Greater Greater Washington

Sustainability


An environmentalist says Gray is greener

The author is Conservation Chair of the DC Sierra Club and a member of the Board of Directors of the national Sierra Club.

From an environmental standpoint, the decision between Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray is not difficult. Fenty has repeatedly disappointed with his budget, personnel, and regulatory decisions, while Gray has been the greenest Chairman ever.


Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.

Four years ago, Tony Williams was stepping down after eight years as the District's first pro-environment Mayor. He had stood with us in our various park-protection battles (including the defense of Klingle Valley and Anacostia National Park), supported Dan Tangherlini's visionary plans for new streetcar lines, and put Jim Sebastian in charge of the new Bicycle Office and given him an ambitious agenda.

He commissioned the Office of Planning to develop a terrific new development and preservation plan for the Anacostia, and signed several cutting-edge laws passed by the DC Council, including the Tree Bill, the hazmat train prohibition, and the Green Buildings law. He had worked with the Council to create a new Department of the Environment (DDOE).

But in September of 2006 the Sierra Club couldn't decide whom to endorse for Mayor. Neither Linda Cropp nor Adrian Fenty had been an ally previously. Both were big fans of paving Klingle Valley, and neither seemed likely to support the ever-greener ambitions of the Council. For the first time in many cycles, we made no mayoral endorsement. Gray won our endorsement for Chairman over green Kathy Patterson, to the surprise of many. He was simply stronger on the issues.

Since his election in 2006, Fenty has done a good job of continuing Williams' bicycle and streetcar initiatives, both of which are now more than eight years old. But by every other measure, the Mayor has been a great disappointment to environmentalists.

On Anacostia Park, within his first six months in office Fenty dismantled the Anacostia Waterfront Development Corporation, which had been charged with implementing the vision articulated in the Anacostia Framework Plan of 2003. He now wants to build 6 million square feet of commercial and residential development at Poplar Point, compared with the approximately 1 million square feet that had been negotiated during the Plan's development. Defending Poplar Point is the Sierra Club's top land-use priority.

Fenty put a good man, George Hawkins, at the helm of DDOE, but then repeatedly saddled the agency with bloated green-jobs programs that drove Hawkins and most of his senior staff crazy. Hawkins ultimately left for WASA (now DC Water).

Fenty also wouldn't allow Hawkins to express support for Tommy Wells' wildly-successful grocery bag fee bill, which passed the Council with nary a dissenting vote.

This year the Mayor instituted major funding cuts for DDOEmore than for any other agency. He then raided the supposedly sacrosanct "Tree Fund," transferring $539,000 of "dedicated" tree revenues into the General Fund.

As we approached the culmination of our campaign to force Congress to quit burning coal in the Capitol Power Plant, we approached the Mayor with an offer to put him in front of our campaign. We considered this a no-brainer given the obvious health impacts of burning tons of coal in the middle of the District, not to mention the global warming implications. But the Mayor wouldn't accept our offer despite the silver platter. Only weeks later, Congress caved in. Decades of coal-burning in downtown DC ended last year!

Similarly, reduced greenhouse gas emissions are the central goal of DC's new Sustainable Energy Utility. But Fenty recently proposed to reduce its budget by 85%. He then tried to slash the DC tax credits for solar energy installations.

Then the Mayor nominated Lori Leehis wife's best friendto chair the Public Service Commission, which regulates electricity production and sales. When I sat down with her she quickly revealed that she knew nothing of the subject, candidly admitting that she didn't even know what global warming is ("something to do with the ozone layer?") We managed to bump her down from Chair to Member.

The Mayor is also fighting us on the pending "MS4" stormwater discharge permit from EPA. We would like to see improvements in the draft permit, but generally support its rigor. The Administration is doing its best to weaken it, arguing that the suburbs should take the lead on water quality improvement.

Meanwhile, during his six years on the Council, Chairman Gray has always been a friend of the District's environmental movement. My records show that he has been a 100% green voter for his entire tenure.

Earlier this year Vince valiantly fended off Mayor Fenty's proposed cuts in next year's budget for sustainable energy development, rooftop solar, as well as basic funding for DDOE. This largely unheralded work came at a steep price, because other budget priorities had to be sacrificed. Granted, he wavered for hours on streetcar funding, but ultimately made the right call. This was, after all, a very tough budget year.

Vince has supported our campaign to save Klingle Valley since the days when Adrian was holding pro-road press conferences in the Valley itself. In responding to our recent political questionnaire, he distinguished himself from Mayor Fenty in his commitment to oppose over-the-top development at Poplar Point.

Gray talks to us. He attended the Sierra Club's Annual Dinner last Fall and gave a rousing address. This is a leader whom we can trust and fully expect to work with in the coming years.

For these and related reasons, the Sierra Club's leadership voted unanimously (10-0) to endorse Gray.

If we want Washington to take its rightful place alongside Seattle and San Francisco as one of America's most progressive environmental cities, we need an executive that will work hand-in-hand with our now progressive legislature. Gray has the vision; Fenty doesn't. And Gray will end the war-between-the-branches that has held DC in second gear for four years.

Jim Dougherty is Director of the DC Sierra Club

Comments

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Did you say 'an environmentalist' or 'someone who works for the Sierra Club'? Two different things.

One more reason to vote Fenty.

by Peter Smith on Sep 7, 2010 1:19 pm • linkreport

He now wants to build 6 million square feet of commercial and residential development at Poplar Point, compared with the approximately 1 million square feet that had been negotiated during the Plan's development. Defending Poplar Point is the Sierra Club's top land-use priority.

Is the Sierra Club contending that less development at lower densities on top of a Metro station is a good thing for the environment?

Uh, color me skeptical.

by Huh on Sep 7, 2010 1:26 pm • linkreport

Summary...
Gray = listen, hold my hand and do nothing, which of course makes lovers of the status quo (i.e. Sierra Club, Comm 100 etc) happy.

by lee in DC on Sep 7, 2010 1:31 pm • linkreport

In my experience, the Sierra Club is working hard to change the status quo (e.g., the coal plants mentioned in the article).

by David desJardins on Sep 7, 2010 1:37 pm • linkreport

Bottom line seems to be that Gray reaches out and makes a special interest group feel loved and Fenty just went out and got stuff done.

by Fritz on Sep 7, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

Gray winning will be a disaster for the environment. All of the people who have moved into DC since Williams first became mayor are going to move back out once Gray throws the whole process into reverse and takes us back to the kind of government DC had under Marion Barry. The result? Much more auto commuting, much more traffic, and much more vehicle emissions.

by Rob on Sep 7, 2010 1:52 pm • linkreport

Granted, he wavered for hours on streetcar funding, but ultimately made the right call.

If by "wavered", you mean "eliminated it, then borrowed money to restore it when he got caught and his office was flooded with calls", then sure, I guess. But I'm with commenters on this - it sounds like using "green space" as an impetus to prevent development.

by J.D. Hammond on Sep 7, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

This is article seems a tad unfair in dismissing Fenty's good efforts as merely the continuation of the Williams administration.

Furthermore, by making Washington a more desirable city in other ways (e.g. crime, schools, public services, etc.) Fenty has made denser urban living more attractive. The city's population has continued to increase as more people with the means to choose where they live choose to live in the District. In DC, the transportation network, density of housing, and the smallness of houses all make the city intrinsically more environmentally friendly than most of the suburbs.

by Eric Fidler on Sep 7, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

Why dies it seem like David is trying to set up interference for a cop out and endorsing Gray?

by John on Sep 7, 2010 2:21 pm • linkreport

This guy's motivation for supporting Gray is the same as David's. They've seen the polls saying Gray will win and are throwing their brown-nosing efforts into overdrive in an attempt to preserve their access to power.

It's really unseemly to see David focus on access rather than honesty. It's a common practice among "journalists" in DC, but most of those people need the access so they can keep churning out stories in order to avoid getting sacked in an imploding industry. David has no such concerns.

by Phil on Sep 7, 2010 2:36 pm • linkreport

I appreciate the Sierra club's perspective, but I think that it focuses on individual projects and whether Fenty plays nice. This overlooks the bigger picture. Getting people to live in DC, closer to where they work, is crucial to controlling auto-related emissions. People in smaller, urban settings typically use less energy on their houses, use less chemicals on their lawns, less water, etc. People have been rehabbing dilapidated houses and removing the lead paint, etc. All of this is good for the environment.

by SJE on Sep 7, 2010 2:37 pm • linkreport

J.D. Hammond's comment said it best in every respect. I'm really tired of reading revisionist history about the day when Gray decided to ELIMINATE THE ENTIRE STREETCAR FUNDING. Apparently he wants to blame a staffer, but that just means that either (A) he's incompetent and allows his staff to move tens of millions of taxpayer dollars around in the budget without his knowledge or approval, or (B) he's a big fat liar and was totally on board with slashing the streetcar program all along, and is now trying to get an (unnamed!) staff member to take the blame, which is "leadership" the District does not need.

I am really sorry to see the Sierra Club lose sight of what really matters in this city - dense, progressive urbanism that raises the quality of life for everyone and drastically reduces the polluting use of the automobile and the endless resource consumption of suburbia. Gray, who just last week complained at a debate that parking prices in the District were "outrageous," is clearly NOT the candidate for taking the city forward in this respect. That the Sierra Club would get its panties in a twist over rooftop solar panels (which, although I support, are an expensive way to displace a relatively limited amount of pollution) and end up supporting the anti-streetcar, pro-endless-parking candidate in this race is really, really unfortunate for those of us who really do care about environmental progress in the 21st century.

by Jeb on Sep 7, 2010 2:38 pm • linkreport

What they always fail to mention is that the "rogue staffer" is one of the Committee of 100, who are reflexively against the streetcars, they are still on staff in a senior level position, and will likely be part of a Gray Mayoral Admin.

by John on Sep 7, 2010 2:51 pm • linkreport

The problem is that the Sierra Club in DC is caught between two poles. One the one hand, they have the traditional save anything green side that tries to preserve habitat within the city, hence Klingle Valley and Poplar Point. This is environmental in a way, but it's also the opposite of environmental in all the ways people describe above.

The other pole, obviously is the smart growth view, which wouldn't be logically opposed to the development of Rock Creek Park if the development were transit oriented and guaranteed a park in Virginia remained undeveloped. The fact is that the Sierra Club has done some good work on this account, they've been pushing the full streetcar network for years even when (or rather especially when) the DC government appeared to lose interest.

All in all, though I think the DC Sierra Club is clearly more inclined to the first pole. Is it a coincidence that the vast majority of their members are in Ward 3 and live the sort of let me still drive to work if it's a Prius and let me live in this big house if I get solar panels "green" lifestyle? Doubt it.

by Reid on Sep 7, 2010 3:02 pm • linkreport

I wasn't aware that you endorsed Gray over Kathy Patterson last time around. That really makes me question any endorsement you have to make. Kathy Patterson was a great council member and I for one miss her. Her Ward 3 replacement is just kind of feh.

by copperred on Sep 7, 2010 3:08 pm • linkreport

"Gray talks to us. He attended the Sierra Club's Annual Dinner last Fall and gave a rousing address. This is a leader whom we can trust and fully expect to work with in the coming years."

Wow. Blow in my ear and I'll follow you anywhere. He actually talked to you and aroused you! Sleep around much, politically?

by Simply Gaga on Sep 7, 2010 3:15 pm • linkreport

I'd also like to quibble about this:

If we want Washington to take its rightful place alongside Seattle and San Francisco as one of America's most progressive environmental cities

Do you know how they do things in Seattle? It took thirty years for them to finally commit to building light rail, and it's taking them twenty more to commit to building the system as it was originally planned. Or, well, some of it, anyway: the western reaches were proposed as monorail, which took fifteen years and billions of dollars in development before it was canceled because no one could decide on a beamway. Now the mayor wants to build light rail in the ROW, but I have no idea whether he'll actually have succeeded in doing so twenty years down the road.

Oh, and the chemical industry managed to destroy their bag tax after pouring billions of dollars into marketing and buying a public referendum on it. This is seen as environmental leadership? I like Seattle, too, but does anyone who touts its municipal model have any idea how it actually functions? (Or doesn't?)

by J.D. Hammond on Sep 7, 2010 3:18 pm • linkreport

@Reid: I think that's an oversimplification. Poplar Point is located right at the cross point of the river heading into the central city. It's a prime candidate for high density development due to location, in a way that Rock Creek and Fort Dupont is not. I think a more accurate view would be that "smart growth" types would argue to see if the ciity could trade an expansion of Fort Dupont and consolidation with Fort Davis, possibly by offering any folks between the two with a nice place in Poplar Point to keep the same square footage of park space, but use it in a more effective manner.

Now that likely wouldn't be politically possible, but it would be more along the lines of the logic. Promote green improvements in both ways. Many times Sierra's view is just another NIMBY variant.

by John on Sep 7, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport

John, what I guess I was saying is that given the right conditions (say a new light rail instead of Rock Creek Parkway), a smart growther would not object to the development of Rock Creek Park. The point being that they are not simply veiling nimbyism behind environmentalism. I think we agree but I just didn't express myself well.

by Reid on Sep 7, 2010 3:37 pm • linkreport

Um, no, I think that actually makes it clearer that you think urbanists are somehow almost entirely indifferent to the destruction of urban parkland.

by J.D. Hammond on Sep 7, 2010 3:45 pm • linkreport

Not indifferent, just willing to see the bigger picture and not be hung up on treating all green space in an urban setting as sacrosanct. Green space saved here probably dooms even more green space in the suburbs to development.

by Reid on Sep 7, 2010 4:02 pm • linkreport

Jim,

I'm with you 100%. Some development is needed sure, and I doubt you or the Sierra Club stands in the way of all development. You would of course naturally want to preserve parkland and watersheds, as well as cleaning up our rivers. I get it. I support you. I do hope you can take the opportunity to rebut some of these comments. Environmentalism exists in the city. Thank you, and congratulations on your successes.

Much of the development that is advocated by these commenters does not encourage sustainable living, but rather heavy, energy-intensive turnover of the populace, which is damaging to the environment.

There does seem to be a fundamental question forming about *whose* is the "real" environmentalism. It would be interesting to have an informed debate on this.

by Jazzy on Sep 7, 2010 4:53 pm • linkreport

@JD Is San Fran much of a better model either?

BART is often thought of as Metro's cousin, which is true in a lot of ways. They both have almost exactly the same amount of track, and were built around the same time using similar technologies.

However, Metro carries almost twice as many people per day, and the streets of San Francisco remain clogged with traffic. As bad as DC's suburban sprawl is, I'd argue that the SF Bay Area has it a lot worse. Moreover, the density is too low to explore rapid transit options, whereas the gaps in DC's transit network are fairly well-defined, and should be relatively easy to fill in (with the Silver Line filling in one particularly huge gap).

San Francisco's geography also isn't exactly conducive to bicycling. (This isn't anybody's "fault," but remains true nevertheless)

Out of all of the US Cities, the dirty and extravagant New York City is unquestionably the most "green."

For all of DC and Metro's faults, we've been holding our own pretty well.

by andrew on Sep 7, 2010 5:00 pm • linkreport

FWIW, the western and midwestern cities consistently outrank NYC as greener in those greenest city rankings. Where NYC leads everyone is transportation. And possibly green space.

by Jazzy on Sep 7, 2010 5:21 pm • linkreport

I think the 'parkland vs. development' debate can easily be summed up, if not fully debated, by saying "urban growth boundary" -- i.e. i don't think it's a 'parkland vs. development' issue at all.

And, I think making blanket statements about what 'smart growthers' would want is problematic because either smart growthers don't have a consensus on what they want, or they shouldn't -- i.e. there's some general consensus around some key concepts, but once you get into specifics, all bets are off. My opinion.

As for whose enviro credentials are the fer realest, i'd say talk to me about bike lanes and related bike infrastructure, and talk to me about how much of it was done in the face of opposition from various interest groups, and how intense was that opposition. Bikes are, in my opinion, the gateway drug to the new sustainability/environmentalism -- the push to allow people to ride bikes almost certainly has to be _the_ key to producing a cleaner, greener, more sane, more fair, more fun, more pleasant, more prosperous city.

Right now, DC is up there with New York and Portland in terms of pro-actively working to allow people to ride bikes. Top 3. In the nation. In my opinion. That's no joke. A lot of that has to do w/ this blog, WABA, etc., but it also has to do with Klein, Fenty, etc. Gray's comments about biking make him sound like a typical right wing hate radio DJ. I dunno, from the biking point of view, the decision is easy. And biking is, in my opinion, so important right now that is virtually overpowers just about every other aspect of any particular administration. The civilizing, economic benefits-creating, and parity-making effects of biking on a city are only just now beginning to be understood.

On other topics, I would argue that if a city's streets are not clogged -- with people, bikes, cars, trains, whatever -- then you're doing it wrong.

SF's hills do not keep people from biking, just like Chicago's winters do not keep people from biking, just like Portland's rain does not keep people from biking, just like Austin's heat does not keep people from biking, just like...

Bikes up! Everyone not down with bikes down!

by Peter Smith on Sep 7, 2010 5:33 pm • linkreport

I am not aware of any comments by Gray that fit the following:

Gray's comments about biking make him sound like a typical right wing hate radio DJ.

by Fred on Sep 7, 2010 6:04 pm • linkreport

That the Sierra Club would get its panties in a twist over rooftop solar panels

I think you meant to use a non-sexist expression like:

agitated, all torn up, amazed, antsy*, apprehensive, blue*, broken up, bummed out, capsized, chaotic, come apart, confused, disconcerted, dismayed, disordered, disquieted, distressed, dragged, frantic, grieved, hurt, ill, in disarray, jittery, jumpy, low, muddled, overturned, overwrought, psyched out, rattled, ruffled, shocked, shook up, sick, spilled, thrown, tipped over, toppled, troubled, tumbled, unglued, unsettled, unzipped, upside-down, worried .

Though, 'unzipped' still sounds a little iffy.

by Peter Smith on Sep 7, 2010 6:09 pm • linkreport

I do not understand why greater urban density is somehow hostile to urban greenspace. Manhatten and Central Park, anyone?

by SJE on Sep 7, 2010 6:20 pm • linkreport

I am not aware of any comments by Gray that fit the following:

Here's one quote:

"I thought they were high when they did [the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes]. They are really ludicrous."

Compare that to what was written here and elsewhere about the Penn Ave bike lanes. It's voices of sanity/constructive criticism vs. O'Reilly/Beck/Limbaugh/Gray.

Gray has also called parking prices in the city 'outrageous'.

To Gray, bikers == dirty effing hippies.

The sitting council chairman said the sitting mayor, his DOT chief, and their entire staff must have been 'high' to put ill-designed bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. There are myriad ways the sitting council chairman could have expressed his strong opposition to the Penn Ave bike lanes, or to the way they were done/constructed/designed, and these myriad ways would have helped correct the situation while still providing the necessary political support for the people who were making bold changes to DC's streets in the name of allowing people to ride their bikes so that regular people, but in particular working-class and poor people, could improve their lives. Instead, Gray chose to take the 'high' road.

by Peter Smith on Sep 7, 2010 6:34 pm • linkreport

Today's events:
-- A coalition of non-profits met at noon on the edge of the Anacostia, calling for remediation of a half-dozen toxic hot spots. Gray attended, promising to take executive action on this. Fenty did not attend.
-- DCEN held its annual Mayoral Forum at 5:30 pm. Gray promised to restore the tree canopy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain support for Metro. Fenty did not attend.

by jim dougherty on Sep 7, 2010 10:33 pm • linkreport

I totally agree with the issue of promoting the need of DC becoming more bike friendly and how in doing so,it solves a lot of our environmental problems. What I would like to expound on is, the spin attemp on Chairman Grey's comment about the Pennsylvania avenue bike lanes, Mr. Grey was speaking on the rush job that resulted in the issues of confusion that the project experienced and the potential danger that it posed to biker's, which is real. This is much too important a project, not to give it the deepest consideration and the best plan that DCOP can compose.What ever your ideas are on the environment, we can all agree on the importance of addressing it for protectionist reason's if nothing else, that's the first law of nature, so it's only natural for a sitting Mayor to at the very least,express his or her vision in relation to the matter,because it's relevant insight too their views on the matter and help's one to decide whether they coincide with your's. But you have to at least show up so that distinction can be made.

by another native on Sep 8, 2010 1:27 am • linkreport

In re the Sustainable Energy Utility, didn't Vince and Adrian both commit to spend all of the money on green job creation back in July? Energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that maximize job creation are less effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. What's Sierra Club's take on this?

by Jobs or Climate Change? on Sep 8, 2010 9:54 am • linkreport

@jim dougherty - Is there anything Gray hasn't promised special interest groups at this point?

by Fritz on Sep 8, 2010 12:01 pm • linkreport

What I would like to expound on is, the spin attempt on Chairman Grey's comment about the Pennsylvania avenue bike lanes

i'm the only one who has written here of Gray's Penn Ave bike lane comments, so presumably you would be accusing me of spinning something. if there was any spin in anything I, or anyone else, wrote, please point it out.

Mr. Grey was speaking on the rush job that resulted in the issues of confusion that the project experienced and the potential danger that it posed to biker's, which is real.

ok, so you're saying that Mr. Gray decided to call Fenty and his staff 'high' and to call the Penn Ave bike lanes 'ludicrous' because he believed that a) the bike lanes were a rush job, b) there was confusion about the project, and c) it posed a danger to cyclists. that's your prerogative, and presumably Mr. Gray's, to make that case, but it doesn't contradict anything I wrote, and it doesn't un-spin anything i allegedly spun.

further, in choosing my words, I erred on the side of caution and directness, quoting Mr. Gray verbatim, and using phrases like 'ill-designed bike lanes' -- a descriptor that not even the most feckless he said/she said political reporter in America would grant a candidate. I did this just to make sure I was more than fair to Gray. And Gray has said, also, that bike lanes belong on only some streets, so it would be appropriate to conclude, absent clarification from the candidate, that he did not believe bike lanes belonged on Penn Ave at all.

Further, the original source for the Gray quote concluded this:

I didn't get the impression that installing more bike lanes would be high on Gray's priority list.

This sentiment was republished on this blog as a 'Breakfast Link', lending the viewpoint an even stronger sense of authenticity. You can agree with it or not, but that was someone else's judgment - not mine.

Also, I made clear that there were plenty of ways to criticize projects without resorting to the right-wing 'dirty effing hippies' attack, and I noted that the reporting here on this blog was measured. Mr. Gray decided it was OK to let fly with the ad hominem attacks. Again, that's his prerogative, but it's not something I need to defend -- he can do that himself -- if he thinks it's defensible, that is.

I know it's shocking to many people to see bikes being treated as a legitimate means of transportation -- I suspect this is especially true for someone like Gray, who does not ride a bike, and probably doesn't even remember riding a bike, since if he ever did ride a bike, it probably would have last been when he was a kid, fifty or so years ago. Still, this anti-bike rhetoric has no place in the world -- whether a politician is shocked by the audacity of us dirty effing hippies or not.

Any enemy of bike lanes is an enemy of humanity -- that's the double truth.

All that said, there is often, as in this case, too much attention being paid to what a candidate for office says, or said they meant when they said, or promises to say when they get in office, etc. Instead, we should concentrate on what we know to be true -- the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior (Goodbye, streetcars!), and The Investment Theory of Politics. Both candidates have multiple decades of life experience and financial backers to help us predict what their future behavior will be like -- we should pay attention to those attributes of the candidates, not campaign promises like 'humble foreign policy' and 'out of Afghanistan'.

by Peter Smith on Sep 8, 2010 1:34 pm • linkreport

Yea, Sierra Club has saved Klingle Valley, also known as a human health hazard. Sierra Club, and Vince Gray, thank you.

The rest of us want a road.

by Bill on Sep 8, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith: And Gray has said, also, that bike lanes belong on only some streets, so it would be appropriate to conclude, absent clarification from the candidate, that he did not believe bike lanes belonged on Penn Ave at all.

That is a wildly unreasonable inference from what you quoted. I would call it completely ridiculous. The quote seems on its face to be entirely about the questionable design. If you want to claim he's opposed to the idea, not just the design, you need some evidence. Otherwise it sense that you're being intentionally misleading.

by David desJardins on Sep 8, 2010 2:08 pm • linkreport

That is a wildly unreasonable inference from what you quoted.

Gray called those responsible for the Penn Ave bike lanes 'high' (on marijuana, presumably, as that is the best current meaning for the term), and he called the bike lanes 'really ludicrous'.

these are very strong statements. this is a substantial amount of evidence backing my assertion that Gray did not, and does not, want bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave at all. if you have evidence to suggest something different, please share it with the rest of us.

Gray is on record opposing bike lanes (and, presumably, infrastructure) on at least some streets, and he is also on record for his blistering attack on the Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes. I am not aware of Gray either explicitly or implicitly declaring his support for or rejection of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave -- all I have to go on are his statements -- his words -- they're not mine -- they're not yours -- they're his -- he needs to own them.

He could have said, "I support bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave, but these bike lanes are really ludicrous," but he did not -- to my knowledge.

Nor did he say, "I reject bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave, and these bike lanes are really ludicrous," -- to my knowledge.

Unless and until Gray can be shown to be supportive of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave, there is absolutely no reason to believe that he is supportive of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. There is, however, ample evidence to suggest Gray does not support bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave -- his words indicate his feelings towards bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave.

And putting bike lanes on big, important roads is absolutely critical to allowing people to get around by bike -- and it's no easy task, as the Penn Ave bike lanes show. Bike lanes on side streets are easy, and almost meaningless. Talk to me about the most major, most car-traffic-clogged, most ridiculous thoroughfares in DC -- these are the streets that must get bike lanes, and eventually, full-on bike infrastructure. There's no reason to believe that Gray would support tackling these difficult bike projects. In fact, it seems likely to me that he would remove the Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes as soon as he got into office, and could also remove many of the other imperfect bike improvements in the city -- the contraflow lanes, the cycletracks, you name it -- all in the name of 'safety'.

If there is some other evidence to suggest that Gray is at least OK with bike lanes on Penn Ave, or even other major streets like Penn Ave, even if not supportive of such measures, then please let us know about it.

Life is full of decisions. Words have meaning. Gray is on record.

by Peter Smith on Sep 8, 2010 3:18 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith: this is a substantial amount of evidence backing my assertion that Gray did not, and does not, want bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave at all.

On the contrary, it's not even a tiny amount of evidence of that.

If I look at a dangerous street intersection, and I say, "Wow, whoever designed that must have been high," does that imply that I oppose the construction of streets?? Give me a break.

I think the meaning of the words is completely clear and it's totally different from how you're trying to spin them.

by David desJardins on Sep 8, 2010 3:22 pm • linkreport

Bill: in what sense is the Klingle Valley a human health hazard?

by J.D. Hammond on Sep 8, 2010 3:57 pm • linkreport

If I look at a dangerous street intersection, and I say, "Wow, whoever designed that must have been high," does that imply that I oppose the construction of streets??

no. it doesn't mean that you oppose street lights, crosswalks, bikes, cars, or the sun, either -- so what?

whenever i see a raised median in the road, i think, "Wow, whoever designed that must have been high (and evil)" -- and that means I want those raised medians gone. I don't want them 'fixed' unless by 'fixed' you mean 'obliterated from the earth never to return'.

Gray wasn't criticizing Pennsylvania Ave, he was criticizing the bikes lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. at that point, we must conclude one of several things, but two of the most likely contenders come to mind:

1) Gray does not believe that bike lanes belong on Pennsylvania Ave at all, and/or

2) Gray does not believe that bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave were designed correctly, which may mean that they, a) should be redesigned and kept and/or expanded/improved further still, or b) eliminated.

Given his words, 1) seems most likely to me, with option 2b) the next best contender.

I read this stuff all the time -- the idea that bike lanes should appear on any street anywhere is a novel concept to many/most Americans. The idea that they should appear on major thoroughfares is extraordinarily rare among both the population and politicians -- maybe one-tenth of one percent of us. (Realistically, it's some very small fraction of even that.)

There's no reason to believe that the Penn Ave bike lanes, or any bike lanes, are permanent or untouchable. The privileged few (the drivers, the car dealers, etc.) are not going to go quietly. DC needs someone who is willing to spend serious political capital on defending the rights of the working class and poor -- one of the most effective, most concrete, longest-lasting ways to defend the least well off is to allow them to ride bikes to get around. That doing this also happens to have such profound benefits for the City as a whole should not be forgotten.

That there is even a race between Fenty and someone else shows how much political capital Fenty has spent on pushing bike infrastructure -- he's helped to endanger his own incumbency. Maybe it was just a political calculation on Fenty's part that backfired, but motivation is tough to pin down -- actual results on the ground are not.

Whoever gets in office -- they'll need to be pressured effectively. I just want to make sure I do my part to let concerned voters know that a) biking is pretty much the Best Thing Evah, and b) DC has been making great strides in allowing more people to bike, and this has a lot to do with Fenty sticking his neck out on the issue.

by Peter Smith on Sep 8, 2010 4:07 pm • linkreport

@Peter Smith: Given his words, 1) seems most likely to me, with option 2b) the next best contender.

Given your words, I think you must be high.

Rest assured, this doesn't mean I think your postings should be eliminated. I think you are just completely out of touch with reality.

That there is even a race between Fenty and someone else shows how much political capital Fenty has spent on pushing bike infrastructure -- he's helped to endanger his own incumbency.

Wow, this confirms it.

by David desJardins on Sep 8, 2010 4:18 pm • linkreport

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