Bicyclists locked out in government shut down

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People who ride bicycles are among those feeling the pinch in the federal government shut down.

Although it’s nothing compared to the impact for 800,000 government employees, housing voucher recipients, veterans seeking benefits, and many others, bicyclists have found themselves shut out of federal facilities as well.

Chittenden locks

Chittenden locks

Hiram Chittenden Locks

Close to home here in the Pacific Northwest, for instance, the parks and walkways across the ship canal locks in Seattle have been closed to bicyclists and pedestrians. Although the locks are still operating, the Army Corps of Engineers closed the surrounding facilities.

This means that bicyclists who use this as a commute route between Ballard and Seattle will have to use either the Ballard or Fremont bridges. More at Seattle Bike Blog.

C & O Canal Towpath

On a bigger scale, the entire 186-mile length of the C & O Canal Towpath between Washington DC and Cumberland, Maryland, has been closed. The towpath along the Potomac River is a popular bike route for bicycle travelers as it connects with the Great Allegheny Passage in Cumberland for a 330-mile off-road route to Pittsburgh. (The C & O Canal Towpath closure has been widely reported. A couple bicycling the towpath, according to the Frederick Post, were told by park police that they could proceed on the trail even though all facilities are closed.)

Thousands of bicyclists take this route every year, and the fall is one of the best times to travel. The National Park Service has closed all the campgrounds, locked the restrooms (both permanent and portable) and even removed the handles from the pumps. Apparently the only federal people working along the towpath will be Park Police looking for trespassers.

Further, the Capital Crescent Trail that runs alongside the towpath in Washington DC is closed. This is a heavily use commute route for bicyclists.

401 National Parks

The C&O Towpath is just one of 401 national parks that will be closed during the shutdown. The Interior Department says 715,000 persons per day visit the national parks in October. Some other notable closures:

Bicyclists could not enter Acadia National Park in Maine on Tuesday morning. The fall color season is one of the busiest times in the park.

Bicyclists were turned away from the scenic loop through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Tuesday. The area is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Roads into National Wildlife Refuges, such as Trustom Pond in Rhode Island, have been closed.

Although the state of Arizona paid to keep the south rim of the Grand Canyon open during the last shut down, it is closed this time.

What’s open

Although national parks are shut down, the Washington Trails Association says some major roads that pass through the national parks are still open. For instance, State Route 20 through the North Cascades National Park and State Route 410 through Mount Rainier National Forest will remain open, although any access to those parks are closed.

Mountain bikers will find that trails in the National Forests apparently are still open, although they might encounter gates. All facilities at trailheads and campgrounds are closed. The WTA says to continue hanging the Northwest Forest Pass when you park at a trailhead, as law enforcement officers are still patrolling.

City, county and state parks and trail are still open.

The Navajo Nation, however, reminds visitors that it’s parks will be open during the federal shut down.

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1 comment

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    • Jack on October 3, 2013 at 4:54 am
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    Imagine flying to the USA from New Zealand or from any other place across the ocean to raft the Grand Canyon and being told “too bad we’re closed”. Now imagine what these travelers and the rest of the world thinks about USA.

  1. […] Bicyclists locked out in government shut down » Biking Bis – Not just at the Ballard Locks […]

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