Photo by Csuspect.
As discussed a while back in connection with the possible placement of a Capital Bikeshare station in Rose Park, there has been a long simmering fight in Rose Park over the use of a path that travels from P st. down to M st.
The National Park Service has periodically floated plans to improve the path, widen it and maintain it as a multiuse path (i.e., able to be used by walkers and bikers). The Friends of Rose Park would also like to see the path improved, but doesn’t want it widened, and wants bike riding banned from the park.
NPS has consistently refused to assent to FORP’s requests, both in the plans for the physical design of the path and the allowed uses. But recently Rock Creek Park (which includes Rose Park) came under the control of a new superintendent. With that change, some hoped that NPS would reconsider its stance on the Rose Park path.
Last week, however, NPS issued an environmental impact statement for the long-planned improvements to the path (both in Rose Park and throughout Rock Creek Park). The report comes out in favor of widening the Rose Park path to six feet (it’s currently varies in width from five to six feet). The report rejects the request to simply repave the path at its current width: “Because the existing trail is too narrow, this option was dismissed. Trail users routinely leave the paved trail surface in order to walk side by side or pass other users.”
And a wider path will remain open to bikers as well. The report states: “Excluding bicycles from Rose Park would not be compatible with the needs of the proposed action, nor with NPS policies. Therefore, this option was dismissed from detail study.”
GM has been in support of keeping Rose Park open to bikers, so he is happy to see NPS keep to its guns on this matter. But GM doesn’t believe that FORP’s concerns over biker-walker conflict are unfounded, even if he disagrees on the remedy. Rather than banning bikers from the park, a better solution would be to install signage encouraging responsible and slow biking through the park. The fact is that if a jerk is going to ignore a sign telling him to slow down, he would have probably ignored a sign telling him to dismount. But most people aren’t jerks, and most bikers will slow down if there are well designed signs telling them to do so.