ANC 3D, New Mexico Avenue Bike Lanes, Drama, DOOM, and my letter to Mary Cheh

So, even though DDOT announced that they're ready to install the bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue and that they've even put down temporary paint, opponents have rallied once more to try to stop the project

I wrote a letter to CM Mary Cheh (and the ANC commissioners who supported the bike lane in July) and it's below. If you have some time this afternoon, I encourage you to do the same. It's important to speak out and I'd hate to see this project stopped at the 1 yard line after all of the very hard work that many people have put into making it finally come to fruition.

Dear Councilmember Cheh, 
My name is Brian McEntee and I'm a daily bike commuter to American University, where I work. I am writing to ask for your support for the immediate installation of bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, NW.

As you are doubtless aware, New Mexico Avenue is a key bike connection between Georgetown, Glover Park and American University. It is currently a signed bike route and bike lanes have been long planned. The ANC 3D voted in July to endorse these bike lanes and installation was announced by DDOT to begin this week. However, ANC representatives and community members who disagree with the ANC's previous decision have recently undertaken a last-ditch attempt to stop the lanes from finally being striped. To be perfectly honest, I don't really understand their opposition to this project. The bike lanes neither reduce the total number of traffic lanes, nor do they result in the loss of any street parking. What they do accomplish, however, is denoting a safe space for cyclists on the road as they make their way up the rather steep hill. This safe space is especially important due to the disparity in speeds between the climbing cyclists and the car traffic that surrounds them.

There is little doubt in my mind that calls for a traffic study serve no additional function than to the delay the project unnecessarily. Would a traffic study conclude that it's safer for cyclists to ride on New Mexico Avenue without a bike lane than within one? Would a traffic study assuage the (in my opinion, unfounded) concerns of opponents who have taken every single opportunity to oppose this project in the absence of any evidence that it would negatively impact their neighborhood? I am extraordinarily doubtful. As we have seen with other bike lanes across the District and with the launch of Capital Bikeshare, predictions of "chaos" and "traffic nightmares" have thudded resoundingly and time after time, the addition of bike infrastructure and bicycle access has not only not proven deleterious, but has, in fact, improved the overall quality of transportation options. The way people get around DC is changing and we are obligated to acknowledge that and adjust our transportation priorities accordingly.
The facts of the matter are abundantly clear. As the representative of Ward 3 and the current chair of the Council Transportation Committee, I believe it is incumbent upon you to support this project. Knee-jerk opposition to vital projects serves no purpose and is of great harm to our community. The District can remain on its trajectory as an ever-improving place for cyclists, but only if we let it. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your careful concern of this matter.


1 comment:

  1. I wrote to her too, and got a quick reply saying she'd sent a note to DDOT to tell them to go ahead with the project. Fingers crossed!