Response to Cyclists' Request to Extend Zoo Bike Trail Hours

This email was distributed to members of the community who voiced their concern about the bike path hours on Oct. 27, 2022.  

Thank you for your email regarding the hours for the bike trail.  We support our local cyclists and pedestrians, and understand that you prefer the path through the Zoo over the alternate route through the Beach Drive Tunnel. 

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is required to meet animal security and safety standards established by both USDA and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To meet these standards, we require a secure perimeter fence. 

Because the bike trail runs inside our perimeter fence, there is no feasible way for us to achieve this security requirement without limiting access through the gates.  We must limit access to hours when the area can be safely monitored.  

With the trail work now complete, we’ve resumed our former policy to have the permanent bike path hours align more closely to our operating hours.  The bike path hours are 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sept. 15 through March 15 and are extended to 7 p.m. March 16 through Sept. 14. 

I hope you can understand our responsibility to adhere to the highest standards in caring for the staff and animals at the Zoo.


Brandie Smith

John and Adrienne Mars Director