To the editor:
I am writing in response to the editorial, “Supporting smart development in the West End,” in the Oct. 24 Alexandria Times. While the headline is sensible, the text is misleading. It is one thing for citizens who oppose change to engage in magical thinking; a typical citizen does not have access to city planning expertise.
The editorial staff of the Alexandria Times, however, should know better. Put simply, the Times is pretending that our city can grow without updating our car-centric transportation network. This is magical thinking.
The Times suggests that concentrating development in the west end and not the east, “should help appease some of the congestion culminating in Old Town and Del Ray.” This makes no sense. Congestion is addressed by cities the world over through action, not inaction.
The actions that successfully ease car congestion come in two flavors.
We can restrict or discourage car use, such as in Bogota, where people are allowed to drive on alternate days depending on their odd or even license plate numbers. The high fees charged by HOT lanes are another example of discouragement.
Alternatively, we can build improved mass transit to attract people away from driving. With scooters, this can be more fun than driving – surely we are not opposed to fun?
Instead of inaction or punitive action, we can have safe sidewalks, bike lanes and mass transit that “prioritizes quality of life.” The choice is ours, but we will only like the result if we abandon magical thinking and put our faith in something other than inaction and “adequate parking.”
-Jonathan Krall, Alexandria