Your View: King Street bike lanes are underutilized

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Your View: King Street bike lanes are underutilized
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By Louise Welch, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
On June 12, 1911, land in the Rosemont neighborhood was deeded to the Rosemont Development Company. The deed has this restriction: “That the portion of said land designated for parking along the streets and avenues of said subdivision shall never be paved or used for any other purpose without the consent of all the proprietors of lots in the said subdivision.”

The deed includes Rosemont lots in the 2200, 2300, and 2400 blocks of King Street, the exact blocks where city council voted in 2014 to remove parking, despite rejection by the traffic and parking board.

The development company considered parking in this subdivision important, even in 1911 when the number of cars was “slightly” lower. In 2014, however, the city removed parking that had been available to homeowners when they purchased their homes and had provided safe access to their homes.

The city justified removal of the parking in these King Street blocks on the basis that parking spaces were underutilized. Data supporting this claim is meager. It consisted of observing the number of parked cars only 20 times in a one-year period; four of these observations happened at 9 p.m. or later.

Green bike lanes were installed in place of the parking lane. Green paint on bike lanes indicates an “area of conflict.” Perhaps that explains the negligible use by cyclists. Based on counts during five rush hours, there was an average of almost 1,000 motor vehicles per hour, at the same time there was an average of only three cyclists per hour. At other times it is rare to see a cyclist using the lanes.

Residents in the King Street community are not against bike lanes. We are against the removal of the parking lane that provided safe access to our homes on this busy two-lane roadway. Now, we daily observe the empty, underutilized bike lanes that replaced the parking lane. Unfortunately, the bicycle master plan has no performance measure for usage or remedy when usage of bike lanes doesn’t materialize.

Less stressful alternate routes to the King Street bike lanes were rejected that may have proven safer for cyclists and increased usage. These would have avoided the need to eliminate the lane that provided parking and safe access that was important in 1911 and essential to daily life now.

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