Staff Editorial: Should marathons disrupt parking?

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D.C. marathons, including the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, will have strict parking restrictions moving forward. (photo courtesy of Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Washington.org)
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The District’s many marathons and 5K races are exciting to many spectators. They bring thousands of runners and their families to the District’s hotels and reportedly have a $24 million impact on the city’s economy.

Most of the races also have a charitable component, often helping District-located organizations that badly need all the help they can get.

Unfortunately, troublemakers from around the world have planted bombs in parked cars and detonate them when large numbers of people can be killed or injured. Thus, the District government has instituted a new policy mandating that residents must move their cars from streets along the marathon’s routes.

Fortunately, this has not happened here, but there is a reasonable chance it could as a car bomb killing people here would get far more publicity than just about anywhere else. By banning parked cars from event sites, there is no question that public safety will be
enhanced.

We fully understand Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Jeffery Carroll, who heads the department’s Homeland Security Bureau, and his contention the policy is necessary to secure public safety. Unfortunately, many residential neighborhoods along current marathon routes have a severe shortage of parking places. Thus, the streets where the races are run are filled with parked cars as there is practically no place else available. It will be inconvenient in many neighborhoods to force car owners to try to find alternative parking spots.

Marathon organizers now go before local advisory neighborhood commissions to discuss their events. With a parked car ban, it is logical to expect many races in residential neighborhoods will not receive neighborhood commission support.

Perhaps the answer is not to hold the races in residential neighborhoods.

We urge the city council to have a study and then hold a hearing about the issue to investigate and discuss the pros and cons. That may allow us to see what the best approach might be to mitigate the inconveniences this new policy will cause and hopefully still make Washington a host for many marathons.