Alexandria City Council's decision to remove three blocks of parking on Upper King Street and install green bike lanes is a micro-demonstration of council giving low priority to concerns raised by residents most impacted by their decision.
The lane of on-street parking on this narrow, two-lane state highway (State Route 7) had provided safety for residents, including safe entry and egress from residents' driveways and safe pickups, drop-offs, deliveries, contractor and guest parking, etc. Yet in 2014 City Council voted to remove the parking lane on three blocks of this major commuter route where residents contend with 13,000 vehicles a day.
Residents spoke at both City Council meetings and Traffic and Parking Board meetings (some to midnight) to describe the impact this action would have. Less stressful alternate bike routes were dismissed, including a generous proposal from the Masonic National Memorial. Despite issues raised by residents and safety concerns of the city's Traffic and Parking Board, City Council voted to remove parking and install the bike lanes.
And how did this decision work out? There are only occasional sightings of cyclists using this section of King Street, yet green bike lanes now occupy almost 25 percent of the roadway width on these three blocks. Before and after these three blocks a cyclist must enter and exit into the same traffic lanes as motorized vehicles. Green paint was applied to identify a "potential area of conflict" which may explain why significant usage did not materialize.
Please consider: It is important that Alexandria residents carefully evaluate the decision-making process of City Council candidates prior to this election. When your home, street, or city is being impacted, will the candidate listen and address your legitimate concerns? This commitment is critical since council decisions have a major, long-term impact on the life, safety, and livability of Alexandria residents.
Watch the debates; evaluate the candidates; vote June 12.