Your View: Safety, not bike lanes, is the focus in King Street repaving

Your View: Safety, not bike lanes, is the focus in King Street repaving

By John Harley and John Salmon, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
We are Alexandria residents who live in the Ivy Hill area of King Street. We read the lead article in the March 24 edition of the Alexandria Times (“More bike lanes considered for upper King Street”) and believe that its focus was somewhat misplaced. The King Street repaving project is primarily about improving safety on one of Alexandria’s key streets.

We have reviewed the various options under consideration for the repaving of this section of King Street and strongly support Option 3 as the most appropriate approach to improve safety and enhance the residential character of our area. The city’s survey results also show the strongest support is for Option 3, particularly from respondents living in the impacted area. Option 3 is about developing a comprehensive solution to the challenges King Street faces,
not primarily about installing bike lanes.

There are major speed and safety issues on this section of King Street. Excess speed has resulted in a number of serious accidents and major concerns about pedestrian safety in the area. High speeds and four lanes of through traffic make walking on the sidewalks and crossing King Street highly dangerous in the morning, the late afternoon and the early evening. King Street is difficult to cross near T.C. Williams High School and the Chinquapin Park Recreation Center, at Scoggins Road and at each of the bus stops from Kenwood Avenue to Melrose Street.

The most dangerous area of all is the area around Melrose, with traffic seeking to turn left into the Woodbine rehabilitation facility, go east to Old Town, or turn right onto Janneys Lane. Traffic moves too quickly through this area, with drivers going at high speeds and darting in and out to avoid the turning traffic in both directions. This area has many pedestrians, two bus stops and traffic looking to turn onto King Street from Melrose or enter King Street from the driveways on the south side of the street. It is highly dangerous now, and will only become more so as construction begins on the expansion of Woodbine.

As part of this restructuring, we believe that the speed limit should be reduced in this entire stretch from 35 to 25 mph. Buses and cars routinely operate in this part of King Street at speeds in excess of 45 or 50 mph.

In redesigning King Street, much can be learned from the city’s work on the nearby stretch of Janneys Lane stretch from Douglas MacArthur Elementary School to King Street. Narrowing through lanes — in part by adding bike lanes, constructing a median and other traffic calming techniques including visual speed indicators — have improved this neighborhood. The street has a more residential feel. At the same time, traffic still flows smoothly on Janneys but at speeds that are safer and more consistent with the residential character of the neighborhood. We hope that the implementation of Option 3 will do similar things to improve the safety and enhance the residential character of our King Street neighborhood.