Cary Mitchell of Georgetown wrote a letter to the editors of the Current (page 7) on the subject of NPS and DDOTs proposal to widen and repave the Rose Park Trail. Mitchell's position is that the trail is a pedestrian path and that "responsible bicyclists" don't need trails. Allow me to respond.
In preparing the second environmental assessment for the Rock Creek Park Multi-Purpose Trail, officials must consider that the 3,000-foot Rose Park segment is a separate pedestrian path that runs through a neighborhood park and must not be treated as a multi-use trail.
Correction: the path already is a multi-use trail. What Mr. Mitchell is asking is that it be changed into a pedestrian path.
I would never consider riding my bike on that short stretch of footpath because of the dangers this would pose to my neighbors and their children/pets.
Maybe not, though I have ridden it many times without disaster, but this is the reason the trail should be widened - to make it safer.
Others who are less familiar with Rose Park are not likely to be as respectful when they’re looking for a shortcut between Georgetown and Dupont Circle, which is all that the wider pathway would provide.
Is that all it would provide? A useful, safe connection between two popular areas of town? So it's practically useless then, huh?
I have personally witnessed numerous “close calls” and a handful of accidents/conflicts between bicycles and pedestrians in the narrow stretch of path between the toddler play area and steep hillside.
Again, the current trail is too narrow, of course you'll see conflict and close calls. The current trail is narrower than the recommended minimum safe width. What else would you expect?
I don’t like to “rat out” my fellow cyclists, but the individuals who choose to ride on the pedestrian path now seldom dismount out of respect for others.
You're not ratting anyone out. It's not a pedestrian path, and no one is required to dismount.
Making the path wider in other parts of Rose Park would only make matters worse.
The experts disagree with you. And if making it wider is bad, maybe we should make it narrower?
Bicycles are simply not compatible with all the strollers and tricycles in the area.
Whoa, I hope those tricycle riders are dismounting - out of respect. More accurately, please visit the Capital Crescent Trail where you'll often see tricycles and strollers, without it being a recipe for disaster. What Mitchell is arguing is that multi-use trails are dangerous. Which is wrong and saying so is irresponsible.
Signs and maps — and construction resources — should instead encourage cyclists to use the existing Multi-Use Trail along Rock Creek Parkway.
Though the two are parallel, they're not really comparable due to large elevation difference. Few would use the RCPT to get from Adams Morgan to Georgetown in this way.
It would also promote use of the newly built Capital Bikeshare station at 30th and K streets
A bike share station may go in at the M street trailhead.
It would be dangerous to channel increased bicycle traffic directly onto M Street (where there is fast-moving traffic and a 6-inch granite curb) or the already busy pedestrian sidewalk where the proposed Rose Park Multi-Use Trail would come to a full stop.
That's why they're considering a curb ramp. Also, he's saying that cyclists don't belong on trails if they're used by tricycles, strollers, the elderly, walkers or runners; or on busy pedestrian sidewalks or on roads with a 25 mph speed limit like M Street NW. Where does Mitchell ride his bike? Because there doesn't appear to be much left.
I believe there are plenty of existing roadways that provide safe riding in and around Georgetown for responsible bicyclists like me.
But not M street or any street like it. Also, someone is pretty proud of themselves.
Widening the path would not only encourage more bicycle use through an area that is not well-suited for two-wheeled traffic,
It would be well suited were it widened.
but it would also actually encourage these riders to go faster (take this from one who knows).
You won't mind if I require a higher standard for my facts, will you?
In addition to the increased risk of accidents, turning the pedestrian path into a bicycle thoroughfare would also likely lead to additional litter (and increased maintenance costs for the D.C. Department of Transportation and National Park Service).
He does have a point here. While biking full speed past old ladies pushing strollers, I often take time to empty bags of trash into parks. That's what my panniers are for.
Also, the added water runoff would likely cause increased erosion on the hillside.
I have more faith in the engineers at DDOT than you do. There are several good ways to handle runoff, including permeable material.
Areas adjacent to the path would be almost certain to become a rutted, muddy mess,
Why are the areas next to the path being rutted? And how would that be different if the trail were narrower?
and grass in the park would be crisscrossed with makeshift pathways from cyclists taking shortcuts.
Which is why we should also ban pedestrians and their damned penchant for creating desire lines. Scofflaws!
In sum, turning the pedestrian path into a multi-use trail is likely to upset the current peaceful character of Rose Park for the whole community.
In sum, it's currently a multi-use path and things seem peaceful to me. Widening it from 5 feet to 8 or 10 feet is not going to turn Rose Park into Tripoli. It will, however, bring it into line with accepted, best safety practices.