January 18, 2012
Capital Crescent Trail a treasure to be preserved
Montgomery County Gazette

I love my job, but it is my commute that thrills me. It’s the air on my face, the fresh feel of the morning, the smell of pine needles” the deer and the fox I have passed” the hawks, the goldfinches and the Baltimore orioles that I have seen. I love my ride to work because it is on a bike.

I started riding the Capital Crescent Trail 15 years ago with my daughter when she was in second grade. With her trailer bike safely attached behind me, we made our way from our home in Kensington to the Washington Waldorf School near MacArthur Boulevard, where I am a teacher and where she was a student. We loved our ride through downtown Bethesda each morning watching the delivery trucks unload and the shops open. And we loved watching our bike trail grow.

We cheered when they put the bridge over River Road (and my wife breathed a sigh of relief). And we cheered again when they opened the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue, and once more when the trail was connected with Silver Spring. And as the bike trail was established we saw its use grow. To me this was a wonderful example of, If you build it, they will come.

Each morning I ride the trail and see students biking to Westland Middle School and B-CC High School and as a teacher I know they will be more alert and attentive in their morning classes. I pass joggers, walkers of all ages, moms and dads with strollers, and so many bicycle commuters, and I think of the savings.

It is not just the savings in gas, not just the reduction in car emissions, but a savings of thousands of dollars in medical expenses made unnecessary because of healthy exercise. There is also the money saved in unneeded therapy because exercise releases endorphins that make us feel better about our work and ourselves. In addition, there is the money saved in blood pressure and cholesterol medications and anti-depressants and, I am sure, in prevented surgeries.

I am so grateful for this Capital Crescent Bike Trail. I just cannot understand why the Planning Board, the Montgomery County Council, and Gov. Martin O’Malley need to trade our trail for light rail when there are other alternatives. There are so few things that exist solely for the well being of the individual citizen today.

This trail has everything I need and I know I am not alone in that feeling. It provides quiet time amidst the trees” a protected green space in the heart of our busy and stressful county. The trail is perfect, except for one thing. It will soon be drastically changed if business interests that want to develop Chevy Chase Lake have their way.

Jack Petrash, Kensington