I found the article on bicycle commuting to be timely and informative -- and daunting ["Officials, Cyclists Push Pedaling for Commuters," Metro, Dec. 16].
I live in Arlington and commute to work in the District by car.
If I biked, it would be only about five miles each way, and I could use trails for more than half the distance. Yet I wouldn't feel safe fighting with hostile drivers and pedestrians in the District. Painted lines in the street aren't going to cut it. No one seems to obey traffic laws in the city, and bike lanes would just give drivers something else to complain about and violate.
I suggest that local governments focus on getting people to bike (or walk) to Metro. Despite the congestion in the suburbs, there's still room for more commuting trails to Metro. Make bicycle lockers free at Metro stops too. Of course, success with such plans would make more Metro capacity necessary. But it would be worth it to reduce traffic and pollution.
It is puzzling to hear Lon Anderson of the American Automobile Association and others decry the loss of traffic lane space if area governments move ahead with installing bike lanes. Many of Montgomery County's arterial roads, notoriously hazardous to cyclists and pedestrians, have traffic lanes with widths better suited to freeways. Piney Branch Road, the scene of several recent pedestrian fatalities, has a speed limit of 30 mph, but its generous lane widths encourage higher speeds.
According to the Department of Transportation in Oregon, where bike lanes are widely installed and used, narrowing the lane width available to cars by adding bike lanes on the shoulders has helped slow traffic and improve overall safety. It also gives citizens a sensible alternative to gridlock on short commutes. Why, then, would AAA, with its mission to promote safer traveling, be opposed to bike lanes in the Washington area?