F@#% You Alexandria
SAYS King Justin "Scooter" Wilson...!
- Redella Red Pepper
- Canek Aguirre
- Elizabeth Bennet Parker
City Council rejects will of the people-Again!
Read below from local Alexandria citizens and groups as published in your local papers.
Alexandrians are united against Seminary lane reduction
September 12, 2019
To the editor:
In your Aug. 29 editorial, “Seminary Road touches on bigger issues,” you correctly and fairly called out expressions of a safety problem on Seminary Road as “misleading and false.” The editorial also cautioned city council against ignoring citizen input and strong majority public support for maintaining four lanes on Seminary Road with new safety improvements.
Despite what is clear public opinion, some in city hall continue to baselessly assert that the public is divided. In reality, the residents of Alexandria are overwhelmingly united in support of maintaining four lanes with additional safety improvements for pedestrians. The advocacy for bike lanes in Alexandria and reduction of traffic lanes on Seminary Road mainly comes from regional and national bike lane lobbyists and corporate interests that have appeared to launch astroturfing campaigns.
At the June 24 Traffic and Parking Board hearing, a significant number of speakers in favor of bike lanes identified themselves as non-Alexandrians. Earlier in the year, the Washington Area Bicycle Association sponsored a petition in favor of bike lanes that specifically instructed signatories that they need not identify their city and state of residence. Of note, the city champions this petition as evidence that the public is divided on the issue.
The WABA petition wouldn’t be the first time that non-residents weighed strongly in Alexandria’s affairs. A review of the record in the King Street bike lane additions revealed that nearly half of the petition signers in favor of city hall’s grossly underused bike lanes were non-Alexandrians. And, when more closely examined, the letter-writing campaign was substantially verbatim letters with few stating a city and state of residence.
Even more egregious, this pattern continued in the widely reported slaughterhouse litigation against the city. When pressed on the issue, the city stated in court pleadings that it places as much value on the opinions of out-of-town special interests as it does on its own residents. The Seminary Road issue is following the same trajectory of favoring the opinions of non-Alexandrians on a matter of keen local interest.
In addition to advocacy lobbies, there are also massive corporate interests at play. One local bike lobby group lists Transurban and Lyft as two of its main donors. Transurban has the $500 million contract for HOT lanes on I-395 and thus a financial interest in creating local congestion near HOT lanes that would spike demand. Lyft has a financial interest in increasing demand for its ridesharing and scooter services.
In addition to Transurban and Lyft, the Lime scooter corporation, working expressly with the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, joined in the effort. In a mass text message, Lime specifically requested for customers to pressure city hall and again stated that there is no need to include city and state of residence.
These tactics serve to convey a false sense of support by Alexandria residents for arterial lane reduction, new bike lanes and, according to public information from Inova Alexandria Hospital and the Alexandria Fire Department, unnecessary risk in emergency response.
By definition, the noted activities are examples of astroturfing: an organized activity intended to create a false impression of a local grassroots movement that is in reality controlled and financed by lobbyists and corporations with scant local support. Unfortunately for Alexandrians, the line between city hall and the bike lobbyists and corporate interests has become difficult to discern.
We encourage city council and the mayor to listen to the residents who elected them, cast a skeptical eye to organized lobbying efforts from special interest groups and corporations and restore faith in their ability to serve our needs.
Support four lanes on Seminary Road with safety improvements for pedestrians.
-Alexis Sargent, Alexandria
Opinion: Letter to the Editor: I Disagree on Seminary Road
Saturday, September 21, 2019
#I totally disagree with the Council’s split decision (4-3) to change the current lane configurations on
Seminary Road. For once let’s get it right, it ain’t broke and sure doesn’t need fixing.
#Isn’t it long overdue for the City Council to heed the wishes of the citizens who elected them? It is
painfully obvious that the City Council relies almost exclusively on its staff and the developers to
make all of its important decisions.
#Why would the City Council ignore the wishes of the Parking and Traffic Board, over 11,000 plus
households and at least eleven Civic Associations, and do the opposite? When we vote for the City
Council, we expect them to at least respectfully hear us out, and at least occasionally acquiesce to
the will of the people. It is obvious from the Seminary Road fiasco and a number of other City
Council’s actions that the citizens need to elect some new members who will at least attentively
listen to us and then take the appropriate action. That day certainly wasn’t this past Saturday.
#Part of the problem is that the Alexandria government does not have any checks and balances.
One political party is dominant, and furthermore, the City council members are beholden to no one
but themselves, since there is no representation. This needs to change.
#Unfortunately, the City Council will never submit a change to our Charter to the General Assembly
to change this process, since they are part of the problem. It needs to be done as a rider to a bill that
has a good chance of being passed.
#Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet
Open letter to city leaders on Seminary Road
To the editor: We, the 13 undersigned Civic Associations that represent more than 9,000 households in Alexandria, urge city council to affirm the decision of the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board to keep four traffic lanes on Seminary Road, with two new crosswalks for pedestrian safety, when council votes at the Sept. 14 public hearing. Our unprecedented, grassroots alliance of civic associations is the result of the city’s proposal to place a small stretch of a major arterial roadway on a “road diet” by taking away half of the existing car lanes. We remain frustrated by the city’s process and lack of transparency in making road diet decisions. This has fostered distrust and raised questions about accountability measures in our city’s transportation planning. This issue is not justifiably about public safety, as the city’s own data shows that this portion of Seminary Road is safe. Data from Vision Zero and Traffic
Records Electronic Data System shows zero deaths or serious injuries on this part of the road. How do you make something safer than zero? We prioritize safety, too, but manipulating data to give the illusion that this portion of Seminary Road is unsafe does not improve safety or promote trust. The unsafe portion of Seminary Road that demands attention is the western side around the I-395 interchange.
Plus, the King Street road diet has yielded limited benefits beyond reduced speeding, which could have been achieved without reducing car lanes. Given our need to connect with INOVA Alexandria Hospital,
Alexandria City Public Schools/St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, Fire Station #206 and I-395, the TPB correctly determined that car lanes should not be reduced. Notably, city staff said traffic volumes on Seminary west of Howard Street are already too high for a road diet. City growth projections bolster this finding. The vast majority of residents in north central Alexandria are drivers negatively affected by traffic congestion. Our part of the city has received no new options in public transit in the past decade, and none are forecast for the foreseeable future. According to the Central Alexandria Traffic Study, 42 percent of the traffic on our roads is cut-through traffic from outside of the city. Road diets will not change this fact and reducing lanes will exacerbate the problem. The city must do more to incorporate more residents’ viewpoints on its transportation planning boards and committees. We are too beholden to one-size-fits-all approaches coming from special interest groups. Our commitment to regional connectivity must be balanced by a commitment to protecting our own neighborhoods. Alexandrians want impartial data and solutions that accurately account for changes in travel times for school and emergency personnel, neighborhood cut-through traffic and other impacts resulting from lane reductions. Council must acknowledge the unique character of our city neighborhoods in multimodal transportation planning, preserve arterial roadways for accessibility and not get ahead of itself in adopting futuristic measures that don’t work for today. We urge city council to uphold the decision of the Traffic and Parking Board to maintain Seminary Road with four car travel lanes and new pedestrian crosswalks on Sept. 14. Failure to stand with the TPB and our civic associations will stifle the will of the majority. Residents should use the Call, Click, Connect system to show support for this position. -
Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association, Cameron Station Civic Association, Clover College Park Civic Association, North Ridge Citizens’ Association, Old Town Civic Association, Parkside at Alexandria, Seminary Civic Association, Seminary Hill Association, Seminary Ridge Civic Association, Seminary West Civic Association, Strawberry Hill Civic Association, Taylor Run Citizens’ Association, Wakefield Tarleton Civic Association.