On Saturday the National Park Service and Delegate Eleanore Holmes Norton held an open house to discuss the unique relationship between DC and the Park Service and how to make it better.
I was late, so I may have missed some bike-related questions if they occurred early on. I also didn't ask any because I didn't want to be the guy who showed up late and then wasted everyone's time by repeating a question.
There was a question asked about pedicabs on the Mall. 5 years ago, the questioner pointed out, the superintendent at the time wrote a letter saying that pedicabs would be treated just like taxi-cabs and not as interpretive tour vehicles - thus there would be no conflict with Tourmobile. But of course, there has been conflict between Park Police and pedicab operators. So, the questioner, asked "what efforts are being made to rezone areas for pedicab use, especially outside of museums?"
An NPS official said that their new Transportation Plan will be coming out soon, though the comment period was closed now [I assume they're talking about the plan to come out of the study that was completed in 2006, for which a FONSI was issued in 2010]. Furthermore, in the next few weeks there will be an announcement made about "moving past Tourmobile" and that will include bicycles.
They're working with Capital Bikeshare and they're working with pedicab operators. They feel that pedicabs have a legitimate transportation role on the Mall. They plan to have designated areas for them to operate in, but rules are needed.
Del. Norton added that they need to avoid "one size fits all" regulations, which was a consistent theme for the meeting. "Tourmobile is ending," she said "let's do it right. Why does it need to be all cars?"
I doesn't. And hopefully NPS agrees.
In the 2010 FONSI, which I don't think I'd seen before, is a response to a comment by WABA in which WABA pointed out the study had few facilities for cyclists.
The National Park Service acknowledges that the Environmental Assessment focused more heavily on visitor transit services than on a broader range of transportation modes, including cycling. The initial intent and scope of the Washington, DC Visitor Transportation Plan for the National Mall and Surrounding Park Areas was to evaluate future visitor interpretive transit service needs prior to the end of the existing third-party operated contract for such services; however, during the scoping period comments were received regarding personal transportation modes, including bicycles, Segways® and electric scooters.
The National Park Service strove to responded to these comments to the extent possible while remaining within the scope and budget of the project by focusing on the need to address new policy for emerging uses, as well as ensure that any proposal for visitor transit would support multi-modal needs, such as the provision of bicycle racks on any future transit vehicles. It was not within the scope of this project to update National Park Service plans for region-wide trail needs.
The National Park Service is in agreement that any development of trail signs, maps, brochures or web materials will include all trails and user guidelines. Currently, there are no users restrictions associated with park sidewalks/multi-use trails for any user other than for Segways® and electric scooters. The National Park Service is working with regional and national trail partners to incorporate trail signage for the Anacostia Waterfront Trail, East Coast Greenway and other District of Columbia wayfinding sign plans.
Anyway, if this is the Plan they're talking about, I don't see how one oriented towards transit and that doesn't appear to mention pedicabs is going to address the issue. But I could be on the completely wrong track here. But it wouldn't be the first time and it might not be entirely my fault.