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Churches & Bike Lanes Set to Reach Historic Compromise in Washington, D.C.

Plans to create a protected north-south cycling lane in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood have run into a powerful roadblock: church parking.

Local churches are the heart and soul of the District of Columbia community. They serve as neighborhood centers, family anchors, and social hubs. In addition to worship, DC Churches provide nutrition, recreation and support services for seniors and those most in need.

Over time, many church members (or their children & grandchildren) have moved to new homes farther from DC’s central core, including moving into Maryland and Virginia. Transportation to church can be difficult, especially for seniors.

When parishioners come to their Sunday services, they need to have a safe and convenient place to park. Churches also run 17-passenger vans for parishioners, parking them during worship, ready to take worshipers home after service. Meanwhile, DC cyclists are increasingly calling for protected bike lanes to serve the huge numbers of new cyclists and bike commenters
– including many church members, by the way.

Protected, dedicated bike lanes are the best option for safe, urban riding. Last year, six bicycle-related fatalities occurred in or near the Shaw neighborhood where the new bike lanes are being proposed.

Thanks to new, innovative plans from the DC Department of Transportation, a compromise may be at hand. DDOT’s newest proposal would create a protected bike facility while removing only 11 parking spaces. Protected cross-walks would safely accommodate pedestrians.

Church officials seemed warm to the idea. After initial confrontation, a spirit of cooperation has found both cyclists and parishioners. Mayor Bowser and DDOT should take steps to assure that additional parking is available to church-goers on Sunday mornings, when churches need parking the most. DC can both fully support our church community and provide safe facilities for cyclists.

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