November 21, 2013

A letter to Alexandria

There's been much in the news lately about a proposal to add bike lanes to a portion of King St west of Old Town, from Russell Rd up to Janney's Ln.  This segment of King St is pretty narrow and is on a fairly long incline.  The existing road has 2 lanes plus a parking lane...the original proposal was to take the parking lane, restripe the road, and add bike lanes on each side of the street, making it much safer for cyclists.  It would also tie into the bike lanes on Janney's Ln.

This being Alexandria, of course, there is some small but extremely vocal opposition to removing the parking.  Enough to where the city has both toned down the original proposal to include sharrows in some locations, but also conducted a study to see how utilized the existing parking was.  They concluded that an average of 3 cars a day were parking on King Street.  Meanwhile, a recent Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee bike count noted 8 bicyclists on King St during a 2-hour period, suggesting that there are more than 8 a day.

(Apologies that I don't have sources for those counts...the parking count happened while I was still at sea.  If you know of sources I can link to, please let me know!)

Below is the letter I sent to the city, utilizing a webform offered by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, but modifying the language that CSG suggested:


I support full, dedicated bike lanes on King Street between Russell Road and Janney's Lane.  These lanes will connect the bike lanes on Janney's to the Metro and Old Town, making it easier for Alexandrians to commute by bike and Metro, and are much safer for bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians than the sharrows option currently under consideration by city staff.

Furthermore, let's look at this by the numbers.  According to city counts, an average of 3 vehicles per day park on the on street parking.  Per bike counts done by the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, 8 bicycles were counted in a 2-hour period, suggesting that there are more than 8 bikes a day.  Simple math logic notes that 8 > 3.

I support the compromise proposed by the Alexandria BPAC and supported by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, that keeps the original plan for full bike lanes extending to Janneys Lane, while providing a significantly wider, five-foot bike lane on the north side of King St. The wider north-side lane balances the residents' interest in having a safe buffer to pull in and out of their driveways with the need to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

I appreciate what the city is doing with regards to promoting bicycling as an alternative means of transportation in order to reduce congestion and pollution.  But if the city bows down on this project or cancels it outright, it will prove that city leaders aren't even providing lip service to better bicycling, but are backtracking on their own policies and transportation plans.  That is an inconsistency the city can ill afford.

Thank you,

1 comment:

Jonathan Krall said...

FYI, the bicycle count was 11 per hour between 5 and 7 pm. Counts were taken on three successive days during the week and averaged to get that number.

However, because conditions on King St are so unpleasant, may of those accessed King St via Walnut, which is steeper than King, and then got off of King St as soon as possible. It is reasonable to expect that those numbers would increase quite a bit it there was a more direct path to the Metro on King itself (Walnut is perpendicular to King and does not bring people closer to the Metro station).