Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New Regulations Proposed to Ban Most Cyclists From Arlington National Cemetery

The Department of the Army is planning to almost completely forbid riding a bicycle in Arlington National Cemetery. Proposed new regulations will require Congressional approval. Evidently Cemetery leadership views riding a bicycle as a purely recreational activity, disrespectful of the proper decorum and decency of the place, and not as a form of transportation.

This is despite other national- and local-level efforts to promote bicycle riding as an alternative to driving single occupancy pleasure cars. This is despite an obesity level among potential recruits, where nearly 1 in 3 young adults were too fat for the military.  This is also despite the continued permission for motorized tourist trollys with loudspeakers to drive around the cemetery.

This is a significant change to long-existing regulatory language which has permitted riding a bicycle along identified routes inside the cemetery. At this moment, the Arlington National Cemetery permits bicycling downhill from Fort Myer along a designated route during business hours. The downhill route has been used many thousands of times by bicycle commuters safely since the 1970’s, but those commuters must have appropriate identification to enter Fort Myer. It is unknown if there are any cemetery-related reports of disrespectful behavior by bicyclists with appropriate identification to enter Fort Myer. Since this group of bicyclists would typically include Active Duty, Retired, or individuals with other U.S. government affiliations, any disrespectful behavior to our war dead would seem highly unusual.

The new regulations are available for reading and comment

Highlights of the proposed regulations include:
. . . "(c) Conduct within Army National Military Cemeteries. Army National Military Cemeteries are a national shrine to the honored dead of the Armed Forces, and certain acts and activities, which may be appropriate elsewhere, are not appropriate in Army National Military Cemeteries. All visitors, including persons attending or taking part in memorial services and ceremonies, shall observe proper standards of decorum and decency while in an Army National Military Cemetery. Specifically, no person shall:

(7) Use the cemetery grounds for recreational activities (e.g., physical exercise, running, jogging, sports, or picnics).

(8) Ride a bicycle or similar conveyance in an Army National Military Cemetery, except with a proper pass issued by the Executive Director to visit a gravesite or niche. An individual visiting a relative's gravesite or niche may be issued a temporary pass by the Executive Director to proceed directly to and from the gravesite or niche on a bicycle or similar vehicle or conveyance."
Public comments may still be made until 11 July. See below for info on how to comment.

Representative Beyer's staff Kudos notified us of this change and about the opportunity to comment.Rep. Beyer's office engaged the Arlington National Cemetery leadership on behalf of a (retired military) constituent inquiry over modifying existing local regulations to permit uphill riding. Under existing law, the Superintendent may permit bicycle riding in both directions or in other locations.

Now that Virginia law has changed effective 1 July 2015 to permit crossing a double yellow line in order to pass a bicyclist, the cemetery roads should safely permit bicyclists and motorists to share the previously designated roads. A motorist may now legally pass a bicyclist heading uphill (who would probably be nowhere near the 20mph speed limit) by crossing a double yellow line so long as the motorist does it safely and with at least three feet clearance.

See an earlier blog post at The Wash Cycle about cycling in Arlington Cemetery. See also BikeArlington's page on Biking Through Arlington National Cemetery.

How to Comment:

It is not straightforward, but you can comment on the proposed regulations. Instructions are as follows:

You may submit comments, identified by 32 CFR part 553, Docket No. USA-2015-HQ-0046 and or by Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 0720-AA60 by any of the following methods:
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Directorate of Oversight and Compliance, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Mailbox #24, Alexandria, VA 22350-1700.
  • Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or RIN for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.


The link to " long-existing regulatory language" is dead, would you mind to update please? Thank you!
Because of the mysterious workings of the military mind, cyclists can only travel on one road and in only one direction (downhill towards D.C.) in Arlington National Cemetery. A cemetery superintendent who was forced to retire because of a scandal involving lost graves/gravestones initiated this ridiculous policy. Later superintendents have not changed it.

Nobody can understand or justify this senseless policy. Pedestrians can use the same route and travel both ways. However, cyclists can't.

If cyclists want to visit Arlington House (a National Park Service property that the Cemetery surrounds), they need to enter through Fort Myer, visit the mansion, and then leave the Cemetery by cycling down to the bottom of the hill. Unlike pedestrians, they can't return directly to Fort Myer. They need to travel down the hill and then cycle up the hill outside of the Cemetery.


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