Opinion Your Views — 13 January 2014
Bike lanes are the way of the future

(File Photo)

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
Alexandria

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(5) Readers Comments

  1. Some how I am lost. I live in Alexandria, have so for many years. I have watched the city grow and grow and grow — and with that growth traffic worsen with each new building, each new office building, each new high-rise, each new town-home community.

    The answer to our traffic woes and for the safety and betterment of our city now appears to be: ride your bike — don’t drive.

    I also live one block off King Street. People have been walking and walking and walking to (and from) Metro since it was built — even I walk down the hill to Metro a couple of times a year. The sidewalks seem to work. But, what I don’t see are bicyclists biking to and from Old Town or King Street Metro. Now, Alexandria needs to add bike lanes to King Street between Janneys Lane and Cedar Street (yes, not all way to Russell Road and the narrow railway underpass that bikers must pass through to get into Old Town and to Metro). Members of the City Council, the city planners and staff all believe this is safer and better for the city and those of us who live and pay our taxes here.

    If the pedestrians using the sidewalks are in danger, why would the City Council, the city planner and staff want to protect Alexandria’s citizens using the sidewalks by endangering bicyclists, using them as a buffer for pedestrians on the sidewalks? Aren’t bicyclists going to be even more endangered? Why do bicyclists want to act as shields for me walking to Metro twice a year? Have we lost our senses, or is it just the “do gooders” can’t find anything better to do.

    I will go out and campaign for bike lanes from Alexandria to Boston when the bicyclists: stop for stop signs, stop riding in front of people, stop at stop lights completely and wait on the go-on-green cycle and, most importantly, help defray the costs of their own use of our highways and bi-ways. My tax dollars (and they are plenty) have helped pay for bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and more. I am happy to help — I too am a “do gooder.”

    The purpose of elective government is to represent the people. By my count, there are sure a whole lot more people using King Street in their cars than there are people riding up and down the hill on bicycles.

    The City Council approves massive transportation and grow plans, seldom shared with the voting public, and then those plans are turned over to the city government staff, who probably wrote the plans in the first instance, for implementation. What then–members of the Council turn their backs and walk away. I am not quite sure what the Mayor does, never have been.

    The City Council has a session scheduled for January 25. There, Council Members will apparently listen to comments from citizens and tax payers. Maybe there will be enough comments to get the City Council to actually listen to the people from the neighborhoods they represent — and act accordingly. Bicyclists aplenty will be there to argue their points. But, there will be plenty of other voices in the room too!!

    I invite all the bicyclists to stop by one hot July afternoon after biking up the hill. I will be happy to share some lemonade or a glass of tea!!

    Robert L. Harris
    601 Braxton Place
    Alexandria, Virginia 22301

  2. This King street Bike lane controversy is rubbish. The bike lane from janneys lane to (nearly) the bottom of King Street is tantamount to Alaska’s bridge to nowhere. The bike lane essentially ends at Park and, any attempt to expect safe passage to the King street Metro from there on a bike is no different than today’s free for all.
    I commute by bike from my King Street home to 14th and K several days a week and have been doing so for 13 years. For 12 years before, I rode five days a week from Reston to 1776 Eye Street. Riding on City streets is a relatively safe proposition if the bike rider follows the rules, uses 1/3 of the lane, stops at traffic lights and stop signs and exercises the same level of courtesy expected of any vehicle operator.
    To remake the City of Alexandria into some green utopia is a bit late in the game. The existing infrastructure is not suited for bike lanes installed pall mall throughout the city. Having a master plan is an excellent idea; however, reality must be factored into that plan. I do not think anyone has conducted the necessary research (and that’s not a few retired engineers with clip boards counting bikes on king Street) to develop a master plan that factors in the necessity to widen existing streets to accommodate safe bicycle lanes that have a definite beginning and end point at some predetermined location. Ending on Park going toward the Metro and abruptly ending on Janneys Lane at Quaker Lane, certainly does little to enhance the green utopia goal. It does ingratuate the city planners with a very few and mean spirited bicycle lobbyists. Is that your gaol?

  3. King St. residents aren’t against multi-modal transportation–for most of us, it’s why we moved here to begin with–so we could walk and/or bike to the metro and around town.
    BUT using bike lanes as a buffer implies those lanes will be empty most of the time, which is not a very smart use of space. And painted lines on the road are no kind of buffer–whether they’re white or yellow, single line or double. Cars cross the double yellow line on King all the time to get around other cars, pedestrians, etc. Why would narrowing the travel lanes and painting bike lanes on the road change anything?

    Implement the pedestrian safety measures first (flashing beacon at Upland, speed signal, push button at Highland) and form a working group to come up with a plan that actually meets more people’s needs than just cyclists and doesn’t have bikes weaving in and out of King St. traffic.

  4. This King street Bike lane controversy is rubbish. The bike lane from Janneys lane to (nearly) the bottom of King Street is tantamount to Alaska’s bridge to nowhere. The bike lane essentially ends at Park and, any attempt to expect safe passage to the King Street Metro from there on a bike is no different than today’s free for all.
    I commute by bike from my King Street home to 14th and K several days a week and have been doing so for 13 years. For 12 years before, I rode five days a week from Reston to 1776 Eye Street. Riding on city streets is a relatively safe proposition if the bike rider follows the rules, uses 1/3 of the lane, stops at traffic lights and stop signs and exercises the same level of courtesy expected of any vehicle operator.
    To remake the City of Alexandria into some green utopia is a bit late in the game. The existing infrastructure is not suited for bike lanes installed pall mall throughout the city. Having a master plan is an excellent idea; however, reality must be factored into that plan. I do not think anyone has conducted the necessary research (and that’s not a few retired engineers with clip boards counting bikes on king Street) to develop a master plan that factors in the necessity to widen existing streets to accommodate safe bicycle lanes that have a definite beginning and end point at some predetermined location. Ending on Park going toward the Metro and abruptly ending on Janneys Lane at Quaker Lane, certainly does little to enhance the green utopia goal. It does ingratiate the city planners with a very few and mean spirited bicycle lobbyists. Is that your goal?

  5. Without a professionally conducted traffic safety study for this accident-prone strech of road, this remains a matter of opinion and belief. Stepping up to assume responsibility for accidents that result from an ill-devised “shared street” would be required of any public official who puts this in place.
    The first principle of traffic management is safety for all; and designing roadways that keep everyone safe while they get to where they’re going is what we want.

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