Not 18 months ago, we were in the midst of a heated mayoral campaign where old and new visions of D.C. collided in a debate that was often reduced to a few key terms — occasionally “cupcakes” and “coffeeshops,” but mostly “dog parks” and “bike lanes.”
During that campaign ,Vincent C. Gray, the eventual victor, comforted the skeptical by saying he would remain committed to creating new amenities for the city’s growing population — including a commitment to, yes, bike lanes.
There were early signs that the Gray administration was taking a more deliberate approach than Adrian M. Fenty’s. But when a leading advocacy organization says Gray has been slacking on laying down new bike lanes, you better bet those are fighting words.
Greg Billing wrote on the Washington Area Bicycle Association’s blog Tuesday, describing the Gray administration’s “broken promises to the District’s cycling community” — starting with the failure to move aggressively on new bike lanes.
[The District Department of Transportation] had planned to install about 6.5 miles in 2011. Of that 6.5 miles, approximately 4.25 miles are studied, designed and ready for installation. But these have not been installed due to internal delays at DDOT. The bike planners seemingly have done their part, but 2011 will end without these lanes installed, as it is now too cold for road striping.
The other 2.25 miles of that 6.5 that were slated for installation but have been put on hold for various reasons including a lack of ANC approval or a delay in necessary roadwork and signal work.
Today, D.C. transportation Director Terry Bellamy offered a full-throated rebuttal on the WABA blog. He noted “more than 4 miles of planned bike lanes that are now ready for installation and will be put in as soon as the weather breaks in early spring.”
It is true that in the out years of the Bicycle Master Plan – now that the low hanging fruit has been picked – we are dealing with more complex environments and more constrained scenarios, which can extend the planning and development horizon for adding new lanes. With competing priorities, getting community buy-in for these projects can also be more complicated. That’s not an excuse; it’s the reality we face.
However, I can assure you, my commitment – and Mayor Gray’s commitment – to bicycling and bike lanes has not changed. We might not always move as fast as some would like, but if our progress slows from time to time that is not an indication of shifting priorities, but rather a reflection of the environment we’re working in, and our desire to do it right.
As for dog parks, Gray cut the ribbon on a new one in August. His administration also transferred about $385,000 worth of dog park money to fund emergency repairs at the city’s center for juvenile offenders.