They may be the most controversial bike lanes in DC, and the only ones I know of that were removed and rebuilt before being opened, but the Pennsylvania Avenue NW bike lanes are now officially open for use. An event yesterday brought out dignitaries from the DC government (Mayor Adrian Fenty, CM Tommy Wells, CM Jack Evans, DDOT Director Klein) and the federal government (Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, US Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and James Oberstar); and lots of media and bloggers.
The articles have covered the usual angles. The Post notes that Fenty is a "dedicated cyclist" - even though he doesn't really bike except as part of training - as though that is the reason for these bike lanes that come from a bike plan written before he was Mayor. It makes it sound self-serving instead of like he's someone who recognizes that a modern city needs a balanced transportation system. No one, you'll note, mentions that anyone is a "dedicated motorist" at the Wilson Bridge opening. The Post did include that
DDOT also plans enhanced enforcement to discourage commercial vehicles from parking in the travel lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue, and the department is working to educate cyclists about how to safely enter and exit the bike lanes, using the pedestrian signals at the cross streets.
The Examiner mentioned the AAA criticism, which may or may not have played a part in the redesign.
But ABC7 should be complemented for finding a new angle to the story on what they call "bike lines."
Driving down Pennsylvania Avenue could be a little more treacherous from now on. New bike lanes officially opened Tuesday, forcing cars and bicyclists into narrower lanes.
Which is a story no one else has the courage to cover, primarily because it is completely untrue. Only ABC7 has the cojones to not let the truth stand in the way of a good lead-in. [Suck on it other news outlets]. The traffic lanes that exist are the same width as they were before this started. And the bike lanes replace a median. But ABC7 has the courage to tell it like it isn't.
In the video Cynne Simpson adds that these lanes force "Cars and bicyclists to share the road and that's a difficult thing to merge". I had always thought that what forces cars and bicyclists to share the road is the law, but she's on TV, so she must be right. They report on how it's "supposed to work" and how "they say" it's going to make it all safer, with a bit of sarcasm in their voice. And they show a cyclist who's "supposed to be in the bike lane."
In another sign of journalistic courage, after discussing how treacherous it's going to be and how the lanes will be narrowed, they waste no time in contradicting themselves.
For bicyclists, competing with cars on busy Pennsylvania Avenue is over. The lanes run from 3rd to 15th Street NW in the median, so no car lanes were lost, and it also minimizes the dangers of buses and right-turning vehicles.
They do manage to find one person critical of the bike lanes, and they take the bold step of pluralizing him (he also appears to be walking, though they label him a motorist). Fenty is a cyclist who mostly drives. Mike Deangelis is a motorist who walks. It's all so confusing.
But critics say driving around D.C. is already dangerous enough without inviting even more two-wheelers.
"City, being as congested as it is...it just adds more confusion to the problem," said motorist Mike Deangelis.
Perhaps channeling ABC7's creative use of language, Ray LaHood called the bike lanes a "bike path" and the Examiner referred to "Ride to Work Day" which sounds like a transit day*.
*Riding a bike sounds so passive. I've heard that the term comes from riding a horse and that driving a car comes from driving a team of horses. Riding a bike sounds like you sit down and then the bike does all the work - like a motorcycle. But "pedaling a bike" sounds wrong too. No point really. Just a thought.
Update: ABC7 updated their headline to read "bike lanes," so you'll just have to take my word for it that it read "bike lines"