New ban at Arlington Cemetery is causing controversy

The low rising sun coupled with the fall colors of the trees blanket Arlington National Cemetery in a bounty of color. Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) conduct missions year around through the scoring summers to the freezing winters. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

A new bicycle ban at Arlington National Cemetery is causing some controversy. Under the new policy, set to begin next week, bicyclists will no longer be permitted to ride through the cemetery grounds.

Many local officials and bicycle groups are protesting the move saying they’ve always been respectful of the property and there’s never been any issue before that would cause the Army to do this.

Former Arlington resident Bruce Johnson said, ‘I was cognizant this was a special place whenever I rode through there.”

In its official announcement about the new rule, the Army said, bicyclists disrupt funeral services and affect visitor’s experiences. In addition, the Army stated that mixing bicyclists with pedestrians and vehicles is a “safety hazard.” The cemetery attracts millions of visitors each year.

However, some county board members believe that limiting access to bicyclists “restricts their experience of this important monument.” About 400,000 active-duty service members, veterans and their families are buried at Arlington.

According to the new policy, family members of people buried there will still be allowed to ride bicycle to and from the gravesite that they’re visiting at Arlington. However, it will not be open to through-cyclists and bicyclists without a family pass, Stars and Stripes reported.

Manager of BikeArlington, Henry Dunbar, says the new rule is a “continuation of restrictions.” Fort Myer– the US Army post founded during the Civil War– which connects to the west side of the cemetery, started requiring bicyclists to obtain a 30-day entry pass back in 2015.

Dunbar says the county should now make it a priority to provide bike infrastructure around both areas. The cemetery’s 624 acres presently does not include any bike paths and bicyclists have previously been allowed on all but three roads, according to Stars and Stripes.

The Arlington County Board Chairwoman said in a letter: “There is no need for an additional prohibition on a bicyclist who is riding their bicycle in a measured, respectful way, as a means of transportation, traversing one point outside the cemetery, to another point, outside the cemetery.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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