Letter: Parking, Bikes Can Coexist

Letter: Parking, Bikes Can Coexist

— The two letters to the editor in last week's Gazette that wholly oppose every aspect of the proposed re-striping of Sherwood Hall Lane raise some reasonable concerns, particularly as to the loss of parking lanes for residents. However, as a frequent cyclist for many years in this area, I found it disappointing that the writers opposed the addition of marked bicycle lanes that would only enhance public safety in our community.

The loss of any parking lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane would be an unwise decision and the creation of new, dedicated turn lanes is unnecessary.

It should be noted, however, that the existing parking lanes on this road are considerably wider than those on other area roadways such as Fort Hunt Road, Collingwood and Riverside Drive. It is interesting that both letter writers readily admit that as currently striped, the parking lanes are wide enough to accommodate large vehicles and bicyclists. Unfortunately, at a minimum it is quite unsafe for a cyclist to occupy a parking lane that contains a vehicle. Moreover, under the Code of Virginia bicyclists on the roadway are subject to the same provisions as motor vehicles and as such, they have the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle operator and therefore should not be riding in an occupied parking lane.

However, if the parking lanes were to be re-striped at the width of other lanes on similar area roads, there would be plenty of room to park a vehicle as well as add a dedicated and marked cycling lane. Dedicated cycling lanes have been shown to enhance road safety since they increase overall awareness of the shared road and provide clear delineation from faster moving motorized vehicles. Further, one letter writer fears the addition of dedicated turn lanes and elimination of parking lanes is only a prelude to a future four-lane road. It should be pointed out that installation of cycling lanes along with narrower parking lanes would use up enough road space as to make future conversion to a four-lane

road impossible.

It is unfortunate that the letter writers felt that simply because there are fewer bicyclists on the roads than automobiles, we should not be afforded the same benefits of public safety as other citizens. Whether or not cycling lanes are marked on Sherwood Hall Lane, we will still be using the roadway. So why not provide a means to improve our safety too?

The FCDOT/VDOT proposal provides some good proposals like adding bike lanes to Sherwood Hall Lane, and some bad ones like eliminating resident street parking and adding unnecessary turn lanes. It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition but rather should be opportunity to agree upon the best way to improve that road, one that takes into account the safety of all citizens in the community — whether on two wheels, four wheels or on their own two feet.

Francois DiFolco

Stratford Landing