Cycle Election

November 9, 2012

On Tuesday, people were faced with questions about the priorities of government, the divisiveness in our society and what it all means for the future. That’s because I stationed myself along the nearly completed L Street cycle track to poll folks about where they stand — and bike and drive.

My preliminary survey didn’t draw particularly favorable results for the new bike lane, which replaces parking along one side of the street as it heads east across downtown. One of the white bollards that separate car traffic had already been snapped off, and I watched several drivers cruise down the path, as though it was designed to give them a private lane.

A delivery guy who pulled his truck into the cycle track was unapologetic about disregarding the street signs.

“I need to drop this off here,” he told me, pointing to a mountain of paper towels and ignoring that the building has a loading dock around the corner. (At least the crash would have been cushioned if a cyclist didn’t swerve in time.)

But when I talked to people on the street, it was clear the development has grassroots support.

“It’s fantastic,” decreed 30-year-old Ben Brewster, who will use it for his commute from U Street. Anthony Jean-Pierre, a 43-year-old resident of Upper Marlboro, Md., plans to stick with Metro. But even he’s a fan: “It’ll make the street safer.”

The arrival of the cycle track has Susan Gasper, 37, considering biking into work from Mount Rainier, Md., which had never been appealing before because of the lack of lanes downtown. Her one concern? The turning situation. To make a left at certain intersections, cars need to merge with the bike lane. That will take some time to get used to, Gasper predicts.

It may take even longer for one woman I spoke with who’s lived in Washington for all of her 72 years.

“My goodness, things are changing,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name. “But based on the progression of congestion, it’s probably necessary. You can barely get around now. I’ve seen how this city’s grown. Soon, all you’ll be able to use is cabs, bikes and Metro.”

James Laws, a 52-year-old resident of Brightwood, hopes that vision isn’t accurate. He thinks it’s possible for every mode of transportation to coexist.

“We have to find a happy medium,” said Laws, who’s still not sure whether the city’s on the right track with this cycle track. But he’s not voting one way or the other just yet.

Maybe give him four more years.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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