View Full Version : Alexandrians: Oct 30: time to fight again for bike lanes on King Street's hill

10-25-2013, 11:06 PM
Next Wednesday night, Oct 30, Alexandria is holding another neighborhood meeting on the bike lanes that have been proposed on King St from the train stations up to Janneys Lane, which has recently acquired sharrows, street signs, and other accommodations designed to make it better for cycling.

This stretch of King St is a great choice for bike lanes. Not only would it facilitate movement between Janneys and the King St Metro, Amtrak, VRE, and DASH, but this stretch of King St has narrow sidewalks crowded by numerous landscaping walls, privacy fences, and even bolted-down city trash cans, and is quite steep -- this stretch goes up the hill that hosts the Masonic Memorial, which sits high above the city.

But there's a problem. Many neighborhood residents are fighting the bike lanes -- they'd rather have easy, free parking in front of their houses than facilitate healthy, human-scale transportation. The anti-lane faction has been active & vocal, at times spreading misinformation and hysterical fear-mongering (e.g. saying that the "loss of parking spaces... would be a major issue for" a number of things including "ambulances". That's right, a white stripe on the street is sure to slow down the fire department more than a parked car.)

Roughly 3/4 of the residents who would lose on-street parking on King St are on property that also borders side streets or streets parallel to King like Hillside and Outlook. So it's not even that they would have to park far from their houses after filling their driveways. Yes, driveways. Many of them have ample parking on their own property. I just saw a note from a resident who's been rousing opposition to the bike lanes -- her property has paved off-street parking for 4 cars. Is that not enough???

If you're the sort who can keep your cool, please come to the meeting next week to help balance the scales & show Alexandria's transportation planners that there is support for their efforts. If you can't come, or if you fear that you'll lose your cool when NIMBYs make absurd arguments about dedicated bike lanes on a steep hill being more dangerous than forcing all traffic into one lane, then please take some time to write thoughtful notes of support to Alexandria's Complete Streets Coordinator, Hillary Poole, at hillary.poole@alexandriava.gov, so she can include your comments in her presentations to the Traffic & Parking Board and, if needed, City Council.

To learn more, visit http://alexandriava.gov/localmotion/info/default.aspx?id=74320


10-29-2013, 06:43 PM
The city has posted an updated plan. In essence, it's a compromise to some resident complaints. More sharrows, fewer feet of dedicated bike lanes.


It doesn't look too bad, but it's not as good as the original plan. What's the line from Empire Strikes Back -- they have altered the plan, pray that they don't alter it further.

At least the city is still talking about bike lanes along most of the uphill section (from W Cedar up to Highland -- according to topo maps, Highland is pretty much the peak, about 20 feet higher than Upland). And the city is planning slightly wider bike lanes for the uphill section than the eastbound+downhill part (5' going up, 4' elsewhere), which seems smart. But the new plan calls for the bike lane ending abruptly at Highland, making room for a half block of onstreet parking before reverting to bike lane for another half block.

IMO it will be a clear improvement for cycling if "Concept 2" is adopted as-is, but I fear further capitulation to NIMBY residents if there isn't enough in-person and written support for bike lanes.

10-29-2013, 11:22 PM
The plan calls for the bike lane ending abruptly at Highland, making room for a half block of onstreet parking before reverting to bike lane for another half block.

Sure, they can park in the street and I can bike on their driveway and front lawn. Problem solved.

10-30-2013, 08:19 AM
Here's a petition letter from one of the neighbors, to give you an idea what's being said. I've partially redacted the residents' names, etc. As you can see, the opponents are polite and willing to spend time writing Alexandria city staff. Those of us who want the bike lanes need to do the same.


Yesterday [note: I think this means Thu, Oct 24] A____, another neighbor on King Street, began a petition drive to collect names and addresses of those opposed to losing parking spaces on King Street. Distribution just began yesterday and she said she has already gotten responses raising even more concerns. I am attaching a copy of the petition and would appreciate it if you would share it with neighbors who might want to add their name and address.

Thanks so much.


Oppose the Installation of Bike Lanes on King Street - Preserve the Parking Spaces

Dear Neighbor,

My name is A___ ___________ and I live at 22__ King Street, Alexandria. As you are probably aware, there is a proposal to eliminate the parking spaces on King Street and install bike lanes instead. You may find more details on this proposed project at the following website: www.alexandriava.gov/localmotion/info/default.aspx?id=74320

I have spoken with some of my neighbors on King Street and we share a number of concerns about the proposed plans, including those listed below. If you are interested in adding your name and address to a petition to oppose the installation of bike lanes on King Street and preserve the parking spaces, please email me at ______@gmail.com by Tuesday, October 29. I look forward to hearing from you!

Please also plan on attending the meeting about the proposals for King Street on Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM at Maury Elementary School, Russell Road.

Why King Street residents should oppose the installation of bike lanes on King Street:

· Loss of parking spaces on King Street would be a major issue for residents who need them for tradesmen, ambulances, moving vans, delivery trucks, mail delivery, guest parking (parties, open houses, etc.), as well as parking for their own cars.

· Loss of our parking spaces could impact the value of our homes.

· There is a concern for safety given that King Street is a major route to Alexandria from Arlington and Fairfax. Adding bicycles to heavy traffic on King Street is a lethal mix.

· Elimination of the parking spaces would not permit traffic to yield to emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances.

· It is highly unlikely that the installation of bike lanes will have a traffic calming effect. Rather, traffic calming measures such as speed cameras or curb extensions should be considered.

· The Police will no longer be able to park in the existing parking spaces on King Street to monitor traffic and conduct speed checks.

· Many of the local residents choose to ride their bicycles on other streets that are less steep than King Street. Therefore, it is not clear that there is a demand for bike lanes on King Street.

· The proposed bike lanes do not connect with other bike lanes, which could potentially be dangerous.

If you wish to send comments directly to the Alexandria City Manager for this project, email Hillary.poole@alexandriava.gov or call 703.746.4017.

10-30-2013, 08:31 AM
And here's another, from a neighborhood civic association. I find the end especially interesting -- the argument that having the city take its public roadway that's currently paved & painted for free on-street parking and turn it into a bike travel lane might be considered an eminent domain taking. Some neighbors seem to literally be claiming they own the road next to their house.

Where's WABA on this issue? I'm asking in earnest, having missed the last public meeting.

Hello TRCA neighbors,
Thank you for participating in our annual Fall Meeting on October 16th. As you know we touched on a number of subjects, one of which was the proposed bike lanes on King Street. Please find the letter below that TRCA sent on Oct 19th to Hillary Poole (who is spearheading the project for the city). The city will be holding another meeting on the bike lanes Wednesday, October 30th at 7pm at Maury Elementary. We encourage you to attend if you would like to further participate in this subject and voice your opinions on the proposal and its alternatives.

Hi Hillary,
Thank you for taking an interest in the opinions of those in Taylor Run as you make decisions and recommendations concerning the proposed bike lanes on King Street. As expected, our members had A LOT to say about this topic at our annual Fall Meeting, held this past Wednesday, October 16. While there was no consensus on a single path to take, there were a few ideas that received warmer reception than others. It should be noted that the meeting was attended by residents of King Street as well as bikers and surrounding neighbors. Here is a brief synopsis of the evening's opinions:

1. Everyone agrees that there is already to much traffic on King Street and we all want the street to be safer. They are extremely grateful for the Flashing Beacon at Upland, the pedestrian safety measures being taken at Highland as well as the speed board that may be installed.

2. Most people want to support biking and attested to the benefits to the environment and traffic flow. However, not everyone thinks that King Street is the place to do it.

3. There are some people (a minority) who think there should not be ANY bike lanes on King street at all. Many of these people live right on King and would be directly affected.

4. There are some people (mostly the bikers) who think there should be full bike lanes on both sides of King Street at all times

5. MOST of the people in attendance were in favor of a compromise solution that provides: An alternating bike lane/parking lane on the North side (climbing side) of King.

* Some people wanted to allow for bike lanes during Rush Hour and parking during all other times
* Others thought it would be best to have a bike lane during the day and parking at night (when it is not safe for biking on the street anyway).
* There were many bikers that were in favor of this solution—understanding full-well that this scenario involves being caught in rush hour traffic heading East/down the hill in the evening. (Note: Many of the bikers feel like they can not support a compromise solution, as it waters down their demands and they may end up with even less than the supported compromise).
* While there was not unanimous support for this solution, this alternative garnered the most support.

* The proposal to have parking limited to the 2500 block was favored in lieu of "No Parking" on King Street, but the following objections were pointed out:
* Seems unsafe to have bikers merge back into traffic
* Bikers might not expect cars to be parked there and be caught by surprise
* Would this make the turn onto Janney's safer or more dangerous?

* Sharrows were widely supported by everyone. Explained that having some markings would make things safer than what has existed (having bikes in the lanes with no explanation).
* There were many complaints about the recent decision to allow bikers of all ages on all sidewalks through the city.
* Many people wanted this law should be revisited to allow bikers 12 and under on the sidewalks only.
* Some stated that they did not want to give bikers the roads AND the sidewalks
* There were requests that the City "be more creative" and reconsider alternative bike routes that would connect the King Street Metro to the new bike lanes on Janney's Lane -- perhaps going through the neighborhood(s).
* A path along the Masonic Temple road/parking lot and then on Hilltop to Putnam Place and out onto Janney's Lane
* Creating bike lanes up to Upland and then directing traffic (North) down Walnut Street to the bike lanes on Russell Road or (South) across King Street at the new Flashing Beacon Crosswalk—up Upland, over HillTop to Putnam Place and then out onto the new bike lanes on Janney's Lane

* There was a deep concern about the already congested streets neighboring King Street due to parking by Metro commuters.
* Can not accommodate additional parkers
* Already can not see around corners because of parked cars in spaces that should not allow parking
* Discussion of "Resident Only" permit parking took place. Perhaps a larger conversation on this topic will occur in the future

* Concerns about pedestrian safety due to the lack of continuous sidewalks
* Now pedestrians have to go into the road and battle bikes, cars and over parked cars
* Need sidewalks, especially at roads leading to King Street

* Many, Many complaints about the new bike lanes on Janney's Place and concern that some of the same traffic pattern problems could erupt on King, if bike lanes are installed
* Street is not wide enough for Emergency Vehicles (coming through with two lanes of traffic and bike lanes)
* Parking lanes are not wide enough for SUVs/larger vehicles
* Makes entering the street more dangerous
* Makes turning onto other streets difficult
* I think the city may want to address some of these/or at least be aware that this will probably come up at the October 30 King Bike lane meeting

* The issue of taking the parking spots brought up discussion of "eminent domain" (already a concern down on the waterfront)
* TRCA encouraged everyone to attend your meeting at Maury Elementary on October 30th to get official answers to their questions as well as to hear all possible alternatives. TRCA promised to hold an online survey following the Oct 30th meeting. We will let you know the results.
You do not have an easy job, and we appreciate your time and attention to this important decision that will affect so many.
Please call me if you have any questions or if you would like me to clarify any statements,
Thank you,