Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dr. Gridlock Chat (11-14-11)

As a public service, below are bicycle-related comments/questions issued to Robert Thomson on his Monday midday Dr. Gridlock chat on the Washington Post website, unedited.
Sign in question
via Washcycle, photo by xosfan

This week, just one comment about bicycling this week, this time in Virginia -  "Angst because of a lack of enforcement of bikes restrictions on the GW Parkway south of the beltway..."

While the discussion is focused on the south of I495 section in Alexandria, VA, the National Park Service also restrict bicycle usage on a small portion on Clara Barton Parkway in the District.

Feel free to post your thoughts.
Laws Without Enforcement?
Sometime during the late summer, the National Park Service placed "No Biking" signs (a picture of a bike with a red slash over it) on the roadway south of Alexandria. However, there appears to be no enforcement of that prohibition, including this weekend when I saw a Park Police car drive past three bicyclists drive pedaling on the main road. Seems to me it's almost worse to have an unenforced rule than no rule at all -- drivers have the expectation that bikes aren't allowe(d) on the main roadway, yet there they are. Any idea why the Park Service would bother to put up signs it doesn't enforce, or if that situation will change?
Answer. Robert Thomson: I'm assuming you're talking about the George Washington Parkway. Over the summer, we discussed the park service announcement reinforcing the existing rule barring cyclists from the GW Parkway lanes, because it's unsafe for them and for drivers.

If I could poll readers, I think I would get a 100 percent "Yes" response to the question: Have you every seen police overlook a person breaking our traffic or transit laws? (That would include the speed limit on the GW Parkway, for example.)

We need enforcement of the rules, or some people will lose respect for those particular rules and others. But I think it's unrealistic to expect we'll see the rules enforced at all times in all situations.
On August 24, 2011, the Washcycle posted a picture of that bike sign (above). Washcycle also provided a deconstruction of concerns voiced by NPS.  Several people posted  comments about the sign and its implication.

Those comments ranged from approval of the sign because of concerns about road safety to NPS not following due process (no public comment) when approving its “Record of Determination Reconfirming and Restating Bicycles are not allowed on the roadways of the Clara Barton and George Washington Memorial Parkways”.

On August 26, WABA responded by submitting a letter to NPS citing the flaws in the NPS determination stating that "The making of this discriminatory; determination, without the input of the public or the burdened community, is wholly inappropriate and furthers concerns about the Park Service’s relationship with the region’s cycling community".

View NPS Bike-restricted roads in a larger map