Wanna build your own bike path?

Over the last week and a half I’ve had the entertainment of watching various road/construction crews rebuild the bike path in front of my house.  I have a ‘running path’ on the side closest to my house, and a ‘bike path’ across the street along the river.  Over the last few years the bike path had gotten pretty rough – more for mountain bikes than anything else.  I would never ride my road bike there, but would occasionally ride my bike there.

About two weeks ago they posted up a big ol’ sign that said they were going to close the bike path and repave it.  Woohoo!

Since I work from my ‘home office’, this gave me the chance to watch them over the last 10 days.  Ya know…to look at my little window and take pictures as they did all sorts of interesting things to me dear little bike path.

So, if you ever wanted to build a bike path – here’s how you do it in ten easy steps:

Step 1: Put out a big ass sign saying you’re about to make a mess

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Step 2: Get yourself a whole bunch of ‘peoples’.  Some of your peoples will do stuff and some of your peoples will just pretend to do stuff (Actually to be fair to the Alexandria folks, they really were doing work virtually the whole time – much better than the Virginia DOT folks)

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Step 3: Clean up the previous mess – and make a bigger mess
This involves taking either a grinder machine (which, regrettably I lost my photos of), or a edger machine.  The below machine rips up the nearby grass/shrubs and trims them back.  One piece I wasn’t able to figure out is why sometimes they actually ground up the previous pavement with the grinder and other times they just paved over the top.

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Step 4: Take your peoples, and clean up the little mess you just made with the edger machine – and make it look prettier with a shovel.

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Step 5: Kinda pave the path.
Don’t really pave it, just sorta sprinkle down some stuff and generally make the situation worse.  This requires a little paver machine, and a few trucks worth of asphalt.

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Make sure your truck leaves random piles of smoking asphalt around.

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Step 6: Make it like a pancake!

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When your done with this pass, it will look like the upper section of the following, it’s pretty awesome.

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Step 7: Pavement Try #2

This time, actually lay down enough asphalt to make a really pretty path.

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Step 8: Run out of asphalt.  Lie under a tree while ya wait for new asphalt.

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Step 8 Part II – Get More Asphalt!  Filler up!

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Step 9: Roller time again!  Weeeee!

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Step 10: Path all complete.  Time to play!

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Bonus Step: Steamroll a leaf onto hot asphalt  Check out the burn marks.  I thought it was kinda neat.

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So there ya go – how to create your own bike path in ten easy steps.  I was actually fairly impressed, they moved at about a quarter mile or so per day.  Some days a bit faster, some days a bit slower.  And they were able to complete the 1.5 mile section of path in about 7 week days.


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  1. Super informative.

    Maybe I’ll build a bike path from my apartment to my tv station.

  2. SLB

    Is this for real, it’s like Rainmaker Sims; the triathlete edition!

  3. Love to see those local tax payer dollars at work! At least they were doing something. Sometimes, I see workers outside my office window attempting to repave a parking lot and they just sit around, drink coffee, smoke, and eat food all day. At least you got to see progress. A rarity these days!

  4. The leaf picture was cool.

    And that is really nice that they repaved your bike path.

    There’s a big initiative going down this fall during the election for there to be a ‘SMART’ train that goes all the way from Cloverdale (about 72 miles north of SF) down to Marin. I think the train idea is dumb (because it won’t be able to go all the way to SF so commuters would not only have to take a TRAIN, but then either a bus or ferry to SF…making it a very long ride…), BUT…

    …THE UPSIDE is that along the train tracks, they will build a BIKE PATH!! So THAT would be cool because once you got to Marin you could easily ride your bike into SF, too. SO THAT is why I will vote for the SMART train (though of course, it would be a lot cheaper for them to JUST build a bike path, but you know, there’s not enough of us bike people for them to do that…pssshh…)

    I know you wanted to know all that. It just made me think of it. 🙂

  5. Is this just a random bike bath, or one that is actually linked to the others? (W&OD, 4 mile, etc)

  6. It connects Old Town to Holmes Run bike path, which goes for another 3.5 miles. Once at the end of that, it just sorta stops in a nature park/trail area. It’s ideal for running and using as a commuter bike path for all the neighboorhood areas, funneling them in. But not so ideal for a long ride. 😉

    You can also get to the Mt. Vernon trail from Old Town. And starting next spring they’re building a crossover path at Telegraph to connect to the Wilson Bridge and therefor also the Mt. Vernon trail directly.

  7. You are so lucky to have bike and jog trails where you live. I feel like I am battling traffic every time I go for a run or a ride.

  8. that was a fun read….

    plus of course…the visuals…

    ohh that poor leaf.!!!
    what an agonizing death…

  9. you boys and your trucks.

  10. i want my own bike path too!