Greater Greater Washington

Bonds, Mara wouldn't sacrifice parking for a bike lane

Tim Craig, Mike DeBonis, and Emma Brown asked the at-large candidates about a number of different issues that matter to DC residents, from testing in schools to police to bike lanes.


Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

A question on bike lanes revealed some interesting differences of opinion. Patrick Mara (and Anita Bonds and Perry Redd) seem to prioritize not removing any parking over bike lanes, while Elissa Silverman was the strongest supporter:

"Would you support a new bicycle lane on Connecticut Avenue NW, even if it resulted in fewer on-street parking spots or altered traffic patterns?"

Matt Frumin and Paul Zukerberg would need more information about the lane's design before giving an opinion. Bonds, Redd and Mara are inclined to oppose it, worried about a loss of on-street parking. Silverman is inclined to support it. "If we are to promote cycling, we need to promote cycling on our major thoroughfares," she said.

Accommodating bicycling on Connecticut Avenue is a good idea, though I'm not aware of concrete plans to put a bike lane there right now or whether it would cost parking. Some bicycle infrastructure does supplant a small amount of parking, like on L and M Streets downtown, so the general thrust of the question is helpful.

Mara also did not provide any responses to the Let's Choose DC question on bicycling. Bonds did, but people who voted on the questions were generally unimpressed with her answer.

On the Post interview, all candidates agreed on relaxing the height limit in a few places outside the core. Everyone but Zukerberg thinks there should be more restaurants east of the Anacostia. Mara and Bonds appear the least supportive of legalizing marijuana.

On a possible NFL stadium on the RFK site, the Post asked if candidates would support a stadium if Dan Snyder would pay for it but wouldn't change his team's name. All but Mara opposed the idea:

Redd, Zukerberg, Bonds and Frumin all said no. Silverman would oppose it, saying the focus should be on redeveloping the area around RFK Stadium with new housing and retail. Mara hopes the Redskins change their name, but the matter would not dissuade him from supporting a new team-funded stadium.
On top of that, a stadium proposal very likely would not actually mean Snyder paid all of the cost; at the very least, DC would have to fund considerable infrastructure and site work. It'd be helpful to know if Mara (or any of them) would spend city dollars for a stadium, and how much.

These are just a few of the issues that matter to residents. Read the whole article.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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""If we are to promote cycling, we need to promote cycling on our major thoroughfares," she said."

Wow. That is a gap large enough to drive a semi truck through. "Promoting cycling on major thoroughfares" is pretty far from unqualifed support on Connecticut Ave.

by charlie on Apr 22, 2013 9:35 am • linkreport

The question about a bike lane on Connecticut Avenue probably deserves its own post at some point but as someone who has been working on bike infrastructure in Upper NW I'm not sure it is the best idea or at least I don't think it should be a priority and frankly I'm a little puzzled that CM Cheh is expending energy on this idea when there are other more important and less controversial issues for biking in Upper NW.

Getting North-South in Upper NW is not terribly hard on just about any mode - transit, biking and driving.

It is going East-West in Upper NW that is difficult no matter how you want to go so creating better East-West connectivity to create non-driving options to connect the 16th Street, Connecticut, Wisconsin & Mass Avenue corridors is where the focus should be right now.

So if I were asking the candidates about a specific situation with regards to biking I'd ask about where they stand on the Broad Branch road re-build which GGW covered a few months ago because currently there is no safe way to get across Rock Creek Park in Upper NW and if CM Cheh wants to talk about taking a driving lane away for bikes she should look at Military Road before Connecticut Avenue.

The biggest disappointment in this race when it comes to biking is by far Perry Redd who has repeatedly sided with cars over bikes - I know the green party in DC has largely disappeared but the Statehood/Green Party candidate should be the one pushing the envelope on biking/sustainability/green policies and showing how meek some of the responses from the progressive candidates on these issues have actually been and I suppose providing some cover for them by exposing the fact that they are actually moderates.

And come to think of it Redd has not really had much to say on Statehood either but maybe I missed those pronouncements.

by TomQ on Apr 22, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

TomQ - I actually think a bike line on Connecticut should be a high priority. While I agree that better cross-Rock Creek Park routes are badly needed, better North-South routes in upper NW are also really lacking. Presently the safest options are back roads that are rather roundabout compared to Connecticut and Wisconsin.

Building bike infrastructure on either Connecticut or Wisconsin would likely induce a lot of demand for cycling along those corridors. Further, if DC really wants bikeshare to succeed in these neighborhoods, the need for safe and direct North-South routes is real. Connecticut is presently overbuilt for cars and largely serves MD commuters.

I would strongly support bike infrastructure on Connecticut and Wisconsin and think it would greatly improve cycling in upper NW.

by Sam on Apr 22, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

I've noted that there's actually a LOT of open parking in DC available at all times at the convenience of the drivers-- if they're willing to pay for a garage or valet parking. But apparently "parking on demand for $10-$20" isn't what people are thinking when they talk about having lots of parking.

by JustMe on Apr 22, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

I think a bike lane there should be a high priority as well. I don't know about "Upper NW" but certainly there should be some better bike infrastructure at least from Cleveland Park down to K Street, particularly in the Dupont Circle area. This is already an area which sees heavy cyclist traffic, particularly in the rush hours. The bike lane might also help reduce speeding and reckless driving among some of the drivers who use this road.

That being said, I don't think the question was really meant to focus on Conn Ave in particular -- it seemed to be more like an inquiry to see which candidates support highly visible bike infrastructure on major city streets.

by Scoot on Apr 22, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

Sam - I don't disagree with you but still think there is a much greater need for E-W options and also think it is more politically feasible.

I think the great opportunity for biking in Upper NW is going to be following the CABI model and concentrating on using bikes for shorter trips between the N-S corridors which are not that far apart - eg connecting Ward Circle which is actually very population dense to Tenleytown which is just 7/10ths of a mile.

Or connecting the Upper Connecticut Avenue corridor which also has a lot of high rise apartment buildings to Tenleytown & Friendship Heights which again are close but like the Ward Circle example a bit too far for some folks to walk and with the congestion not good for taking the bus.

Regarding a bike lane on Connecticut I think with the lower level of retail there you are going to get a lot of longer distance bike commuters not short distance riders - and those commuters should be served but I just think you serve more people and get a critical mass of bicyclists first by concentrating on E-W connectivity.

I try to think about this in terms of congestion and shifting mode share away from SOV's and think that is why the E-W routes are where we should start.

by TomQ on Apr 22, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

Connecticut doesn't scream ideal for a bike lane but where else do you have the road room to work with in the area? I actually think ideally it's good to put bike lanes parallel to main roadways or on secondary ones at least. Same could be said of Wisconsin. Perhaps the best answer is yes on Connecticut, but not the whole length, just where it's the only reasonable direct route in the SE direction.

by Alan B. on Apr 22, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Connecticut is perfect for a bike lane, physically separated by bollards from traffic. There are no parallels to CT unless you want to put the bike lane on Beach Drive or Wisconsin Ave, which should have its own bike lane and/or streetcar. All three of these are just MD-CT commuter routes, heavily traveled, and kind of crazy at certain points, like in Woodley Park. Lot of those huge tourist buses.

by dc denizen on Apr 22, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

I agree with Alan B. Connecticut Avenue is not ideal for a bike lane, particularly as long as the reversible commuter lane is in place. I know it may be unpopular to say on this board, but there are small businesses in Woodley, Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase DC and in the strip near Nebraska that depend on patrons who can find quick-turnover street parking for brief errands. Eliminating that for a bike lane would be a hardship for them.

A good corridor for a north-south bikelane through upper NW would be along 34th St. and Reno Rd. The center turn lane from Cleveland Ave all the way north of Nebraska is mostly unnecessary, and may have the perverse effect of increasing vehicle speeds on the corridor. The space currently taken by the highway-like center turn lane/median could be re-purposed by allocating space for bikes on one side of the street or another. A bike lane there may calm vehicle traffic. Added benefit is that Reno/34th parallels Conn. just a few short blocks away, and the corridor is adjacent to the Cathedral.

by Ron on Apr 22, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

And if you want to address EW continuity they need to fix the Klingle road bike connection. Very unfriendly bike environment. Just sharrows would be nice so people don't whip around you.

by Alan B. on Apr 22, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

I'm with TomQ, and I've at various points commuted by bike along each of 16th Street, Connecticut Ave. and Wisconsin Ave. (my current route) It's really a matter of priorities. The latter two are already bikeable albeit for the cyclist who does not mind mixing it with traffic. Far worse are the EW bike connectors across Rock Creek Park. Those need immediate attention.

As a aside, I never ride on 34th/Reno. The terrain is the worst for cycling--lots of short, sharp hills that kill momentum.

by Crickey7 on Apr 22, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

Let's be clear: the only reason you have to remove parking from Connecticut Avenue for a bike line is because funding rules prohibit reducing any traffic lanes on these types of arteries. Removing just one traffic lane, and maintaining parking on both sides of Connecticut Avenue should be a possibility.

by Adam L on Apr 22, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

I think Connecticut is perfect for a bike lane. It has so many lanes already, and outside of rush hour I've noticed they're often at half capacity or less.

The reality is that most of the major thoroughfares in DC are the avenues, and by design none of them have parallel streets. A bike lane might slow down rush hour car traffic at first, but it might also make a lot of folks in upper NW feel like they could leave the car at home and bike to work safely in a fraction of the time. (Not to mention the Red Line option for N-S travel.)

by Moira on Apr 22, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

@Ron

I understand your argument about convenient parking helps small businesses, but wouldn't convenient cycling also help these same businesses?

I like your 34th/Reno compromise, but I think that Connecticut has more areas to which cyclists would want to commute (downtown, Dupont, shopping, etc), no? Reno/34th would seem to be more of a bike lane for people going from neighborhood to neighborhood.

I think a bike lane subliminally calms traffic, see http://bicyclingmatters.wordpress.com/infrastructure/do-bike-lane-stripes-calm-motor-traffic/ for two studies on this. This could make Connecticut Avenue safer in a broader sense by reducing speeding.

by Alan on Apr 22, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

@Alan
"I understand your argument about convenient parking helps small businesses, but wouldn't convenient cycling also help these same businesses?"

Depends what You are buying. There are a lot of limits of how much bikers can generally haul around.

When one makes the discussion of only a choice of it either being parking or biking, then you cannot then cry foul when someone accuses you of having a bias against those with cars.

There should never be a reason why this has to be an either/or situation. There are plenty of creative alternatives that could allow both (for example, making a center lane directional based on rush hour, in other words, in morning rush it allows an additional lane of traffic one way, and the evening rush, allows it in another way.)

Think harder for a solution to this issue other than eliminating parking. You can do it, you know you can.

by Ray B on Apr 23, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

We're facing the same issue in Minneapolis (http://www.streets.mn/2013/04/24/bikes-and-businesses-must-unite/), and as I've found in some research, also in Toronto, Evanston, Beaver Dam Wisconsin and San Francisco's Polk Street. A couple of these comments ask whether a bike lane must come at the cost of parking or if it can displace a lane (or portion) of moving traffic. Good thinking-that is what I'm advocating for.

by Sam Newberg (Joe Urban) on Apr 24, 2013 11:10 pm • linkreport

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