Greater Greater Washington

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail doesn't need a bike ban

"Once complete," the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative boasts, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail "will provide seamless, scenic travel for pedestrians and bicyclists along the river." But not exactly, and not for everyone.


Washington Navy Yard Riverwalk. All photos by the author.

Needless prohibitions at Yards Park and along the Washington Navy Yard Riverwalk ban bicycling along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail from nearly the 11th Street Bridge to almost the Douglass Bridge.

That means riders trying to go to "the Fish Market, Nationals Park, Historic Anacostia, RFK Stadium, the National Arboretum and 16 communities between the National Mall at the Tidal Basin and Bladensburg Marina Park in Maryland" instead encounter something very different than the "seamless" connection they're promised.

Yards Park unnecessarily bans bicycles

Rules and regulations for the Yards Park are unequivocal. They list "bike riding," along with drug and alcohol use, smoking and "using more than one seat on a bench designed for sharing" among those activities prohibited by park guidelines.

The rules list no reason, but this most likely derives from a presumed conflict between cyclists and other users of the park, as is common on mixed-use paths. However, inside the park itself, that conflict doesn't arise.


Boardwalk in Yards Park.

The path through the park, including the bridges from Diamond Teague Park and the boardwalk that runs to the entrance of the Washington Navy Yard, is quite wide (upwards of 30 feet in parts) and has plenty of space for many different kinds of users to mix.

Rather than contribute to conflicts, this vast amount of space gives ample room for cyclists to pass safely while still letting people on foot casually stroll or enjoy the view. Though the path does narrow at certain points, it still remains wide enough for mixed bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

This award-winning park is quite a lovely one. It could become an activity center in the Near Southeast neighborhood, as the home of restaurants and shops that will be genuine amenities for the nearby community. Yards Park has also hosted many community events, including last year's celebration of bicycling, the Tour de Fat, hosted by New Belgium Brewery, which sought to "spread... the good word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle." The event raised over $20,000 for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Banning bicycles seems contradictory to the goal of becoming a welcoming gathering place for an increasingly multi-modal neighborhood.


A Yards Park promotional sign prominently features bicycles.

Navy Yard Riverwalk unnecessarily bans bicycles

The Washington Navy Yard Riverwalk has, in the past few years, gone from completely prohibiting public access to limited public access on workdays, to expanded daytime access on weekdays, to daytime access seven days a week, to unlimited 24/7 public access, with the exception of closures for official events. Each successive increase in accessibility has been a step in the correct direction.

However, this increase is access does not extend to bicyclists. The Navy Yard Riverwalk rules prohibit bicycling, along with rollerblading and skateboarding. Child strollers and wheelchairs are still permitted. Much like the path through Yards Park, this section of the trail does not lack for space to accommodate of cyclists and pedestrians.


There is plenty of space on this part of the Navy Yard Riverwalk.

The Navy justifies the ban among the Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can I ride my bike or roller blade on the Riverwalk?

A: No. Bike riding, rollerblading, skateboarding, or scooter use is not permitted. The pedestrian bridge that makes up part of the Navy Yard's Riverwalk is narrow, and cannot support intermingled pedestrian and any type of vehicular traffic. Child strollers and wheelchairs are allowed.

Employees exiting through turnstiles onto the Riverwalk will not have immediate situational awareness of their surroundings, and may not see oncoming vehicular traffic in time to avoid a collision. The reverse would be true for someone who is on a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades or scooter who would suddenly be confronted with a pedestrian that emerged from a turnstile. This is an obvious safety concern as collisions would be unavoidable.

The pedestrian bridge mentioned above is about 60 feet long and approximately 5 feet across. It seems sensible to think that this is too narrow to be effectively and safely shared by pedestrians and cyclists.


The narrow, but short, bridge in the Navy Yard Riverwalk.

However, given that the bridge is only a very small section of the trail, it does not seem to justify banning bicycling throughout. The Navy could place a "Dismount Bikes When Pedestrians Present" sign here and permit bicycling in the other, wider sections that make up the overwhelming majority of the Navy Yard Riverwalk.

Perhaps more curious is the reference to the security-controlled turnstiles that sporadically provide access from the trail to the facilty and vice versa.


Turnstiles to enter or exit the Navy Yard along the Riverwalk.

On the other side of the 3 of 4 turnstiles are parking lots. Presumably, the lack of situational awareness that accompanies the use of a turnstile proves to be no problem when heading the other direction, and while collisions with bicyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders and scooter users are unavoidable, collisions with automobiles are not.

Unless a cyclist were riding within a few feet nearest to the turnstile and fence that separate the facility from the Riverwalk (and given the width of the trail, this seems unlikely), there is no good reason to believe that a collision would obviously occur.

There are far less burdensome ways to keep pedestrians safe

In both the case of the Navy Yard and Yards Park, the outright bans are clumsy approaches to the commendable goal of pedestrian safety. As the pictures above show, both facilities have more than enough room for users on foot and on bicycles to share them effectively. Each is even vastly wider than the region's shared mixed-use paths, like the Capital Crescent Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail.

To better help different users share the trail, there could be elements as simple as signs asking pedestrians and bicyclists to be mindful or each other, or painted sharrows, pointing out the preferred path for bicyclists through the area. Efforts to keep pedestrians safe need not come at the cost of removing Yards Park and the Navy Yard Riverwalk as destinations for people arriving by bicycle.

If Yards Park and the Navy Yard Riverwalk continue to ban bicycling, the alternative options for cyclists traveling along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail from areas such as Hill East, Kingman Park, the Southwest Waterfront or East Potomac Park include crossing the Anacostia River on the 11th Street Bridge and then recrossing on the Douglass Bridge, bicycling along the 6-lane M Street SE/SW, or diverting to L Street SE, a quiet neighborhood street that is amenable to biking, but not in any way along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

"The rules against biking in Yards Park and on the Navy Yard Riverwalk are frustrating for a few reasonsfirst and foremost being that no one would naturally assume that bikes aren't allowed in these attractive, convenient, and spacious waterfront areas," writes David Garber, neighborhood commissioner in ANC 6D.

"If we are 100% about encouraging biking in DC, especially in a neighborhood often touted by District officials as being multi-modal, our rules about biking have to match our talk." Garber plans to introduce resolutions encouraging a closer look at these rules at a future ANC meeting.

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail provides a genuine alternative to bicycling along city streets. For families, beginner cyclists and those who wish to enjoy a quiet ride in a natural environment, this link will prove vital to Washington's transportation and recreation system. However, bicycle bans jeopardize these seamless, off-street connections.

Mayor Gray, DDOT and local stakeholders must work with Yards Park and the Washington Navy Yard to balance the needs of pedestrian safety with the the need for a continuous bicycling corridor in this part of the District. People on bicycles and on foot can coexist, and our trails and public spaces must demonstrate this fact.

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Brian McEntee writes the blog Tales From the Sharrows, where he talks about his daily bicycle commute from Capitol Hill to American University or many other subjects. 

Comments

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Yes, allowing bicycle traffic is the right thing to do on these trails. But some consideration by cyclists would go a long way. The paths you show are plenty wide enough for a slow cyclist to share with pedestrians, but not the 50 mph spandex brigade. If all cyclists could be counted on to yield the right of way to pedestrians instead of pushing them around with their bells, we could have nice things. 

by Flora on Feb 13, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

Funny how a designated one-way bike lane can be five feet, a showpiece multi-use trail can be six, but a recreational park with multiple 20', 30' wide boardwalks has to completely ban bicycle riding.

And it's a shame that the ART will forever be a discontinuous "multi-use as long as it's not bike riding" trail with these conditions and capricious closures. Onward to M Street...

by DaveS on Feb 13, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

Great points. Hopefully the tide will turn as it becomes obvious that cyclists and pedestrians can coexist, especially in places with wide berth.

by Kirstin on Feb 13, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

Apropos of Flora, there will come a point where the walkers and the bikers are going to diverge on things. I'm surprised it didn't happen with the 15th Street bike lanes--a 2 way-lane on a one way street is ridiculous. That combined with the (not particularly necessary) turning lanes has made what a used to be a simple crossing needlessly complicated.

by Rich on Feb 13, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

Separate reality syndrome: what results when one government entity has been doing their own thing in their own little world, and not interacting with others. But has anyone bothered to point out how cyclists and pedestrians share such facilities all over the US?

by Virginia Bicycling Federation on Feb 13, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

Just eyeballing those boardwalk sections look wider than the W&OD and such which are certainly not without conflict but seem to manage perfectly fine.

by drumz on Feb 13, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

Bikes are vehicles and people riding them are welcome to ride them in order to reach the above mentioned locations in the same way that others use metro, car, or bus to reach these parks and trail. However I fail to see how the right of a bicyclist to use a particular park trail is somehow superior to the right of, well, everyone else's right to enjoy these public spaces without having to worry about a collision with a bicyclist. What this post describes as "plenty of space" for bicycles in the Yards Park to use is space that I, if I had small children, would think that I could let my children run around in and not have to worry about them being hit by a moving vehicle. I'm not familiar enough with the trail to know if there are other sections that could accomodate bikes, but the Riverwalk (it even has "walk" in the name") as it goes by the Yards Park and Navy Yard appears to have been created and designed for pedestrians, not bikers.

by grumpy on Feb 13, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

The Mt Vernon trail can handle multi-modal users almost perfectly fine - especially with narrower sections.
Post signs about speed frequently.
The narrow bridge poses a hazard - but at 5' wide - it'd be tough to fit a stroller and another person - so a bicycle walking really wouldn't be that more burdensome.

by andy2 on Feb 13, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

grumpy, there is a lot of space at Yards Park for children 9and adults) to run around without coming into conflict with bikes. The Anacostia trail takes up a very small portion of the Park. There are extensive green spaces, the water features, and part of the boardwalk that are not part of the trail in any way and would not be places people would ride bikes. Surely we can manage to share a small piece of the park?

by Birdie on Feb 13, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

Flora is right. Recreational biking and walking can co-exist, less so speed riding by the "spandex brigade." Where pedestrians are present and out to enjoy the river walk, bikers should channel the slower-paced recreational riders in a Centrum Silver commercial and not act like Lance Armstromg wannabees (with or without the doping).

by Bob on Feb 13, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

"Recreational biking and walking can co-exist, less so speed riding by the "spandex brigade." "

I find this contrast very odd.

First, lots of people who go really fast ARE riding recreationally.

Second, transportation/commute cyclists do not ALL go really fast - and are quite capable of going slower for a small section.

I ride for recreation, and occasionally for errands, and am looking at ways to integrate biking into my commute and I ride pretty slowly - but my impression is that most of the people who seperate out "good" cyclists from "Lance Armstrong Wannabees" are not themselves people who use cycling for transportation, or have any deep knowledge of cycling.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 13, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

I don't think 'spandex brigade' concerns make particular sense here. I jog by this part of Navy Yards frequently (and on the Anacostia Trail across the river) and I've never encountered spandex-wearing cyclists who blow by me. I have seen a number of people biking but I'd guess that their average speed was about 10 miles per hour -- recreational or commuter cyclists.

I'm concerned that the 'spandex brigade' serves as a convenient straw man. The article is advocating for any cyclist use, not for the next Rock Creek Park.

by Austin on Feb 13, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

However I fail to see how the right of a bicyclist to use a particular park trail is somehow superior to the right of, well, everyone else's right to enjoy these public spaces without having to worry about a collision with a bicyclist.

It's not, on other shared use paths there are rules as to who you yield to.

Certainly wholesale banning of bike riding is not equal treatment.

by drumz on Feb 13, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Speed limit = 10mph on narrow or congested sections. Yield to slower trail users. Problem solved.

I think the "spandex" "50mph" thing is wildly exaggerated, but a fair point in theory. However, I doubt many fast riders would use a boardwalk area for training! Seems like a fair point in theory that might never be an issue in practice?

by Greenbelt on Feb 13, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

This is an exceptionally wide pedestrian area. Why not paint a cycle track on it to allow pedestrians some advance notice of where cyclists will be, and put that track as far from the turnstiles as possible. bollard the entrance to the bridge to force cyclists to dismount.

by CJ on Feb 13, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

bollards will make it difficult for strollers, I guess

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 13, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Follow up -- the riverside areas in Pittsburgh and Montreal are lovely, and don't ban bikes (they actually encourage bikes with amenities etc.). There are a couple narrow bridge areas and potential conflict with sightseers and tourist areas that I saw when riding along each city's riverwalks, but I didn't see any issues. Most riders were either commuters, who are generally pretty courteous, and recreational riders out for a casual sightseeing ride.

It might be appropriate to see if Pittsburgh or Montreal or other cities with riverwalks have had any reported issues with overly fast bike riding -- I doubt they have, but it would at least provide a little data on the question.

The ban first, ask questions later approach seems sort arbitrary (unless there have been actual conflicts that the post doesn't mention that I don't know about).

by Greenbelt on Feb 13, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

I think the "spandex" "50mph" thing is wildly exaggerated, but a fair point in theory. However, I doubt many fast riders would use a boardwalk area for training! Seems like a fair point in theory that might never be an issue in practice?

Yep...+10.

Can we all please agree that the proper derogatory term is MAMIL? Middle-Aged Man In Lycra! This Spandex stuff is confusing.

by thump on Feb 13, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

This doesn't seem to be simply "bike banning" but banning all things on wheels beyond wheelchairs and strollers. Can the area realistically accommodate such a mixed use idea that includes people, bikes, skateboarders, rollerbladers etc?

by HogWash on Feb 13, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

This doesn't seem to be simply "bike banning" but banning all things on wheels beyond wheelchairs and strollers. Can the area realistically accommodate such a mixed use idea that includes people, bikes, skateboarders, rollerbladers etc?

Is it failing to do so now? Why ban those thing pre-emptively?

by drumz on Feb 13, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

There is a difference between the Navy Yard and Yards Park. The former really is a trail, but the latter is a promenade that is integrated into a privately-owned park. The Navy Yard may be able to address concerns about situational awareness by putting bollards or upside down U's (like bike racks) on either side of the gates to protect WNY employees when they exit the gate but have not yet developed "situational awareness."

Yards Park is more complicated. Does anyone know why it bans cycling? I assume because it does not want to deal with potential liability arising from a child getting hit by a bike. If that's their concern, proponents of cycling through the park will need to think of creative solutions. Unlike most of the rest of the ART, Yards Park is privately-owned, and that makes life more difficult. Does anyone know if the city funded part of the boardwalk/promenade to serve as the ART or otherwise retained any rights to that portion of the park?

Also, as I noted, the ART really is not a trail through that part of the park. It's a promenade where kids run and play, the park holds concerts, etc. Some cyclists will speed through that area as if they still were on an empty trail, and that will lead to problems. That's not to blame "cyclists" but merely a recognition that the population as a whole can be irresponsible some times and there's nothing about being on a bike that suddenly makes a discourteous/irresponsible person courteous and responsible (nor should we expect it). Obviously, potential conflicts will be greater or lesser at different times of the day/week/year.

I wonder if it would be possible to build a trail around the park. Maybe running straight back from the water along the boundary with the WNY to water street, across water street (or some alternative) to the path that currently runs by the Dog Park and the DC WASA plant and then connect back with boardwalk/promenade as it connect with the bridge to Diamond Teague park. It's a thought.

I don't think that we are going to be able to shame the Yards Park folks into opening the boardwalk/promenade to cycling. I could be wrong about that, but I think that it would be helpful to think about alternatives.

by Todd on Feb 13, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

I only walk and take transit with any regularity so I don't really care, but this seems silly. Just post a speed limit and ticket out of control behavior IF it becomes a problem. Alternatively ban bikes, but put a CaBi station and bike parking every 1/4 mile so people get to and from the area easily even if the riverwalk itself is ped only.

by Alan B. on Feb 13, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Thank you for writing this article. I completely agree that biking should be allowed to truly connect the river trail. As pointed out by others, the Navy Yard's stated reasons for banning bikes are weak and can be addressed by having riders dismount to cross the pedestrian bridge and by putting a small rail barrier in front of the turnstiles (not that I think there really is risk of an accident). From the Navy's perspective, you would think that they would want to have more citizens using the Trail who may not otherwise see the beautiful U.S.S. Barry which is docked there and generate some good will. Perhaps putting put up signs warning cyclists to ride leisurely through the area would allay the other concern.

by I. Rex on Feb 13, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

The Mt. Vernon trail is not a good example of multi-modal use. There are way too many lycranauts who cycle dangerously there. And I use that trail almost daily as a pedestrian and a cyclist.

by aaa on Feb 13, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

Todd makes a good point

the street grid provides alternatives to Yards Park.

The are not alternatives between M street and Riverwalk through the Navy property.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 13, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

I should also add that anectdotally the handful of times I've seen byciclists riding in Yards Park, they've always been at a respectful leisurely clip and never racing through. Probably because if you were really in a rush to get somewhere you would ride on the street, not the ART.

by I. Rex on Feb 13, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

Oops, I guess I'm one of those "scofflaw cyclists" I keep hearing about. I biked through there a couple of weeks ago on a slow, casual ride to enjoy some unseasonably warm weather. I saw maybe three other people in the park (all joggers) and certainly had no issue coping with them. At the narrow bridge I got off the bike and walked because someone was coming from the opposite direction. I had no idea biking wasn't allowed.

If someone wanted to go fast, they wouldn't want to go down this section of trail anyway. The narrow bridge and weird connections in Yards Park discourage speeding through. (I actually carried my bike up some stairs when I realized I had missed a connection.) I guess I'll avoid the area in the future but the ban seems fairly strange.

by CapHill on Feb 13, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

No self-respecting spandex wearer would talk this route, especially if they have to portage their bike up that gangplank, so Flora and Bob can stand down on that one.

As for liability for the Yards, didja ever notice that pool that a gazzilion little kids like my son use on a regular basis on the property, with the sign "No lifeguard, swim at your own risk." Either they have a lawyer who really likes to take risks (that would be facetious) or they are validly not worried about that being an issue. If you tell me a potential bike riding collision is more dangerous than a potential drowning risk, I guess I can reassess the liability issue.

It seems Alan B. has it right. Give it a try. Regulate bike use to 5 mph and call it a day. If people go faster, have them arrested or worse, make them walk their bikes out in the direction they came. That will create immediate compliance. Just as the runner taking a 10 mile jog will refuse to move just one step to the right to avoid a cyclist, bike riders hate even more having to dismount.

My work here is done.

by fongfong on Feb 13, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Axel on Feb 13, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

I agree. It would be nice to go down to the fish market after work sometimes, but it's 2.2 miles away and another 2.2 miles back home so I would really have to be in the mood to walk. And I hate biking on M Street because it has so much traffic. There is less space and more pedestrian traffic on many of DC's sidewalks, but people are still allowed to bike on them.

by CJ on Feb 13, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

@Axel-I personally have a huge beard and handlebar mustache. I also play the sports...all of them. Real manly men don't put the women and children in danger by riding too quickly...and I know plenty of girly-girls that could kick most of the boys butts on, or off, a bike.

by thump on Feb 13, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

The Navy Yard's rules are ridiculous. Have a sign on both ends of the bridge stating that cyclists must dismount or better yet - buy a wider bridge!

by NikolasM on Feb 13, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

Signs that say "slow down and yield to pedestrians" would be enough to allow bikes but also allow those in charge to stop pretty much anyone they thought was exhibiting bad behavior.

by MLD on Feb 13, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

I mostly walk on this trail and I'd love to see bikes allowed. The street grid can be daunting, especially for families riding with kids. Plus, this view can't be beat. I bet more people would ride were this route an option.

by Sally on Feb 13, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

First of all, no one really wants to be Lance Armstrong anymore, so a new insult is needed.

However I fail to see how the right of a bicyclist to use a particular park trail is somehow superior to the right of, well, everyone else's right to enjoy these public spaces without having to worry about a collision with a bicyclist.

Because the cyclist in your scenario wants to share the facility, and the "everyone else" wants to use it to the exclusion of others (cyclists in this case). Sharing is morally superior to selfishly hoarding (except during the zombie apocalypse when selfishly hoarding is just good policy).

I'm not familiar enough with the trail to know if there are other sections that could accomodate bikes, but the Riverwalk (it even has "walk" in the name") as it goes by the Yards Park and Navy Yard appears to have been created and designed for pedestrians, not bikers.

As noted in the article, the whole Riverwalk is meant to be a bike/hike trail. This section was not designed just for pedestrians. What about it's design makes you think it was.

Can the area realistically accommodate such a mixed use idea that includes people, bikes, skateboarders, rollerbladers etc?

Yes. And I say this because in reality it already does, as do numerous other facilities of similar or lessor design.

Also, as I noted, the ART really is not a trail through that part of the park. It's a promenade where kids run and play, the park holds concerts, etc. Some cyclists will speed through that area as if they still were on an empty trail, and that will lead to problems.

How is it "not really a trail"? How does a "promenade" differ from a trail? If this were on the Love Boat, then I would agree with you, but as near as I can tell it is not.

As noted above, no one will really speed on this trail because "if you were really in a rush to get somewhere you would ride on the street, not the ART." This trail doesn't serve much of a transportation role - and when it does, it is mostly as an alternative for cyclists interested in trading speed for safety. When I'm in a hurry, I take M Street. When I'm out for fun I ride the trail.

I don't think that we are going to be able to shame the Yards Park folks into opening the boardwalk/promenade to cycling. I could be wrong about that, but I think that it would be helpful to think about alternatives.

I think we can shame them, but in the interim the best alternative is just to ignore the rules and ride it anyway. No one enforces it. No one cares. It's a stupid rule and it deserves to be ignored. That's my advice.

by David C on Feb 13, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Yup, the bridge in Navy Yard is kinda narrow...but so is the (much busier) Memorial Bridge underpass on the MVT. And yet, bikes aren't banned there and it generally isn't a problem. Hmm...

by MM on Feb 13, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

I think we can shame them, but in the interim the best alternative is just to ignore the rules and ride it anyway. No one enforces it. No one cares

WOW! *blank stare*

by HogWash on Feb 13, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

Hogwash, if I made you speechless, then I have become a hero to many ;).

by David C on Feb 13, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

I don't mind the Yards Park ban all that much, since the street grid provides a better alternative anyways -- the promenade through the park has too many turns, and too bumpy a surface, for me, much less the "50 mph spandex brigade" "Lance Armstromg wannabees." (Do people ever use similarly disparaging language for clueless or rude joggers and dog-walkers?)

The Navy Yard Riverwalk Twitter feed had this discouragingly snarky comment last week: "It is for safety reasons that we don't allow bikes on the Riverwalk. Our CO and employees almost got run over by one of them last year." Despite that, I hold out hope that someday courteous bikes will be allowed on that stretch, since it provides the only east-west through connection (besides M St., which is filled with NASCAR wannabees and too narrow for bike lanes) for the seven blocks between 4th and 11th. That's one-third of the distance of an otherwise quite lovely bike ride from home to the Anacostia Community Boathouse.

by Payton on Feb 13, 2013 5:12 pm • linkreport

I wholeheartedly agree with the author here. A continuous, shared path should be the goal along the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, on both banks! The segments where cyclists must dismount here are wide enough for all to safely enjoy. I've ridden through there a few times and wasn't stopped, barely encountered anyone else, and safely gave them a wide berth at approx. 5 mph.

by MrTinDC on Feb 13, 2013 5:20 pm • linkreport

Just to clarify something above, the Yards Park is not privately owned. The land was deeded to the city as part of the public-private partnership between Forest City and GSA that is allowing the development of the Yards. The park is run and maintained by the Capitol Riverfront BID.

by JD on Feb 13, 2013 5:24 pm • linkreport

What's interesting is that some boardwalks (I'm thinking mainly of boardwalks at beaches here) allow biking and some do not. Some allows dogs, some do not. Some permit these things only during specified dates and times. I'd love to know the experience of these various places and the rationale for their rules and figure out what would work best for this area.

Even in the urbanist utopia that is NYC, bike riding is only permitted on the beach boardwalk from 5am - 10am. OTOH, Chicago's lakefront trail is well known as one of the best urban bike rides in the country.

So, is Yards Park more like a beach boardwalk or more like the Lakefront Trail?

by Falls Church on Feb 13, 2013 6:23 pm • linkreport

@JD - I never knew that. Do you know which land the city owns? Does it own the lumber shed or just the land around the lumber shed? I wonder how much control the city has over how the land is used.

by Todd on Feb 13, 2013 6:27 pm • linkreport

@Todd--I don't know the exact boundaries. I don't think the Lumber Shed is included, mainly because it has its own assessment record separate from the 211,000-sq-ft, $115 million property in Square 771 that's owned by the District. (if anyone has the most recent tax parcel map for Square 771, by lot...?)

by JD on Feb 13, 2013 7:17 pm • linkreport

Answering myself... The city owns the improved portions of the Yards Park south of Water Street, except for the Lumber Shed lot and the two empty lots immediately to the east of the Lumber Shed, which will eventually also be retail pavilions. The city doesn't own any of the lot that the Trapeze School is on. It does own the land the boardwalk is on, though.

by JD on Feb 13, 2013 9:19 pm • linkreport

Oops, I guess I was breaking the law riding through the Navy yard. But I passed several Navy folks and no one seemed to care. Ban? What ban?

by Zack Rules on Feb 14, 2013 8:42 am • linkreport

I've often wondered what a "dismount car" sign would look like, and now Copenhagenize has given us one.

by Payton on Feb 14, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Falls Church writes: So, is Yards Park more like a beach boardwalk or more like the Lakefront Trail?

David C. writes: This section was not designed just for pedestrians. What about it's design makes you think it was.

The design of Yards Park suggests more like a beach boardwalk. If I were desiging Yards Park to serve through-riding cyclists, I would have designed it differently, clearly delinating the path through-cyclists should take.

If you're travelling East to West, the initial boardwalk section isn't a problem. The problem is that if you follow the water, you end up by the splash pool and either need to take the switchback ramps up or dismount and climb a flight of stairs. Not a good route.

If you take the 'high road' and head towards the lumber shed in order to take the funky bridge over the splash pool, you have to nagivate through the area they've designated for seating.

Once you clear either of those obstacles, the extended bridge that connects to Diamond Teague Park has some awkward turn geometry if you're on a bike. It was clearly not designed with through-cycling in mind.

Maybe some of this was because the park pre-dated the bridge that connects it to Diamond Teague, in which case the through-route for cyclists would be completely different.

by Alex B. on Feb 14, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Alex B, in my experience, beach boardwalks are full of people on bikes. The park may not be designed for "through riding cyclists" or with cyclists in mind; but I don't think you've made the case that it was designed only for people on two feet. Everything you've said holds true for people in wheel chairs. Do you think that the Riverwalk (it even has "walk" in the name") as it goes by the Yards Park and Navy Yard appears to have been created and designed for pedestrians, not people in wheelchairs? And if so, should they also be banned for that reason?

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

wash

A cyclist can dismount and walk if they just want to look out at the water in the park, attend a concert, etc. Or even lock up at the abundant bike parking in the area. Not necessarily easy to do for a wheel chair user who cannot walk.

Thats not to say bikes SHOULD be banned there - but if they are, its not that big a deal, again esp because there are very good in street options. The bigger issue is through the Navy Yard, where there is no good alternative.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 14, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

David,

I didn't pick the beach boardwalk comparison, I was merely using it.

However, the general idea with it is the same reason we don't allow sidewalk riding downtown - too many bike/ped conflicts.

Everything you've said holds true for people in wheel chairs.

No, it doesn't. The biggest difference is the geometry required for speed. Peds and wheelchair users generally travel slower.

Do you think that the Riverwalk (it even has "walk" in the name") as it goes by the Yards Park and Navy Yard appears to have been created and designed for pedestrians, not people in wheelchairs?

First, I think you need to distinguish between the Yards Park design and the Navy Yard design. Two separate designs, two separate jurisdictions, two separate issues there.

Both appear to be completely compliant with the ADA to me. So yes, they are designed for wheelchairs.

My point is just this: If I were designing a through-running bike path, I would have designated some space for it. Conversely, it's not as simple as just getting some paint out and deliniating a through-path for bikes in the current design - the plausible route would go up and over the circular bridge, and that would involve some points of conflict with spaces in the park clearly designed for more passive use; whether that's people sitting in chairs or whatever.

So, short of going back in time and re-desiging the park, I don't know that there's a facilities-based solution here. I don't support the ban on bikes, either. That said, the reality of how the space functions (again, this is for the Yards Park, not the Navy Yard riverwalk- the NY riverwalk is fine as it is) means that this is going to be a fairly congested place, mixed traffic between bikes and peds and people just standing around.

To me, those spaces have been designed more like an urban sidewalk - and those kinds of sidewalks are not the best facilities for bike traffic, either (compared to, say, a cycletrack).

by Alex B. on Feb 14, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

AWitC, that's all well and good, but it's not the argument others are making. Their argument is that bikes should not be allowed in part because the facilities were designed solely for people who are walking. By the same logic, those in wheelchairs should be banned.

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

Alex,

I just don't see this as any less inviting to cyclists than this.

Both have a pair of sharp turns, with the MBT one being tighter than the Riverwalk one. Both have seating near one of the turns. Both are expected to have pedestrians.

What am I missing?

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 3:46 pm • linkreport

Their argument is that bikes should not be allowed in part because the facilities were designed solely for people who are walking. By the same logic, those in wheelchairs should be banned.

No, not quite.

The wheelchair part is baseless. As I noted, both the Yards Park and the NY Riverwalk seem to meet all the ADA specs. Therefore, by definition, they were designed for wheelchairs.

However, the facilities at Yards Park do indeed appear to be designed with an emphasis on pedestrians, not bikes. Does that mean bikes should be banned there? I don't think so. But the design is the design; it's not going to be a great through-route for cyclists as it exists today, just as a crowded urban sidewalk isn't a great through-route for cyclists.

by Alex B. on Feb 14, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

What am I missing?

The MBT example is a trail. The Yards Park example is like a sidewalk.

The MBT example is delinated for through-traffic, both with the linearity of the trail itself and the road striping to help manage traffic. The foot-traffic and predicted (and observed) use at the Yards Park is much more meandering.

by Alex B. on Feb 14, 2013 3:53 pm • linkreport

The MBT example is a trail. The Yards Park example is like a sidewalk.

No. They're both trails. They're both like sidewalks. Or not. A sidewalk is along side a road. This is not along side a road. The path along the 14th Street bridge is more like a sidewalk than either of these, but biking is allowed - as it is on other sidewalks in the neighborhood.

The MBT example is delinated for through-traffic, both with the linearity of the trail itself and the road striping to help manage traffic.

On the Riverwalk I count two 20 degree turns, two 45 degree turns and 2 80 degree turns. On the MBT I count two 100 degree turns. I'm not sure which is more "linear" but I can find you other bike facilities with more twists and turns than either of these.

OK, there is no painted line. Many bike trails don't have one of those.

The foot-traffic and predicted (and observed) use at the Yards Park is much more meandering.

Again, I can find you other bike trails for which that is true.

These are trivial differences. And none of them are relevant. None of them back up the assertion that this is unsuitable for cycling because of the design.

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

None of them back up the assertion that this is unsuitable for cycling because of the design.

I've never asserted that the Yards Park is "unsuitable" for cycling.

What I have said is that they clearly did not design it with cycling through the park as the highest priority. Is that really a controversial statement?

by Alex B. on Feb 14, 2013 4:08 pm • linkreport

"AWitC, that's all well and good, but it's not the argument others are making. Their argument is that bikes should not be allowed in part because the facilities were designed solely for people who are walking."

well that of course is a silly arguement. There are certainly sidewalks in the suburbs that were NOT designed with bikes in mind, but that, due to the scarcity of pedestrians, rarely generate bike/ped conflicts. origal design does not matter - rather its actual total usage, how they work functionally, and alternatives. Thats why Im not that concerned about allowing bikes in yards park, but am about the navy yard.

but I do find your comparison to wheelchairs offputting. I bike. Ive been to yards park. I can WALK through yards park. I have friends in wheel chairs (one an activist). Banning wheelchairs would mean they could NOT go there. Thats what ADA accessibility is about.

The kennedy center is ada accessible - do you think you need to be able to bike inside it?

The issue for cyclists is through routes - which in the yards park area, are best provided on the streets. Im not forrester fan, and am not a very strong, confident, or fast cyclist, and I can see that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 14, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

"The path along the 14th Street bridge is more like a sidewalk than either of these, but biking is allowed "

Given the choice of riding my bike on tingey street, and riding my bike in the general travel lanes on the 14th street bridge, I know what Id pick.

Alternatives matter.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 14, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

What I have said is that they clearly did not design it with cycling through the park as the highest priority. Is that really a controversial statement?

If that's what you're arguing then I misunderstood. But since you disagreed with my assertion that the area wasn't solely designed for pedestrians I thought you were taking the position that it was. There is a lot of room between designed entirely for pedestrians and not designed with cyclists as the priority. I would agree that cyclists were not the priority.

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

but I do find your comparison to wheelchairs offputting.

Well then, you misunderstood my point. Take a deep breath and relax.

The issue for cyclists is through routes - which in the yards park area, are best provided on the streets.

No, I think you've swung the pendulum too far the other way. Biking is not just for recreation, but it isn't just for getting some place either. It's both. Riding on the streets is not as fun as riding on the trail. And since parts of the trail are paid for with Recreational trails money, fun is relevant.

Also, some cyclists are probably going TO Yards Park (especially since it hosted the Tour de Fat), so through cycling isn't even the only transportation use.

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

"No, I think you've swung the pendulum too far the other way. Biking is not just for recreation, but it isn't just for getting some place either. It's both. Riding on the streets is not as fun as riding on the trail. And since parts of the trail are paid for with Recreational trails money, fun is relevant."

I am not saying biking should ONLY be allowed for transportation. Im saying the only "rights issue" at all comparable to wheelchair access is transportation cycling. Folks dont get into wheelchairs for fun.

"Also, some cyclists are probably going TO Yards Park (especially since it hosted the Tour de Fat), so through cycling isn't even the only transportation use."

yes, but any through route that takes you to bike parking an easy walk from Yards Park serves for that.

You can't drive a car through Yards Park, but you can certainly use a car to get there. Or a bus.

We are capable of walking the last few feet, the same as any 'cager'

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 14, 2013 4:29 pm • linkreport

Im saying the only "rights issue" at all comparable to wheelchair access is transportation cycling. Folks dont get into wheelchairs for fun.

Again, I think you've missed my point. I'm not equating the rights of those in wheelchairs to the rights of cyclists.

by washcycle on Feb 14, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

"I'm not equating the rights of those in wheelchairs to the rights of cyclists."

good. I've been very educated on disability rights over the years, and take it very seriously.

I like to bike recreationally (although I think the transportation/recreation distinction is somewhat arbitrary). And I do like to bike on trails. Here in NoVa there are often breaks in trails that require you to bike on the street of sidewalk (several of those on the Cross County Trail). I undertand that the surface quality needed for a wheel chair is the same as that needed for a road bike, so you may feel that since ART is called a 'trail' and has a surface that works for a wheelchair, why not bike. I note that sidewalks downtown allow wheelchairs, but not bikes. Im not sure that calling this section "trail" really matters that much. At least not enough to cease being a PAL in this instance.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 14, 2013 4:44 pm • linkreport

Since when are cyclist concerned about rules. You guys ignore most of the signs of the road, run stop signs, etc. Just go ahead and ignore these rules because you disagree with them and ride through Yards Park and the NY. Problem solved.

by Mike on Feb 14, 2013 7:29 pm • linkreport

Once complete," the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative boasts, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail "will provide seamless, scenic travel for pedestrians and bicyclists along the river." I only wish Brian had included an overhead map to show what a failure it is for the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative that bikes are banned on the NY and Yards Park portions of the trail. Cyclists coming from the RFK portion of the trail have no choice but get off the trail at the eastern end of the Navy Yard portion of the trail and travel down M street with its speeding traffic for 5 blocks to get to 4th street) or take a big out of the way loop on streets to get around the banned portion. Hardly seamless and discouraging for unseasoned bikers.

by I. Rex on Feb 15, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

Because I'm a rebel (who didn't know of the prohibition) I rode a CaBi along the Riverwalk Trail after a Nationals game last season, and it seems to me one of the primary concerns would be the mixed-use area seen right here

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Nationals+Park&hl=en&ll=38.872949,-77.00165&spn=0.000789,0.00181&sll=39.154332,-77.101162&sspn=0.805084,1.853943&hq=Nationals+Park&radius=15000&t=h&z=19

This area has been set up for park events, before. That large bridge just leads to a seating area above what is currently unused retail space and takes you by what is basically a fountain/splash pool for the kids in the nearby residences. It's the kind of bottleneck where even a bike path were approved you would definitely want to tell people to dismount their bikes.

by LHomonacionale on Feb 19, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

Catching this post a bit late to really be a contributor, but I have a related question.
Is there a bike plan included in the Southwest Waterfront development scheme? I like to continue my rides on the ART by heading across P to the Titanic memorial and then along Water and Maine out to Haines Point. It would be awesome if the redevelopment along that stretch included multiuse lanes, in addition to the more meandering and congested retail oriented boardwalk. The multiuse lane may not be safely feasible directly on the (expectedly crowded) waterfront but incorporating it into the new traffic patterns should be a part of a good plan.
As for the NY and YP, I would like to see 24/7 bike access allowed, and can see the reason for having signage to encourage responsible speeds and awareness. The design and popular uses of those sections make them less than desirable for the lycra crowd anyway, while sight seeing riders might should find it worth slowing down to have access to the waterfront. Personally, because of uncertainty over access at NY and the unwieldy, bumpy, and possibly congested design of the boardwalk in YP, and my desire to maintain cardio intensity on my recreational rides, I chose to alter my rout to use the lovely stretch of uninterrupted trail on the other side of the river. I believe the section of trail on the east side of the river is also part of the ART. By crossing at Benning, Pennsylvania or 11th and back over at South Capitol I can skip around the interference and go as fast as I like But that solution adds distance, which is fine on a purely rec ride. When I want to get directly from point a>b streets are usually the best option and bike lanes on M would be a big help. Biking along the waterfront past the NY and YP should still be allowed, and is a sensible route for riders who can be patient and safe in sharing the space with other users. I don't agree with painting a bike lane on the boardwalk as, it will promote a sense of authority and possible aggressive behavior from some cyclists. The boardwalk should be a place where old and young people feel safe to meander and play. If you want to go through on a bike that sort of relaxed use should be respected and protected.

by YEM1980 on Mar 10, 2014 11:07 am • linkreport

YEM1980, yes the Southwest Waterfront includes a continuation of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. There will be a 60 foot wide promenade between the water and the buildings and a cycletrack on water street.

by David C on Mar 10, 2014 11:49 am • linkreport

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