There are a few vocal and well connected neighbors opposing this project because of a loss of a small number of public parking spaces. This stretch of King Street is a neighborhood street with mostly single family homes with driveways. The City of Alexandria observed about 95% of the parking spaces were vacant over a three month period this year. This unused public space should be utilized to make our streets safer for all. Kids should be able to bike to school, residents should be safe walking to the Metro station, and visitors should feel comfortable riding Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.
There is a definite possibility that the vote will go against the bike lanes or be delayed. The opposition is vocal and motivated. Please attend the public meeting and support King Street Traffic Calming!
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.
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.
Although the issue was not on the docket at a city council hearing Saturday, residents took more than two hours of the public comment period to air their views on the matter. Afterward, Mayor Bill Euille called it the longest open microphone session for residents that he could recall.
Deputy City Attorney Chris Spera said residents asked for a direct appeal of the decision to city council earlier this month. In return, city attorneys dug up a rarely used provision of city code — added in 1963 — that allows residents to appeal any decision altering public parking to the traffic and parking board, which in turn sends a recommendation to city council.
Some people continue to pretend that this is about safety
King Street resident Louise Welch is happy officials chose to revisit the debate over bike lanes because she fears the addition would make the road less safe. Advocates and officials, though, advertise bike lanes as a traffic-calming measure.
“We hope that’s not just them appeasing us; I hope it is a real chance to raise our concerns relating to safety and so forth,” Welch said. “[The] road is just too narrow. They’re trying to put something there that doesn’t work.”
Narrowness has nothing to do with it since parking will be removed and a bike lane put in its place.
Though most neighborhood residents have driveways, on-street parking needs to be available, she argued.
“Sometimes my husband needs to be picked up to take him to cardiac rehab when I can’t be there, and [without street parking], the car would sit protruding into traffic,” she said. “Or if I have a contractor come, if they have big trucks, they’d have to park across the street … and carry their equipment or a toilet or something across King Street.”
Temporary parking in the bike lane will be allowed, especially for the situation she's described - though why wouldn't their driveway work for either of those? Regardless, we don't need to leave all that parking for the handful of times that these situations come along. It's incredibly inefficient.
The city traffic and parking board will hold its next meeting February 24.
Residential activists, who were told that Baier was the final authority on the matter, found a 50-year-old city law that allows appeals having to do with parking on city streets.
Baier said Wednesday that the 1963 law discovered by the residents had never before been used, and after the city attorney’s staff examined it, they determined that the bike lane plan should slow down.
“I want to be totally transparent about this,” Baier said. The traffic board could have a public hearing in February, and the plan could go to the City Council at its March 15 meeting, he said.
Alexandria announced Wednesday it will hold two more public hearings concerning its plan for bike laneson a segment of King Street after receiving citizen requests to appeal a decision from the city’s transportation director to implement the controversial traffic-calming strategy.
Following a recommendation from City Attorney Jim Banks, the Traffic and Parking Board will then hold a full-fledged hearing on the project on Monday, Feb. 24 as part of a review of Baier’s decision. The board will then make a recommendation to City Council, which will consider the issue at its Saturday, March 15 public hearing.
The city said there is no direct procedure that provides for an appeal, but Banks deemed a section of city code concerning traffic controlling devices applicable in this circumstance.
So, it would be good to have some turnout for these meetings, where possible.
residents intend to ask the City Council on Saturday to overturn [the director of the city’s transportation and environmental services department, Rich Baier's] decision.
Baier said he’s required by city policy to increase safety for all users whenever streets are resurfaced. The way to handle speeding vehicles, he said, is to narrow the lanes and install a variable speed sign. The way to improve pedestrian safety, he said, is to install dedicated lanes for bicycles to take bicycles off sidewalks.
Aaron Eastman, who lives near the Metrorail end of the street, said he’s not just upset at the loss of parking, but he’s also now worried about safety.
“We thought this was worse than the first [decision]. Why are bicyclists merging into traffic?” he said from his doorstep, his infant daughter on his hip. “Physically, there is literally no room for bikes here.”
So he prefers the old design with less parking? Great. I hope the city agrees. Baier, on the otherhand, sounds completely reasonable.
Baier, in an interview Friday, said that adding improvements such as “high-visibility” crosswalks, a flashing beacon and signs for alternative bike routes, as well as retaining some of the parking spots, addresses the residents’ concerns. He spent hours walking, driving and bicycling the street, he said, and hired a professional engineering firm to review the city plan.
“This is a main roadway, to main destinations in the city of Alexandria,” Baier said. “I am not trying to rush this thing. We’re trying to be sure the process is transparent. My main concern, throughout all this, has been safety.”
Thankfully, the proposed bike lane will not pass in front of an old church.
Yet now comes a calm voice of reason, a full professor of law from a highly respected university, George Mason University. He is professor Frank Buckley, and he has viewed the pedaling indignados on his King Street thoroughfare in historic Alexandria humanely. Each day, 15,000 commuters pass his house headed to work on this ancient two-lane street. It is barely 30 feet wide. At rush hour, it is dangerous. Even in off-hours it is congested. Yet Mr. Buckley is glad to have the occasional pedalers with him and his neighbors on the sidewalk. He is resisting their demands to take away street-parking rights for dedicated bike lanes. He sees it as a national movement that is anti-automobile and anti-modernity.
Yes, he wrote the words "street-parking rights". He does get one thing right,
These are not cyclists in pursuit of scenery and good health. If they were, they would be riding along the 35 miles of bike trails that the community has maintained for them.
They are not in search of scenery (in most cases). They are trying to get from somewhere to somewhere else. This might just be a sign of the usual Washington Times low quality product, but the author is R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., the editor in chief of the American Spectator, which I assume is not a magazine run by 9 year olds.
The street signs are not subtle, and neither are the words regarding possible bike lanes in Alexandria.
"It's the worst place in the world for a bike lane," says Frank Buckley.
Buckley is leading the efforts of homeowners trying to stop the City of Alexandria from putting bike lanes on King Street from just west of the Metro station up the hill to Janney’s Lane.
The story isn't particularly well-reported. Jeff Goldberg never mentions parking and how it will be removed to make more space for the bike lane; which is quite an oversight since this is the main reason that residents are oppossed to the bike lane. Instead he focuses on their stated concerns about safety. Doesn't he think it's odd that the only people who think it will be more dangerous are the people who live on that street?
He includes a woman saying that she would never let her kids ride on King Street. You know what, neither would I (of course the twins are only 15 months old), but bikes are not just for kids.
The only cyclist he interviews is Anna Pecora an employee of a bike shop (I see this all the time in local news, the bike shop employee interview. It strikes me as lazy) who does a pretty good job with it, but I would have liked to see him get someone from the Alexandria BAC or WABA to talk about it.
Anyway, the story doesn't do a good job of presenting the issues or each side's take on them. It might actually misinform more than it informs.
Richard Baier, the city's director of Transportation and Environmental Services, is directing the agency to paint the bike lanes and remove 27 parking spaces along a three-quarter mile stretch of King Street west of the Metro and Amtrak stations.
The car lanes will be narrowed slightly, and a new sign will alert drivers to their speed.
Baier says it will make the road safer for everyone, including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians headed to the Metro or to T.C. Williams High School.
The Traffic and Parking Board had recently recommended waiting for a compromise between those who support the bike lanes and others who were concerned about having fewer on-street parking spaces near their homes.
Baier says there is no reason to wait for the changes on King Street between Russell Road and Janneys Lane.
The recently repaved stretch will get a five-foot bike lane on the westbound side, and a four-foot wide bike lane on the eastbound side. Part of the stretch will have shared lane markings, or sharrows, in order to leave some of the parking spots in place that otherwise would have been removed.
The bike lanes should also offer a buffer for pedestrians on the sidewalk from cars speeding by; drivers will still be allowed to stop briefly to drop someone off or pick them up.
In the four page letter to residents Director Rich Brier writes, “As a professional engineer tasked with ensuring the safety for all users of our street system and after reviewing the data and researching alternative proposals, I believe that the modified plan is the best plan to achieve the common goals of improving safety and balancing the needs of multiple users of King Street.” Read the letter in its entirely on the City of Alexandria’s website.
Baier wrote that he walked, drove and road his bicycle up and down the stretch of King Street to experience the roadway from all perspectives.
“It was this experience that affirmed by belief that it is imperative to implement a plan that improves the safety concerns highlighted as part of this project,” Baier wrote.
After hearing concerns from residents in the fall, an initial plan that called for the removal of all 37 on-street parking spaces along the stretch of roadway was amended to keep 10 spaces and install bicycle sharrows next to the parking.
Parking counts from city staff determined the vast majority of the on-street spaces go unused.
The proposal would be encouraging all cyclists, including Capital Bikeshare users/riders who are generally inexperienced riders, usually not wearing helmets and not always familiar with bike safety regulations, to use a bike lane
Can we decide that road expansions are bad because they would encourage inexperienced Zipcar drivers to use them?
I was astonished to read the audacious misrepresentations in Jonathan Krall’s column.... he asserts, without any proof, that receiving a bronze award for bike-friendliness has made Alexandria “more attractive to new residents and businesses.”
There may be no "proof" of this, but it's not like it's a crazy idea. It's something LAB says and there is evidence that being bike friendly (recognized or not) attracts business.
Old Town merchants have successfully protested this plan, not buying into Krall’s idea that their sales would improve if customers can’t park their cars.
According to Jonathan Krall, "At the November 25 public hearing, supporters included the Environmental Policy Commission and, via letter, the Parks and Recreation Commission and the chair of the Transportation Commission. A regional bicycling and a regional “smart growth” organization also sent representatives to speak up for health and safety. Neither the Alexandria Chamber nor any other business association was in evidence." As someone said "I submit that misrepresentations make rational discourse impossible. "
At the October 30 meeting on this project, King Street residents protesting this plan were families with young children and older residents concerned with safety issues.
Many cyclists have young children too - not that that's relevant. King Street residents are not fighting for safety. They're fighting for their own convenience OVER safety. She gives that away earlier when she writes that
What [Krall] doesn’t tell you is that this cannot be done on King Street — as the city has suggested — without taking away the parking spaces on the thoroughfare....
and most tellingly
If you want to take something away from people, back up your desire to do so with facts.
She thinks she owns that parking, and that it will be taken away from her. That's the issue here. Not safety.
Then she doubts that more people are biking.
Krall wrote that “more and more riders are using bicycles to drop off children at school and pick up groceries from the store.” Where’s the proof?
There's data that more people are commuting by bike. There's data that more trips are being made by bike. There's data that Bike to school day participation is going up. There's data dealing with increased use of Capital Bikeshare. There's data on increased bike sales. But mostly, it should be apparent to anyone with eyes.
Then she throws out some dubious facts as well
moms continue to get their kids to and from school in the traditional way. And not one of them could possibly schlep home the groceries to feed their young families by bicycle.
Really? Not one. Where's the proof? [Maybe they need some bike lanes]. And the use of "young families" is so "Won't someone please think of the children" that it's almost a parody.
Just picture a mom picking up her three kids and four bags of groceries and trying to figure out how to safely attach all to her bike, especially in the rain.
Or maybe you just keep the kids home on bad weather days and starve them.
That does sound like the only reasonable alternative. Or maybe you just drive your kids to school. Krall is not saying that everyone (or anyone, for that matter) has to bike their kids to school. Only that more people are choosing to do so, and that this is a reason to improve the bike network. This is about allowing people who to bike to do so safely. It is not about forcing people who want to drive to give up their car. But they may have to give up their free, spillover parking for a better bike network. And that is price that Esther Goldberg is not willing to pay for cyclists with young families.