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Letter to the Editor: Well-Balanced Decision-Making

To the Editor:

In the March 14 Gazette, we read "... once again Alexandria's libraries are on the hit list" in a letter about a proposed 4 percent cut in operating hours for three of five of the City's libraries. As a resident with five grandchildren in Alexandria, I am attentive to issues that impact young family members and their ability to learn. I applaud the city manager and his staff for their efforts to reduce operating costs in a manner that will have the smallest possible impact on services provided.

The letter also discussed Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) in a way that I feel is misleading. Here is the rest of the story:

A recent Virginia Tech Study noted that while cycling in the U.S. is predominantly white, CaBi users were more racially diverse than the general population of cyclists. Similarly, the gender ratio was more balanced than in the general population for cyclists, with just over 50 percent of casual users being women.

More to the point, who benefits from CaBi? More than just CaBi users: all Alexandria residents benefit. Every car-mile eliminated reduces congestion, wear and tear on our roads, and pollution in our environment. Every dollar spent by a rider who stays local to eat and shop benefits all of us through the tax receipts that fund City services (56 percent of riders surveyed had used CaBi to visit a restaurant or other eating location).

The city's proposed FY14 capital investments in CaBi are only 75 percent of what was stated in the March 14 letter; Federal and other funds are planned for the remaining investment. Approved Federal funding for the CaBi program is $670,000 (FY14-23).

The CaBi capital investment is just that — a capital investment aimed at making Alexandria more livable. CaBi is a public transit system. When evaluated on that basis and compared to other systems (Metro, DASH) it shines in terms of people moved per capital expenditure and people moved per operating dollar. In a recent conversation with city staff, I was told that Alexandria's CaBi program is exceeding expectations both financially and in ridership.

The issue is about balance. I applaud the city manager and staff for the balanced approach of constraining cost, while minimizing reductions in services while also making the capital investments that will help benefits all Alexandrians in the future. I ask that the City Council continue that balanced approach in their decision-making.

James L. Durham

Alexandria