The cycling crisis is engineered


By Dino Drudi, Alexandria

Creating crises as an excuse to give government more power to solve the crisis is not a new trick. Remember the Reichstag fire in Germany when the Nazi regime was in its infancy in 1933?

But there are far less egregious — and more recent — examples, such as the District’s rent control law, which, by artificially lowering prices, created a housing shortage. That justified giving D.C. the power to regulate rents until the shortage was resolved. Proposing to add bike lanes to Cameron and Prince streets might not be such a bad idea on its merits, but they illustrate a classic example of Alexandria’s abusive use of this trick.

The city cites motivating bicyclists to ride on the street rather than the sidewalk as the basis for adding bike lanes to Cameron and Prince streets (as well as along King Street near the Metro station earlier this year).

But, wait a minute. Just last year, city council legalized bicycle riding on nearly every city sidewalk, which theretofore had been prohibited. Why would they legalize riding bicycles on the sidewalk unless City Hall considered it safe and desirable?

And why would City Hall use discouraging cyclists from using sidewalks as a justification for more bicycle lanes so soon after they allowed said cyclists on sidewalks?

City Hall can’t have it both ways. They can’t let bicyclists ride on the sidewalk and then use that as an excuse to create bike lanes.



  1. The premise of this letter is absurd. The population of people who ride bicycles is very diverse, and the physical abilities, skills, speeds, and tolerance of riding with motorized traffic vary widely. Bicycling on most sidewalks can be reasonably safe, with appropriate slow speeds and caution. Bicycling on sidewalks is typically lawful across Virginia and the United States. In legalizing sidewalk bicycling in Alexandria, the City Council did little to promote bicycling on most sidewalks; rather, the purpose was to decriminalize an already common and generally safe behavior. Bicycling can and should be accommodated on both roadways and sidewalks in most communities. Why do so many Alexandria civic activists lack more pressing issues to write about?

  2. Normally Godwin’s Law does not come into play until a commenter invokes Hitler or the Nazis, but in this case, the OP self-invokes.

    These types of letters and opinions are never about ‘logic in government,’ like whether Alexandria knows it is allowing two things, nor about ‘common sense solutions,’ like let’s study traffic flows and see if bike lanes are warranted.

    No, these types of letters and opinions are all about perpetuating the car as king, about ensuring anti-cycling and anti-cyclist sentiment among drivers and pedestrians and keeping the status quo of cyclists as interlopers.

  3. AT needs to have a policy on publishing letters. One every 2 or 3 months by an individual is fine. Sick of Drudi, Van Fleet, Papp, Krall, et al. If they’re the only ones that write in, then AT is failing to enlarge its audience, or encourage community engagement via other means. Also, how about a moratorium on bike articles? There are plenty of other important issues to write about, but I guess those just don’t stir people up as much do they?

  4. So, I ride from CitySide apartments on route one to where I work in Old Town. Being able to ride on the sidewalks along route one, and along Washington St. is the only safe way to ride on those roads. That doesn’t mean it’s good or desirable, and it often means that I am peddling very slowly to make sure I avoid pedestrians, dogs, cafe tables, and flower beds. That’s not to mention that a lot of the sidewalks are cobbles… Oh the cobbles 🙁 It was at best a stop gap measure to allow bicyclists to avoid 40+ mph traffic. Even then along Route 1 there are areas with no sidewalk. Talk about adrenaline…

    Bike lanes are the safest and best way to accommodate bikes. It is in no way some kind of scary government trick, you quack.