Several thousand bikers are set to descend on the District today as part of a ride meant to honor those who died on September 11th, 2001, despite not being granted a request for a no-stop permit and police escorts. The group behind the ride, called 2 Million Bikers to D.C., requested police escorts and to have several streets around the District blocked so that they could ride through red lights and pedestrian crossings. They were, however, denied their requests by the National Park Service and the Metropolitan Police– which has caused outrage on Twitter and some blogs.
September 11th has evolved into a day to show patriotism and honor those who were killed, which is a good thing. It is a genuinely positive sign that a group of Americans want to get together to show their love of country and countrymen. In many ways these guys embody the very best of the American spirit.
Yet, while their intentions may have been laudable, you have to think about the practical implications of what they requested. For one thing, police escorts are expensive and there are only so many police officers. Given the heightened security the area always receives on September 11th, you can’t expect police to be keen on wasting valuable manpower to escort some Harleys flying American flags on a Tour de D.C.
Then there’s the implications such a parade would have on traffic itself. The organizers of the ride want police to close the Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue… on a Wednesday. That would mean closing one of the busiest bridges into downtown, along with a major thoroughfare through the city at the height of business hours. That’s just not a good idea for anyone.
At any rate, the bikers are vowing to come anyway, though they’re bound to experience the same horrible traffic congestion that everybody else has to endure. They’re slated to leave a Harley dealership south of the city at 11 a.m. and assuming they’re taking a direct route, they should be in the middle of the National Mall by 11:30 a.m. The group has not disclosed its route though, ostensibly to make sure police have to stay on their toes.
While I’m glad that a group of bikers want to show their patriotism, it seems like their doing it in the worst of ways. Washington’s traffic is bad enough as it is, and they’re not doing anybody a favor by making it worse. But what is most concerning is their seeming lack of respect for the hard job our police force already has to do to keep us safe.
At the end of the day I love that they want to come and show their respect, but perhaps instead of coming on Harleys, logistically at least, it would be better if they came via Metro.