In May, the US Army proposed new rules on the development, operation, maintenance, and administration of the Army National Cemeteries, which includes Arlington National Cemetery. Currently, Arlington Cemetery allows limited access to bicycles in an eastbound (downhill) direction only. Identification and a helmet are required. In addition, I believe that anyone visiting a grave may ride their bike to it.
Newly proposed rules would change that. The new regulations would allow no one to
Ride a bicycle or similar conveyance in an Army National Military Cemetery, except with a proper pass issued by the Executive Director to visit a gravesite or niche. An individual visiting a relative's gravesite or niche may be issued a temporary pass by the Executive Director to proceed directly to and from the gravesite or niche on a bicycle or similar vehicle or conveyance.
This would put an end to the eastbound bicycle commuter traffic. In addition it appears that people visiting the Cemetery by bicycle will have to get a temporary pass each time they visit. This contrasts with those visiting by car who can be issued a permanent visitor pass (I have to one to visit my dad's grave, but I've not tried to bike in with it). The section on permanent passes mentions "vehicles" and a bicycle is vehicle, so maybe I'm wrong about that (I don' know how, or if, they define vehicle in the regulations).
(2) Only the following categories of vehicles may be permitted access to Arlington National Cemetery roadways and issued a permanent or temporary pass from the Executive Director:
(i) Official Government vehicles being used on official Government business.
(ii) Vehicles carrying persons on official Cemetery business.
(iii) Vehicles forming part of an authorized funeral procession and authorized to be part of that procession.
(iv) Vehicles carrying persons visiting the Arlington National Cemetery gravesites, niches, or memorial areas of relatives or loved ones interred, inurned, or memorialized within Arlington National Cemetery.
(v) Arlington National Cemetery and National Park Service maintenance vehicles.
(vi) Vehicles of contractors who are authorized to perform work within Arlington National Cemetery.
(vii) Concessionaire tour buses authorized by the Executive Director to operate in Arlington National Cemetery.
(viii) Vehicles of employees of ANMC as authorized by the Executive Director.
This is, of course, the exact opposite of what I called for in 2011 when the Wright Gate was temporarily closed.
Update: The Arlington County Board submitted a comment in which they only opposed this change. [And all the other comments are in opposition of this rule change too]
We respectfully disagree, however, that the proposed limitations on the use of bicycles (as provided in Section 553.33(c)(8)) within the cemetery are necessary to accomplish that goal.
The Proposed Rulemaking seeks to regulate behavior to ensure that only conduct that comports with "proper standards of decorum and decency while in an Army National Military Cemetery" are exhibited there. WE BELIEVE there is nothing inherent in the use of a bicycle that conflicts with this objective. The proposed rules do not limit the movement of pedestrians across the cemetery. While we understand and accept the proposal in Section 553.33(c)(7), to limit "recreational activities", there is no need for an additional prohibition on a bicyclist who is riding their bicycle in a measured, respectful way, as a means of transportation, traversing one point outside the cemetery, to another point, outside the cemetery. Bicyclists should be able to traverse the cemetery the same way as pedestrians who can transit the cemetery grounds moving from one point outside the cemetery to another outside.
In addition, visitors to the area will often use bicycles as a mode of transportation to get around and visit important sites. To limit their access to Arlington National Cemetery by bicycle is to restrict their experience of this important monument to those who died in the military. Arlington National Cemetery should be experienced not only as a place where we ennoble our most prestigious military honorees, but as a place that speaks to the vastness of the dedication of human life to the ideals on which our country was founded. The vastness cannot be fully appreciated without taking in large sections of the cemetery in a way that can only be accomplished in a vehicle. IT SEEMS CLEAR TO US THAT a few bicycles are no more offensive than the "[c]oncessionaire tour buses" that would be authorized by the Proposed Rulemaking. WE WOULD LIKE TO NOTE the results of a recent survey <Cautionhttp://www.dcmilitary.com/pentagram/community/joint-base-arlington-co-sign-agreement-toenhance-services-save/article_31a1ee5e-a154-5a16-8c0d-b9dc89e3d5bd.html> of 467 service members, military spouses and retirees who live, work or utilize services provided on the adjacent Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall. Those users were dissatisfied with the availability of parking at Joint Base and a majority expressed support for re-opening Henry Gate to pedestrian access. Almost half of the survey respondents expressed an interest in the Capital Bikeshare program. Their transportation options are reflective of many visitors to Arlington Cemetery, as well. We request that Section 553.33(c)(8) be struck from the Proposed Rulemaking. Thank you for considering our comments. Libby Garvey Chair, Arlington County Board