Clampdown on the Capital Crescent

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The June 1 Metro article "Capital Crescent Trail Puts in Speed Limits to Slow Cyclists" said "no agency keeps a tally of incidents," just that there were "anecdotes" about so-called problems. This caused Mary Bradford, director of the Montgomery County Parks Department, to say, "We have to do something."

Really? All it takes for the government to bring its heavy hand down on citizens is unsubstantiated chatter? That there were no hearings or public input just makes the situation worse.

I've been using county trails and bike paths, both on foot and two wheels, for nearly a quarter century, and my anecdotal evidence is exactly one "incident" in all that time. I rounded a blind corner to find three women lost in conversation, walking abreast and taking up the entire path. I had to swerve my bike onto gravel and thus hit the ground. They didn't stop to see if I was okay. Hey, Ms. Bradford -- let's institute a no-talking policy and start ticketing those who would dare talk and walk.

The reality is that it's easy for bikers and pedestrians to coexist. And, as the article pointed out, bikes don't generally have speedometers, and most bikers are not Lance Armstrong. It would be unfortunate if this poorly thought out fiat sent more cyclists onto roads -- which are much more dangerous places to exercise.


Silver Spring


The article about instituting speed limits on the Capital Crescent Trail was welcome news to those who walk on the trail. My wife and I walk there five days a week -- but never on Sunday. Why not Sunday? Because the risk of serious injury from the larger number of cyclists on weekends is far too great.

Using radar to identify speeding cyclists will have no impact on those who fail to give warnings. It is actually rare for cyclists to give warnings before passing, as they are directed to do by the all-too-few instructional signs.

I wish that the police would patrol the trail so that they could issue warnings for the failure to give warnings.

Finally, the signs must emphasize that walkers, too, have obligations. Wearing earphones or talking on a cellphone frequently will keep a walker from hearing the occasional warning given by a cyclist who is about to pass.



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