WABA has sent a response to NPS about their Record of Determination on the closure of the GW and Clara Barton Parkways. They criticize it for flaws in logic and process.
The logic of this ROD is deeply flawed and leads to a conclusion that unfairly prevents cyclists from accessing a portion of the National Park that is made accessible to other transportation “visitors.” Themaking 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
The ROD states that bicycling on the parkway roadways is “unsafe and not feasible.” No evidence is provided to support these conclusions. Bicycles operateregularly and safely, on curving roadways with travel lanes of 9 ft. and 11 ft.,throughout the region safely on a daily basis, and NPS provides no evidence of the inability of bicyclists and motorists to share the public space on these Parkways a sthey do throughout the region. And, although parallel drain grates can be unsafe for bicyclists, the banning of cyclists from roadways to avoid minor repairs to drainage coverings is a disproportionate response.
Further, the conclusion that bicyclists have an available and safe alternative wholly ignores the difference in character, quality, and treatment of these “alternatives.” Separate facilities do exist, but they are far from equal. Apart from issues of crowding and speed limits, there is no alternative to the trail north of Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the C&O Canal Towpath that NPS proposes as an alternative to the paved Clara Barton Parkway is a dirt and gravel path—a surface that is impossible or unsafe for many bicycles. An equivalent would be if motorists were directed to an alternative road that was navigable only by a 4-wheel drive vehiclewith high clearance. And even if these trails were deemed reasonable alternatives to the Parkways during some periods, they clearly are not during winter periods following snowfall—when NPS makes no effort to keep them passable for bicyclists. NPS cannot rely on the presence of these trails as an available alternative when they refuse to maintain them as such.
Unfortunately I don't expect NPS to care.