Proposed Bike Lane in Alexandria Provokes (one) Cry of "Bike Wars"

A weekend op-ed in the Wall Street Journal rallying against a proposed Alexandria, Va. bike lane has likened the fight to save 37 parking spaces on par with the Revolution and the War of 1812. Could this be the revenge of Dorothy Rabinowitz?

You may recall that Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz became a media sensation with her attack on bicycle advocates provoked by her opposition to New York City's Citi Bike share program. [See June's "What's Behind The Wall Street Journal's Odd Anti-Bicycle Rant?" for a refresher]. By contrast, the proposed King Street conventional bike lane, part of a modest street redesign plan, is rather tame.

James Bacon captures the gist of the piece in a more moderate tone and agrees with much of what the author, F.H. Buckley, who identifies himself only as "a resident of King Street, Alexandria, Va.", writes.

In an op-ed piece (subscription required) in today’s Wall Street Journal, F.H. Buckley conveys a flavor of the struggle for King Street in Alexandria. The City of Alexandria has proposed taking away the street’s parking spaces to make way for a bike lane. Buckley portrays his neighbors and himself as victims of politically organized biking activists who utilize blogs and Twitter to mobilize for public protests and City Council hearings. 

Buckley sees this local controversy, not inaccurately, a part of a “growing national movement that pits local homeowners and businesses against cyclists and their trendy allies on city councils.”

Buckley is quite simply incensed at the loss of "his" parking space, possibly unaware that streets are in the public domain. "The city of Alexandria has proposed to take away our street's parking spaces and replace them with a dedicated bike lane,” he writes, adding, "we're really attached to our parking spots" as if those parking spaces had their names on them, much like my parking space under my apartment building is identified by my apartment number. 

Just as Rabinowitz claimed to speak for all New Yorkers in the infamous Wall Street Journal video, Buckley does the same for all King Street residents, yet according to the Old Town Alexandria Patch:

City staff says it has received numerous requests from residents for traffic calming measures along this segment of King Street.

The lane narrowing and addition of bike lanes are “intended to slow vehicle speeds and provide a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists as well as safer routes to schools,” according to Alexandria’s Local Motion website.  

Convinced that bike activists have declared a 'War on Cars', he is quick to use war metaphors. He writes, "(T)he bike activists are mobilizing the troops", and warns readers, "The preening activists who favor these lanes are in my town, and they will soon come to a neighborhood near you."

Not noted by Buckley is that the total number of parking spaces at stake are 37, according to Jonathan Krall of Greater Greater Washington. Had there been a greater number, we suspect that the Wall Street Journal might have devoted front page news to the street redesign plan rather than a mere op-ed.

Full Story: Bicycle Wars


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