M Street church and strip club protest construction of bike lane
The District Department of Transportation has created buzz for D.C. bikers with their Downtown Bike Lane Pilot Project, promising the construction of five miles of protected bike lane by 2013’s end.
But the construction of the M lane has experienced recurrent delays due to complains from the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and adjacent businesses.
This past May, the church, which is on the 1500 block of M Street, raised a fuss at a hearing for the bike lane. Members of the congregation purport that the cycle track will reduce parking availability for Sunday service. The church was eventually offered a sum of $1 million to relocate, which was refused.
Other area business owners have expressed concern over heightened gridlock with the loss of a car lane. Nicolas Triantis, owner of strip club Camelot Showbar, which is on the 1800 block, held that his workers would be late to work due to increased traffic.
This issue of the 1500 block of M Street has been resolved in the past week. DDOT has decided to resort to a traditional bike lane for the contentious block. Unlike the rest of the M Street cycle track with the protection of a parking lane and posts, the 1500 lane will be exposed to traffic with only green paint to designate it. DDOT cites the church’s long history and role in community as the reason for the compromise.
The DDOT decision has drawn ire from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. In a post on the WABA website titled “Mayor Gray, We Need to Talk About M Street,” the organization wrote that the 1500 block verdict “compromises the intent of the project’s goals, the past promises and visions of the mayor and DDOT, and faith in the public process that determines so much of how our city works.”
The construction is now slated for October, a mere three months off schedule, and the M Street Bike Lane trudges forward in the bogs of D.C. politics.
Photo: Elly Blue via Flickr