The letter-to-the-editor fighting over the King Street bike lane continues. First, from the Alexandria Times, there's a letter entitled "The bicycle lobby is out of control" by Kathrynn Papp. [You may remember her from her other hits like "all bikes should be registered', "Capital bikeshare funding hurts libraries" or "Bikesharing won't work in Alexandria"]. Papp feels like this whole bike lane thing is being cooked up by the bicycle lobby, which mostly consists of outsiders. There is a lot of bluster and unsubstantiated claims in the letter, but I'll just pick out a few.
But this is what lobbyists do: Stand in the way of change that does not wholly benefit them alone.
I'll point out that lobbying one's government is a constitutionally protected right and actually a pretty important part of our democracy. I know lobbyist has a negative connotation, even in this town where many of us know actual lobbyists, but still it's a loaded term and that's why Papp used it instead of "advocate". [Papp, btw, works for the NCSE which sounds like it might do a little lobbying itself].
the design remains a solution crafted by planners, not traffic and safety engineers. It still demonstrates great potential for near misses and collisions.
I love how the designers can't be trusted because they're just "planners" and can't possibly know if it's safe, and then she adds in that it "demonstrates great potential for near misses and collisions" based on what we can only assume is her own, non-traffic or safety engineering estimate. "These people are not experts and as a layman I can tell that the design is flawed."
She also brings out the canard that cyclists were presented as traffic-calming devices and buffers. They were not. Bike lanes are traffic-calming devices and buffers. That is an important difference.
But yes, having officials from organizations with members in the jurisdiction hosting a meeting show up and advocate - publicly - for decision makers to decide one way or another is a sign that "outside organizations are out of control." The nerve of them.
Another letter writer in the same issue, who lives farther up King Street where there is no on-street parking, calls on residents along the street to compromise.
There's also a quote from Tom Walczykowski, president of the Clover-College Park Civic Association calling the bike lanes a total fiasco. Walczykowski is one of the "lobbyists" who showed up at a recent city council meeting to oppose the bike lanes.
Meanwhile, the Alexandria Gazette Packet has a blurb about how Councilman Tim Lovain "says Alexandria should consider a draft policy statement to support initiatives such as permeable pavementand rain gardens" as part of a Green Streets initiative. And it has a letter from Sue Gunter, a nearby resident, in support of the bike lanes. She contradicts all of Papp's claims (except the irrelevant ones about outside lobbyists.)
The city's professional staff recommended the at-issue compromise plan for King Street - which was vetted by a civil engineering firm - after several meetings with residents and after making numerous changes to address their concerns.
Yes, but WHERE do those civil engineers live? I hope they aren't outsiders!
She goes on to point out that bike LANES (not bike riders) have a calming effect and they help get cyclists off the sidewalks.
Something Alex Tabaorrok wrote yesterday about a completely different subject seems relevant here.
the argument for civil unions doesn’t force the opposition to enunciate the moral arguments for their opposition and when the moral ground of the opposition is weak that is a strategic failure.
The opposition here would like to focus on the evil outside lobbyists (or the process or the oppositions framing - which they misrepresent), because focusing on the issue at hand - should we give up parking to build bike lanes - and taking the opinion that parking for a few is more important than roads that accommodate all users makes them sound evil. They don't have the moral high ground so they want to change the subject, which - as I see it - is tacit admission that they're wrong.