To the editor:
Your Sept. 27 article in the Alexandria Times, “Taking a Time-out in Alexandria,” and a follow-up letter to the editor on Oct. 4, “Don’t forget about Dyke Marsh,” present clear, well-written discussions of recreational opportunities in the area. Yet, both contain a glaring error that the Times should have caught because it involves an ongoing contentious local issue.
In the first instance, the writer refers the “Mount Vernon Bike Trail” five times with two of them in bold print highlighting sections of the article. The writer of the letter may merely be repeating what was in the article, but in both cases the name of the trail is incorrect and it fosters and re-enforces the common misconception that this is foremost a bike trail. This in turn impacts the safe enjoyment of the trail by non-bicyclists.
Several years ago I was walking on the trail. A couple was approaching from the opposite direction followed by a rapidly approaching bicycle rider. As luck would have it, he sped between us pedestrians just as we came abreast. I yelled to him that pedestrians have the right of way and he responded that “it is a bike path” as he hurried on his way. Obviously, he was not aware of or chose to ignore signage posted along the trail.
I have taken the following from one of the many sites of the National Park Service. “The Mount Vernon Trail is an 18-mile paved multi-use trail that stretches from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to Theodore Roosevelt Island. A run, walk, or cycle along the trail leads to all of the same sites that can be reached by car on the parallel section of the parkway.”
In some future article you might consider a review of the rules of the trail as they apply to all users. At one time they were clearly posted in several places along the trail. If followed they would surely make for a safer and more relaxed experience for this beautiful route.
-Ralph Timmons, Alexandria