On Saturday, DDOT held a 2nd meeting on the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane Study in which they offered a formal no-build option and had a more controlled meeting than the last. I missed the first half, which consisted of an open house and then a presentation, but I was there in time for the public comments. DDOT brought moderators, had a sign-up for speakers and posted rules which kept it from turning into the raucous meeting that the October one turned into. You can see the presentation boards from the meeting here, and the media coverage at these links (WAMU, WJLA, NBC4, City Paper, and WTOP). This is, in my opinion, the most important slide showing the impact to be about 10 lost spaces on Sunday.
My thoughts are that, in addition to being a boring (that's good) and civil meeting, this was a demonstration of strong and wide-ranging support for some kind of bike facility here.
I sat next to someone who was counting the pro vs. con comments and it was running strongly in favor or Pro. Perhaps 2-1 or 3-1. To be fair, it appears that many of the people who supported the Con side chose not to speak - perhaps choosing to allow the church leadership to speak for them, so that's not necessarily indicative of the crowd's opinion. Nor is the crowd's opinion indicative of public opinion - being able to organize better means that you win a lot, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you should. I believe that everyone opposed to the bike lanes were somehow affiliated with one off the neighborhood churches, while those in favor lived in, worked in or biked through the neighborhood. At least a few also went to traditionally African-American churches in the area.
The speakers from the churches often spoke of their church's history and the contributions they made to the neighborhood before jumping to a statement about how they would not allow their church to be destroyed. Usually they skipped the step about how the bike lanes would do that. At least one person did mention that the parking made it possible for elderly suburban members to continue to go to a church that was in their community - even if it wasn't in their neighborhood. The most memorable line, based on the response (both pro and con) and the media coverage, was from UHOP's Apostle Robert Price who said that "We're not going to let someone's pastime destroy our lifeline." Many people pointed out that biking was not a pastime for them, and that safe roads were as much a lifeline as convenient parking. Price also argued that they were not going to give up what they had for the convenience of others, which several speakers pushed back on as well. William Lamar IV, pastor at the Metropolitan AME Church was the only person to speak specifically of gentrification and how "the city is being made over for the convenience of newcomers." Another opponent claimed that there was no problem with bike crashes until the city started building bike lanes "go ride in the parks" she said "that's what they're there for." UHOP recommended the no-build option.
Those in favor of bike lanes tended to speak more about safety and the benefits of cycling. One woman in support of the bike lanes pointed out that her church lost parking when the nearby Convention Center was built, but that they were still there and that they weren't going anywhere. Many talked about how they biked because it was the only form of transportation they could afford. People told stories of crashes or near misses.
In general, I think that the meeting showed that support of the protected bike lanes is pretty broad while the opposition comes almost exclusively from a handful (perhaps 2-4) of churches, and perhaps not even a majority of predominantly African-American churches in Shaw. It remains to be seen which side made the more compelling argument.