The Rock Creek Park Bike Path, on which I commute to and from work, has become a treacherous route since the recent rains. Runoff along the path has deposited sand, mud and leaves atop the asphalt. Even more dangerous, the debris accumulates on corners and the bottoms of hills. Encountering this on two thin tires could be considered thrilling by some, but in fact it is a serious public health hazard.

One evening, a week and a half after the path turned into a motorcross track, I came to the one spot where Rock Creek overflowed its banks and deposited a 30-foot stretch of sand on the path. The sand was over a foot deep in spots. The bridge that crossed Rock Creek had been partially washed out. The approach to the bridge on the side without the 30-foot sand trap had a warning barrier up. The approach that emerged from around a corner and down a hill had no such warning. A man was shoveling the sand off the path.

I assumed that he was from the National Park Service. I was wrong. The man was Peter Donovan, who said between shovelfuls, "I been clearing this path off since I was 12 years old."

One person armed with a shovel was accomplishing what the Park Service, with all its manpower and equipment, couldn't. The barriers near the bridge indicated that someone at least knew a problem existed. If there was a foot of sand left on any road for a week and a half and it caused an accident, wouldn't those responsible for the road's maintenance be legally responsible? Doesn't the same principle apply to bike paths?

MATTHEW S. FLYNN Washington