Georgetown Current Article on New Mexico Avenue Bike Lanes

This is a repost of the entire article from the Georgetown Current , vol XX, no. 33 from March 9, 2011. The Current is available to download in pdf format here. I've reformatted it for your reading "pleasure". 
ANCs split over bike lane along New Mexico Avenue
Current Staff Write
When the Glover Park advisory neighborhood commission considered the prospect of a bike lane on New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road, commissioners saw it almost as a no-brainer. The body needed little discussion before supporting the lane last month.
But their neighbors up the hill in Wesley Heights had a different reaction, grilling D.C. Department of Transportation bicycle coordinator Jim Sebastian on the safety and practicality of designating a section of the roadways for bikes.
The city plans to install a 5-footwide bike lane on Tunlaw between Calvert Street and Davis Place and on New Mexico between 42nd Street and Cathedral Avenue. “It’s fairly straightforward,” Sebastian said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Wesley Heights/Spring Valley advisory neighborhood commission.
The department estimated that 100 cyclists ride along the street daily, sharing space with about 9,000 cars. “We’re trying to stripe it so people know where they are. People are veering in and out of the parking lane,” Sebastian said. “We’re trying to show folks where they’re supposed to be.”
The bike lane would narrow the travel lanes slightly, but Sebastian said the 40-foot-wide road has enough room for bikes without giving up its two-way travel or its onstreet parking.
But commissioners and residents Wednesday said a designated lane wouldn’t protect bicyclists from potential collisions with moving or parked cars.
Commissioner Lee Minichiello said when he used to bike in the neighborhood, he stuck to side streets or sidewalks rather than the busier New Mexico Avenue. “I think encouraging people to use that bike lane may not be the best for their health,” he said.
Commission chair Tom Smith added a further concern: Residents on the east side of New Mexico Avenue backing out of their driveways would need to pass through the bike lane. Not that he wants more parking limits in the neighborhood, he said, but “with all the parked cars there, you can’t see.” With a bike lane, he said, “you are giving bicyclists a false sense of security on New Mexico Avenue.”
Sebastian said he would continue working with the community to develop solutions to the issues they raised — or, if need be, ditch the project altogether. But Brian Cohen, chair of the Glover Park neighborhood commission, said “red herring” arguments shouldn’t block a plan that would improve bicyclists’ safety and ultimately reduce dependence on cars.
“There are already plenty of bicycle riders that use New Mexico Avenue,” Cohen wrote in an e-mail. “A bicycle lane will give them more space, and alert cars to their presence. 
This article pretty much has all the usual parts of bike lane opposition reporting- the opponents of the lane are just worried about bicyclists' safety, not trying to preserve motorist privilege.  They all used to bike, but only used side streets and sidewalks- I wonder why... That the bike lane will just be confusing to motorists pulling out of their driveways. I don't know about you, but whenever I have my car in reverse, I just throw caution to the wind and gun it. Yada yada yada. I particularly like the idea of cyclists being lulled into a "false sense of security." God forbid the cyclists actually gain any real security...
The commissioners are completely correct- a bike lane in and of itself isn't going to prevent any collisions. It's just some fucking paint on the road. But is can reduce the likelihood of collisions because it helps cyclists to know where to go and it tells motorists where to look for them.
Whether they like or not, people (including me) are going to continue biking up New Mexico. If it has a bike lane, great. If not, whatever. Just give me enough space and let me get to work in one piece.

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