Last month I noted that DDOT asked to add several protected bike lanes to the region's Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) and it was recently announced that the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) voted to move forward on those by including them in an air quality analysis for the 2016 amendment of the region’s CLRP.
To be included in the CLRP, transportation projects must meet federal air quality standards. Following the completion of the air quality conformity analysis, which evaluates emissions of four key pollutants, the TPB will make the final vote on the 2016 CLRP Amendment in November.
At first glance support seemed somewhat mixed,
Almost 140 comments were received on DDOT’s proposal to add eight new segments and about 4 miles of dedicated bike lane network by removing one or more lanes. Seventy-one comments were received in support of the package of projects.
But almost all of the objections were related to one proposed block of one project
Sixty-six comments were received objecting to the implementation of bike lanes on the 1200 block of 6th Street NW, as proposed in the Eastern Downtown Study segment.
One of the major concerns was
Removal of parking and convenient access to the United House of Prayer church and associated housing
and others included congestion, disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities, and demand for some documentation. But only the congestion and parking concerns are really fleshed out and as I note below, even the congestion issue is BS.
140 comments, by the way, is pretty amazing when you consider that the streetcar extension to Georgetown got 3 and the priority bus lanes on 16th Street got 1. WABA and UHOP really got a lot of people to support their sides.
Most of the comments against were blanket statements against the PBLs without any reason given, and others were somewhat more direct
I just do not want any bike lanes by my church, United House of Prayer for All People.
Bishop C.M. Bailey of UHOP submitted a letter in opposition in which he again cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as protecting them against lost parking, this time claiming that the law requires "that planning options be pursued that do NOT impact on the ability of our parishioner to have less parking and, as a result, retard their constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom and equal protection of the laws, in retarding their ability to assemble and worship." He goes on to say that though DDOT has come up with alternatives that are less burdensome to the church, they have left the decision in the hands of bicyclists throughout the District of Columbia.
He, and another church leader, also spend a lot of time discussing all the traffic congestion that makes PBLs a bad choice - including that one time 7th Street was closed for the Prime Minister of Israel's visit. This may be a valid point, except that they then say they only oppose adding PBLs to the 300 linear feet of road near the church (where they do all of their parking). If the concern is traffic congestion, then adding PBLs to any lanes in the area should be an issue, and eliminating the PBLs on this block will no way alleviate any additional congestion that the PBLs will cause. This inconsistency shows, for those with doubt, that fear of traffic congestion is just a smoke screen for their actual - and only - concern, which is parking.
It also undermines the story that this is a neighborhood concern or about 'white bike lanes through black neighborhoods', since surely if it were, there would be more opposition to blocks away from UHOP.
Most of those in favor of the bike lanes included reasons, but that's because many (though not all) of them were identical, auto-generated comments.