A Review of Access and Circulation on the National Mall in Washington, DC

Dear Friends,

Last year, our Coalition spun off the nonprofit NATIONAL MALL CONSERVANCY to program activities and promote improvements to visitor orientation and education, filling gaps in current Mall programming.  Here’s a notice from the Conservancy on a Mall transportation study recently completed for the Conservancy by a graduate class at George Mason University.

From the National Mall Conservancy

Last fall, we spoke with Professor Jonathan Gifford, who directs the Transportation Policy program and teaches graduate courses in transportation planning at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, about a study of access and circulation issues around the Mall.   He thought it would make an ideal practicum for his students and offered the topic as the focus for this past semester.  It proved a great success, with 7 students amassing lodes of information about who uses the Mall, how they get there, how they get about, and offering recommendations for how to improve circulation.

We heard their final presentation in early May, and are pleased to provide the link to their full report–A Review of Access and Circulation on the National Mall in Washington, DC— as well as their presentation, on the George Mason University website.

Not surprising to those who know the Mall, getting there is less the problem than getting around once you are there.  The western end of the Mall, site of the Lincoln Memorial, for instance, is not served by anything other than the interpretive service Tourmobile, which charges a steep daily fee.  Part of the story is familiar, fragmented management of the Mall makes a comprehensive approach to circulation challenging at best. The team recommended expanding the Circulator bus routes (this is a relatively inexpensive service that runs only certain hours and days and serves only portions of the Mall), making special provisions for those with disabilities, starting a bike share program, and more.  Directional signage needs improvement, they noted.   Accommodating cars and tourism buses remains one of the most difficult problems.  The students also looked at Central Park and the Royal Parks of London for insights as to how people move about in those well regarded venues. The report is rich in its findings and baseline information and should serve well as the starting point for improving access to and circulation around the National Mall.

For more information, contact Kent Cooper at w.kent.cooper@verizon.net or 202-333-6210.