Proposed Bike Path Causes Stir

A Washington D.C church has given a charged response to the District government’s proposals of building a bike lane on the east side of downtown, stating that a bike lane near its property would definitely infringe upon “the constitution protected rights of equal protection of the law and religious freedom.”

Washington D.C’s department of transportation is exploring installing a protected bike lane going northbound and southbound between Fifth and Ninth Streets NW that would connect to popular protected bike lanes on the east and west streets such as M and L NW, or Pennsylvania Avenue NW.The proposed bike lane routes would run between Constitution and Florida avenues NW. The United House of Prayer is located in the 600 block of M Street NW.

The church’s lawyer wrote to DDOT a letter stating that the proposals along Sixth Street are “problematic, unrealistic and unsupportable particularly for parking and traffic.” The church argues that parking loss would unconstitutionally place an undue burden on people who want to pray, noting that some churches fled to suburbs because of parking restrictions. The church says that it would be seemingly impossible if a protected bike lane were on the street because DDOT currently lets cars park diagonally on the street during busy hours.

The church’s lawyer letter also stated, “As discussed with DDOT at various points, the proposed bike lane’s route can be altered by one block, such that the bike tracks would follow 6th Street to N Street to avoid directly affecting adversely on parking adjacent to the God’s White House on 6th and M Streets is another alternative.”

It was agreed between the church, cycling and city advocates that the bike lane be made unprotected in front of the church after a much-heated back-and-forth meeting. The cycling advocates warned that it could set a dangerous trend for other churches and businesses against bike lanes, but the church was happy with the outcome.

It’s still unclear at this point if the city would consider having the unprotected bike lane be on 6th Street NW in front of the United House of Prayer. Terry Owens, the DDOT spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that the bike lane study will last throughout the year, and it will not be “coming up with any design decisions, such as how specific blocks are configured until it’s decided on a suitable street and perfect design approach. “We are putting into consideration what we gather into our decision-making, and we look forward to working on reducing and mitigating any impacts when we get down to a suitable alternative,” Owens wrote.

DDOT is hosting an open house for suggestions on the proposed bike lane on Thursday October 22 2015 from 6p.m to 8 p.m. at the Shaw Library, 1630 Seventh St. NW.

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