GGW had a meeting announcement about an ANC 3D meeting last night where the New Mexico Avenue bike lanes were to be discussed.
The ANC voted to oppose [the lanes] in January. Their objections centered around reducing "bicycle and car conflicts," which makes little sense as bike lanes reduce conflicts, unless they really mean that they don't want anyone bicycling in the area.
Someone at the meeting reported that the ANCs concerns were that:
1) The road is too narrow to support a bike lane, in addition to the two existing parking lanes and two driving lanes. [WC: That sounds unlikely]
2) This is particularly true near the intersection of Nebraska Avenue, where there are turn lanes and a bus stop.
3) There are many driveways onto New Mexico, particularly near the office buildings/stores, and parked cars already make visibility for drivers exiting those driveways limited. Having to turn across a bike lane will make it even more difficult. AU's plans for new buildings where the Nebraska Ave. parking lot are calls for an underground garage entrance/exit, which will also be a problem. [WC:This has not really been a problem elsewhere]
4) Delivery trucks double park in front of the office buildings, which means they would park in the bike lane (surprise!), requiring bikes to go into the car lanes. [WC: if we didn't build bike lanes where people parked in them, we wouldn't build bike lanes]
5) The bike lanes would take away 13 parking spaces, and parking is already tight in the area. [WC: No problem, apparantly everyone will just double park in the bike lane. This may have been #5 in the program, but I suspect it was #1 in their heart. "We support bicycling, but not if we have to give anything up." As Harriet Tregoning noted on NPR last week, the number of registered cars in DC is down something like 10%, so it makes sense that we can reduce parking.]
6) As a general matter, putting bicyclists into bike lanes makes them less safe and increases the possibility of bike-car conflicts. [WC: Huh? That is not what the data shows]
One commissioner pointed out that because New Mexico is not safe for bikes now, he often bikes up 44th street instead, or on the sidewalk. He believed a bike lane would lead cyclists to bike on New Mexico instead of side streets, reducing safety. [WC: It's as bad as those candy-apple-red bikeshare bikes that draw children to cross the street]
Another commissioner pointed out that her previous experience includes stopping a $1M bike lane project.
No further vote was taken, but there was strong sentiment that the ANC wanted to learn from DDOT how to register its strong opposition to the bike lane and essentially to stop it from happening. Several residents spoke in opposition, echoing these concerns. One person from ANC3B spoke in favor of the lane, as did I.
Unfortunately, Jim Sebastian from DDOT didn't do the best job in making the case for the bike lane. He was a bit on his heels because apparently DDOT had previously sent a letter suggesting that the bike lane was a done deal. The commissioners don't take kindly to their prerogatives to block things being circumvented. He also did not make a strong case for the bike lane itself--the main argument for it was that DC is installing bike lanes and this seemed to be a good opportunity to add some more bike lanes. He made no mention of the Glover Park transportation study, or how the lane would interconnect with other bike lanes. He had no data to support the need for a bike lane in this area (e.g., some study of the number of users), although they did estimate 100 riders/day use that stretch of New Mexico. He also presented no strong counterarguments to the safety points, such as information about improved safety created by other bike lanes (if such data exist). He also had not distributed a plan/diagram in advance of the meeting, which could have allowed for more study and opportunity to address specific concerns rather than generalized fears based on speculation. Finally, he did not explain any coordination that may exist between the bike lane and addressing other traffic issues in the area, including Ward Circle (discussed earlier at the meeting), the intersection of New Mexico and Nebraska (which is a mess already from vehicle and pedestrian traffic), and New Mexico generally (which is too wide in places, leading to lane jockeying in places).