King Street Bike Lane Battle Heats Up in Alexandria

By Adam Tuss
|  Monday, Nov 11, 2013  |  Updated 8:15 PM EDT
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As our region works to figure out a safe way for cars and bikes to share the road, the latest lane battle is in Alexandria, where some residents are worried about more than safety. Transportation reporter Adam Tuss has the story.

Adam Tuss

As our region works to figure out a safe way for cars and bikes to share the road, the latest lane battle is in Alexandria, where some residents are worried about more than safety. Transportation reporter Adam Tuss has the story.

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Alexandria is the latest community in the middle of a growing lane battle to make room for cars and bicycles while keeping everyone safe.

A new proposal would impact a busy stretch of Route 7 that leads in and out of Old Town. It would create bike lanes in each direction on King Street between Russell Road and Janney’s Lane in front of the Masonic temple.

Resident Frank Buckley penned an opinion piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

"It's part of a complete streets plan, which puts bicyclists ahead of motorists,” said Buckley, who lives on King Street. “There's a little bit of bait-and-switch going on."

He's not happy with the thought of losing parking spaces and says he also worries about the safety of cyclists.

"The motorists don't count,” he said. “And the only thing that counts is there are a few activists – none of whom, basically, don't live around here -- and they've got the ear of City Council."

Local cycling blog The Wash Cycle fired back after the Wall Street Journal piece, saying, "Buckley likes his parking. He doesn't pay for it and he doesn't own it, but removing the free access he's enjoyed for years in the interest of safety and fairness is, to him, an act of war."

One of the arguments against more bike lanes on this stretch is that not enough cyclists use it, but cyclists told News4 said maybe they would consider King Street if it offered more protection.

"As a bicyclist, I'm all in favor of adding bike lanes because it gets cars off the road and encourages exercise and it's a whole lot safer," David Gitner said.

But Buckley isn't buying it. In fact, he said it'd be a huge mistake to change the road the way it is now.

Alexandria officials say they're keeping an open mind about it all until a final vote is taken later this month.

"We think it is very important to have this public discussion and to consider what kind of infrastructure we need to get out there," Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services Director Richard Baier said.

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