Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Change: Not For the Better

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Change: Not For the Better

We’ve lived in Alexandria since 1993 and the city has changed dramatically – and not necessarily for the better. We've seen increased residential density construction that has overloaded road infrastructure because no mitigation action was required of developers – they've been allowed to build out to the maximum limits. Just look at Potomac Yards and South Pickett Street as examples where no additional road improvements were made other than repaving. The drive times down Route 1 and Duke Street have increased fairly dramatically in just the past 5 years.

In the case of Safe Streets and traffic management, the effort to cater to the small but very vocal group of bikers at the expense of drivers (who are the majority in the city) has made commuting and everyday life a chore. Driving times have increased as lanes have been narrowed or restricted and speed limits reduced, all in the name of those who are determined to make Alexandria more of a bike-friendly city, which it was never designed to be. To make matters more frustrating, bikers are falsely insinuating auto accident deaths are occurring on neighborhood streets — they're not.

Retroactive engineering applied to our already existing infrastructure can’t do this. It only angers the vast majority of citizens while placating a few. The council and city staff and their initiatives are driving commuters into residential neighborhoods and creating safety issues where none existed before.

Whenever the city government holds public meetings about accommodating bikers, of course they’ll turn out in larger numbers as they’re pressing to get something changed to their position. Drivers on the other hand aren’t trying to change the system so tend not to show up. That leaves a skewed perception that drivers don’t care — not true! Listen to the neighborhood associations.

Instead of the fig leaf of public meetings — which have been pretty much ignored in every situation — I would suggest that our City Council engage the entire citizenry by putting such proposals (which affect far more people than the biking community) to a referendum where a broader cross–section of people can consider the issue when voting. This would at least widen/deepen the pool of perspectives and force council and city staff to stop driving solutions that are in search of a problem.

Jay Farrar