Harry Jaffe has re-booted the bike lanes=war on cars meme in his latest column.
here's something almost quaint about four-wheeled, internal-combustion vehicles plying the streets of the nation's capital. Lane by lane, politicians, city planners and transportation officials are squeezing cars out of downtown.
Not really. I suspect that over the last decade, the lane-miles available to cars are down about 0.1%. So if that's squeezing, it's like a python attacking a blue whale. But even if it were true, isn't squeezing cars to make room for people a good policy?
This will become abundantly clear to drivers who depend on L Street to maneuver east from Georgetown to the heart of the city on 12th Street. Starting this week, the city will begin a three-week project to repave the one-way thoroughfare. When work is done, bicyclists will have a separate lane on the north side of the street. The bike lane, separated by plastic posts, will consume the parking spaces.
This is good for bikers and parking lot owners but not so for those of us who need to park on L Street. Drivers will lose a lane during rush hour.
It's true that 150 on-street parking spaces will be lost (or at least, that's what the Examiner is reporting elsewhere). But people will still be able to park. They will just have to do so more often in a parking garage where the price is not subsidized. Alternatively, there should be less motor vehicle traffic in general and so less competition for the on-street parking that does exist.
I am of two minds on the L Street project, which could become a battleground between cyclists and drivers.
You mean like it didn't, in the end, on 15th Street? Yes, the Examiner would love a good old-fashioned bike/car war to give them something to write about, but will it happen - unlikely.
As a cyclist, I am overjoyed. When the city creates a matching bike lane on M Street, perhaps in early 2013, I will be able to commute from home to work in dedicated bike lanes. But as a driver, I question whether it's fair to autos.
Right. It hardly seems fair to give one whole east-west lane to cyclists and leave them with only 20-30 for themselves.
I see it creating miles of traffic if cops allow double parking, and I fear accidents if cyclists and drivers don't respect one another. Bikers always lose.
How is that any different than the status quo? The only way I can see, is that the cycletracks will make cyclists safer and make them less dependent on the whims of drivers to give respect. Let's face it, cyclists failing to respect drivers isn't really the issue.
"You can't assume people are going to be reasonable, rational or responsible," says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend.
That's a good point. But nonetheless, we should let pretty much everyone get behind the wheel of a moving bullet anyway - and then limit enforcement.
"I'm not saying it's a war on motorists, but it fails to recognize that the vast majority of people still rely on cars."
Not in DC they don't. And the point is to make those who depend on cars, less dependent on them.
D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning says more and more D.C. residents are going carless. From 2006 to 2011, 40,000 people moved into the city, which created 60,000 jobs, "but we saw the same rate of car ownership. We are shrinking in terms of cars in D.C."
Tregoning -- a true believer in biking, walking and public transportation -- says D.C. weathered the recession in part because many new residents are attracted to the city so they can be carless, pay off student loans, work and throw cash into the economy.
"It's not even remotely radical to strike a balance between transportation choices," she says.
With the reconstruction of L Street, the balance is tipping toward two wheels.
True, but only if going from 98.42% of the street space dedicated to cars, to 98.39% of it is tipping towards two wheels.