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


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.




  1. Maybe the city should just buy a few (ok, about 15) feet from King Street residences so that additional traffic lanes, in addition to bike lanes, could be accommodated? That way, everyone wins- drivers, bikers, the adjoining landowners concerned about a loss of parking, traffic, etc. For a group so concerned about congestion, safety, etc, the residents seem to be pretty committed to the status quo.

  2. Saying we shouldn’t put bike lanes on a portion of road because not that many people bike there is like saying we shouldn’t build a bridge because not that many people swim across the river there. Of course people aren’t biking that much there, or they’re biking on the sidewalk. Without the bike lanes it feels extremely dangerous, especially going up the hill.

    This sort of cross section with these sorts of lane widths have been installed in many places in Arlington without the disaster that folks are predicting.

  3. Every question and concern mentioned in this letter has been fully and satisfactorily addressed by City TES staff. The proposed bike lanes are not only reasonably safe; they would make walking and bicycling considerably safer than the previous and existing conditions. The limited public right-of-way on King Street should be configured to optimize safe, comfortable, and efficient travel by all modes and should no longer be used to store private vehicles where both off-street parking and nearby on-street parking is ample.

  4. I just want to thank everyone who is defending my place in the city. Sure, I am loud, take up a lot of space, and bump into people/things, but some of my friends on King Street realize it is the people who aren’t inside of me that are the problem!