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On the Virginia side of the Key Bridge, check the northbound on-ramp for the GW Parkway, and you'll see a faded bicycle route sign. I haven't checked recently, but I bet it is still there.

The ped crossing by the humpback bridge is supposed to be upgraded to a tunnel as a part of the road construction underway. No word on whether the crossings by the Memorial Bridge will be upgraded.

Regarding that crossing: Painting lines across a 50mph road--where drivers routinely travel at 65+mph--and doing nothing else (speed enforcement, advance warning signs, tactile warning strips on the road, etc.)is a recipe for disaster.

Sadly, this is what we have come to expect from the NPS. The Mt. Vernon trail is one of the most popular/heavily used trails in the country. Yet, the NPS refuses to expand the trail or improve the road crossings. WTF?

did someone really just complain that because they were speeding and following too closely they got into a minor car accident when another driver stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk? really? i never cease to be shocked at the level of entitlement and the lack of personal responsibility that people display.

in other news, i have LONG thought that these grade crossings should be converted into speed tables--trail going over the table--so that the cars need to slow the blank down (all the way down to the speed limit maybe!), and so that drivers' attention is more focused on the crossings.

for what it's worth, i have never once crossed the parkway on a bike or as a pedestrian. i've thought this was an obvious solution for years, even before i was a cyclist.

In about 3 years of using these crosswalks about every day, I saw one cyclist get hit (she was ok) and was almost hit once by a motorcyclist who was unable to stop when a car stopped for me and popped over the curb to where I would have been had I not seen the motrocylist coming.

Crossing them during rushhour wasn't so bad once I got used to it. Crossing them at other times is scarier because cars are moving quickly and don't expect each other to stop.

If the NPS were actually to start caring about bicycle commuters, I would vote for throwing up a couple of lights where the trail is right next to the parkway along the airport.

Driver: "The speed limit is artificially slow on the Parkway! One could safely drive 45-50 mph."

Cyclist: "Yes, unless you have to worry about stopping for crosswalks."

Driver: "It's insane to stop for a pedestrian on this stretch. Traffic moves too fast!"


But, you know, it's the cyclists who need to clean up their act. They're such SCOFFLAWS!

You say, "Bikes are allowed on the Parkway within the Beltway," then cite a provision that states, "Bicycling is prohibited [on]...the George Washington Memorial Parkway from Mt. Vernon Circle to Interstate 495."

At best, that clause suggests it IS illegal for the 8 miles or so south of Alexandria; and doesn't address the legality north of Alexandria.

But, given that Interstate 495 is a big circle, this could also mean that bikes are explicitly prohibited from Mt. Vernon to the top of the Beltway (near the Legion Bridge). Is there anything that says bikes are actually allowed on the Parkway north of Alexandria?

Frankly, I'm a little surprised to read that bikes are prohibited south of the beltway. Not only are there lots of bicyclists that use the main road in that stretch, but that part of the parkway seems better suited to bicycle traffic that the portion north of Alexandria. I can't picture a bicyclist on the main road between, say, National Airport and TR Island.

I doubt that interpretation is correct. If that were the case, the clearer way to say that would be "Bicycling is prohibited [on]...the George Washington Memorial Parkway [Period]"

Ren: "Crossing them at other times is scarier because cars are moving quickly and don't expect each other to stop."

Cars will never "expect" anything; they're machines. It's the drivers - you know, the human beings behind the wheel of those cars - who need to be alert.

I think this is an important nitpick. The notion that a car and its driver become some sort of man-machine hybrid gives that human an excuse when his or her behavior endangers other humans.

Anyway, back to the GW Parkway...

I do that frequently, use 'cars' and 'bikes' in the place of people. Your point is well taken, but it's pretty ingrained in people's mind and I don't think we should be too harsh about the usage - at least not in a comment on a blog.

@Wash Cycle: You certainly could be right. But, when I first moved here, I-495 officially referred to the western stretch of the beltway, from the mixing bowl in Springfield, to the junction near Silver Spring; the Eastern part of the circle (including where the GW Parkway crosses the beltway in Alexandria) was I-95. I think the whole beltway may now officially be called "I-495." (I seem to recall a move to do that a few years ago to alleviate motorist confusion.) It's certainly possible that, even though this is an '07 handbook, the language dates from that time.

The reason I suspect that could be the case is the guidance seems to contradict both what I've observed and what seems (to me) common sense: I've rarely seen bicyclists on the Parkway itself in the beltway. Do you see a lot of bicyclists there? I do see them south of the Beltway -- and it seems to be tolerated, as Park Police are often set up there to nab speeders and don't pull over bicyclists (though, clearly, they could, since the rules clearly ban them on that part of the Parkway).

It does seem like the parkway inside the beltway presents hazards for bicyclists. Not only is the traffic much more dense in this stretch, but cars enter and exit that part of the parkway via merges, which doesn't leave a safe lane for bicyclists (whereas south of the beltway in Alexandria, cars enter the parkway at 2-way stops).

I'll try to research this myself in coming days and let you know what I find out. Suffice it to say, I do see where someone like Dr. Gridlock would get the impression that there were rules banning bikes on the whole parkway (though I the other observations you quoted from the chat are quite wrongheaded).

To be clear, when I said, "(though the other observations you quoted from the chat are quite wrongheaded)", I meant what Dr. Gridlock said seemed wrong, not your responses to his comments.

Let me know what you find out. I hadn't thought about it as a full ban - if so, it's a really dumb way to say it (but we are talking about the government, right?).

Bicycles typically are prohibited on divided highways, like the GW Parkway inside the Beltway. A specific statute prohibiting bikes outside the Beltway would be necessary since there the parkway is mostly undivided.

In the grand scheme of things, I think we should concede that there are a few places where cyclists don't belong. I think the parkway and interstates are logical instances where cyclists don't belong.

I don't like the crosswalks either because they're dangerously ambiguous. They should take the crosswalks away and give trail users a stop sign. The parkway was not designed to interact with pedestrians. Dogma doesn't trump design.

I'm a daily bike commuter from Ballston to 14th/U. I don't use trails. I bike in traffic, even the Key Bridge roadway if traffic is backed up. I'm not shy about taking my lane and being pro-actively safe. But riding the GWP and using those pedestrian ROW crosswalks is crazy and death-defying.

Wash: by definition, utilizing that reference you made at the end, biking is prohibited from the GW Pkwy, period. Mike made a correct point, since "Interstate 495" refers to the Beltway near the American Legion bridge. The Beltway near the WWB is officially I-95 (yes, I know it's signed as both 95 and 495, but per FHWA, it's I-95).

I'm now confident that the Park Service means a full ban, but I still say it's a poor way to phrase it.

Yeah, I thought we got a definitive statement from the Park Superintendent last year. Or maybe the year before. In any event, it was a surprise to me. I'll ride the GW Parkway itself on the southern end, but wouldn't get on it even if it were legal anywhere from National north. (Tho' I do have to say that one of the things I enjoyed about Bike DC (in 2000?) was riding the part of the GW that they'd closed.)

I just wanted to point out the phenomenon of cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers all in full agreement that the crosswalk design is terrible. Such an unprecedented harmony of thought should surely be rewarded with some road improvements!

Brendan-there are STOP at all intersections of the Mt. Vernon trail with a roadway. You seem to be blaming pedestrians and bicyclists for wanting to cross the GW Parkway. Unless you propose they swim across the river by the Memorial Bridge, there is no way to avoid these crossings. There is no dogma here; there is no debate. The NPS, which built and maintains the roadway, is responsible for the safety of all users. Those crossings are unsafe because the design is poor and drivers are traveling too fast for conditions.

I saw an accident at one of the exit ramps where the Parkway feeds into the road to the Cemetery. There is a crosswalk where the ramp breaks the sidewalk. There is a clear yield sign for drivers coming from the parkway to merge onto the smaller road both because of the crosswalk, I assume, and because of the road coming out of the Cemetery. And the driver was shocked that another driver might have to stop at that point. If drivers are so bad they don't leave enough space to stop when there is a yield to merge onto another road, then I have no sympathy for them.

Oh, another comment about crosswalks. As a Marylander who rides into DC and Virginia fairly frequently, it seems to me that the laws in the three jurisdictions are slightly different in philosophy. Am I correct in thinking that in Maryland the pedestrian is supposed to have the right of way when wanting to cross and in Virginia the pedestrian has the right of way if already crossing?

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