NPS: Recreation in our park would get in the way of traffic
Some days, it's hard to wonder how the National Park Service justifies having "park" in their name. Rock Creek Park is a large park with many amenities, but a large part of it is just a highway for cars with a narrow trail for everyone else adjacent. The Bike DC ride, a low-stress bicycle ride around DC, asked NPS for permission to use Rock Creek Parkway for two hours early on a Saturday morning. NPS turned them down very quickly, arguing in essence that all of these bicyclists enjoying the park and the roadway would get in the way of car traffic.
Here's the letter. NPS's primary argument is that "We believe that a large scale organized bicycle tour such as you have proposed, would require road closures and would result in a severedisruption to vehicular and pedestrian traffic." In other words, it's more important to NPS to use their park for car traffic, even on Saturday, than to let 10,000 bicycle riders enjoy the park at a slower pace.
NPS closes streets for large events, like protests, all the time. Sometimes they even do that during rush hours. Since when is disrupting some traffic on a Saturday morning the paramount concern of the Park Service?
They also argue that it would be too difficult to provide police resources necessary to ensure the safety of riders and pedestrians. Of course, most days the roads are far more dangerous with all the car traffic, but NPS doesn't seem very concerned about having enough police resources to protect the pedestrians then. Also, Bike DC will be closing various other roads around DC, and DDOT doesn't seem to need a lot of police there nor see the impact on vehicles as too onerous.
Bike DC applied to use Rock Creek Parkway to avoid passing through western Dupont Circle. Last year, the ride blocked off several roads leaving residents, including ANC Commissioner Mike Silverstein, with no way to drive out of the area. If unable to use Rock Creek, organizers will explore designating certain intersections where cars and the bicycles can cross. That may well actually require police resources.
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