To the editor:
Alexandria Times Editor-in-Chief Derrick Perkins, in an article published last month (“Road Warriors,” December 5), suggested that the city’s plan for a section of King Street “threatens to reignite the contentious debate over cyclists and their place in Alexandria.”
It seems too easy trying to define the debate by singling out bicyclists as a favorite punching bag. Indeed, the debate is over larger issues. Will the city take essential steps to achieve “an integrated, multimodal transportation system that efficiently and effectively gets people from point A to point B,” which was one of its strategic goals?
The debate is about whether we will achieve the transportation vision articulated in the 2008 transportation master plan: “The City of Alexandria envisions a transportation system that encourages the use of alternative modes of transportation, reducing dependence on the private automobile.” I drive in Alexandria and thus am interested in the city achieving these objectives.
If we fail to do so, we will all experience more gridlock in our cars.
Only by making necessary infrastructure changes will we convince people that there are feasible, convenient and safe alternatives to a personal motor vehicle. For example, changes are needed on the section of King Street between Russell Road and Janneys Lane to improve pedestrian safety — not only for access to the nearby Metro station, but also so parents can feel safe walking with their children along the busy street.
Bike lanes will provide a much-needed buffer from traffic for those who walk along this section of King Street as well as for those who drive along that stretch because they view it as unsafe to walk.
“Providing quality pedestrian and bicycle accommodations” is a transportation master plan guiding principle. It is the right thing to do — not just to avoid gridlock, but also to improve public health, the environment and our quality of life.
– Eric Wagner