Updating streets for multiple uses requires a new board


By Jake Jakubek, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

On November 25, the city traffic and parking board deferred a proposal to add bike lanes to King Street just west of the Metro station, asking for further review. In so doing, the board ignored the hard work that city staff has done to implement the city policy known as complete streets, which was approved in 2011.

The term “complete streets” describes a comprehensive, integrated transportation network designed to allow safe and convenient travel along and across streets for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and users of public transportation. The director of transportation and environmental services implements the policy, for example, by reviewing the safety of a street when it’s scheduled for repaving and making changes as warranted.

In Alexandria, boards and commissions exist so resident representatives can advise city staff and/or city council on broad areas, such as the environmental policy commission and the parks and recreation commission. In the case of complete streets, there is no corresponding board or commission with responsibility for “safe and convenient travel for all.”

Instead, a traffic and parking board is responsible for reviewing requests for changes to parking — just one of several uses of our public streets. A board for an individual category of street use, such as parking, is inefficient at best.

Why not create a board with responsibility “for the safe and convenient travel along and across streets for all users,” rather than retaining a board out of touch with city policies and not aligned with the city’s multimodal transportation and complete-streets objectives?




  1. Mr. Jakubek is voicing the opinion of the bike lobby. Complete Streets is a policy initiative, rarely implemented across the country, and heavily lobbied for by the smart group lobbyists.
    While complete streets is a worthwhile and achievable goal, it is extremely important that it be tailored to the places where it may fit.
    Adapting the policy to the place is absolutely critical to getting it right – for everyone, aka everyone who must use the street together in an equitable setting.
    Moving ahead without adequate safety study is foolish in the extreme, both for lives and creating a truly “Complete” set of streets.
    This particular stretch of King Street couldn’t be a worse choice for experimentation. It is already well-documented for high risk traffic, multiple accidents and fatalities. WIthout a much better plan for implementation, simply putting in some street striping or other boundary markers is questionable.

  2. Claiming that the author represents some mysterious ‘Bike Lobby’ is disingenuous and ignorant. There is no bike lobby. Cyclists are not some mysterious outside force descending on society and forcing itself onto them. Everyone rides bicycles – the old, the young, professionals, labourers, etc.

    The most obvious evidence for this is the fact that bicycles outsold cars in 2012.





    Thus, people who ride bicycles are ordinary citizens and Mr Jakubek is voicing their concerns. Claiming that he is an outsider stating the opinions of some strange group of miscreants is dishonest.