Opposing King Street bike lanes is about more than on-street parking

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By Louise Welch, Alexandria

To the editor:

Why install dedicated bike lanes on four blocks of King Street, from Russell Road to Janneys Lane? Why allocate 30 percent of this 30-foot roadway for bicycles when it serves as a major thoroughfare to and from Old Town, accommodating 13,000 vehicles daily?

Why establish a bike lane island on a narrow state highway? Why implement a plan without a beginning or an end? And how does this plan justify the removal of contiguous on-street parking and access to homes?

The traffic and parking board made a wise decision at the November 25 meeting to defer the city’s proposal until the bicycle master plan is developed and a solution is found that serves everyone’s best interests.

After city staff overruled the traffic and parking board’s decision and chose to proceed with implementation, the city council was instrumental in installing an appeals process. The framework of this appeals process was described during the January 25 meeting of the traffic and parking board.

During this same meeting, the board chairman asked why city staff had not worked with the community to find common ground.

Basically, the reply was that there was no reason to meet, as there’s no common ground to be found on the issue of bike lanes.

The principal support for bike lanes comes from those who don’t live in the neighborhood and a few who don’t even live in the city. Therefore, impact on residents is not part of their consideration. It seems counterproductive for the city to sacrifice safety for residents in an effort to provide it for bicyclists.

The local policy workbook of the National Complete Streets Coalition states, “An effective complete-streets policy must be sensitive to the type of neighborhood.” Ignoring constraints of the surrounding community and implementing this plan would complicate pickups and deliveries, paratransit access and require residents back into driveways while protruding into travel lanes.

Plus, it means parking on distant streets and moving materials across heavy King Street traffic. And it means adding congestion, confusing traffic patterns, creating dangerous turns across traffic and putting 13,000 vehicles a day — including tractor trailers and buses — inches apart on narrowed traffic lanes.

Adding dedicated bike lanes to this section of King Street, already too narrow and too heavily traveled to meet existing needs, is especially irresponsible considering there are safer alternatives for bicyclists and no alternatives for safe access to our homes.