The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) has drafted a revision to the Park Rules and Regulations that govern parks in Montgomery and Prince George's County. Since so many multi-use trails in suburban Maryland pass through N-NCPPC parks there are obviously parts of the new rules that are relevant to cyclist. There will be a planning board hearing on the draft rules tomorrow (and also that review of the Bicycle Plan Framework) at which the public is invited to testify and the public may provide comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to:
c/o Rules and Regulations Review Committee
6611 Kenilworth Avenue, Suite 200
Riverdale, MD 20737
The public input period will end at 5 p.m. on August 1, 2016. Public input will be considered before the Commission enacts new rules and regulations.
There are several rule changes that are relevant to cyclists and bike commuters.
- Instead of prohibiting all public use of Commission or Park Property from sunset to sunrise unless that facility is officially open for public use, the new rule would make it possible to specifically allow bike commuting. "An Administrative Directive may provide alternate hours of operation for a Park Property or Facility, including alternate hours deemed appropriate for any trail or trail segments that facilitate bicycle and pedestrian commuting..."
- The current rules permit cycling "only on roads or trails designated for that purpose" but the new rules permit it "on roads on Park Property, including Parkways...[and] on official paved and natural surface trails on Park Property...Unless otherwise posted." Which means parks have to opt out instead of opt in.
- The default speed limit on all trails drops from 25 mph to 20 mph.
- Under current rules, parking is prohibited on or obstructing the entrance to, any trail. The proposed rules prohibit it "on or within twenty (20) feet of any bicycle path"
- Horseback riders now "must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists."
These are mostly small changes, to rules that probably aren't often enforced, but hopefully this will mean the end of restrictions of bike commuting via trails at night. I once got a written warning for commuting home in the winter. And surely there are some foot-droppers out there like Crikey who have been foregoing night commuting because of the sunset rule.
The full bicycle section of the current and proposed rules are below the fold for your comparison fun.