NPS Supports Keeping Rose Park Path as Multipurpose

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.

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5 Comments

Filed under Bikes, Transportation

5 responses to “NPS Supports Keeping Rose Park Path as Multipurpose

  1. Hank

    Regarding your comment about most (bikers) not being jerks about ignoring signage and slowing down or dismounting, the experience at Harbor Place might be instructive. They have placed barricades and (lots of) signage in an attempt to prohibit the riding of bikes on the waterfront on their property. (On rare occasions in the summer when the crowds are heaviest, I have seen police stationed at either end of the property to warn off bikers.) All to no avail. The offenders appear to be commuters that are hell-bent on minimizing their commute time by thru-biking at excessive speeds and that is the real problem – delta speed between bikers and walkers. Would like to offer a solution but have none. The FORP have an absolutely valid case here.

  2. Pam

    My understanding isFriends of Rose Park, Inc. has not taken a position to “band” bikes from the park, rather the group wants the path to stay at its current width and to be repaired for safer use.

  3. Topher

    Pam,
    I’m a bit confused about your comment since the Friends of Rose Park has repeatedly asked NPS to prohibit bike riding on the path. There’s a whole page on FORP’s website devoted to the topic, but unfortunately the links to the letters to NPS aren’t working. Here is one example, however, from the Internet Archive of those documents:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20081121220349/http://www.roseparkdc.org/path_holben_mm_061018.pdf

    It’s notes from a meeting between FORP and Chris Holben of DDOT. The notes state that FORP found the existing low level of biking to be nonetheless unnacceptable and that no bike riding should be allowed in the park. Has FORP ever changed this position?

  4. Michael Radosevich

    The problem is, a large majority of bikers refuse to ride safely. Unless there’s a separate path, which will never happen, bikes should be banned.

    And I agree with Hank – the crazed bikers who race through the waterfront at Harbor Place are a special menace. I’ve seen two collisions there; once a biker ran over an elderly gent, once a biker knocked down a little kid.

    I disagree, though, that nothing can be done. If the police wanted to stop and ticket the bikers, they could easily do so.

  5. Wheels

    Park users need to register their concerns. Safety is the biggest concern. For users of the park, this means increased concerns for strollers, seniors, children and dogs (on and off leash), not to mention anyone else not on a bike. It also means more cars driving in the park — mostly police cars, these days, but someone in an SUV drove through just the other day….

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