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Yep the roads are SO much more safe than the trail. I was hit in Hayattsville by a driver using the cell as a GPS (which is legal ?!?!?) My bike was damaged but I was able to jump off the bike with no injury.

The police DID NOTHING becuase there is was no personal injury.

The whole goal of the police and MNCPPC seems to be to make people stop riding bicycles.

There's been a rash of robberies on Captiol Hill lately. Perhaps we should ban pedestrian traffic from the neighborhood.


Increasing traffic through a notorious hub for a wide number of crimes, from vagrancy to the drug trade to assault, was one of the well understood ways that Capitol Hill residents retook Lincoln Park. So I don't get it. How can more eyes on the park beside the NE trail be a bad thing? The police in PG should be encouraging bike traffic.

Technically, it means if you stop, you get a sugar cube.

Wow, this is ridiculous!

If you were in a pinch again, Queens Chapel may be an alternative. From the north end beginning at Route 1 it's residential through UP, then roomy bike lane down to Chillium Rd where I would connect with the trail again. Wouldn't ride past Chillum Rd though.

Despite this route, getting stopped for your reason is asinine and doesn't make things safer.

Exactly! Where's my damn sugar cube!

Kevin, but then I'm on the trail again, which is illegal.

But at least the cop won't be there...

Also I think this spot might what the Hyatsville Mayor was talking about in the GGW article regarding being open after dark.

Still sucks.

The neighborhood I lived in up in the Anne Arundel reaches of Laurel closes its sidewalks at dusk. Since I ran in the evening & also walked to go shopping in the evening, the neighborhood security regularly approached me. Every time there was a new guard (which seemed to be every week) they'd approach, but I never even broke stride -- I just kept going.

Only once did they ever call the police, to which I simply said "This is a legal transportation facility and my only route short of walking in the middle of the street. If you want to close a transportation facility every night, I expect the road to at least be closed, as well." I cited a couple Maryland laws & the police never responded again.

If it's just a matter of avoiding that location, you could use Riverdale local streets to bypass the park. There's a way to cut through from River Rd to Lafayette Ave by way of Rivertech Ct. The pavement is a bit rough and there is a large abandoned (?) warehouse on Rivertech. Lafayette goes under E-W highway ends up by the Riverdale MARC station.

Of course if the police start looking for cyclists on other sections of trail this would not help. I have seen the empty police car parked there and wondered about it too. I ride the first 20-30 minutes in the dark (on the NE branch trail) this time of year too so thanks for the warning.

Regarding Kevin's route - another good alternative is to take Queen Chapel through University Park, cross E-W highway, then 41st to 40th to 38th to Allison St in Hyattsville. You will end up on Varnum in NE DC and then you can work your way over to the Met Branch or take 18th St down to where Montana crosses NY Ave.

This is one of the issues created when we limit biking infrastructure to parks in part because it doesn't upset the motoring community.

Parks are not guaranteed to have 24/7 access.

Trails in parks are fine as a recreational feature but commuters must have complete streets. It can no longer be an either or approach.

All things considered, the biggest danger on this trail at night are startled deer and chaos bunnies. I ride this every night and haven't been stopped yet, or seen anything remotely suspicious. But a friend had the same experience -- got a warning going through the parking lot at the Riverdale ballfields, although they didn't take his name. I also heard the park police were blocking the NW branch trail near West Hyattsville station a while back.

The bottom line is that the trails are much safer than the streets.

When I say "whoa," I mean "whoa!"


That's kind of funny - I'm glad it was "just a warning". Do you know what would happen if you said you didn't have your ID with you? I mean, what would impel you to give them your real name, etc.? Anyway, it's the same deal where I live - the bike path is closed after dark, and quite frankly, I'm not about to go testing that, since there have been a few incidents on the trail after dark, but the main roads are not a good place for riding either. This time of year, I ride my folding bike a lot more, since it's so much easier to get it home on public transit.

We should close streets every night at 10pm, just in case. You never know.

Awesome. This is exactly my commuting route as well... I alwayes wondered about those empty police cars by the underpass... Maybe we should ride together.

Ps. The "awesome" part was just mere sarcasm.

Over here in Virginia, the W&OD Trail is technically closed at dark, and that creates very much the same situation for commuters. The alternatives are generally high speed, high volume roads, since all of the low volume roads have been cut in two by I-66, 495, etc. I used to ride the W&OD every night for my commute, and once in a while got a "warning", but never a ticket. I've heard that one of the reasons for the night closure is that residents of neighborhoods trails pass through worry about potential use of the trail by criminals. So, tell me, if you're planning to say, burglarize a house, are you going to balk at using a trail because it's "closed" at night??????

So much for the myth of the scofflaw cyclist.

If you were assaulted on the trail, what would you do to protect yourself? One commuter I know was sucker-punched by a seemingly valid 'jogger' intent on stealing everything. Knocked out, he woke up later to find his bike, laptop, phone, etc all gone. Long walk home.

I feel your pain, though. It takes me 40% more distance to bike safely than drive to work.

How was the trail construction paid for? If a Federal Highway Administration transportation grant was used, the trail is considered a transportation facility and has to be open for use 24 hours a day. A similar issue came up with Portland's Springwater Trail. http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/08/fhwa-says-springwater-trail-closure-decision-must-be-reversed-13036

Great, now Chuck Thies is going to advocate banning all cyclists from park trails.

If you decide to keep riding here at night and get an actual ticket, I suggest that you accept the ticket with no argument to the cop, and then fight the ticket in court.

What you can point out in court is that the agency that ticketed you, the Prince George's County Park Police, is part of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). Another branch of that same agency is the Prince Georges County Planning Department. The Prince Georges County Planning Department prepared the Countywide Master Plan of Transportation Bikeways and Trails, and that plan was adopted in November 2009.

The Countywide Master Plan of Transportation Bikeways and Trails contains a map of bike routes and trails and a set of policies. Relevant policies include:

POLICY 2: Provide adequate pedestrian and bicycle linkages to schools, parks, recreation areas,
commercial areas, and employment centers.

POLICY 7: Increase trail funding by one percent of the total county transportation budget (excluding developer funding). Give priority to trails that function as transportation facilities or as links to other transportation facilities.

POLICY 8: Design and construct master plan park trails to accommodate all user groups (pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, mountain bikers, and disabled users), to the extent feasible and practical.

POLICY 10: Promote the use of walking and bicycling for some transportation trips.

So any ticket that the park police would issue and the rule upon which it would be based appear to be contrary to the agency's stated transportation policies. Maybe that would be a persuasive argument to get the ticket dismissed.

Cyclists riding through an MNCPPC park to get to the other side should be allowed at night.

The link to the Countywide Master Plan of Transportation Bikeways and Trails in my post above seems to be messed up. Here is the correct link:


There was a patrol car in the Riverdale ballfields parking lot last night, but the park policeman just gave the four of us a friendly (I think) honk when we rolled past with trail lights blazing. I'm glad to see the patrols, and I'm happy they're not hassling commuters in every case -- after all, we can be their best eyes and ears about what happens on trails.

in effect, if not intention, "the police and MNCPPC seems to be to make people stop riding bicycles."

is this news?

its not the fault of the police; nor is it those who run parks.

we have no mechanism for advancing bike advoacy in this culture. just as we have no mechanism for advancing income redistribution, or universal health care or...

i love how washcycle's strategy is just to ignore the law, and ignore the police!

this doesnt bother me and strikes me as sane and reasonable, given the roads and infrastructure and suburbs and transportation (etc), have simply ignored any but motorists in their design. (for clear historical and capitalist reasons).

but given the pandering this blogf does, and given how its contributors blather on about law enforcement and being respectful (waba)....there's a huge disconnect in washcycle's response: the police are trying to help him, so he should jusst obey. like a good little consumer in a nondemocracy, where his betters make decisions about safety for him, and the rule of law is supreme...

I don't think you've accurately represented my position, but just for kicks what would you do?

I'll jump the question. For my part, I intend to keep riding safely on the trails at night, will fight a ticket if I get one, and would pay the ticket if I lose in court. I'd be willing to pay a fee or get a permit to use trails at night if need be, to help pay for extra police patrols if they're that worried. While I appreciate the police presence and respect their desire to prevent crime, trying to keep commuters off the trails is bad policy and counterproductive.


If trail usage is illegal, are you suggesting that we, as bicyclists, should ignore the law because it is an affront to our civil rights as bicyclists? That we should ignore the law because we, bicyclists, had no meaningful input into the road and built environment conditions that affect us, and thus, like civil rights activists before us (women, african americans) it is our obligation to ignore such discriminatory laws?

If yes, Im with you. And so much the worse for any notion of road-law obedience on roads designed for cars, and where any accommodation for cyclists (if any)is always an afterthought. Bring on the Idaho stop, legal or not; smuggling my bike on Metro during banned hours, etc.. The measure of right bicycling action simply becomes the safest, most inclusive use of bicycles in a given context -- not the extant rules or laws.

If no, then I expect ALL bicyclists to follow EVERY SINGLE law on the road. A foot down at EVERY stop sign. Waiting and not filtering to the front at stop lights, etc..

If no, then I expect ALL bicyclists to follow EVERY SINGLE law on the road. A foot down at EVERY stop sign. Waiting and not filtering to the front at stop lights, etc..

It's amusing that all your examples are legal.

I'm a safety first rider. Sometimes filtering up to the front at a light to be seen better is safer. Sometimes not. Sometimes Idahoing a light and getting out of the way of a potential distracted driver is safer, sometimes not. Sometimes sidewalk is safer, though I yield to walkers. Sometimes foot drop is worse than keeping some momentum. Sometimes bike lanes are safer, sometimes not. I ride the trails at night because it's safer than the roads. My biggest concern at night on trails is hitting an animal or just crashing out of my own inattention, not getting mugged. I just figure I'm going to try to be safest for myself and others around me, and I'll let the rules take care of themselves.

I was ticketed for the same offense, by the same department, on the same trail system, November before last in Langley Park. Does anyone know if MNCPPC arrest and enforcement statistics are publicly available?

Not that you don't know this, but this is a typical problem with parks and trails.

I thought that the State of MD already made it policy that park trails are supposed to be open at night.

The Patapsco Valley State Park closes at night but bike commuters can get a pass allowing them to ride the trail at night.


The PG bike people should push the issue.



Interesting. I was stopped by Park Police in December at the "Lane Manor Recreation Center" park trying to get to Adelphi Rd. The cop told me the park was closed "for my safety" and that I couldn't pass through. I asked him what I was supposed to do and he told me to take University Blvd. I asked the cop if there were bike lanes. He said there weren't, but that I'd be fine since I had a reflective vest on. Ugh.

I decided not to complain anymore and rode the sidewalk on University (passing a lot more sketchy folks than I would in the park).

Fortunately I haven't seen a squad car since. My strategy is to keep riding the park if I see nothing. If I do, complain each time to the officer about how barring bikes from the park increases the risk we'll get smashed by a car, then take the annoying sidewalk detour.

The other night I got stopped for the same reason by a park police officer while riding on the trail in Sligo Creek Park in Silver Spring, so this is not just a P.G. County thing. He gave the same reasons -- the park is closed at night, just letting me know for my safety, etc. He didn't take my name, but let me go after informing me of the law.

Usually I ride on the adjacent parkway, but he caught me on the brief stretch of trail I often take that connects with an adjacent neighborhood -- which was a pretty good shortcut until this happened.

I use the Metropolitan Branch trail periodically (about 1/week). I was heading north last night at about 3:30 and had a pedestrian/two wheel incident. I was just south of Franklin St. NE in the vicinity of Edgewood St. NE. There were 10-15 youths/men walking south on the trail. As I approached the group I noticed several of the group motioning at me and they subsequently kind of sauntered and occupied all of the paved surface. As I neared the group, one guy spit immediately in front of me as I rode off the paved surface to pass. I said nothing and kept on riding north, but it was extraordinarily disturbing to me. I mean what gives? When you add up the trash, the construction on New York Ave. (South bounders needed a construction hard hat not a bike helmet yesterday), such incidents and multiple security cameras I am wondering if the trail is safe.

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