ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – Runners and cyclists on the W&OD Trail were taken by surprise when a car made its way onto the popular pathway.
Thousands of people utilize D.C.-area bike trails every day. The trails are not only wide enough for emergency and maintenance vehicles to get by, but also for errant drivers who have lost their way.
Participants in Sheila Cordaro’s boot camp are used to I-66 traffic buzzing over their shoulders. However, they are not used to seeing a car driving on the path right next to them.
“All of a sudden, I saw this black car driving up the bike path,” said witness Beth Yoder.
Cordaro recalled, “We all turned and we said, ‘No, stop, stop! This isn’t a road!’”
“It was almost like she thought she found [a] special magic path or something,” said witness Ginny Kelly.
Posted warning signs and rubber barriers make it hard to imagine where the driver mistook the W&OD Trail for the street.
“I was afraid that a biker or runner was coming the other way and going so fast they couldn’t stop—the car was taking up the entire path,” Yoder said.
This is not the first time a car has found its way onto the trail; a YouTube video captured a car on the trail in Vienna last year. Various new accounts indicate it happens at least half a dozen times a year.
In the end, witnesses guided the driver, who appeared to be in her mid-50s and had out-of-state tags, off the trail down a narrow path and past a crowded playground.
“It was amazing that she had no idea she wasn’t allowed in this space,” Yoder said.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Foundation does not track how often cars end up on trails. Police will ticket drivers, but witnesses need to report the incidents, so authorities can determine where the holes are.