None of those measures, however,
got the public’s attention—and sparked
cyclists’ ire—like the installation of speed
limit signs along the trail. In 2008, officials with The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
posted 15 mph speed limit signage on
the section of trail between downtown
Bethesda and the District line. Though
all National Park Service trails and many
other trail systems carry the same speed
limit, few have posted it.
Frequent trail users say it’s unclear
whether the speed limit has made the
trail any safer. Ron Tripp, chairman of the
CCCT, says he rarely sees cyclists pass-
ing him at more than 15 mph these days,
but says he still receives complaints from
pedestrians that cyclists are speeding. “In
reality, if a bike is going 15 mph, that could
still be five or more times the speed of a
pedestrian,” Tripp says. “Any speed along
those lines is going to seem excessive from
the pedestrian’s perspective. I think a lot
of this has to do with perception.”
Kines acknowledges that the speed
limit signs are an imperfect solution to a
complex problem. “The tough thing about
installing signage alerting trail users to
different regulations is that you need an
enforcement mechanism, which takes time
and energy for park police,” Kines says.
Pelicano says park police do stage
enforcement waves occasionally. Records
indicate that no one has ever received a
citation for speeding on the trail, but warnings have been issued, Pelicano says. The
department prefers to rely on park volunteers who are armed with a radar gun or
a large digital speed sign to stop speeders
and educate them about the speed limit
and safe cycling practices, Pelicano says.
Even so, Kines says safe and unsafe
speeds for cyclists depend on context.
“If someone is speeding along the trail
at 2 p.m. on a Sunday, it would appear
unsafe and would be unsafe,” Kines says.
“If someone is traveling at the same speed
at 4 or 5 a.m. on their way to work, it’s a
BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM | JULY/AUGUST2015 117
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