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Alexandria board rejects King Street bike lanes

Alexandria cyclists and city staff agree that King Street west of Old Town could use bike lanes. But after a public hearing November 25, the city's Traffic and Parking Board recommended not to build them in order to preserve 37 on-street parking spaces.


Bike supporters at the Traffic and Parking Board meeting. Photo by Jake Jakubek.

Bike lane proponents say it will improve safety and access to the King Street Metro station, while many nearby residents decry the loss of parking spaces that would have to be removed. Originally, city staff proposed eliminating 37 spaces, noting that only three spaces were used on average, and that all affected houses have off-street parking.

However, instead of evaluating a compromise proposal city staff presented that would only remove some 27 spaces and carefully considering public comments, board members were clearly dismissive of the plan and its supporters. James Durham, vice chair of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, called the hearing "a disgrace."

At the first public meeting on September 18, it was clear that almost everybody considers this street unsafe. Street parking goes unused because residents worry aggressive drivers will damage their parked cars.

After that meeting and an informal consultation with members of the traffic and parking board, city staff decided to work on a compromise proposal. Their reworked plan keeps 10 of the 37 spaces, while adding three spaces on adjacent streets.

At the November meeting, 38 people spoke in favor of the proposal, most of whom were local cyclists. Bike lane supporters included representatives of the city's Environmental Policy Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission, who both submitted letters, as well as the chairman of the Transportation Commission. A teacher at T.C. Williams High School spoke on behalf of his students, and a member of the Coalition for Smarter Growth spoke on behalf of that organization, which includes two King Street residents.

Meanwhile, 18 individuals spoke out against adding bike lanes, citing safety concerns and doubting the effectiveness of the proposal. Others mentioned the need to keep the usually empty parking available for visitors.

During the hearing, members of the traffic and parking board displayed almost no interest in the public comments, asking few questions. But in a question directed at Jerry King, chairman of the bicycle and pedestrian committee, one member characterized bike lane supporters as wanting bike lanes or nothing. In fact, no one at the hearing took such a position.

When the leader of Tandem Tuesdays spoke of her weekly bike rides that pair cyclists with sight-impaired people on tandem bicycles, the traffic and parking board showed no interest in her community-building work or her safety concerns. Rather than ask Washington Area Bicyclist Association representative Gregory Billing about his organization's 3,500 participants and supporters in Alexandria, board members rudely asked if he was a city resident.

In the end, the traffic and parking board recommended that city staff implement pedestrian improvements but no bicycling improvements, retain all parking and come back later with a proposal that has "common ground" and "meat." But board members at no time acknowledged that the proposal was already a compromise.

The reality is that Alexandria is working to add transportation capacity by improving access to transit and by developing three new transit corridors. If successful, transit will enable many residents to bypass traffic and avoid the struggle of searching for parking on King Street and elsewhere.

Mayor Bill Euille, who was recently quoted in the press regarding Capital Bikeshare, said it best: "We don't want people driving their cars and parking, we want people to be using bicycles and walking."

However, achieving this vision is no easy task. At a time when City Hall is working to improve the public process through the What's Next Alexandria initiative, we need our boards to be relevant as well as responsive to residents and the vision of the city council. Based on the traffic and parking board's performance November 25, it's clear that board members are none of those things. Can our public decision-making process function when a few of the people leading that process do not act in good faith?

A version of this post appeared in the Alexandria Times.

Jonathan Krall is an advocate for bicycling and walking and a former Chair of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He lives in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria and has been car-free since 2011.  

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It seems to me that the Traffic and Parking Bd decision was not consistent with larger transport goals of City of Alex - but then they were probably chosen not for larger transport issues, but to deal with all the narrow traffic and parking concerns. And they are probably unpaid (?) and have interpreted their mandate narrowly. At the time that this governing structure was set up, bike infra was a lesser issue, and this kind of conflict was not envisioned.

Given that bike lanes are important to Alexandria's future, its probably worth it trying to get more bike advocates onto this board. That will involve, I presume, both finding bike advocates with the willingness to commit the time, and an interest in the non-bike issues that come before the board, and in reaching out to the members of the elected city govt who have a role in choosing the board. The use of citizen boards to make decisions on specific issues does complicate governance.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

I'm unclear of the process. Does this mean that it won't go to the full city council? What's the process from here? How dead is it?

Anyway,

one member characterized bike lane supporters as wanting bike lanes or nothing
...the heck? Considering that the current status quo is "nothing" doesn't it follow that bike lane supporters want, you know, bike lanes? I don't think anyone thinks that we'd be better off ripping up the pavement and salting if the earth if we can't have bike lanes.

The rest of the justifications seem to be this weird appeal towards the middle when there really isn't any. You either have bike lanes or you don't. And we still don't.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

Wait, I thought any decision was deferred until the next meeting after the holidays?

by Kolohe on Dec 6, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

@awitc -the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board also oversees taxis. They have as much clout and responsibility as the planning and zoning board. (iow, between P&Z and the traffic board, you basically have all important city issues outside education and public safety/emergency management*) (which is a pretty big outside)

*as a point of reference, one of the traffic board members is a pretty big deal in volunteer fire department circles, and specifically got on the board (now years ago) due to his interest in the nexus of roads, parking, and emergency response.

by Kolohe on Dec 6, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

And the moochers rejoiced. Free parking at your expense.

by Crickey7 on Dec 6, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

"Alexandria board rejects King Street bike lanes"

"But after a public hearing November 25, the city's Traffic and Parking Board recommended not to build them in order to preserve 37 on-street parking spaces."

Ok, I looked it up again. This is simply factually wrong. The board deferred action on the bike lanes (and approved action on other related, but separate, pedestrian items)

Now, could this be a bureaucratic maneuver where a delay is a good as a denial? Perhaps.

But deferring action is not the same as rejecting. Rejecting is voting against, which the board could have just as easily done.

by Kolohe on Dec 6, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

actually, reading the minutes again, there was not a seperate vote on the pedestrian improvement side. they all indeed seem to be part of the same package (and all similarly deferred)

by Kolohe on Dec 6, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Insanity wins again!

by Jasper on Dec 6, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

Insanity wins again!

No, insanity is suggesting that more than 1/3 of the available road space in this section of road should be dedicated to the exclusive use of cyclists who make up less than 1% of the traffic. Whatever happened to sharing the road? The fact that those parking spaces are frequently unfilled is good reason to leave it alone. Anyone who rides in the middle of the street when there are no cars parked on the side needs their head examined. And if there is a car parked every block or so, either signal and move over or dismount and walk past it. It is not a big deal. I'm not suggesting a slalom maneuver, just common sense defensive cycling.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

This fight is ongoing. For those who wish to get these bike lanes:

Please write to the City Council to ask for both reform of the Traffic and Parking Board and for their support of the compromise proposal for King Street. Here are some talking points:

http://request.alexandriava.gov/CCC/#tab=Departments&group=MayorandCityCouncil&service=CNC_GROUP

- At a time when Alexandria is working to re-energize the public process through the What's Next Alexandria initiative, we need our citizen boards to be relevant, responsive to citizens, and responsive to the City Council. The current Traffic and Parking board is none of these.

- All citizens deserve to be heard and deserve to have safe streets.

- The City Council has a vision of a transit-oriented Alexandria that will move the city forward. The mission of the TPB, to study "traffic and parking problems," is no longer important to the many residents who are living car-free or "car lite." We instead need to give voice to broad citizen concerns regarding Transportation and Safety.

- The King Street Traffic Calming and Bike Lane project
(1) Improves safety for pedestrians by helping to slow traffic.
(2) Creates a buffer between pedestrians and motor vehicles.
(3) Provides a safe route for cyclists of all abilities for both transportation and recreation.
(4) Creates an essential link for bicycle and pedestrian access to transit.

- Alexandria is becoming a more urban environment. For the sake of our population and our growing economy, we need to make our changing city work for all of our residents.

- We request reform of the Traffic and Parking Board and support for the compromise plan ("option 2") for King Street.

by Jonathan Krall on Dec 6, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

"No, insanity is suggesting that more than 1/3 of the available road space in this section of road should be dedicated to the exclusive use of cyclists who make up less than 1% of the traffic."

Irrelevant, since this is about parking. What percent of travelers on King street park on King street? And of course most road RE in the City of Alex and the rest of NoVa is not reserved to cyclists (and of coure some specifically excludes cyclists)

"" Whatever happened to sharing the road? The fact that those parking spaces are frequently unfilled is good reason to leave it alone. Anyone who rides in the middle of the street when there are no cars parked on the side needs their head examined. And if there is a car parked every block or so, either signal and move over or dismount and walk past it. It is not a big deal. I'm not suggesting a slalom maneuver, just common sense defensive cycling."

swerving into traffic IS dangerous, and is a type of riding that most safey experts (and I presume Alexandria LE) discourage. And dismounting is an unreasonable requirement for cycling - cyclists are not pedestrians, and should not be required to dismount to get somewhere. Thats simply not compatible with a designated bike route.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

Whatever happened to sharing the road?

That's a good individual response not a good one from a sysems/planning perspective. The research has borne out that the best way to make cycling safer is to make it more popular. The best way to make cycling more popular is to build bike lanes and cycletracks.

Besides, you're not telling cyclists to share the road. You're telling them to hope that no one is parked on the street when they hope to ride.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

Studies done in California, Australia, and Europe show that there's safety in numbers: as cycling rates go up, the rate of crash-related injuries goes down.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2010/August/getting-back-on-the-bike

And DC's studies show that more cyclists are observed every time a new bike lane goes in (and the number massively jumps for its cycletracks).

Coupled with the fact that A: Alexandria adopted a complete streets policy B: the lack of other viable options for cyclists C: the utter lack of impact it'd have on vehicle throughput AND parking in the neighborhood I don't see how its reasonable to think that bike lanes would somehow harm king street more than it helps.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

@movement

Bike lanes are for ALL. They are not reserved in law or in fact for "1% of users" any more than sidewalks are reserved for the (picking a number out of thin air because apparently that's how we roll around here) 3% of people who commute on foot. You, yes you too, may use a bike lane. You choose not to by choosing to not ride a bike.

Those parking spaces, however, are NOT for all. Legally, sure anyone can go and park there for 3 hours but in reality they are zoned in such a way that the only people who would need to or be able to use them are the people in the houses immediately surrounding them. De-facto set aside of public space for private use. Bike lanes? Public space for public use.

Or seriously, do you really REALLY want to use your percentages of road users? Because guess what? Those imaginary cars that aren't even parked there are something like .0000000002% of road users. So bikes are winning that one.

And honestly, I used to not care one single iota about the proposed bike lanes. But now after reading the insanity from and your neighbor friends (and most particularly the WSJ article) I'm beyond committed to seeing this happen. And keep it up because it's helping the recruitment effort in a big way.

by Catherine on Dec 6, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

Even if you build bike lanes, that stretch of King St. will remain a horrible place to ride. That hill is tough - unless you are a strong biker you're not going more than 10MPH. Take the bus. Go around. Do anything else. How about making Duke St. more accomodating? You could do that immediately without affecting the people who actually live there.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Some answers to questions posed...

Process: The TPB is an advisory board, so the Transportation Director can go ahead without their approval or come back to them in January.

Bike lanes or nothing: I meant the originally-proposed full bike lanes or nothing. Most people who spoke at the meeting favored the compromise proposal even though they would prefer the full bike lanes.

"Alexandria board rejects King St bike lanes": Kolohe is correct that the headline makes a muddled reality appear less muddled than it is. However, I submit that this is effectively correct. The TPB pretended that no one was compromising and provided no useful guidance as to how bike lanes could be fit into the project to their satisfaction. They effectively said "We hate this project but you can come around in two months and ask us if we still hate it. If you want to."

"Traffic and Parking Board recommended not to build them": It would be more accurate to say that they chose not to recommend that they be built. In any case, the decision not to decide is itself a decision.

What the TPB voted on: They voted to defer, except for the pedestrian improvements. The did this in a single motion.

"Cyclists who make up less than 1% of the traffic": This is nonsense. The Census says that 2.5 percent use bicycling as their primary commuting mode. The Census does not count the hundreds of cyclists who ride to Metro as cycling (they instead count them as taking transit), so even that 2.5 percent number is a severe under-count.

Other surveys show that 10 percent of people ride often and that another 60 percent would like to but are too scared to do so (presumably because of too few bike lanes). Or local bike/ped counting project shows that the Mt Vernon Trail carries about 2700 cyclists per day.

Pretending that bicyclists do not exist will not make them go away. In fact, choosing to fight extremely hard to promote guest parking over cyclist safety is so stunningly offensive that it is having the opposite effect. This fight is building up the ranks of the bike lane activists in Alexandria faster than anything else that has happened lately.

by Jonathan Krall on Dec 6, 2013 3:31 pm • linkreport

Movement,

Counter proposal: put bike lanes on both King and Duke and then let people decide if they want to deal with the hill or not.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

No, if you build the bike lanes it will improve everyone's experience of the road immediately. Look, cyclists already use that route for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that is the only route that gets them to where they need to go. That is just a fact.

Right now, they either ride in the travel lane, putting themselves at risk and slowing down traffic behind them because of the uphill. The fact that it is an uphill is one of the main reasons arguments towards putting in a bike lane. Or they ride on the sidewalk which was until very recently illegal, and for good reason--it's dangerous for the cyclist and for pedestrians.

Duke Street doesn't get you to where King Street gets you. That's why they're different streets. Why do you think there is so much car traffic on that street? Why don't THEY use Duke? Plus, Duke is an *actual* highway not a "like a highway" as the NIMBYs claim when they're using cyclist safety as an argument against the lanes (and "quiet residential street" when they're using convienience of keeping a just-in-case-I-need-it parking spot directly in front of their home as an argument against the bike lanes).

by Catherine on Dec 6, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

"Even if you build bike lanes, that stretch of King St. will remain a horrible place to ride. That hill is tough - unless you are a strong biker you're not going more than 10MPH."

Didnt you just say dismounting and walking is a good option? Now 10MPH is too slow?

" Take the bus."

Now thats a good way to be a bike friendly city.

"Go around. Do anything else. How about making Duke St. more accomodating? You could do that immediately without affecting the people who actually live there. "

Would Duke help people coming from NW of Old Town?

IIUC there are people using a bypass thats steeper. So grade apparently isnt the issue for everyone.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

@AWITC
Now that BikeShare has taken hold in Alexandria, you can take the bus through the annoying hills west of Masonic Temple and still be able to get to any location in Old Town. It is probably faster too.

If I absolutely had to commute that section by bike, I probably would dismount considering the minimal difference in speed and the significant difference in energy exerted. I would certainly dismount when crossing King. People act as if dismounting is the end of the world but it is part of the process. So is making detours around problem areas. Sure, I could go over the Monroe Ave. bridge when going to Old Town from Del Ray but it is easier to go down Mount Vernon Ave. to Braddock Rd. even though it is a little out of the way.

Braddock is a wider road in a neighborhood that more closely resembles a grid. You can support both parking and bike lanes without infuriating residents. I avoid the area personally unless I am doing hill training but if other people want to do it, more power to them.

Duke St. would help people coming from NW of old town if Taylor Run was a better through-route for cyclists. I'm not entirely sure what the options are over there but my impression when checking out the area was that the road/trail network was unfinished.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

This is a hilly region, and lots of people prefer to ride hills versus finding routes around them. Clearly people in this area already ride on King, others take Walnut with grades as bad or worse. Note fairfax is considering climbing lanes, precisely because upgrades are where bike lanes are useful.

Its fine that you personally would prefer a detour. I personally would hardly ever use a car if I lived there, and would find one off street spot more than enough.

But ALexandria mapped this for bike lanes, and AFAICT with good reason. Does it make some homeowners mad? Sure. By the same token the homeowners are making the biking community mad, and apparently increasing the level of bike activism. thats life. Im all for compromises and being reasonable, and AFAICT a reasonable compromise was proposed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 4:18 pm • linkreport

If I absolutely had to commute that section by bike, I probably would dismount considering the minimal difference in speed and the significant difference in energy exerted. I would certainly dismount when crossing King. People act as if dismounting is the end of the world but it is part of the process. So is making detours around problem areas.

But why does that mean the county should plan for people to dismount? Why not plan for people to ride up and down the hill and let people decide if they want to dismount or not.

You can support both parking and bike lanes without infuriating residents.

A: depends on the nature of the fury. It's been demonstrated that this is over a parking in a neighborhood where there is plenty of parking.

B: And that ties to the impact of removing the parking. Which would be low.

You think cyclists should be able to fend for themselves and thats fine, whatever. The city however, has a policy desire to get more people on bikes. Bike lanes are the way to do that.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

@Catherine
As far as I can tell, your point of view has gone past common-sense governance into a personal dislike of the residents who live in this neighborhood, based primarily on a single editorial.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 4:24 pm • linkreport

Many are at least unreasonable on this issue. They would rather devote street space to the storage of cars but that storage is underused in the first place.

I (and others) believe that preferencing car storage over mobility for other users of the road (bike,pedestrian, transit) is a fundamentally unreasonable.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

Let's turn the question around. If those parking spaces were removed, your only options would be on side streets on the SW side of King St. If you lived on the NE side, would there be another residential part of the city with worse public parking options? I can't think of any.

Like it or not, the views of local residents matter. (Hello, 50 years of transportation decisions made by Arlington County!)

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

Movement

there have been a couple of articles, and comments here and on other blogs (the folks who arent using far right memes, are using the good mommy doesnt want the baby cyclists to hurt themselves meme). But its not only the nature of the community position - its the reversal of a city plan, based on the opposition of a few that has mobilized many. The sense is that if it can happen here, any bike lane could be reversed based on neighbors dislike.

You keep presenting alternatives to cyclists to do without the lane, but don't notice how easy it would be to do without the onstreet spots. The neighbors all have offstreet spots. Their contractors and able bodied visitors can park at more distant spots. Their physically challenged visitors can park at more distant spots and they can go pick them up, or they can park their own cars farther away and let their visitor park in the off street spot. There are a zillion alternatives they have, and yet its up to cyclists to dismount, to ride out of their way, or to take the bus.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

FTA,
Originally, city staff proposed eliminating 37 spaces, noting that only three spaces were used on average, and that all affected houses have off-street parking.

I think that's a pretty easy trade no? Presumambly some of the people riding bikes up and down king street are also "local residents". Why do we ignore their voices? What if residents along King Street decided they'd rather turn King Street to gravel or add speed bumps every 25 feet?

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

" If those parking spaces were removed, your only options would be on side streets on the SW side of King St. If you lived on the NE side, would there be another residential part of the city with worse public parking options? I can't think of any. "

if you exclude Old Town as not residential, and some parts of NW alexandria with hi rises. I keep forgetting that residential means SFHs.

But lets turn THAT around. Are there any SFH areas in Alexandria with as great a degree of convenience to non Auto modes as that area? Walking distance to Old Town, almost adjacent to Kinst Street station with two metro lines, VRE, Amtrak, Metrobus, and multiple Dash bus lines. I cant think of any SFH areas in Alex where an auto is less necessary.

You get convenience, you give a little something up for it.

"Like it or not, the views of local residents matter. (Hello, 50 years of transportation decisions made by Arlington County!)"

Im not sure what you mean abuot ArlCo. Surely yuo are not comparing ArlCos putting the interest of Arlco over that of commuters from Fairfax, to putting the interests of people on a couple of blocks of King street over cyclists who live IN Alexandria?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 6, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

"If I absolutely had to commute that section by bike, I probably would dismount considering the minimal difference in speed and the significant difference in energy exerted."

One reason that cycling is a popular (so much so that people are even willing to do it in terrible conditions such as King St) is that biking takes 1/4 the energy of walking the same distance. As a result, most people will ride up that moderate hill (4.5 percent grade) because it takes less energy.

Biking extends the speed and range of people who get around without cars. As a result people are generally willing to ride father than they are willing to walk. This is why WMATA (Metro) has been investing in better bike parking at stations. They want more customers.

Biking also allows people to keep moving when cars are gridlocked and frees them from the hassle of parking a car. This is why, to many people, the bicycle is a symbol of freedom.

by Jonathan Krall on Dec 6, 2013 4:46 pm • linkreport

@movement
If that's all you can tell from my comments this then you haven't been reading close enough.

(1) You personally, as an individual, are a big contributor to my change in heart, as are your neighbors posting on the Patch site and WashCycle etc. And the utter hilarity of some of the historionics on display at that Nov 18 meeting has gotten quite a few laughs of disbelief and a willingness from my friends to write in and attend meetings. The WSJ article simply alerted me to the fact that negotiations had taken this serious of a nosedive into the national "cars vs bikes" meme, when I otherwise may not have noticed.

And before...I wasn't for common-sense governence, I just didn't care much because it doesn't actually effect me to the point I cared to fight. But now because of the offensive arrogance on the part of the neighbors I care. And I'm done not caring because it doesn't effect me personally. Was just a lazy approach. Never again.

(2) What you just selected is a very very small portion of my many comments on this subject. Address the fact that it is a public space and that additional travel lanes, not de-facto private parking is a more open and public use of the space. Address where Duke does and does not go in relation to King. Address the fact that you're pretending that parkers count as drivers in a road-users survey (seriously, an absloute maximum of 37 cars parked at a time divided by how many road users?). Address the fact that the status quo is AWFUL and everyone knows it. And that they are still fighting FOR the status quo over the convienece of a parking space.

by Catherine on Dec 6, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Also, @ movement

"I would certainly dismount when crossing King. People act as if dismounting is the end of the world but it is part of the process. So is making detours around problem areas."

We're not talking about crossing King, we're talking about riding on it.

And people act as if walking around the block and/or parking in their own driveway is the end of the world. Dismounting *in the street* is pretty much a recipe for disaster and that's exactly what you're propsing here.

And one person's "problem area" (because of steepness or whatever) is another person's "no choice because it is THE ONLY route".

by Catherine on Dec 6, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

I will dismount when you pry the clipless pedals off my cold, dead feet.

by Crickey7 on Dec 6, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

I'll dismount when drivers agree to get out of car at stop signs and look both ways to make sure the way is clear and eliminate any blind spots.

by drumz on Dec 6, 2013 5:52 pm • linkreport

@AWITC
I have no idea what you're talking about. Where in ALX (hi-rise or SFH) does a visitor need to go more than about block for parking?

@JK
One reason that cycling is a popular (so much so that people are even willing to do it in terrible conditions such as King St) is that biking takes 1/4 the energy of walking the same distance. As a result, most people will ride up that moderate hill (4.5 percent grade) because it takes less energy.

On flat terrain this is true. On an upgrade, not even remotely so. A strong runner doesn't lose much speed going uphill. A biker loses half his speed or more and uses a lot more energy.

I'm all for biking...when it makes sense. (It isn't unusual for me to the only one showing up somewhere on bike.) What I don't get is why you guys insist on encouraging biking where it doesn't make sense. This stretch of King St. (like most of Alexandria north and west of Masonic Temple) is almost 100% car dependent. It is hilly and there are no amenities in a half a mile in any direction. We know that it more than people are willing to go even on flat terrain. About the only thing it is convenient for is the Metro station itself. If I lived there myself, I'd probably walk to Metro instead of bike because the hill is so brutal.

As for the people who live on Janney's Lane and beyond, I believe they should be complaining to the city to improve Taylor Run/Duke St. route. It should be much more pleasant for biking. For TC Williams and beyond there is no great answer because of terrain but if you can bike King St. then you can bike Braddock Rd.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 6:02 pm • linkreport

@drumz
What do you do at red lights? I don't know about you but I dismount until it is safe to cross and depending on the situation I sometimes find it safer to cross on foot.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 6:04 pm • linkreport

There is a significant difference between someone who is using a bicycle for transportation and one who is using it for recreation. If it's the latter, you don't mind detours as much, or (unless it's a workout), things like dismounting. If it's transportation, then unnecessary and significant inconveniences, regardless of mode, have to be closely examined and determined why they should be that way.

I keep hearing movement offer essentially two reasons: because he doesn't think it's necessary and because that hill is too hard for him. The first can be safely dismissed as a red herring. The second is highly subjective. For some, it may be true. For others, not so. Nor are those groups permanently separated. It may become possible over time for some (and impossible for others). But it's not much of an excuse.

by Crickey7 on Dec 6, 2013 6:15 pm • linkreport

Something I'd like to hear are the people who actually commute this stretch of road by bike. Not because they can or to prove a point or to justify the presence of showers at their office, but because they believe this is the best mode of transportation available to them, better than some combination of walking/driving/taking the bus. Who are these people? Why aren't we hearing from them? It is like looking for Sasquatch. I'm starting to believe they don't really exist.

We've established that the athletes aren't the issue - they have many options. We have heard from people who live on this stretch of road and we know they would be affected. You may scoff at their reasons but there is a real cost to them in making this change. They have a right to oppose it.

What I'm not hearing are the real benefits. Not the Jon Krall list of talking points, but the living breathing commuters who depend on this road to get to King St. Metro and beyond. Show me a) these people exist b) they don't have better options c) there are no other alternatives that would help them and d) adding these lanes would make a tangible difference in bicycle commuting.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 6:53 pm • linkreport

What I do at a stoplight depends on conditions. What you're arguing for is that the city should mandate or design things in a way to ensure that a cyclist loses all advantages of their bike (by making them get off) on a road.

In your other argument you're saying that cyclusts need to prove why King street needs a bike lane. A: apparently 38 people gave their reasons at the meeting. B: assuming Alexandria's adoption of a complete streets policy is more than just lips service then really the burden of proof should be why a street doesn't need a bike lane.

You're offering fixing Duke street as a compromise (a false choice since it's not being debated or discussed or even designed) but why is it impossible to have both and improve things for cyclists on King and Duke?

by Drumz on Dec 6, 2013 7:14 pm • linkreport

@drumz
A complete streets policy works when you have room to build it. It is not a mandate. Here is the key language:

That every street project shall incorporate to the extent possible Complete Streets infrastructure sufficient to enable reasonably safe travel along and across the right-of-way for each categories of users; provided, however, that such infrastructure may be excluded upon written approval, to be documented and reported, by the Director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, when documentation and data indicate that:
a. Use by non-motorized users is prohibited by law
b. The cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable future use
c. There is an absence of current or future need; or
d. Inclusion of such infrastructure would be contrary to public safety or would be unreasonable or inappropriate in light of the scope of the project.

I believe the King St. plans fall short in C/D. We don't really know who these 38 people are. They aren't necessarily affected by the proposal.

I'm offering Duke St. because it meets all of the criteria of a successful complete street. I say leave these King St. residents alone and focus on something that will have a much greater long-term benefit for the city.

by movement on Dec 6, 2013 7:32 pm • linkreport

So auto-dismissal of all the testimony in favor of the lanes and the claim that bike lanes are unsafe and the safe practice is to ride on the shoulder and just weave into traffic when a car is parked there. Otherwise just get off and walk.

Ok.

by Drumz on Dec 6, 2013 7:37 pm • linkreport

Do the drivers realize how self-defeating this is? They could have had cyclists in a separate lane and out of their way. Now we're going to be smack in the middle of the bike lane that already exists (aka "the road"), going at our own pace, i.e. a lot slower than they would like to go, and they'll be stuck. Honk all y'all want, IDGAF.

Remember, bike-only lanes don't only (or even primarily) benefit cyclists.

by bertbikes on Dec 6, 2013 7:57 pm • linkreport

What’s really funny here besides militant cyclists and a city that changes so slowly is why anyone obsesses over King Street. That overcrowded street is flanked by underused streets that would serve cyclists, cars, or parkers far more safely than King any day or night.

by AndrewJ on Dec 7, 2013 7:23 am • linkreport

No, insanity is suggesting that more than 1/3 of the available road space in this section of road should be dedicated to the exclusive use of cyclists who make up less than 1% of the traffic.

City-wide, I'm confident that Alexandria has not dedicated 1/3 of the road to cyclists. If cyclists can only get 1% of any road then you're saying no bike lanes anywhere ever. Also, I think cyclists are more than 1% of traffic, and I know that Alexandria WANTS cyclists to be more than 1% of traffic.

But this isn't how we make decisions. We build a transportation network based on how it helps us achieve our goals. Which in this case would mean bike lanes.

by David C on Dec 7, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Dear Movement,

I am a bike commuter who uses King St every workday. I live off of Taylor Run, just over the hill from where you live. I am not that hard to find. Tomorrow I will be biking down King Street, wearing a red jacket with flashing lights on my bike, between 6:30 and 7:00 am. I will be biking back up King St between 4:30 and 5:00. I hope that will make will make it easier for you to spot me than Sasquatch.

And if you were at the recent board meeting, I was one of the 38 who spoke. I explained then that I started biking to the King St Metro last year instead of driving to work. I was trying to save money, and I enjoy the exercise. As a father of 3 kids, it's some of the only time I have for exercise.

My office is at the Navy Yard, in the same building where the shooting took place. Our office has since been relocated to Buzzard Point, where there is almost no parking. On a very practical level, driving to work is not an option for me.

Neither is waiting forma bus. My children attend an after school program at MacArthur Elementary. I try to get them as quickly as possible so that I can get them home, help them with their homework, make dinner and get them to bed.

So to answer the questions that you posted yesterday at 6:53 a) Bike commuters exist. I bike everyday, my neighbor bikes King street everyday, and I know many others in my neighborhood who bike regularly to work. b) and c) You may disagree, but biking on King St is my best option. Cars on Duke travel 10-15 mph faster, and there is the Telegraph Road exchange to navigate. And Walnut, though widely recommended by those opposed to bike lanes, has to be one of the steepest streets in Alexandria.

And as for d), of course having bike lanes on King Street would make a tangible difference! I wouldn't have to dodge pedestrians and signs on the sidewalk. I wouldn't have to weave between parked and moving cars while biking uphill.

So please stop pretending people like me exist. I am not a member of a large outside bike organization trying to change the world. I am just a hardworking husband, father, federal worker, and citizen of Alexandria who is trying to get to work.

by Rich S on Dec 7, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

That overcrowded street is flanked by underused streets that would serve cyclists, cars, or parkers far more safely than King any day or night.

They wouldn't serve cyclists better. That's the point.

by David C on Dec 7, 2013 10:30 pm • linkreport

Thanks to all for comments and often-useful discussion.

More responses...

"That overcrowded street is flanked by underused streets that would serve cyclists, cars, or parkers far more safely than King any day or night."

The stretch of King St at issue is between Russell Rd and Janneys Ln. There is no useful parallel route. Even cyclists who ride a contorted path to minimize their exposure to King St, such as riding up steep (9 percent grade) Walnut verus moderate (5 percent grade) King, do end up on King St for a short distance.

"On flat terrain this [that biking takes 1/4 the enegry of walking] is true. On an upgrade, not even remotely so. A strong runner doesn't lose much speed going uphill. A biker loses half his speed or more and uses a lot more energy."

This is silly. I started to type "now you are just making stuff up," but you've been doing this the entire time. The mechanics that make biking so much more eficient than walking are still valid on hills. For people who don't "get" the factor of four in efficiency, I'll remind everyone that a big-deal-for-a-beginner bike ride ("century", 100 miles) is almost exactly 4 times the distance of a big-deal-for-a-beginner run ("marathon", 26 miles).

And, yes, a "century" ride is still called a "century" when it is hilly. It is _not_ called a "super OMG there's a hill will someone please call a gang of NIMBY parking enthusiasts and beg them to please save us from ourselves by outlawing this impossible race century."

by Jonathan Krall on Dec 8, 2013 7:22 am • linkreport

@Rick S.
Thank you for your comments. I submit that if a proper cycletrack was built on Duke St., you would never ride on King St. again. I don't know why this isn't in the works, but it is unfortunate for you and your neighbor.

@JK
You've got to be kidding me. Biking is nothing like running/running. The overall 4X efficiency does not apply across all terrain - biking downhill is much much easier than running downhill. Biking uphill is roughly equivalent to doing stairs.

by movement on Dec 8, 2013 9:13 am • linkreport

so no bike lane means bikers are riding in the street, right? Now I feel bad for car drivers. They really need their own driving lane so they don't get stuck behind bikes moving slowly up the hill.

Why don't those poor car drivers demand their own lanes? "WE DEMAND DRIVING LANES LANES NOW"

by Tom A. on Dec 8, 2013 10:15 am • linkreport

Movement: please look at a map. King Street and Duke Street do not parallel each other here. Whether one is better or worse than the other for bikes is irrelevant.

by jimble on Dec 8, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

Movement,

You're moving the goalposts again. You asked for specific examples and then dismissed it.

by Drumz on Dec 8, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

I appreciate the support I'm seeing here in favor of enhancing safety for our most vulnerable transportation users. However, I would urge that you all not allow yourselves to be drawn into an endless debate with anonymous critics. Look past their efforts to keep Alexandria car-dependent, polluted, and unsafe, all for the sake of parking spaces that are only 10% utilized. The compromise plan preserves over 25% of all the spaces.
No, it is far better for you all to immediately reach out to Alexandria's Council and demand that they put their rhetoric about public safety and sustainability into action. King Street is a test of the City's resolve and, thanks to the national media efforts of a couple of local critics, a precedent for the country as a whole. Let's see it through. Thanks for your support!

by Kevin H Posey on Dec 8, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

@drumz
I'm not trying to move the goalposts. I'm trying to find them. To me the key is being pragmatic. Pissing off a handful of residents to the benefit of a handful of cyclists is not pragmatic.

@jimble
I am well aware of the topography of the region. If Rick's comment is typical, the commuting need is to access Mt. Vernon Trail, not Old Town. I maintain that if Taylor Run improvements are completed (I understand something is in the works) and if Duke St. gains a cycletrack, people will forget all about King St.

@Posey
Talk about rhetoric. Adding bike lanes to King St. will have a minimal impact on safety, car dependence, or pollution. It isn't as if there are legions of people saying "I'd love to bike King St. to Old Town and back but I can't because there is no bike lane." A small number of people can and do ride this route. It isn't ideal (then again nothing in a 200+ year old city is) and it will not be ideal even if your lanes are added. Instead of trying to make this a national referendum against local residents, how about focusing your energy on a region that will actually have a significant impact.

These are my last words on the topic. Thank you for reading.

by movement on Dec 8, 2013 10:29 pm • linkreport

The goals were clear all along. You either build bike lanes to satisfy the existing cyclists and even encourage more people to bike. Or you keep the parking that is underused anyway. Motivations and the cyclists "need" to take King over any route don't really matter.

by drumz on Dec 8, 2013 11:32 pm • linkreport

I do want to hear more about this mysterious Duke Street Cycletrack which I've only encountered in my wildest dreams. If that was a serious proposal on the table, I would happily take that over a painted white line on King Street however the fact remains that no such plan for a cycletrack is in the works anywhere so I'll fight for something on King Street since according to city planning, anytime a street is repaved, it is to be reevaluated to see if Complete Streets can be applied.

You can be sure that when the city talks about repaving Duke Street, I'll be there urging for a cycletrack. I hope to see you there as well, movement.

by CyclistinAlexandria on Dec 9, 2013 9:24 am • linkreport

Something I'd like to hear are the people who actually commute this stretch of road by bike.

Then you should have gone to/stayed at the Nov 28th meeting. There were several, at least a third of the pro-lane speakers there. All the NIMBYS signed up to speak early and left without hearing any differing opinions, or responses to their ideas. Incluiding the fact, movement, that Duke street is (a) actually literally a highway on the streach we're discussing and (b) doesn't go to the same places at King. I'm still waiting for your thoughts on that.

And in terms of the things you're waiting to hear about? They have been gone over AD NAUSEUM. And you're just not paying attention (slash not attending/staying at meetings where this is all hashed out.

by Catherine on Dec 9, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

@Movement - I respect your right to advocate for keeping the parking spaces in question. However, as indicated by your suggestions that bicyclists dismount while biking uphill along King St., you do not appear to bike much, certainly not along this part of King St. Not that that's a problem per se, but it shows that you have not spent much time on a bike along King St., or elsewhere in the DC area. These comments of yours appear to show that you don't understand what bicyclists have to deal with. But I could be wrong about all this, I do grant you that.

by DaveG on Dec 9, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

Oh also,

We don't really know who these 38 people are. They aren't necessarily affected by the proposal. You'd know if you were there/if you stayed to listen. All 38 are directly effected, or in the case of one person, represented many hundreds more who are effected. Full names, addresses and opinions given and for most, very specific reasons why this is needed and how it effects them.

by Catherine on Dec 9, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

Right, @bertbikes but the issue here is that it's not *drivers* who are arguing against this, it's people wanting to park their cars. Anyone I've talked to who drives that streatch doesn't really care one way or the other but agrees that they dislike being stuck behind cyclists going up that hill and that it's currently a dangerous setup and that a bike lane would solve that problem.

@ AndrewJ You've got the very wrong streach of King Street here. This is not King Street in Old Town, but King west of the metro going towards TC Williams etc. And there are no parallel roads (as much as movement is willing Duke to be one).

by Catherine on Dec 9, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

Kevin (and Jonathan)

Would it be possible to create a task force to address the issue that included representatives of the adjoining residents, of the cycling community, and of city staff, that could thrash out the issues? I realize that the City and y'all were blindsided by the intensity of opposition, and there isn't much time before the repaving happens. But I think opportunities for buy in are good. A process that began with the needs, without committing to a particular solution might be the first step to getting residents to realize what the problem is - clearly many know far less about how people bike than they think they do. Its hard to reach even something close to consensus when folks are ignorant of the others' needs.

I am watching this closely, and concerned about process, because FFX will soon be adopting its bike master plan - I don't want that to be a paper plan that gets filled with holes at the first sign of opposition, but I realize political reality, and wonder if there is a process that would ease things like this.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 9, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity
The rapaving has already happened and there are temporary paint lines on the road right now. Which the neighbors are complaining have made the road even more dangerous than it normally is, but they're the ones who fought for it. Go figure.

And the suggestion from the board was to create a group like the one you've proposed. The thing is, the city staff has been working with everyone here--it's not like there hasn't been any input. Either way, no news on a task force of any kind.

And it's not the intensity--this is kind of standard for any time people mention bike lanes. The key difference in this case is extreme wealth and influence and the absurdly selfish status quo they're fighting for.

This is all over a handful of parking spaces, remember. Most of which are not used. And those few that *are* used were factored into a compromise plan presented at the November meeting. Those few spaces that are used, are now not proposed to go anywhere. There will be (wrongly) sharrows instead around that little area (logistically this means weaving in and out of traffic by cyclists). This continued fight is about keeping the option of having the little-used spaces for private use when and if they may want them. Plain and simple.

by Catherine on Dec 9, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

Saying that being half a mile from anything and thus 'being car dependent' is so laughable that I don't even know where to start.

It is truly pathetic that humans have come to whining about walking half a mile when they colonized the world on foot over the course of millenia.

by AlexCarLight on Dec 10, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

I don't mind sharing the roads in Alexandria and elsewhere with bikers who respect the traffic laws. But, to date, most don't. All they do with their careless disregard of the rules is make our roads less safe and driving more of a hassle. I haven't see any effort at enforcement by the police, either. Until this changes, using tax dollars to create more and more bike lanes will simply continue as one of the things that drive decent people to vote Republican.

by RH of Alexandria on Dec 11, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

"I don't mind sharing the roads in Alexandria and elsewhere with bikers who respect the traffic laws."

Really? Really?!? Do we really need to re-hash the "bicyclists are scofflaws" thing again? Once more (with feeling): Cyclists are people. They don't suddenly become lawless lunatics when they put down their car keys and put up their kick stands.

This silly discriminatory myth has nothing to do with cyclist behavior and everything to do with the social convention that bicycling is "weird" and driving is "normal" (including routine speeding--just try driving _below_ the speed limit when not in a traffic jam and see how many other drivers make rude gestures at you).

by Jonathan Krall on Dec 12, 2013 3:25 am • linkreport

RH,

I get why people have that sentiment but I'll ask you to consider two things:

A: since when do we base our infrastructure decisions on the behavior of people? Have we ever refused to repave a road because drivers speed or paint a crosswalk because people jay walk?

B: Because its so tough to bike in most places and the dangers to a cyclist mostly come from things outside of his/her control it becomes easy to see why a cylist tends to ignore traffic control devices meant mainly for cars. In fact, the more cyclists you have the less need you have for traffic control devices (how many are on the major trails in the area)? The fact that cyclists don't need things like stop lights and stop signs as much as a car is something to be celebrated I'd argue.

If you don't believe me then try it. Take a day to ride Cabi around Old Town and you'll see.

As for tickets, I can't answer for Alexandria PD but in a hear last year DC police chief Cathy Lanier said MPD wrote 3000 tickets to cyclists.

by drumz on Dec 12, 2013 7:45 am • linkreport

I don't mind sharing the roads in Alexandria and elsewhere with motorists who respect the traffic laws. But, to date, most don't. All they do with their careless disregard of the rules is make our roads less safe and cycling more of a hassle. I haven't see any effort at enforcement by the police, either. Until this changes, using tax dollars to create more and more roads will simply continue as one of the things that drive decent people to vote Democrat.

by CyclistinAlexandria on Dec 12, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

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