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I never trust anyone who uses his/her/god's front lawn as a parking lot
https://goo.gl/maps/9GV5R4rWzT92

I'm not seeing the infringing of anyone's Constitutionally protected right of free exercise of religion. If the City totally blocked any vehicular access, they would have a better claim, though still not on those grounds. But there's no aspect of religious exercise that requires convenient parking.

This should be seem as what is, a shakedown by this Church, a threat to employ its political suasion to which, sadly, DC politicians give undue weight already.

For a hundred years of Washington's history, people have freely and safely traversed the District of Columbia without any need for automobiles.

I am not siding with the Church on any level. But when I put myself in their shoes, I see a place where their parishioners are so, so tied to using their cars and parking right in front of their church on Sundays that they accurately believe ANY reduction in parking will be a drag on attendance. They probably are correct about that.

Forget about there being other alternatives - that's bike rider thinking. Cyclists tend to be less car dependent, so from our perspective walking the extra block is no big deal.

There is power in a predominantly African American church alleging discrimination in worship by a government entity. It would be nice to see Muriel "Vision Zero" Bowser call them on this foolishness, but the church is her voting base.

Ha, this is a church well known for disrupting everyone else's lives, but damned if anyone doesn't do exactly what they want.

My favorite is the Google review from their neighbor:

"This is the church from HELL!! I have unfortunately lived next door to this church for over a year now, and the way they treat their neighbors is flat out disgusting. Their website claims that their purpose is to “establish maintain and perpetuate the doctrine of Christianity and the Apostolic Faith throughout the world among all people”. These people are a bunch of hypocrites because the way they treat others is the exact opposite of what Christianity teaches. They do what they want when they want without any consideration for how their actions will affect/disrupt their neighbors. They block off street parking spaces illegally on a daily basis. They hold their absurdly loud marching band practice and church services outdoors whenever they feel like (even as late as 11 pm in the evening, and our bedroom window is probably thirty feet from the church). Members of the congregation park wherever they feel like leaving their cars, even double parking on M Street. If anyone is familiar with M Street in this area, it’s EXTREMELY narrow, so you can imagine the traffic problems they cause when they decide to double park. Most recently, they started a construction project to demolish a dilapidated building that they own and replace it with a building that looks exactly the same. They obviously did not have the funds or the desire to maintain the last building, so why they are building a new one is beyond me. They start construction every morning Monday through Saturday between 6 and 6:30 am (which is illegal), then they work for about 4 hours. So we get woken up every morning, but the project is obviously going to drag on for months or even years because they only put in half-days. Honestly, this church is the most selfish, inconsiderate, asinine organization that I have ever encountered."

As usual, the City will bend over backwards to accommodate church commuters from Maryland.

Slowly but surely churches located on sites that are desirable for development, with congregations consisting by now largely of suburbanites, are selling their properties - this is happening from Navy Yard to H Street, etc. So I wouldn't get bent out of shape.

But one hopes whatever accommodation is made on the Eastern Downtown PBL will be one that is easy to correct in the future.

My hope actually has to do with the other plan. Specifically does DDOT plan to have more backbone here than they did on M Street, or are they going to roll over for this church and the other five on 6th Street who are opposing this. Because if they plan on caving in, then I'm not going to bother with this.

As an atheist cyclist, I'm not exactly keen on defending a church's right to double-parking, and I agree that their justification is a little bonkers. But, it is important to view the situation from the other side, where a community has been able to lead a certain routine for decades, right up until a few wealthy white developers decided Shaw was ready to be gentrified, later followed by loads of wealthy white residents who have little regard for the families who have practiced here for generations. Many of these families have been priced right out of Shaw, thereby necessitating the need to drive in to church.

Again, not excusing the behavior (I'm still in favor of the bike lane proposal), but I do think the frustration is worth excusing. This is a tricky situation, and the cyclist camp judging the God camp isn't likely to cultivate any good feelings on either side.

Jay, if they wrote a letter discussing the actual parking problems this would create for them, (how many spaces do they need, how many will they lose, how many people members can't walk three blocks) and asked DDOT to solve this problem - I would probably say "Yeah DDOT should work with them on a solution." I'm sympathetic to someone who wants to attend the church they've always attended even though life has moved them farther away and reduced their mobility.

But, that isn't the tack they took. They accused DC of a racism-motivated plan to drive them from the city and deny them their religious freedom. It's a little bit offensive to people's whose religious freedom has actually been abrogated or who have actually been the victim of discrimination.

When they prove their premise, that a god exists, then they can ask for special consideration. Until then, they have no special rights to double-park (and block in anyone unfortunate enough to be parked at the curb). I urge the DC government to do what is right for all of its citizens, not just those who waste their Sundays indoors.

I'm afraid this tactic will work on DDOT. The convention center's website says there are 3000+ parking spaces within 3 blocks of it.

If we're going to be misreading the Constitution, cyclists could claim that the church is infringing upon their freedom of movement.

Clearly whoever was involved in drafting that letter isn't actually smart enough to engage with a reasonable analysis of the applicable laws. But it's kind of you to try.

Second, if they want to see a war on DC churches, I'm happy to oblige. After the shameful actions of AME Zion over M Street, I started a working draft of legislative language that would:

(i) change DC's tax laws to eliminate the property tax exemption for churches and

(ii) provide DC residents a credit on their DC returns for donations to qualified DC churches.

Functionally this would mean that churches that rely on out of state parishioners would become subject to DC property taxation, but to the extent you have DC parishioners, would remain exempt. So please churches, pick this fight and give me a reason to dust off my proposal.

The church's real problem is that this is not a mayoral election year.

WABA Sunday church rides! Take a tour of the anti-cycling churches in DC.

I don't really want a war with churches. I think churches are, on average, good neighbors and they make a lot of people happy. But I do want to push back hard on the notions that the city doesn't need bike lanes and that converting road space to the use of cyclists violates religious freedom or equal rights under the law. In this case, that argument is being put forth by a church, but I have no quarrel with organized religion at all.

I just want a whole lot of cyclists riding down these roads on Sundays. Visibility, not necessarily confrontation. Critical mass-lite. Maybe even some of the congregation members could arrive by bike.

Jay, priced out or sold out? Property taxes on seniors are 10% of the normal property taxes everyone else pays. I don't blame anyone for selling, I would have too in their shoes. And despite it's long and storied history, most of the folks in Shaw were not part of the Freedman's Camp and came here during the great migration with the rest of the area population. Hence the Carolina influences.

Totally unrelated, http://www.diamondbackonline.com/news/female-umd-student-struck-on-route/article_398ac838-7156-11e5-900a-63393dfce7d2.html -- no charges filed against a driver who hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk with the walk signal? Argh, what's the world coming to.

@washcycle: I use the intentionally inflammatory "War on Churches" phrasing intentionally, because my experience has been that churches are, on average, quite bad neighbors.

In fact, I first thought of the property tax idea when a friend in wheelchair moved onto a block with a church and the church rebuffed his requests to ask people to stop parking in crosswalks on Sundays, which blocks the curb cuts and traps him on his street. It blew my mind they wouldn't stop and MPD and local ANC reps were useless in trying to get a resolution.

I think the bad neighbors just stand out more. Good neighborhood churches go unnoticed, by design.

Lumping all churches together is no better than drivers lumping all cyclists together as law breakers. Better to focus on specific churches that oppose e.g. bike lanes.

Scofflaw churches and scofflaw cyclists are entirely distinguishable.

The city does not have in place a policy that gives cyclists the right to break laws as a matter of convenience every Sunday morning. Scofflaw cycling and parking may be ever-present; only one is given official sanction.

If there are in fact good neighborhood churches in DC not abusing the city's policy of forbearance, I look forward to hearing where they are and to taking a ride past them one Sunday morning soon. I have, so far, not found any on Capitol Hill during my Sunday rides.

Heck, the PG Metropolitan Baptist, kicked out of its dirty scheme with Kent Amos' disgraced charter school at 1st and P NW, now has its gatherings at UDC. If anything, DC Government is far too cozy with Maryland non-profits operating for profit. How is that NOT a violation of the establishment clause?

83b, I've never noticed any bad behavior by St. Cyprian on East Cap, to name just one.

There is routinely double parking in the bike lane in front of St. Cyprian. And I haven't seen it in some time (I more often take Mass Ave past a buddy's house now), but they have been known to use orange cones to block off spaces to extend their loading zone. And their parishioners illegally park around Lincoln Park, blocking sight lines and endangering neighborhood park users.

The National Cathedral is pretty well behaved, except for the dang bells.

@Jay:But, it is important to view the situation from the other side, where a community has been able to lead a certain routine for decades, right up until a few wealthy white developers decided Shaw was ready to be gentrified, later followed by loads of wealthy white residents who have little regard for the families who have practiced here for generations. Many of these families have been priced right out of Shaw, thereby necessitating the need to drive in to church.

I lived in Shaw from the early 1990's until the mid 2000's and I can tell you that the narrative Jay describes has no basis in fact. Back then Sunday double-parking was relatively new, having started in the mid-80's under Marion Barry. It was always unpopular with the neighbors, and the parkers were always invaders from out of state.

Shaw has always been racially diverse, and it has always been transient. I remember looking at the 1990 census when it came out and noting that 55% of Shaw residents had been at their current address for less than five years. I bought a house in Shaw in 1996, which I owned for seven years. I paid a house history company to research its history, and I learned that I lived in it longer than any other resident in its 126-year history. (The people I sold it to, who like me are white, have since broken my record).

Most of the residents of Shaw back then, black and white, were not DC-born. UHOP has had four leaders in its history, all are from outside of DC. It was founded by a minister from Cape Verde; the current pastor was born in Newport News and lived in Augusta, GA before coming here.

The idea that Shaw has a population that has lived a certain way for generations is a convenient political fiction, but it has no basis in reality.

A lot of motorists/parkers — and others — also utter knee jerk nonsense about pedalers until they are confronted with facts. Giving their drivel more attention in the media distracts from common sense solutions which most rational people are okay with. Religious leaders should be more conscientious about what their motor vehicles are doing to destroy God's Creation.

"I don't really want a war with churches. I think churches are, on average, good neighbors and they make a lot of people happy. "

"Good neighborhood churches go unnoticed, by design."

This letter is legally frivolous, but superficially it sounds good enough that it might serve to rile up the base of people who feel in their hearts that they are not getting the respect they deserve.

But once the bike lane comes in, maybe some of their suburban parishioners will take their bikes aboard Metro and enjoy a short bike through DC.

What was St. John's Lafayette Square complaining about (link broken)? Closing Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House? Most Episcopal parishioners support bike lanes. The Episcopal Diocese of Washington has reached out to WABA to make bicycling safer.


JimT. Link is fixed.

"The quarter-mile land grab is a threat even to the salvation of souls. A new prohibition on street parking near St. John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House prompted its minister to despair that his flock would seek the Lord elsewhere. Why, it's the new age of martyrdom: Christians tortured by having to walk a few blocks to church."

I think we a cyclists exert too much energy arguing for every block. I'd rather have some protection for most of my ride and deal with obstacles or sharrows as they come.

I disagree with the church's position but I get why they feel threatened. As others have said, they feel displacement on their heels and that the area that supported them for years is changing, making them less relevant.

What should happen is that there should be a dialog. That doesn't mean we stop building bike infrastructure but I'll take an unprotected lane over nothing everyday of the week, and twice on Sundays.

This dialog should be between the residents most near the lanes, the church, and cyclists. I really want to know how the residents feel, their opinions are worth a little more to me. If they are in favor of lanes, it weakens the churches argument. If the the church understands that protected lanes are actually a benefit and potentially protects parishioners by reducing travel speeds of cars, perhaps they can evolve from their current stance. We just need one minister who's a bicyclist to step up and mediate.

Giving up this block means giving up most of the road. There are 6 churches who have loosely banded together to oppose the loss of parking - are we going to play favorites? And then there's the moral hazard going forward.

There has been a dialogue. DDOT has met with them many times - which is noted in the letter. But, instead of taking a collaborative approach, the church has decided to lawyer up and take an adversarial approach. It's hard to work with someone who's calling you a jack-booted, racist thug.

Hopefully we'll get a feel for how other neighbors see this at the open house. I predict it will be lively. BYO Popcorn.

As for displacement, there's no reason why UHOP should have to move - they don't pay property taxes. Churches are not being forced out - they're cashing out. They're crying all the way to the bank.

By displacement, I'm refering to its place in the community, it's relevance. This seems to make certain churches less open and more resistant to changes that seem fairly unobtrusive.

The conversation may go on for years, that doesn't mean the construction stops. DDOT, as we all know, is not the best communicator. DDOT has a history of being tone deft, using a hammer at times when they need a violin.

The dialogue needs to happen informally, over time, with people who live there and use the street regularly. WABA, the ANC, BAC, other churches, can all be part of the conversation.

Collectively, we waste a lot of energy fighting people's fear of change. It hardens people's positions and they use that resentment for the next protected lane - and the next.

I'm suggesting is that we build along 6th street using innovative methods: paint, HAWK crossings, integrated sidewalks, traffic calming, enforcement - until we get to a unified state. It may take 10 years but incrimentally, we can achieve a better outcome.

Sorry for the typos, doing this on a phone...

Once again the NEW COMERS want to redesign the city to fit their needs and whims. The rude bastards want not just bike lanes but everything else to fit their needs and not attempt to live with in the status quo.

It's hardly clear who the newcomers are here. This church has undergone some pretty significant expansion of its activities over time. I grew up here in DC, and I can tell you for a fact that the parking woes of churches is a relatively recent thing, as churches started to draw less from their immediate area and as more people in general drove, and by themselves more often.

I live down the block from this church and they take over the surrounding blocks every Sunday, or weekday when they have an event. Cars are often double parked, or parked illegally in alleyways surrounding the area. Most of these cars are from Maryland anyways. I'd rather have the street I live on safely accessible for cars and bikes,than serve as a private church's parking lot for Maryland drivers 1-2 days a week.

98.2% of DC's roads have no bike facilities at all. Only 0.2% have protected bikeways.

That infrastructure carries a mode share of at least 4%, in a city where 37% of residents don't own a car.

It's taken somewhere between 15 and 42 years of bicycle advocacy and effort within DC agencies to reach those numbers. At this rate, assuming zero change in the cycling population, the bicycle lane share will match the mode share somewhere between 2065 and 2095.

With that much work ahead of us, we can't afford to take any steps that could upset the status quo. The grandchildren of those we upset today might take it out on our grandchildren.

Go ahead and start a war with DC black churches. It will be you yuppy, white lames against black people. That will go over well.

Bigbob, cities have always been repurposed by and for those who live in them; that's part of what cities are. Fewer people own cars in DC than did before, so the city is changing. Living "with in the status quo" isn't a good option for people where the status quo no longer serves. The city streets simply need to be made safer for all road users.

Bigbob and Roses, I understand that gentrification can be a touchy issue, but I see no need for name calling or to unnecessarily bring race into things. It doesn't reflect well on your church/religion.

Once again the NEW COMERS want to redesign the city to fit their needs

Yes. To do otherwise would be foolish. But it's not just NEW COMERS.

Go ahead and start a war with DC black churches.

This has nothing to do with race, and no one wants a fight. What I want is to back off the adversarial approach and collaborate. DDOT pitched many alternatives to Methodist AME on M Street, including Sunday-only back-in parking on the bike lane.

http://washcycle.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8345198c369e2017eeb38c8bb970d-600wi

They're not unreasonable.

As a member of the church and a cyclist, I see both arguments. But the biggest issue that I have is that I am also a resident of the neighborhood, and I'm very confused of why their would bike lanes on 6th Street where bikers hardly use 6th street! And as for M Street, the street is tough, tight, and Narrow.

Our neighborhoods are changing, I just don't think Bike Lanes are needed where there hasn't been any issues. No need to fix something that isn't broke.

I'm very confused of why their would bike lanes on 6th Street where bikers hardly use 6th street!

And there's your answer. Bike lanes are needed because few cyclists use 6th. That's what's broken.

When the cycletracks were installed on Penn Ave, there were people who pointed to the low bicycle use of that road as a reason why bike facilities were not needed. But after installation, bike use grew considerably.

We don't build bike facilities for the cyclists who are already there, we build them for the ones who aren't yet (those existing cyclists presumably benefit too).

If cities don't change then what you end up with is a museum.

It's quite a stretch to call this church a 'part of the community' when the majority of parishioners drive in from outside the neighborhood.

Some of the Members like myself live in the neighborhood, and drive to neighboring churches, but why add a bike lane to a street where it's not needed? Tell me 1 reason it's need on 6th street? Again I am a cyclist and ride pretty much every day, I just don't see the need for it.

Folks think they are entitled but lets remember who's tax dollars built the shaw neighbor......Before there was YOU there was me and my family, and before my family there was my grandparents and great-grandparents. I just refuse to allow "entitlement" take over DC I'm sorry. We can all enjoy the streets of DC but lets work together, not just thinking one-sided.

It's time to stop giving churches special status over the rest of the citizenry. They already pay no damn income taxes or real estate taxes. This is disgusting!

And the comments above from churchmember illustrate well why I think cycling advocates need to acknowledge that this is a fight and to approach it as such. Thankfully, given the demographic trends, it's one our opponents are going to lose, and badly. Another church on H St NE just announced this week that it's being razed for condo development.

If they're going to advance already-disproven arguments about lack of demand and word-salad diatribes about ancestry and "entitlement," then it's not worth engaging with them in good faith, because we are not getting the same in return.

83B

But there are always fence sitters. I agree that it is good to make the case for why there is demand for bike lanes.

The demands for special treatment in the legal case are, IMO, very unlikely to stand in court, and are hardly worth responding to. To the extent that there are claims for special treatment that affect the political discourse, they may require a response, but one that does not alienate the many churchgoers (of all races) who have no dog in this fight.

Note, most DC churches, including AFAICT most black DC churches, are not located in places where they will be impacted by bike infrastructure. It seems to me to be a mistake to make this about churches in general, rather than about 6th street in particular.


I do understand that some residents of DC have issues with the churches relative to parking, noise etc - and that there is a larger discussion about tax expemptions vs social service activities of churches. As someone who is not a DC resident, but is a cyclist and WABA member, I would suggest that those fights are not the bike communitys fights, and that the bike community is best off staying away from them, and focusing particular pieces of infra.

"Tell me 1 reason it's need on 6th street?"

Dear Churchmember

Many cyclists are unwilling to ride in the general travel lanes of busy streets, including many people who are on the fence about transportation cycling, people who might bike commute if it seemed less scary. Protected bike lanes can draw more cyclists, as well as improve cyclist safety. One place where there is a lack of a comfortable route is north-south on the east side of downtown. That is why DDOT is studying alternatives in this area. Many people think 6th is the best option among the alternatives.

Before there was YOU there was me and my family, and before my family there was my grandparents and great-grandparents. I just refuse to allow "entitlement" take over DC I'm sorry.

Sorry - but that's the very essence of an entitlement attitude. It should not matter how long you lived there or how many generations back. We're all *entitled* to consideration.

As been said already in this thread - the street is a *PUBLIC* thoroughfare. The city has the right AND obligation to ensure it can be used safely by the public.

Well lets see who will win the battle. And thats all I will say. You all have a wonderful and bless day!

I'm not defending the church's claim of unconstitutionality, but this situation has a lot to do with race and it's disturbing that race isn't being openly discussed as part of the dynamic here. Lots of black residents didn't "leave" for the suburbs (as the WaPo story puts it), they were pushed to the suburbs by a housing market that has been semi-deliberately rigged against dark-skinned people for decades. The result is a diaspora of the black community and historically black churches are a huge part of African-American culture.

That is why car-commuting to a historic church is an important issue worth taking seriously.

I love bike lanes but I think we can all agree that racialized housing discrimination is a lot more evil than a sort of silly claim about the constitution. So let's at least be willing to discuss the situation fully.

I think 7th Street maybe a better choice. I can see the point made that, downtown, any street surface removed from regular car traffic would just get filled by pedestrians.

But to me that's not an argument against bike lanes but an argument for wider sidewalks and maybe a car free zone.

I live in the neighborhood too. I try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Crossing 6th street is hazardous most days of the week. Its current use is as a high speed escape route for Maryland commuters.

In other threads, here and on GGW, where I relate my difficulties just walking safely around my neighborhood its often an encounter with traffic on 6th street that I'm referring to.

It would be a shame if, to just keep a little bit of parking for one day a week, I and my neighbors have to continue to live with the threat of 6th street traffic the other 6 days.

why add a bike lane to a street where it's not needed? Tell me 1 reason it's need on 6th street?

I think the first question contains a false premise. The argument for building the PBL is that it IS needed. And the reason for 6th (which is only one possibility) is that it is one of the best (along with 9th) possible routes for a N-S bike facility on the east side of downtown when all factors are taken into consideration. So are you pushing back on the notion that:

1. An east-side N-S bike facility is needed (if so, see this)

2. Or that this is not as good as an alternate route?

it's disturbing that race isn't being openly discussed as part of the dynamic here.

Michael, it's not being discussed because it's irrelevant. This is about transportation policy, not housing.

Yes, DDOT should accommodate suburbanites who want to go to a DC church, just as they should accommodate them when they want to go to DC business or university, etc... Why they want to visit a DC entity is irrelevant.

The two biggest opponents of the M Street PBL were a historically African-American church and a strip club. Is there some way that both of those entities can be tied together by race? No.

This is a question of transportation policy. DDOT has two conflicting interests here: creating a complete street network that encourages and improves cycling and providing drivers with the amenities they need to drive.

Creating the bike infrastructure will likely make the road easier and more appealing for cyclists and safer for all. DDOT has good reason to believe this is true. But it will also inconvenience some small number of drivers. That is hard to dispute.

If the church were arguing that the hardship to drivers (the cost) exceeded the benefits to cyclists and others (the benefits) - in other words making an argument about transportation policy, assumptions and goals - then there would be less anger. What's frustrating is that they are not doing this. They are skipping the transportation debate (mostly) and instead accusing the District of trying to deny them their statutory and Constitutional rights out of a racially-motivated desire to get them to move out of town. That's outrageous - and unlike other issues, I've seen almost no one stand up to take their side - even they won't talk to the media about it.

Talking about racism, or unfair housing policies, or slavery or the trans-Atlantic slave trade are not relevant to the discussion of urban transportation policy. Even if we all agree that these things are bad.

Michael Anderson

That is certainly in the background. I would bet most WABA members are opposed to housing discrimination, dislike the history of redlining that historically causes less wealth formation among AA's, etc. Many (though not all) support efforts to preserve affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods.

And most accept that people who live in the suburbs have the legal and moral right to attend a church in the city. If they cannot or will not bike or use transit to get there, they can drive and park.

But in fact the 6th street PBL would mean a loss of relatively few Sunday parking spots, AFAICT, and there are alternative places to park in the area.

It seems to be bad public policy that a mode of transport with so much potential for improving public health, improving the environment, and for providing mobility to the poor, is so often made to bear the burden of offsetting generations of housing market discrimination.

The use of the silly argument may well defeat a useful piece of infrastructure, and will do zero to actually improve economic or housing prospects for african americans in DC or in Md.

In that context it seems reasonable to take issue with it.

"Before there was YOU there was me and my family, and before my family there was my grandparents and great-grandparents. I just refuse to allow "entitlement" take over DC I'm sorry."

You are exhibiting the very definition of entitlement; I'm sure the irony of which is lost here.

Given that transportation infrastructures is a scarce resource, it needs to be allocated in ways that best serve the goals we have for our transportation system. While car storage has historically been part of the activity allowed on city streets, it's a subsidiary purpose of streets. The main purpose is safely moving the most people in a manner that befits the neighborhood. This particular church has parking needs that greatly outstrip the ability of the local streets to provide, even before this. Illegal parking was one symptom of that. Accordingly, there has long been a need to the Church--not the City--to address its parking needs. It failed to do so. Now, the City has concluded, after study, that some street parking should be repurposed to a better use, as they deem it. This will make the parking problem marginally worse. But there always was a problem. And there will be a problem if the bike lanes don't go in. That problem is the Church's creation and the Church's to fix. Not the City, not cyclists, not hipsters and not white people.

Thanks for the reply, Washcycle.

"Talking about racism, or unfair housing policies, or slavery or the trans-Atlantic slave trade are not relevant to the discussion of urban transportation policy."

I respectfully but completely disagree.

Race can be relevant to urban transportation policy - if we neglect transit or bike share in black neighborhoods, or if we build highways that blight them.

But that is not the issue here. There is instead a series of free associations from the housing issues that have caused many african americans to move from DC to Md (though note well, they were moving in that direction when housing in DC was much cheaper, and many who move are homeowners who have sold) to the question of parking at the churches.

If you are saying that people should stop focusing on the fact that churchmembers are often from Md, I agree. But I do think the case for the bike lanes can be made directly, and that building them here is in no way structural racism, or anything like that.

Michael,

Consider two scenarios.

1. This is all going on in a neighborhood that has changed from mostly black to mostly white, and a lot of that change is due to racially-motivated housing policy.

2. This is all going on in a neighborhood that, demographically speaking, has not changed for 100 years.

How would the ideal road design of 6th street - especially in relation to a protected bike lane - differ between those two scenarios?

I'll second ACyclistInThePortCity, when it comes to resource allocation, racism does matter (that's true of many things other than transit policy) but with road design, I just don't see it.

"...it's not being discussed because it's irrelevant. This is about transportation policy, not housing."

Well that is a pretty narrow-minded view of the issues under consideration here.

One of the other things not mentioned is the age/health differences. On the whole, bicyclists are young and healthy. People driving to church tend to be older, and may no longer enjoy the health that enables them to ride. When the bicyclist bring up the safety as a reason for making bike lanes, what is not considered is that those older people will have to walk further (because there is less parking), exposing them to greater danger as a pedestrian. Consider the woman killed by a hit-and-run driver on Florida, crossing the street to get to choir practice, last year. Just imagine what the headlines will be if that same thing happens here -- "Church lady killed crossing street, because bike lane took away parking" -- and how the political establishment will react to it.

Churches are institutions that need members. And as institutions go, they have a lot more political clout than individual bicyclists.

Well that is a pretty narrow-minded view of the issues under consideration here.

Other than calling me narrow-minded is there something you'd like to add to explain why it is relevant?

what is not considered is that those older people will have to walk further

Not necessarily, but the road diet should make the road safer for pedestrians too.

"Church lady killed crossing street, because bike lane took away parking"

That would be some odd blame placing since the real cause would be her having been hit by a car.

There are several ways to mitigate the loss of parking. The church could find a way to build or lease some nearby, or set up a valet using church volunteers, or ask young healthy people to park farther away, or DDOT could make a Sunday-only exception, etc...

The age/health issue was not mentioned in this post because it wasn't mentioned in UHOPs letter, despite it being a legitimate concern. Take it up with them.

And as institutions go, they have a lot more political clout than individual bicyclists.

And so....they might get what they want even though it's bad policy? Is that the point? If parking is good policy that should be an argument winner. Political heft is only relevant when you can't win the policy argument.

Mick, you make some good points in your later paragraphs, but to say that it is narrow-minded to avoid a subject that is unrelated to the subject at hand seems off to me. How is it narrow-minded to avoid the irrelevant? Or is it somehow relevant in ways that have thus far been unexplained?

It is narrow-minded because "transportation policy" is fully subordinate to politics. And the church is appealing to politics.

True, transportation policy is subordinate to politics. That's been documented, e.g., in the Penn Avenue bike lanes post. But it's not wrong to try to disassociate policy from another's tenuous linkage to irrelevant subjects. (There may be arguments thank correctly link these subjects, but I haven't seen them yet.) It appears to simply be a way for them to garner sympathy for their cause in the media. This should rightly be contested so that it is more likely the decisions will be made on merit.

"One of the other things not mentioned is the age/health differences. On the whole, bicyclists are young and healthy."

I am in my mid 50s. I know cyclists a good bit older than myself.


" People driving to church tend to be older, and may no longer enjoy the health that enables them to ride. When the bicyclist bring up the safety as a reason for making bike lanes, what is not considered is that those older people will have to walk further (because there is less parking), exposing them to greater danger as a pedestrian."

But again, it is not that many spaces. So not many more people will have to walk much further, and the traffic calming may make it safer.

Many older and infirm people must get to doctors offices, to shopping, etc. We do not have angled parking at all those locations, without respect to other street design issues.

" And as institutions go, they have a lot more political clout than individual bicyclists."

Cyclists are organized via WaBa, and have coalitions with others who want complete streets. I am not discounting the political power of this particular church, and the political strategy discussion will have its place.

But this came up with regard to a legal brief.

"But this came up with regard to a legal brief."

No, it was a letter to DDOT director Leif Dormsjo. It is a political appeal.

@Washcycle, I'm not saying the ideal design would be any different, I'm saying we shouldn't pretend that race isn't a factor here as we look for ways to come to an acceptable solution.

The continued existence of this church and others depends on people driving from far-flung areas to worship in the churches they grew up in. The continued existence of the personal relationships that grew up around those churches depends on this pattern too.

It is not mysterious why people would care passionately about those things. Neither would be an issue in scenario 2.

Accommodating one small subset of people over 20 spots for the potential hundreds of bicyclists using this bike lane per week is absurd.

There are 5 business days in a week, and over 3000+ parking spots within a 4 block radius of this church. 20 less spots isn't going to change a damn thing, but the bike lane will GREATLY increase quality of life and safety for those who are bicycle bound (37%+ of the district does not even own a vehicle)

@washcycle

WOW the fact that you stated racism and urban transportation policy aren't linked really shows me that you don't know anything about transportation policy. Simply amazing. And this is the rub: transplant, white yuppies want to push your ideals on us when you often are wrong and don't anything about DC and the city. Please ride yourself into the Anacostia.

That parking is so dear around there on Sundays, and that this very same quarrel has come up with several other churches in the recent past, should be a clue -- this is not an issue that can be dismissed.

I, for one, am most interested in what the neighs think. They will lose the parking too. Are there any thoughts from the nearby ANC reps?

I note that new bike lane construction has taperred off. Obviously Mayor Bowser knows where the votes are.

One really ought not make assumption about who cyclists are and where they are from. I was born in NE, and my brother was born in Anacostia.

Let's be clear here. Look back at all of the plans for the lanes north of NY: http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/10/heres-where-a-protected-bikeway-could-go-on-the-east-side-of-downtown.html

There is parking on both sides of the street in every single plan! No legal parking is being removed. The "loss of church parking" is actually the loss of illegal double and angled parking. It was allowed because there was another open lane and DC pols turned a blind eye to it.

The proposed designs only make it so that illegal parking is not possible like it has been.

I'm saying we shouldn't pretend that race isn't a factor here as we look for ways to come to an acceptable solution.

I'm not pretending anything. Race is obviously an issue. It's there in the letter - and in this post. But it is a matter of politics. It is not a matter of policy.

Yes, people care about the church and it may need people to drive it for it to continue to exist (though maybe not), and people care about that.

But I still haven't heard how this would impact the policy. What should DDOT be doing differently - because of the issues involving race - that they otherwise would not need to do? Does DDOT need to treat African-American churches differently than majority white churches?

WOW the fact that you stated racism and urban transportation policy aren't linked really shows me that you don't know anything about transportation policy.

So I'm wrong because I'm wrong and if I'm that wrong, then I must be wrong. Got it.

How about informing me about how urban transportation policy should be set when we consider racism?

I note that new bike lane construction has taperred off.

Not really.

Obviously Mayor Bowser knows where the votes are.

Because there are bike lanes that she has ordered not be built? Like which ones? Last year was an outlier because so many miles were built. What we've seen is reversion toward the mean, coupled with an emphasis on smaller connections - like the last two blocks of the 1st Street cycletracks or bike lanes near Stanton Park - and the end of the era of low-hanging fruit. But there is no Mayor-ordered slow down in bike lane construction.

"But there is no Mayor-ordered slow down in bike lane construction."

How do you know this?

Because I meet with DDOT staff every other month.

That parking is so dear around there on Sundays, and that this very same quarrel has come up with several other churches in the recent past, should be a clue -- this is not an issue that can be dismissed.

Having lived in that neighborhood for over a decade, I have to comment about this.

There is no shortage of parking. On Sundays I would often see cars double-parked even when there were legal curb spaces available on the same block. Double-parking is not about a parking shortage. It's a political statement that the rules don't apply.

And how much money in taxes has that church paid over it's entire history? None. So shaddup or pay up. Of course what they say is true, that there have not been bike lanes there for 90 years so why now? Bikes belong in the road just like cars and should be treated equally. That's the real problem. Now when you build a bike lane the car drivers will get mad at you if you are in the road and the property owners get mad at you for taking their parking spots.

"There is no shortage of parking. On Sundays I would often see cars double-parked even when there were legal curb spaces available on the same block. Double-parking is not about a parking shortage. It's a political statement that the rules don't apply."

BINGO.

This is a good example of the negative externalities of automobile dependence: that people are unwilling to walk 100 meters because it's 'too far.'

"No, it was a letter to DDOT director Leif Dormsjo."

Why so it is. I guess I was confused by the reference to RFRA. I guess the implication is that if they do not get their way politically with the city, then they have a case under RFRA, which would be a legal case in court.

Do you agree that they have no case under RFRA?

Story picked up by the Atlantic Citylab yesterday:

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/10/opposing-a-bike-lane-on-the-grounds-of-religious-freedom/410818/

"Do you agree that they have no case under RFRA? "

Not interested in doing the research, so I am qualified to say. But I'm sure that should it come to a legal battle, the church lawyers will look into everything that may help them win.


I'm sure that should it come to a legal battle, the church lawyers will look into everything that may help them win.

Wow. Thanks for that insight. Here I thought their lawyers would only look at one thing that might help them win and then give up and play Halo for like 200 hours. Thanks for the contribution.

It's really not meant to be a legal claim so much as a political threat thinly disguised as a legal claim. No one would ever file suit based upon the Constitutional "theory" advanced here. The City has pretty wide latitude, as a purely legal matter, in deciding how to allocate or reallocate resources like this. As a political matter, the churches have learned that they can in fact insist on unequal treatment with regard to parking in general. By all accounts, this Church may have overreached this time, however.

"Thanks for that insight."

Your welcome.
BTW, I see that NPR has picked up the story.

A simple solution, one that will please all sides of the debate, is available in Idaho. I no longer live in DC -- moved to BIG Washington when i tired of shoveling snow 15 years ago -- so i won't be at the meeting on the 22nd. But one of you might find my suggestion appealing enough to carry it into the meeting. I have no connection with the company whatsoever. Look at any of these videos and see what you think: http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml

Well I attempted to go to the DDOT presentation tonight but a large crowd turned out - easily could have filled a room 3 times larger than what they had.

Many people had stickers on their coats proclaiming NO to the idea of bike lanes on 6th.

Many cyclists also were there.

Because of the crowd all I could do was pick up some handouts, a new bike map (yea!) and leave. Wasn't able to hear anything or see any of the presentation boards that had been set up.

Of the 4 alternatives DDOT is considering I have to say Alternative 2 - the 6th street protected bike lane - makes the most sense to me.

Reasons why:
Alt 1 - 5th & 6th doesn't give cyclists protected space on 5th above NY Ave.

Alt 3 - Second favorite - but it follows the scheme of 15th with a single bidirectional bike lane. This is substandard compromised bike infra!

Alt 4 - 9th street is too far west and, again, a single lane bidirectional proposal.

I'm a resident of the area and another reason I favor the 6th street alternative is that I hope it will calm traffic. Today many cars treat 6th street as a highway.

In my daily walks I'd rank it as #1 or #2 (possibly after NY ave) most dangerous street that I cross.

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