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Posted at 6:41 PM ET, 01/10/2011

In D.C., a vote for fewer bike lanes

By Kevin Moore, Washington

Lest John Glad [“We cycle in the District, and we vote,” letters, Jan. 6] believe that only suburbanites disapprove of turning the District into Amsterdam or Munich with regard to dedicated cycling lanes, I submit that indeed there is not the political consensus of D.C. voters to accomplish the changes he wishes for. I suspect that a majority of city residents, including myself, would vote against losing lanes of automobile traffic in order to install “dedicated” bike lanes as described in Mr. Glad’s letter.

By Kevin Moore, Washington  | January 10, 2011; 6:41 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., traffic, transportation  
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Comments

Only 1.25% of commuters are bikers and we have already given up too much road real estate to the bikers. Some bikers use the marked bike lanes and some do not, making them an even greater waste of space. With over 400,000 cars coming into the District each day taking away roads or space on roads is ridiculous and causing pollution as more cars are crowded together and sit at red lights waiting to get through. We need to focus on moving the traffic around the city more efficiently and not putting as many obsticals in their way and hope they leave their cars at home.

Posted by: voter20 | January 11, 2011 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Why shouldn't people be expected to leave their cars at home? At some point the benefits of transit (or, god forbid, biking) will exceed the benefits of driving. The problem is people like the author and above poster who are living in a past time, perhaps from Detroit. Unless you want to pay the Arabs for your gasoline for all of eternity, you might want to consider options beyond the automobile as your primary method of movement.

Posted by: bouncinggorilla | January 11, 2011 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I think the vast majority think that their city is more beautiful, and very much improved with the recent bicycle infrastructure.

Given that many people drive into DC to work -- the issue is that you can't on one hand claim to be "for" making the city more green, reducing traffic, etc. while at the same time providing solely for the comfort and convenience of drivers.

It just doesn't work that way. There's only so much space in the district to accomodate motor vehicles.

I bicycle and drive, and am completely "for" these lanes and understand that a certain amount of invonvenience to discourage driving is 100% necessary to change peoples' behavior.

Posted by: TurbineBlade1 | January 11, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry that your decision to live in suburban hell holes is now made worse by the fact that gentrifiers told local politicians and planners to use tax dollars to fund improvements for pedestrians and cyclists over car commuters. Enjoy paying out the a** to live in Germantown.

As for the author and alleged DC resident, the facts suggest otherwise. You need to get out of your car.

Posted by: supersmax | January 11, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

As a resident of Washington, DC for the past 25 years, I agree with Mr. Moore. Enough is enough. I voted for Mayor Gray because I'm hopeful that he can balance the interests of all road users in a more fair way than Fenty did, and that means putting the brakes on streetcars and bike lanes.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 11, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

The figure of 1.25% is both outdated and applies to the Washington area as a whole. In DC itself--which is who is making the spending decisions--the percentage is much higher and growing daily.

It's true that there is a limited pot of funds for transportation. That money needs to be spent where it will give the biggest bang for the buck, not just based on percentages of modal use and popularity. It is a reasonable conclusion that allocating a relatively small percent of the total transportation budget to bike lanes might pay off for both cyclists and car drivers. It's worth giving it a chance. What is blindingly clear is that the status quo has not worked parrticularly well in recent years for drivers or cyclists.

Posted by: krickey7 | January 11, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Couple of quick thoughts:

- 1.25% You need to look at DC residents only, and their share of non-auto commuting, not simply bike share. "Of [DC residents] that work in Washington, D.C., 44.8% drive alone to work, 21.2% take Metro, 14.4% carpool/slug, 8.8% use Metrobus, 4.5% walk to work, 2.7% travel by commuter rail, and 0.6% ride their bicycle to work.[3] 35.4% of households in Washington, D.C. do not own a car." (wikipedia).

- To the 25 year resident who voted for Gray: DC population is getting younger (and wealthier) every year, which will continue; everything we've seen about Gray's appointments leads to the conclusion that if you're looking for a rollback of the Williams/Fenty pro-transit/pro-bike policies of the last decade, you're going to be disappointed.

- As far as the suburban/urban cultural divide: this is one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the nation. DC residents are self-selecting to live in DC *because* DC is turning into a progressive town, not an un-walkable exurban Hell-hole.

In conclusion, I'd say there's a slim majority of DC residents that favors bike lanes currently, and that that majority is only going to grow... Exurban drivers seem to understand this, which is why they're so pissed off.

Posted by: ibc0 | January 11, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"In conclusion, I'd say there's a slim majority of DC residents that favors bike lanes currently, and that that majority is only going to grow... Exurban drivers seem to understand this, which is why they're so pissed off."

Then why did Fenty lose?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 11, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I have hated every bike lane placed in this city. It makes no sense. Compound this with the fact that most bikers dont use the lanes, dont follow traffic laws and think that they own the roads. Thank God Vincent Gray won and booted out Gabe Klein. Hopefully they will start to right so much of the wrong that has been done- 15th street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and the awful New York Avenue/Florida Avenue intersection. Good ridnce bike lanes

Posted by: 8709hamilton | January 11, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I have hated every bike lane placed in this city. It makes no sense. Compound this with the fact that most bikers dont use the lanes, dont follow traffic laws and think that they own the roads. Thank God Vincent Gray won and booted out Gabe Klein. Hopefully they will start to right so much of the wrong that has been done- 15th street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and the awful New York Avenue/Florida Avenue intersection. Good ridnce bike lanes

Posted by: 8709hamilton | January 11, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

@ WashingtonDame:
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know full well that Fenty lost because of his abrasive and direct style, not because of the substance of his actions. The Washington Post conducted polls and surveys (though I don't know where on the WaPo site they are now) in the run up to the election showing, in effect, that a large majority supported Fenty's accomplishments but not the man himself.
If you think he lost based on bike lines, you've only got a fraction of the story.

And you have an interesting definition of balance, one in which cars (because any surface mode is basically a road user, not just you) are the only thing that need be considered. Usually balance means a level of compromise or a fair allocation of resources, not to the loudest goes the worst alternative.

Posted by: bouncinggorilla | January 11, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@8709hamilton

It must bust your chops then that a Gabe Klein Deputy is currently the head of ddot.

Posted by: bouncinggorilla | January 11, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I see. Bikers think they own the roads.

And what do car drivers think? Well, not only do they think they own the roads, they want to charge people who already subsidize drivers for any grudgingly given, highly conditioned right to share the roadway, preferably not during rush hour. And to honk at cyclists, well, just 'cuz.

As if we were the ones choking the city in traffic, toxic fumes and runoff, and sending billions of dollars annually to petrodictators to use trying to kill us.

Posted by: krickey7 | January 11, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Two things,

How many auto lanes have truly been lost in DC to bike lanes? (Hint, the number is somewhere around 0)

Also,
As a resident of Washington, DC for the past 25 years, I agree with Mr. Moore. Enough is enough. I voted for Mayor Gray because I'm hopeful that he can balance the interests of all road users in a more fair way than Fenty did, and that means putting the brakes on streetcars and bike lanes.

By "balance" do you mean "lets focus all of our road/pedestrian infrastructure to maximize the flow of vehicles"? Because that's the trend, yet now when planners recognize that its not prudent to have everyone in a car people freak out and cry that their "rights" are somehow being trampled without recognizing that if anything bike lanes help make travel modes more balanced.

Posted by: cmerchan | January 11, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Of the people who dislike cyclists in general or hate the idea of bike lanes, I wonder how many are overweight or out of shape.

Posted by: CAmira5 | January 11, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Here are a few points to consider:

- The most desirable places to live (as indicated by home prices) are those where it is easy to get around without a car. These are also places where it is easy to bicycle. People want to live and work where there are fewer cars.

- The economy depends on moving people, not cars. Want to grow the economy where there is no more room for roads? Support mass transit. Want transit to work well for more people? Make it easy to ride bicycles to transit stations. This is the future and the city that gets it right soonest will win.

- One reason that motorists get so steamed over bicycle lanes is that cars are expensive and, even though parking is often free, motorists feel they are being squeezed. However, the fact is that a typical cyclist pays property taxes--taxes that are spent to repair road damage caused by cars and trucks[1]. I sympathize, but don't want to see public policy further twisted to coddle stressed-out drivers.

[1] http://www.planetizen.com/node/46570

Posted by: JonathanKrall | January 11, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

@bouncinggorilla,

You must not be too up on the news. Vince Gray fired Gabe Klein. His last day was January 1.

You folks are confused. Mass transportation is about moving the most number of people in the most efficient way. Biking, while an enjoyable recreational activity and method of comutting for 2% of District residents (in the summer), it is not an efficient, way to move the mass of people who live or work in the District.

If transportation was our goal, then we could install some seperated, bus only rapid bus lanes in the cities most congested throughfares and it would be far better. Removing lanes (15th street and attempted at PA Ave until Gabe got his hand slapped) and tons of curbside parking (both in residential and commerical districts) for the vast minority while creating congestion for the mass majority is not that way to go.

Posted by: Nosh1 | January 11, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I think what most drivers fail to understand is that as more people feel comfortable riding bikes and more infrastructure is created, the less cars that will be on the road. Yes, the use of bikes is low comparatively but it is growing because of the lanes and a host of other reasons.

Nevertheless, car-drivers that the more people who take to the bike, the better your driving experience. Since I ride a bike, ride Metro, and live relatively close to work, I decided 5 years ago that I didn't need to own a car. That means one less car polluting, one less car in a traffic backup, one less car in a parking space. In other words, more space for you.

While we have growing pains, with many people unaccustomed to riding doing so in a sometimes less-than- desired way, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)is working to educate new riders while advocating for better facilities.

So for all those who rage against the bicycle machine, understand that it is actually to your advantage that to support bikes and bike facilities.

Randall Myers
DC Bicycle Advisory Council, At-large
WABA, Board Secretary

Posted by: uno000 | January 11, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I live in Maryland, and only drive in DC on rare weekends,using Metro instead of driving, whenever possible, but when I do, find bikes a hazard. Bike lanes, based on the small percentage of bikers, seem like excessive pandering to as small minority.

Bikers, although they are a very self-righteous group, do not follow the laws of the roads, and make themselves into a hazard to both pedestrians and drivers with aggressive and unlawful actions.

They seem to think stop lights are only a suggestion, and drive on both the road and hiker paths, too fast for slow moving pedestrians, but too slow for automobile traffic.

Posted by: samsara15 | January 11, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

DC has been congested for eons. The tiny % of roads that have bike lanes or dedicated bike areas have not "caused" this congestion as Nosh1 states.

In DC, we have many differing transportation methods, and we should support them all.

I support slug lines (though I will never use one) and hope DC figures out a way to make this method of transport better for the users. These slugs remove alot of cars from the roads, lessening driving congestion.

I support the Commuter buses - even when they block lanes waiting and loading their patrons all over the city. These buses remove alot of cars from the roads, lessening driving congestion.

I support the Metro/Metrobus and the upcoming streetcars - even in their current mismanaged condition. These public transportation options remove cars from the roads, lessening driving congestion.

I support the bike lanes. These lanes remove alot of cars from the roads, lessening driving congestion.

I support cars. I do so less than other methods, as for rush hour commuting, the maority of drivers are single occupancy. But I support the repair of infrastucture, and the new 11th St bridge...

ahh who cares. We'll see what comes out of the Mayor's new DDOT. When he pulls up to the office in a hummer... we'll know.

Posted by: Greent | January 11, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

There are 50 miles of bike lane and about 2500 of traffic lanes. How is that imbalanced towards bikes?

Drivers, although they are a very self-righteous group, do not follow the laws of the roads, and make themselves into a hazard to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers with aggressive and unlawful actions.

They seem to think stop lights are only a suggestion, and drive on both the road and bike lanes, too fast for everyone.

Posted by: cranor | January 11, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Samsara15, I'd like to take on some of your points because they are misconceptions that I see come up a lot, I have a different perspective.

"Bike lanes, based on the small percentage of bikers, seem like excessive pandering to as small minority."

This is a chicken/egg type problem. Most people who don't normally bike say they would if it felt safer. More and better
bike lanes/facilities has been demonstrated to show an increase in cycling.

"Bikers, although they are a very self-righteous group, do not follow the laws of the roads, and make themselves into a hazard to both pedestrians and drivers with aggressive and unlawful actions."
Everybody no matter what mode of transportation breaks the rules of the road and can endanger those around them. Its not limited to bikes. I also suggest you look up what an "Idaho Stop" is to learn how riding a bike is so fundamentally different from driving that in some cases its better to allow a cyclist to treat a red light as a stop sign.

"They seem to think stop lights are only a suggestion, and drive on both the road and hiker paths, too fast for slow moving pedestrians, but too slow for automobile traffic."

Again, drivers disregard stop lights all the time. The "hiker paths" you refer too are technically called multi-use paths when they allow bikes (and roller skates and scooters or whatever non motorized form of transit you choose).

Is it fair to complain about slow moving bikes? You don't see bikes on interstates you normally see them on roads with speed limits of about 25-30 mph. Combine that with traffic and congestion and I'd take a bike over a car in a race through downtown
DC at rush hour. Plus you're in a car that moves with only the slightest pressure of your foot. You also get to do this in a climate controlled environment with a radio playing. The cyclist is using a lot more muscle to match and deserves respect b/c he or she is much more exposed to both the elements and danger.

Posted by: cmerchan | January 11, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

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