Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Parking Limits

In March, H**** is going to a business related training session in Washington, DC and she has invited me along since the company is paying for the hotel room. (Or, at least, will reimburse her.) So, while she is working, I'll be riding my bicycle on bike trails around the capital. (Which is why she invited me along.)

I think that my primary objective will be the Mount Vernon Trail, a 20 mile paved trail from the Key Bridge across from Geotgetown to Washington's Mount Vernon home south of Alexandria. I've been reading up on the excellent website and noticed an interesting tidbit of information. When talking about the parking lots along the trail, he notes: "There is a 2-hour parking limit, to discourage commuter parking."

Interesting that they go to all this trouble to make a bike trail which would be perfect for people to park and then ride bicycles into an otherwise traffic-congested metropolitan area but then they create a parking time limit to keep people from using it. In fact, with the bike trail being 20 miles long, two hours isn't enough time to ride out and back. Two hours isn't enough to do any sort of sightseeing around a sight-rich environment like the nation's capitol. Do they think bicycles are ONLY for recreation and then for no more than 2 hours of exercise? It's as if they don't actually want people to use the trail.

Where I've been parking off of Second Avenue at the end of the Eliza
Furnace Trail there are several signs that states parking is "for Trail Recreational and Commuter Use." This was prompted by the neighboring lot owner (Codename P) threatening to have people towed because he didn't want people parking all day to commute and not be paying to use HIS lot. Thankfully, the city took a dim view of that behavior and, thanks to the advocacy efforts of Bike-Pgh, got the signs installed that make it clear that it is a free lot for trail users, whether they are recreating or commuting.

Granted, Pittsburgh is nowhere near as large an area as Washington, DC and so parking is less of a big deal but one would think that anything to reduce congestion, such as bike trail park-and-ride, would be encouraged. That is, unless what they REALLY want is to generate revenue by charging commuters for parking, the same attitude that lead Codename P to resort to vandalism at the Eliza Furnace lot. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to find those attitudes in our nation's capitol. And here in Pittsburgh when the City doubled it's parking tax the local lots in some cases tripled their rates, so the revenue generating attitudes are not limited just to DC.

This is actually academic because when I go down in March, the car will be parked in a lot somewhere (at company expense) and I'll be riding my bike from the hotel to the trailhead.

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