The Fredericksburg Cyclists Club has created an online petition to try to persuade the National Park Service to remove the gravel it recently dropped on Lee Drive that they believe causes safety and riding problems.
The petition reads that Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg Battlefield is a major attraction for tourists and local residents who use it to walk, jog, bicycle, drive or reflect on the Civil War.
The group's petition goes on to say that Lee Drive is part of the East Coast Greenway, a federally designated Millennium Trail that is also part of the U.S. Bike Route 1 interstate route. But, "the National Park Service, in violation of its own guiding principles, failed to consult the local community before recently applying asphalt and loose, pea gravel to a recently re-paved Lee Drive, purposefully creating an unsafe condition for cyclists, runners and walkers, alike."
The club wants the National Park Service to remove the loose gravel from Lee Drive, and that it involves the community in the future before "taking future steps that degrade the community's ability to enjoy healthy recreation in its own park."
Russ Smith, superintendent of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields National Military Park, said last week that the chip and seal surface on Lee Drive is a safety measure to slow down traffic. He said the excess gravel will become compact over the next few weeks and that bicycles should not have any problems using Lee Drive. But he cautioned that the surface will be rougher to discourage higher speeds.
Smith said Tuesday that National Park Service staff and the contractors will look at Lee Drive at the end of this week to determine when to remove the loose gravel.
"It will probably be removed within two weeks. It will either be vacuumed up our brushed off," he said.
Terry Dorn, the club's president, said 135 signatures were on the petition as of Tuesday morning and many include additional comments. Olde Towne Bicycles also has a paper petition in support of the club's efforts, Dorn said.
Here are some of the comments left on the petition:
Sam Carolus-Hager on May 27, 2012 - the new surface has made it impossible to ride on lee drive. This is a public park, and to essentially bar cyclists just to enforce the speed limit on drivers is ridiculous.
Jamie Lindsay on May 27, 2012 - This is an outrage. Decisions made by Park employees without soliciting opinions from the USERS of the Parks is unprofessional and unforgivable. Making the peoples Parks less safe and less usable to all is contrary to your charge. Immediately removing all loose gravel is mandatory and never doing again unilaterally doing anything which directly impacts the public's access to the Park and its use should never happen again. The Parks do not belong to Park staff. You are there to preserve the Park for use by the owners and those who use them. This was a huge failure. FIX IT NOW!
Jennifer Cochran on May 28, 2012 - This action is unacceptable without the consultation and approval of the community.
L. Chris Hager on May 28, 2012 - This is a very dangerous pavement choice for a bicyclist. I would guess that over time you will see some law suits as a result. -L C. Hager-- former owner of a bike shop in Massachusetts.
William Evans on May 28, 2012 - "In the name of safety." You can't be serious. "Keeping the speeds down." This is merely a way to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the park "Old-time" for the 150th anniversary. You just never thought about the implications to the health-seeking community at large. By the way, that is NOT chip-seal as you call it. Flat-cut granite works into tar eventually, Round pea-gravel does not. Were you even aware of the "Moms and Strollers" workout group in the park? More people will be forced to be out on the open roads and does that take safety into consideration? As a historian and National Park fan, I am deeply disappointed.