Letter to the Editor: Cyclists Will Stop and Shop If You Just Add Bicycle Parking
The chairman of the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee begs City Council to include bicycle parking as part of the Union Street Corridor Plan.
I am writing about the Union Street Corridor Plan, which will be discussed by City Council later this week. This plan has the full support of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, of which I am chair. I remain concerned, however, that an important element of the proposed plan may not be implemented.
We have a situation where city consultants count hundreds of bicycles on Union Street every hour of the day and yet, for some reason, there is very little bicycle parking to be found. I myself lead groups of bike-riders through there often, but we rarely begin, end or pause our rides at the foot of King Street, where the shops are. As a result, our snack, coffee-shop and post-ride luncheon dollars go elsewhere. Counts by the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee verify that an estimated 1 million potential customers roll down Union Street each year, but we as a community have failed to invite them to stop and to shop.
I have talked to the head of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce about this, but received little interest. I have talked to the Waterfront Commission about this, and was astounded when they stated that bike parking corrals "sound ugly." They then specifically recommended to City Council that proposed bike parking corrals in the Union Street Corridor be excluded from the foot of King Street. Given that Alexandria has a large tourist-driven economy, I find this astounding and frustrating. I feel as if I am trying to give money to someone who doesn't know what money is.
I cannot believe that it has come to this, but it has. I am now going to beg. My bicycle-riding friends and I would sincerely like to come to Old Town and give you our money. We would do this if we had somewhere inviting to park. By somewhere inviting, I mean out on the street—not hidden behind a building where bicycle thieves can work undisturbed. Alexandria city staff and consultants understand this and have proposed adding these facilities. We are now asking the City Council to please specify that bike parking be located near the shops at the foot of King Street, where it belongs. Thank you for your time and attention.
Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee