I’ve read the articles on the many bike lane projects in DC with a deep sense of “deja vu all over again”. The projects are in various stages of study, development or implementation. Many of the projects, if not all, have common themes: legitimate concerns about the impact on their neighborhood, loss of scarce parking, traffic flow impact or disruptions, negative impacts for people with disabilities, on the elderly and children, as well as the overall degradation of quality of life for their immediate neighborhood.
The project in the 1300 block of North Carolina NE that is now being implemented to make it a one way street with two separate bike lanes highlights many of these concerns. In just the first few weeks of the project, one of the the nicest streets in the historic district is being turned into an eye sore. One resident who has lived on North Carolina for decades summarized a common sentiment on the start of the project as “disgusting, disheartening, despicable. I’m running out of adjectives”.
One can already see the change in traffic early morning with commuters speeding down North Carolina, running red lights as they drive down the street and around Lincoln Park (please don’t say speed humps are the answer). Likewise the permanent re-routing of traffic to the surrounding streets of Constitution Ave NE (and East Capitol) has already resulted in more backups in the afternoon at the very time children are walking home from the elementary school. This is just the tip of the iceberg as the project is in its early stages of implementation and the full impact to the quality of life for the residents of North Carolina is still to come.
So for those projects in their early stages of development, be prepared for some common themes of double talk, hearings with vague assurances that never come to fruition, attempts to dazzle with studies, data, graphs, etc. And when you hear they are listening and “want to get it right” ask them for whom. Does it include the people most directly impacted in that neighborhood who must live with the results 24 hours a day. They should be at the top of that “get it right” list.
The people objecting to these projects are not anti-bike/climate as some would like to portray it. That is a tired, lame strategy that tries to put people on the defensive. People with legitimate concerns are pro common sense, empathy, respect and preserving their local neighborhoods.
The millions of dollars being spent on these projects and in some cases to “re-study” them is obscene. I wonder if you asked the citizens in the most needy parts of the city for their top 50 requirements, would bike lanes make the list?
DC leadership and management from the top down to ineffective ANCs with questionable motives are failing the citizens miserably. The wasting of valuable resources and degrading of neighborhoods marches on.
Constitution Ave NE
This letter reflects the views of the writer and not necessarily those of the Hill Rag. It has been lightly edited for style.