D.C. turns plan for Pa. Avenue bike lanes outside in

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Bike lanes are the latest favorite subject in this city where the quest for the politically correct seems constant. And they doubtless can do a lot of good.

But has anyone looked at how much other traffic is slowed down on Pennsylvania Avenue when two lanes are reserved for bikers? I had a very slow cab ride to the Capitol at midday last week, and saw exactly one bicyclist using the lanes.

-- Adam Clymer,

The District

Gabe Klein, transportation director for the District, seems to be following the guidance attributed to Daniel Burnham, designer of Union Station: "Make no little plans."

When Klein and his team decided to expand downtown street access for bicyclists, a goal that always generates conflict with motorists, he didn't start with the far right lane of some alphabetized side street. He went to the middle of the most famous ceremonial avenue in the nation.

There, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the original plan called for converting the left lanes in each direction into bicycle lanes.

Perhaps Klein was thinking of Capt. John Parker's advice to his men on Lexington Green: "If they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

Clymer's letter, which arrived in late May, reflected the concerns of people in motor vehicles, as well as their confusion: There are so many of us and so few cyclists. Why take away two whole lanes?

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