The Park Service, bolstered by the rich residents of the upper reaches of D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, wish to close Beach Drive through the park so that the privileged have another spot in which to walk their dogs.
They say that it won’t be a problem because so few cars use it. I say, if so few cars use it, why close it?
Their “compromise” plan calls for closing the road between 9:30am and 3:30pm. Sounds reasonable, opening it for rush hour only. But the sneaky problem is that the road that connects to it from the south, Rock Creek Parkway, is closed northbound from 6am to 9:30 and southbound from 3:30 to 6:30pm. So, Beach Drive would be open when the parkway is closed, and vice-versa. So, the road would only be usable for those who commute from Maryland, where there are already numerous routes into DC. Those of us commuting TO Maryland will lose a direct and quick route to work.
Freaking NIMBY assholes.
Here’s my letter to the Washington Post:
The proposal to close Beach Drive to traffic during the major part of the weekday is at best a pointless attempt to boost recreation in a vast park that is underused; at worst an exercise in creating more traffic gridlock and stress.
The proposed “compromise” which would open the road between 9:30am and 3:30pm is another way to prevent Virginian commuters from using this direct, peaceful, and quick route through a congested city to Maryland.
Because Rock Creek Parkway is closed in the northbound direction until 9:30am, a commuter from Virginia would find one road closed while the other was open. Then as one road became open for use, the next road would close! This ridiculous chain of events would occur again in the southbound direction at 3:30pm, making the Beach Drive/Parkway combination closed to all traffic commuting from Virginia. All this traffic would have to exit at Connecticut and Calvert, and then squeeze into the already congested and gridlocked downtown streets trying to get to one of a very few bridges.
I drive on Beach Drive nearly every day, delaying my commute because of the ridiculous Parkway closure in the morning, enjoying the scenery and a less stressful drive to work through a city that has no other cross-town bypass. Aside from a few bikes, to which I always yield right of way, I simply do not see people crowding the park, nor engaging in recreation that my car could possibly interrupt. Those that are there are off in fields or picnic pavilions far from the road. Why is the subject of closing this road even coming up? Some road-closing activists have even claimed that the road serves so few cars that it should be closed. If there are that few cars, how are they bothering you?
Or is it because you don’t want to walk your dog in your own yard around your million dollar house?
Those drivers – including me – pay federal taxes that support this park, too. It belongs to everyone, not just the NIMBY activists who live on it’s affluent perimeter.
Update, May 20: This morning when I drove through the part of Beach Drive they wish to close, I counted cars. In 5 minutes, 47 cars used this road. There was only 1 bike using it. Well, I can see why they want to close it to cars – that one biker must feel outnumbered.