Charles Evans, a lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was arrested for speeding in Arlington Cemetery yesterday. He was allegedly going 30 miles an hour in a 20 mile-an-hour zone. On his bicycle.
The $10 violation notice Evans got, after a cemetery police car stopped him with flashing red lights, may be the first speeding ticket given a bicyclist in the Washington, according to local police and traffic officials.
"I have no speedometer on my bike and have no idea how fast I was going, although it was downhill," said Evans, who lives near Baileys Crossroads and commutes by bicycle about 18 miles a day to the SEC offices on North Capitol Street. He is one of more than 50 bicyclists who commute daily through the cemetery, a short-cut that avoids heavy commuter routes.
Under Virginia law, which applies in the cemetery, speeding and other traffic regulations that apply to motorists also apply to those riding bicycles or animals.
Evans said he was surprised to get the ticket. "I thought a warning might have been appropriate if I were speeding, which I don't admit I was."
"He probably should have been given some kind of physical fitness award instead of a ticket," one National Park Service official said yesterday after hearing of Evans' speeding arrest.
Until six to eight weeks ago the Park Service's U.S. Park Police were the only ones allowed to give tickets or make arrests inside the Army-run cemetery. Now the cemetery's top security official also is authorized to give traffic tickets, and has begun a crackdown on speeding of all kinds, although yesterday's was his first bicycle stop.
Cemetery Superintendent Raymond Costanzo said the reason for the crackdown is that "we have four million visitors here a year, second only to the Smithsonian, and when they're walking on the roads anything moving at more than 20 miles an hour is dangerous, even bicycles."