A nighttime bicycling jaunt dubbed Moonlight Madness, which had been scheduled for tonight, has been canceled because of objections from the National Park Service and D.C. police officials.

Organizers of the 10-mile excursion around Washington's principal monuments, which had been an annual event since the late 1970s, were denied a permit by the park service for what were described as "reasons of public health and safety."

Park service spokesmen said the agency was troubled by prospects of traffic congestion, possible accidents because of inadequate lighting, and an estimated $7,000 in costs to provide a special U.S. Park Police contingent.

Organizers of the ride, which had been planned between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., countered by proposing to supply more volunteer marshals than in past years and to take other measures to ensure safety.

"I was very disappointed that we didn't get the permit, but I can see their viewpoint," said John Goncz, treasurer of the Potomac Area Council of the American Youth Hostels Inc., a recreation and lodging group that has sponsored the event.

In its initial years, the two-wheeled promenade had attracted several hundred cylists, but the number shot up to an estimated 3,000 riders last year as a result of increased publicity.