Alexandria City Council Votes Unanimously to Support King Street Traffic Calming

After seven hours of public testimony, the seven-member Alexandria City Council unanimously approved, by passing a supporting resolution, the King Street traffic calming project at its March 15 meeting.

At the Saturday meeting, the city of Alexandria’s transportation and environmental service director, Rich Baier, presented a plan for improved crosswalks, bike lanes, pedestrian crossing signals, signs, and other improvements for King Street west of the Metro station. The project’s goal is to improve King Street’s conditions and make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers. Learn more about the project here, and read about WABA’s work on it here.

Over 60 people testified at Saturday’s hearing, which lasted all day. Forty-seven community members testified in favor of the traffic-calming plans, while 17 opposed. The Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board voted in February to delay these plans and called for opponents to find more common ground. The city council’s vote on Saturday recognized city staff’s effort to find a compromise between safe streets and parking.

WABA worked closely with the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Coalition for Smarter Growth to mobilize supporters of complete streets in Alexandria. Over 1,450 Northern Virginia residents, including 900 Alexandrians, signed a petition in support of the traffic-calming project.

Saturday’s vote by the city council represents a strong commitment to safe and complete streets in Alexandria. Many thanks to all WABA members and supporters who signed and circulated the petition and submitted testimony in favor of a safer King Street.

Read more about the King Street bike lanes from WAMU, the Washington Post, WTOP, NBC, and Fox.

Your Last Chance to Show You Want a Safer King Street

Are you an Alexandria or Northern Virginia resident?

This is your last chance to sign the petition supporting the King Street traffic calming project in Alexandria.

Over 800 supporters and residents of Alexandria and Northern Virginia believe the project will make King Street safer for pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and drivers. Join them and sign the petition now. (Please note that the petition is limited to Virginia residents.)

The petition will be delivered to the mayor and city council on Thursday. We want to double the number of signatures by Wednesday night—that’s tonight. Help us by signing the petition and sharing the link: bit.ly/1hPeNWO

Additionally, on Sat., March 15 at 9:30 a.m., the Alexandria city council will hear a presentation from city staff and public testimony about this project. It will then vote to move forward with or delay making King Street safer. Several Councilmembers have indicated they may vote to delay. A vote to delay this project is a vote against safety for all road users. Consider attending and testifying in support of the King Street traffic calming project.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille has said, “We don’t want people driving their cars and parking, we want people to be using bicycles and walking.” Sign the petition to hold Mayor Euille to his word.

Please send this email and petition to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and others who want a better King Street. Here’s a link to the petition: bit.ly/1hPeNWO

Thank you for supporting safe streets for biking and walking in Alexandria.

Alexandria Board Recommends Delay of Plan to Calm Traffic on King Street

King Street is the missing gap in the bicycle network. The City’s traffic calming plan will improve conditions for pedestrian and transit riders. Source: City of Alexandria.

Dan Mehaffey and Jim Durham are City of Alexandria residents and local advocates for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Richard Baier, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director, presented on Monday a plan to meet the direction of City Council and calm traffic on King Street. The plan is the outcome of professional work by City Staff, numerous community meetings, and a compromise to keep as much parking as possible on King Street. The meeting went into the early hours of Tuesday when the Traffic and Parking Board voted 5-2 to recommend delay in implementing the plan, a change from a similar November 25th vote of 6-0 recommending delay. Board members Greg Cota and Kevin Posey voted against further delay after listening to Mr. Baier’s presentation and public comments, in which a majority of speakers, all Alexandria residents, spoke in favor of the City’s plan.                                                                                            

The flashpoint in the plan is the 27 parking spaces on King Street between West Cedar and Highland, where the majority of houses face North Terrace View, not King Street. Chairman Thomas “Jay” Johnson, Jr. heard testimony about the parking usage by City Staff. In 20 random samplings of the 27 spaces, the average count was 1.2 cars. At most, five cars were parked in the 27 spaces.  The 27 spaces do not include the 10 spaces west of Highland which were kept as parking spaces as part of a compromise that also added three additional spaces to the street parking on the other side of King Street.

Mr. Baier’s expert testimony focused on how the traffic calming measure before the board would re-allocate the use of public right-of way to create a safer King Street in a section that is heavily used by pedestrians to access the King Street transit hub. The Alexandria Transportation Commission, the Environmental Policy Commission, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Park and Recreation Commission submitted letters of support for the plan.

The board also heard from Alexandria residents including residents of the affected neighborhood who favor the city’s plan and want the safety measures afforded by the city plan. The safety measures include pedestrian crossings, separation of use for walkers, bikers, and motorists, and a compliant lane narrowing shown by the Highway Capacity Manual to reduce speeds by between 1.9 and 6.6 miles per hour. The King Street speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the section, but motorist speeds are well in excess of the limit. Opponents of the plan also cited safety as a reason for their opposition to the plan described as safe by not only the professional planners on city staff but also in an independent review by a  professional engineering firm.

The traffic calming plan now goes to City Council for a March 15th hearing with the Traffic and Parking Board’s recommendation.

A clarification, from the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee: “Although the original parking information was technically correct, parking needs are based on peak usage not average usage. In an effort to be as clear as possible, we have updated the numbers to stress the peak usage for all parking in the stretch (six cars for 37 spaces) instead of the average usage for the 27 spaces that will be removed (just over 1 car).

Alexandria Board Recommends Delay of Plan to Calm Traffic on King Street

King Street is the missing gap in the bicycle network. The City’s traffic calming plan will improve conditions for pedestrian and transit riders. Source: City of Alexandria.

Dan Mehaffey and Jim Durham are City of Alexandria residents and local advocates for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Richard Baier, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director, presented on Monday a plan to meet the direction of City Council and calm traffic on King Street. The plan is the outcome of professional work by City Staff, numerous community meetings, and a compromise to keep as much parking as possible on King Street. The meeting went into the early hours of Tuesday when the Traffic and Parking Board voted 5-2 to recommend delay in implementing the plan, a change from a similar November 25th vote of 6-0 recommending delay. Board members Greg Cota and Kevin Posey voted against further delay after listening to Mr. Baier’s presentation and public comments, in which a majority of speakers, all Alexandria residents, spoke in favor of the City’s plan.                                                                                            

The flashpoint in the plan is the 27 parking spaces on King Street between West Cedar and Highland, where the majority of houses face North Terrace View, not King Street. Chairman Thomas “Jay” Johnson, Jr. heard testimony about the parking usage by City Staff. In 20 random samplings of the 27 spaces, the average count was 1.2 cars. At most, five cars were parked in the 27 spaces.  The 27 spaces do not include the 10 spaces west of Highland which were kept as parking spaces as part of a compromise that also added three additional spaces to the street parking on the other side of King Street.

Mr. Baier’s expert testimony focused on how the traffic calming measure before the board would re-allocate the use of public right-of way to create a safer King Street in a section that is heavily used by pedestrians to access the King Street transit hub. The Alexandria Transportation Commission, the Environmental Policy Commission, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Park and Recreation Commission submitted letters of support for the plan.

The board also heard from Alexandria residents including residents of the affected neighborhood who favor the city’s plan and want the safety measures afforded by the city plan. The safety measures include pedestrian crossings, separation of use for walkers, bikers, and motorists, and a compliant lane narrowing shown by the Highway Capacity Manual to reduce speeds by between 1.9 and 6.6 miles per hour. The King Street speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the section, but motorist speeds are well in excess of the limit. Opponents of the plan also cited safety as a reason for their opposition to the plan described as safe by not only the professional planners on city staff but also in an independent review by a  professional engineering firm.

The traffic calming plan now goes to City Council for a March 15th hearing with the Traffic and Parking Board’s recommendation.

A clarification, from the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee: “Although the original parking information was technically correct, parking needs are based on peak usage not average usage. In an effort to be as clear as possible, we have updated the numbers to stress the peak usage for all parking in the stretch (six cars for 37 spaces) instead of the average usage for the 27 spaces that will be removed (just over 1 car).”

 

Show Your Support Tonight for King Street Traffic Calming

Tonight, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board will hear public testimony for the King Street Traffic Calming project at 7:30 pm at City Hall. Will you attend tonight’s hearing and show your support for safer streets in Alexandria?

The City of Alexandria is proposing to calm traffic and improve conditions for pedestrians, transit riders and bicyclists by constructing bike lanes on King St from Russell Road to Janneys Lane and by adding and upgrading crosswalks. Neighbors have long complained of safety issues on this street caused by drivers frequently speeding and rolling through stop signs. This project will address these safety issues. The City’s proposal will also make the street safer for pedestrians creating a safe space on the street for bicyclists, removing them from the sidewalks. Learn more about the City of Alexandria’s proposal online on the City’s websiteThis proposal directly benefits pedestrians, residents, bicyclists, bus riders and drivers.

The Traffic and Parking Board already heard the public testimony about this project in November. The overwhelming majority spoke in favor of the project but they deferred the vote. Do not let them defer safe streets tonight.

There are a few vocal and well connected neighbors opposing this project because of a loss of a small number of public parking spaces. This stretch of King Street is a neighborhood street with mostly single family homes with driveways. The City of Alexandria observed about 95% of the parking spaces were vacant over a three month period this year. This unused public space should be utilized to make our streets safer for all. Kids should be able to bike to school, residents should be safe walking to the Metro station, and visitors should feel comfortable riding Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.

There is a definite possibility that the vote will go against the bike lanes or be delayed. The opposition is vocal and motivated. Please attend the public meeting and support King Street Traffic Calming!

Transportation and Parking Board Hearing
Monday, February 24th, 7:30 pm (Tonight)
Council Chambers, City Hall (Market Square, King St at Royal St)
Info: http://www.alexandriava.gov/TrafficParkingBoard
You must sign up to testify by 7:45 p.m. – download the speaker form (pdf)

After tonight’s hearing, the Alexandria City Council will hold a public hearing in March and vote on this project. A favorable vote from the Traffic and Parking Board tonight will go along way to a vote to proceed from City Council. Tonight’s vote is important.

Share with the City of Alexandria your personal experience biking, walking or driving on this stretch of King Street. If you cannot make tonight’s hearing, send an email to the Traffic and Parking Board in support of the King Street Traffic Calming.

King Street Bike Lanes Decision Appealed

king-street-is-the-missing-link

King Street is the missing link in the bicycle network. Bike lanes would connect the exciting and planned network. Source: City of Alexandria.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the city of Alexandria will hold additional public meetings on the controversial King Street bike lanes. In December, Director Rich Brier wrote a letter to residents along King Street saying that he would direct his staff to proceed with the installation of the bike lanes. Residents upset with Brier’s decision are using a 50-year-old city law to appeal his decision.

Alexandria, in an effort to be transparent about the decision, will allow two additional opportunities to comment on the bike lane project. The first public hearing will be on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Traffic and Parking Board meeting. The Traffic and Parking Board will make a recommendation to the Alexandria city council. In November, 56 speakers testified at a TPB hearing; 38 spoke in favor of the bike lanes and 18 spoke in opposition. The TBP voted to defer its decision. The second public meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sat., March 15  as part of the city council’s consideration of the TPB recommendation.

During the first public hearings about the bike lanes in fall 2013, concerns from some members of the public centered on the planned loss of all 37 on-street parking spaces on the stretch of King Street that would have the lanes. During a November meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board, staff from the city of Alexandria presented data collected over several months in the spring of 2013. On average, three cars per day were parked in those 37 on-street parking spaces. The revised plan presented in November will retain 10 on-street parking spaces in direct response to citizen concerns.

On-street bike lanes make streets safer for all users. When bike lanes are installed, the average speeds of car drivers are reduced, making the street better for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers. Lanes give cyclists a safe place on the road and an alternative to narrow sidewalks, making those sidewalks better for pedestrians. Alexandria’s professional engineering and traffic planning staff, along with its independent traffic and engineering firm agree that bike lanes on King Street are a wise choice to accommodate all road users.

WABA will continue to advocate on behalf of our Alexandria members and supporters for the installation of the King Street bike lanes. Sign up below to receive email alerts when new updates or action is needed for the King Street Bike Lanes.

Success: King Street Bike Lanes Will Go Forward

Success! The City of Alexandria will install bike lanes on King Street in 2014.

The City of Alexandria will move forward with plans to install bike lanes on King Street east of the Metro station. In a letter to residents of King Street, Director of Transportation and Environmental Services Rich Brier will direct City staff to implemented the compromise proposal in the new year.

66 speakers testified at the TPB hearing on Nov. 25. 48 spoke in favor of the bike lanes, and 18 were opposed. City residents who spoke in favor of the bike lanes included a high-school teacher, two vision-impaired riders who ride with sighted riders on tandem bicycles, parents, students, and other residents. WABA worked to mobilize the support of Alexandria bicyclists and gave testimony on behalf of our Alexandria members and supporters.

In the four page letter to residents Director Rich Brier writes, “As a professional engineer tasked with ensuring the safety for all users of our street system and after reviewing the data and researching alternative proposals, I believe that the modified plan is the best plan to achieve the common goals of improving safety and balancing the needs of multiple users of King Street.” Read the letter in its entirely on the City of Alexandria’s website.

Learn more about the City’s proposal for King Street online including their original proposal and the late compromise solution. City staff initially proposed removing all 37 on-street parking spaces but late presented a revised proposal that retained 10 on-street spaces.

The City of Alexandria has made an important step towards towards making the streets safer for all roadway users. Please take a moment now and send a note of thanks to the City Mayor and Council. Click this link to send an email of appreciation.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is the leading voice for bicycling in the region. WABA members and supporters enable us to advocate for better conditions for bicycling. Join or donate today to ensure that we can continue to represent you.

 This blog post was updated to include a link to the full letter from Transportation Director Rich Brier.

Tonight: Save the King Street Bike Lanes

This morning, we emailed a version of the text below to our supporters in Alexandria. We’re posting it on our blog to encourage those who don’t subscribe to our action alerts but live in and around Del Ray to attend tonight’s hearing about the proposed King Street bike lanes, which are in danger of being killed in favor of parking spaces.

Without you, these bike lanes may never come to be, remaining instead parking spaces.

“We want people to be using bicycles and walking,” Alexandria Mayor Bil Euille has declared (as recently reported by the Del Ray Patch).

This winter, the city of Alexandria plans to expand the popular Capital Bikeshare system to Del Ray with five new stations. However, Bikeshare will falter without additional on-street bike lanes, routes, and trails. Alexandria is proposed to construct bike lanes on King Street from Russell Road to Janneys Lane. The western section of King Street is an uphill climb. The proposed lanes will provide a safe place for people on bikes to climb at their own pace, while keeping car traffic flowing smoothy and unimpeded. Neighbors report that drivers often speed on this stretch; bike lanes will calm this fast-moving car traffic. Pedestrains will benefit from a buffer from car traffic and a sidewalk clear of bike traffic. The King Street bike lanes are an unequivocal win for nearby residents, pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and bus riders.

Learn more about the King Street bike lane proposal on Alexandria’s website.

But there are a few vocal and well-connected neighbors opposing the bike lanes. Their main complaint is the loss of a small number of public parking spaces. The stretch of King Street in question is residential, with single-family homes and driveways. The ciy observed that about 95 percent of all street parking spaces were vacant over a three-month period this year. This empty public space should be used to make King Street safer for kids biking to school, residents walking to the Metro, and visitors using Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.

There is a real chance that Alexandria’s Transportation and Parking Board will vote against the bike lanes in favor of these parking spaces. Please attend TONIGHT to testify in support of the King Street bike lane project and demand safer streets.

Transportation and Parking Board Hearing
Monday, Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m. (TONIGHT!)
Council Chambers, City Hall (Market Square, King Street at Royal Street)
More information: http://www.alexandriava.gov/TrafficParkingBoard
You must sign up to testify by 7:45 p.m.; download the speaker form (PDF)

Thank you for helping to make the streets of Alexandria safer.