GGWash: How a car-free Beach Drive embodies universal design

Date Published: September 19, 2022

After being closed to cars during the pandemic, Rock Creek Park’s Beach Drive has become a haven for people with mobility impairments.

Since April 2020, the National Park Service’s (NPS) decision to close Rock Creek Park’s Beach Drive to vehicular traffic has sparked debate. On July 11, NPS announced its recommendation to open the road to cars on weekdays for most of the year. Vehicles would only be excluded from Beach Drive on weekdays during the summer, in addition to weekends and holidays year-round.

A few conversations have centered on whether cars make the park more or less accessible to those with disabilities. Some argue that cars make it dangerous for people with disabilities to navigate the park, while others point out that driving may be the only way these individuals can get to the park.

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