For the first time in my life I became a community organizer over the last few months. It’s not an experience I’ll want to repeat any time soon. With a group of neighbors I took on City Hall and a rag-tag group of bicyclists who wanted to replace on-street parking with dedicated bike lanes on the most dangerous street in my city of Alexandria VA.
King Street, Alexandria is very steep (a 5 percent grade) and a major city artery (Virginia Route 7) with 13,000 cars and trucks that speed by each day, mostly well over the speed limit. It’s also only 29 feet wide, which means that when the bike lanes are installed and two city buses pass each other, they’ll have zero leeway unless they move into the bike lanes.
It’s the dumbest place in the world for bike lanes, in short, an attractive nuisance, an accident waiting to happen. But that didn’t seem to matter to anyone, and that taught me something about municipal politics.