Sunday, March 25, 2012

New attitude at National Park Service

David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington writes in today's Post about how the Park Service is becoming more accommodating to bicyclists: A thaw at the Park Service opens up possibilities in D.C.
Today, however, you can pick up a Capital Bikeshare bicycle in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, Petworth or Crystal City and ride to the Washington Monument or the FDR and MLK memorials. Once there, you can drop off the bike, enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms, then grab another bike for a ride home, to the Metro or to a restaurant. It costs just $7 for a day pass and is free with a longer-term membership.

The BikeDC community ride found that it could use Rock Creek Parkway for its May event, after being turned down in the past. Apparently the new Rock Creek superintendent didn’t get the memo about being hostile toward people recreating in a beautiful valley on weekends. When cyclists gathered in the District last week for the National Bicycle Summit, Park Service head Jon Jarvis agreed that “we haven’t been all that bike-friendly in all our parks over the years” and pledged to change that.

The Park Service deserves a great deal of credit for this refreshing change in attitude, but a long list of tasks remains undone. Capital Bikeshare is a great start, but there are still many more steps to make bicycling safe and convenient on our parkland. Try to bike from the Washington Monument down to the 14th Street bridge, and you either have to use a narrow sidewalk and dodge tourists on foot (who have a greater right to the sidewalk than you) or brave a road designed like an expressway.

The paths alongside the George Washington and Rock Creek parkways are too narrow and winding, and especially on weekends, all the walkers, joggers and bikers have to wrangle over small spaces while light traffic zooms past. Why not make just one of the four lanes on each parkway a bike-pedestrian pathway on weekends?



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