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Should Alexandria Residents Make Room For Bike Lanes On King Street?

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This is how proposed bike lanes would look on King Street.
Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services
This is how proposed bike lanes would look on King Street.

City leaders in Alexandria are considering a controversial proposal to remove parking spots on a prominent city street and install a bike lane in each direction.

The proposal would remove parking on King Street from West Cedar Street to Highland Place, a four-block stretch near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. It would remove 27 parking spaces that are used by residents who own homes along the road, which connects a four-lane thoroughfare to the narrow streets of Old Town.

At a public hearing for the proposal, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director Rich Baier said the idea is to slow vehicle speeds and provide a safer environment for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

"My experience in twenty-something years has been that attitudes must change before behaviors change," said Baier.

In this case, changing behavior is about making streets more available to cyclists and pedestrians by installing a westbound bike lane and an eastbound bike lane in addition to a flashing crosswalk sign to help pedestrians navigate an environment currently designed for automobiles.

Rosemont resident Peter Watkins said he currently bikes on Braddock Road even though it's out of the way.

"I'd much rather ride King Street, but I'm not going to because I'm not a fool," Watkins said. "I know that it would be unsafe. I know that it would be unsafe. I know that I can't crawl up there at what would probably be six miles an hour when cars are whizzing past me at 32."

But residents who live on this stretch of King Street say they would be harmed by the proposal, wondering where visitors would park for birthday parties or Thanksgiving dinners.

Resident Brooke Curran said removing parking here might have the unintended consequence of harming local nonprofit organizations.

"The parking is used for charitable events, many of which are at our homes, many of which benefit Alexandria charities," Curran said.

The Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board urged city leaders to delay the project until some kind of compromise could be fashioned, although members of the City Council will have the final say when they take up the issue during a public hearing Saturday.

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