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Welcome to our world, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's battle to get the Ben Franklin Bridge walkway to open 24/7 will most certainly go into the next decade. At least the Delaware River Port Authority doesn't close the bridge at 6PM anymore (we nudged it up to 9PM).

I couldn't believe it when I saw the 10 mph speed limit either. I'm not a fast biker by any means, but unless I coast and not pedal there is no way I can maintain 10mph limit on flat surface (I usually ride mostly at a leisurely pace on my commute and that's around 16mph). It's ridiculous.

If they are afraid of pedestrians, then do it 15mph, which is reasonable for bikers (they won't be speeding, but at least will be able to pedal, for god's sake!)

For TR Bridge, I actually think it's unsafe to go too slow. Yesterday the guy in front of me was actually coasting the whole way, doing less than 10mph and it's harder in a narrow trail with cross winds to keep my balance like that, my bike was wobbling the whole way because I was going too slow. (And don't get me started on how inconsiderate I think it is for someone to coast on TR Bridge when there are others behind them and no way to safely pass anyone).

I agree that the speed limit and nighttime closures have to go.

Pedestrians are not likely to use it very much since most casual users will want to park their cars at either end. I didn't see any parking facilities in Maryland or Virgina. So getting to the middle of the bridge is likely to be a long walk. So I don't think congestion will be a problem. Probably less so than on the 14th Street Bridge.

Pavement was being laid on a portion of the riverfront path to National Harbor yesterday. And the wiring kludge was being fixed.

There's a little cosmetic work to be done here and there at the Maryland overpass too.

I took my first ride on the WWB yesterday. What I liked (besides the fact that it actually opened; I'll admit to being one of the cynics who believed it never would): Those sound baffles on the Virginia side -- amazing (it was like being inside a quiet car); the viewing areas, complete with free telescopes; and the relatively wide berth. Not so good: Typical National Harbor, not ready for prime time (seriously, how much lead time do you need to construct a quarter-mile of bike path? More than three years?! When I rode yesterday, they seem to be in the process of paving the crushed gravel trail); the terminus on the Washington Street deck is going to be a problem if the trail gets popular (the sidewalk is too narrow to go north, and if you try to cross Washington Street, you do so against traffic turning from the beltway exit); and the extension from the Washington Street deck to Route 1 (unpleasant ride...and, as I've posted before, I'm not sure where you're supposed to go once you land in the Hampton Inn parking lot).

All in all, this is a wonderful additional to the No. Va. bike path network.

@Lars: "I didn't see any parking facilities in Maryland or Virgina." There may not be facilities exclusively dedicated for bike path parking, but there are plenty of options. On the Virginia side, the neighborhoods on either side of Washington Street, north of the deck, have plenty of free parking. And, on the Maryland side, there are quite a few paid parking facilities at National Harbor.

Did anyone follow the trail to Oxon Hill, rather than to National Harbor? Where does that reasonably take you? (I see from the narrative it's not a practical ride into DC -- can you at least get to Oxon Hill proper?)

What is this Route 1 bridge you mention? I can't seem to find a map of exactly where it goes. Is this the one that's supposed to connect to the Huntington Metro?

@MVMike If by the "trail to Oxon Hill" you mean the trail to Oxon Hill Road. I did take that. The bike lanes are only in front of national harbor so getting to Oxon Hill involves riding on the narrow shoulder of a 2 lane highway.

@Ian. The route 1 trail connects from the SW corner of the Washington Street Deck to the corner of Route 1 and Fort Hunt Road. You can see it to your right in this shot.

Just took a look at the video. You passed right by me at video time 3:00...I'm standing to the side in the yellow Navy PT shirt, talking to the WTOP reporter who was in the pink shirt.

"Dr. G: I don't see anything in the M-NCPPC rules that rules out a lower speed limit in a particular area."

Actually, like virtually all government agencies M-NCPPC has a rule-making process that they must follow, they can't just go around making stuff up willy-nilly. Of course they didn't follow their own process when they put speed limits on the CCT (or stop signs for that matter).

Does M-NCPPC even have jurisdiction? Wikipedia says it's jointly managed by MDOT and VDOT. Of course neither of them have legislative authority to put speed limits on sidewalks.

So are we against all speed limits for cyclists? Or just silly ones? Or are cycling speed limits necessarily silly? Because it seems like a case could be made for some speed limit (15 mph? 20 mph?) on a long, narrow, bridge path.

For some reason we have all managed to survive without a speed limit on the Memorial. Key, TR and 14th Street Bridges. So why the perceived need on the WWB trail?

I don;t see a whole lot of tourists willing to hoof it from National Harbor's paid parking. That's about 1 mile just to get to the Maryland deck. You have a point about the VA side, but it's still a long walk to the first cut out. All I am saying is that these are likely to keep casual pedestrians and tourist from using the trail.

"So are we against all speed limits for cyclists? Or just silly ones? Or are cycling speed limits necessarily silly? "

I'm against capricious action by ill-informed, unresponsive bureaucrats. This speed limit and the one on the CCT were sprung on the public with no notice, no research and no understanding of the needs of cyclists. The limit itself was just picked out of a hat with no engineering analysis of the facility and the capabilities of cyclists. In the case of the CCT the un-elected bureaucrats responsible have refused to respond to public dissatisfaction, taking an attitude of "we know best."

Behavior like this is the reason that agencies are required to have rule-making processes. In general, agencies and local jurisdictions are highly circumscribed by the state in the regulation of traffic. Specifically, all 50 states and DC have joined AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) and a requirement of membership is that all traffic control devices comply with their MUTCD, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

I'm not opposed to speed limits as such. If we're going to have speed limits, implement them through the legislative process with public input, and justify them with an engineering basis appropriate to the particular facility.

I'm against silly speed limits, which would be most of them. I guess the higher the speed limit gets the less silly it gets. I could live with 20mph.

The problem is that when no one is around 10mph is too slow, when the trail is crowded with weekend runners and looky-loos 10mph is probably too fast. How do you capture that? You make rules putting the onus on faster users to give the right of way to slower users.

One thought about the 10mph limit is that that's what there doing. It will probably never be enforced - unless there's been a collision, and then they can point to the cyclist and say "you were speeding" which they most likely would be and so it's not a wishy-washy you didn't give enough space when passing kind of thing. Not that I really think they're being that strategic about it. I think someone who's never ridden a bike just made the rule up.

And who did make the rule up? Do we know on who's authority this rule was made? Are they capable of making rules?

Washcycle and Contrarian,

I'm sympathetic to the notion that there should be a political process and that engineering standards should be applied (though those two principles don't necessarily produce the same results). What annoys me, however, are the following types of argument:

1) there's such a variety of conditions that you can't really have speed limit

2) it's unenforceable

What I don't like about these criteria is that they can be applied to a vast number of laws (traffic and other), many of which are important. You could you this kind of rationale to argue against speed limits for motorists, and yet such speed limits are extremely important in protecting pedestrians (especially children).

I am aware that there is an argument that laws aren't particularly important for cyclists, but I think that this argument serves cyclists very poorly in the larger battle to win over the hearts and minds of motorists and pedestrians.

Look, this is one bridge. No one is going to be late to work because they're traveling at less than 15 mph (say). Rather than trotting out the same old arguments about why we can't have laws applying to cyclists, let's try to think about what we could live with--something like "15 mph or less, depending on conditions." You could put a speed detector along the path (not for enforcement, but so people would know how fast they are going).

No one here has argued that laws are not important or that they aren't important to cyclists. There were a whole host of other rules Dr. G quoted and no one that I know of has complained about them. No one has stated that "we can't have laws applying to cyclists". In fact both Contrarian and I said we would be OK with speed limits in theory. Nor have we argued that the law is unenforceable (in fact it's easily enforceable).

All that has been said is that a 10mph speed limit is poorly thought out, arbitrary and ridiculous. I'd be fine with a informational speed sign - but that isn't what they did.

I did say that conditions would be variable. My points being that (1) some people will read 10mph as a license to go 9.5 mph no matter what and (2) others will go across an empty bridge early on a January morning riding their brake - which hardly seems to make sense.

As for arguments that could apply to car speed limits, this could also be applied to the traffic lanes on the Wilson Bridge "Look, this is one bridge. No one is going to be late to work because they're traveling at less than 15 mph (say)."


Look... I've agreed that this policy was poorly implemented. My point is that we should think about what a better policy might really look like. Laws are by their nature imperfect and if you do nothing but nitpick at their imperfections, you will alienate the other shareholders in the process and lose your ability to influence public policy.

Regarding enforceability, thank you for the correction, but you did argue that it would probably not be enforced and I wonder what kind of discussion we would have on this blog if there was regular enforcement of cycling speed limits.

So my proposal is that we argue *for* laws and enforcement patterns that we could live with rather than coming up with the same knee-jerk boilerplate response to every attempt to regulate cyclist behavior.

First, I'm not nearly as terrified of other stakeholders as you are and I'm not particularly interested in tiptoeing around them lest I alienate them. If a law is stupid, I'm going to call it like I see it. Especially when it's a dramatic departure from the status quo such as this.

Second, I don't really know what a reasonable speed limit would be (and since many cyclists don't have speedometer don't know how you'd make it fair) so I'm not sure how I could argue for a speed limit law without being a complete hypocrite. I'm not sure what a speed limit gives us that "The trail is a multi-use facility for cyclists, runners and walkers. Users must be considerate of others traveling at different speeds" doesn't. So I'm for that rule. Cyclists must be considerate of slower users.


I'm genuinely confused. You say that you're ok with speed limits "in theory," but you can't argue for one "without being being a complete hypocrite." Could you clarify?

Note that I'm not asking that we *like* the speed limit; I'm suggesting that we look at the possibility of what might be acceptable.

As for the status quo, a bridge of this length with bike facilities is more or less unprecedented in the area.

PS As for a rule about "being considerate," I'd love to see the debates on this blog, and the rest of the blogosphere, once it starts being enforced.

The status quo is that most bike facilities do not have a speed limit, and those that do have a limit of 15 mph. I believe the TR bridge bike trail is nearly as long and significantly more narrow. I'm not sure what length has to do with speed limit - width maybe, but length, no.

As for the speed limit, it's one thing for to accept a speed limit and another for me to advocate for one. I could accept a 20 mph speed limit - if the process made sense, but there is no way I'd advocate for one. Enforcing a bike speed limit would be inherently unfair.

And for enforcing courtesy, if bicycle mounted park police wanted to pull over offenders of trail courtesy and give them a friendly, yet stern talking to - I'd be all for it.

I could accept a 20 mph speed limit - if the process made sense, but there is no way I'd advocate for one.

Fine, then you'll just have to live with 10 mph or hope that other cyclists are willing to compromise. because I suspect that "no speed limits for cyclists" is a non-starter, no matter how "rational" you think it is.

No speed limit for cyclists is pretty common on facilities like these. The Brooklyn Bridge has no speed limit for bicycles. I don't think it's a non-starter.

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