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Alexandria Officials Want To Push Cyclists To Royal Street

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Alexandria officials want to push cyclists from Union Street to Royal Street.
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Alexandria officials want to push cyclists from Union Street to Royal Street.

Members of the Alexandria City Council have approved bike lanes for King Street. Now city leaders are considering creating a bicycle boulevard on another street in Old Town.

The battle over bike lanes on King Street dragged on for months, and became increasingly hostile as time went on. By the time members of the City Council approved the proposal to remove 26 parking spaces to install two bike lanes in opposite directions, the issue had taken on an importance that transcended one street in one part of town.

As Councilman Justin Wilson pointed out shortly before the vote, many people believe it's an indication of things to come.

"The proponents, were, you know, 'if we can't do it here we can't do it anywhere' and the opponents were 'if they do it here, they can do it anywhere' and so it was a natural kind of conflict," Wilson said.

Now city officials are turning their attention to Union Street, the easternmost street of Old Town, which is clogged with pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles. Transportation and Environmental Services Director Rich Baier says city officials are hoping to move cyclists off of Union Street.

"The question really comes down to, people were saying, some people on Union Street, 'what can be done on any of the north-south streets to encourage more people to take those streets?'" Baier said.

One city-sponsored study suggests focusing attention on Royal Street and lays out a series of potential strategies to move cyclists there, such as mini-circles, speed bumps or new signs. One of the suggestions is that the four-way stops be replaced by two-way stops.

Former Old Town Civic Association President Poul Hertel said it would be a mistake to reward the bad behavior of cyclists by removing stop signs.

"They have a problem adhering to the law, and so one of the ways to encourage them to move away from Union Street is to accommodate their lawbreaking by taking away the stop signs on Royal Street," Hertel said.

Later this year, council members are expected consider proposals to transform Royal Street into a bicycle boulevard.

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