.

3. The trail should be maintained. Here are a series of observations.There is a lot of silt in the road at Clipper and Clipper Park Road that should be removed. Some of the new benches are rusted through, sinking into the ground, and have weeds growing around them. The trail is not plowed in the winter and there is some dead landscaping. The blazes (a volunteer made these-a big thank you to this individual) need to be refreshed to remain useful.

4. Don’t repeat the design flaws when the trail  is extended. There are telephone poles and fire hydrants in the trail right of way. Furthermore, the trail looks like a sidewalk in some places. Put bike parking in helpful locations.

5. Make the trail more visible in key locations. Why not add signs to help brand the trail and create awareness? For example, cars go over trail crossings such as Cold Spring Lane and very few know they are passing over the trail. Other locations like Cylburn, The Maryland Zoo and the Conservatory (in part two of the trail) attract lots of visitors. Signage can help cross promote. Add information and signs at visible places to help the trail be more well known.

Nothing subtle about this sign on the Paul Bunyan Trail. The Jones Falls Trail should come out of hiding.
Nothing subtle about this sign on the Paul Bunyan Trail. The Jones Falls Trail should come out of hiding.

6. Connect the trail to light rail stations.  The Jones Falls Trail mostly parallels the light rail line.  Physical connections and signage to and from stations can make them complementary.

7.Tie the trail into the 311 and 911 system.  If there is an issue on the trail, users need to be able to report the problem to operators who will understand where they are.

8. Recognize the trail is never finished.  The trail can always be better maintained. It can be extended. It can have features like sculptures, artwork, or river overlooks added to it.  New marketing for the trail can be created. Spurs can be created to schools, attractions, business districts, or transit stops.  Trail oriented development and restaurants can be cultivated. Corporate, institutional, sports franchise, or foundation partners can be found.   The trail can have better web presence and technology applications. The Jones Falls Trail should be a better amenity for Baltimore year after year. In September 2016, we will write about what was accomplished this year.

Thank you for reading.  I hope whoever reads this can do their part to help Baltimore be a better trail city.

Jeff La Noue

(edited by Laura Melamed)

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