Thursday, May 06, 2010

AAA Mid-Atlantic - DC Bike Plan is a "War On Drivers"

On May 3rd AAA Mid-Atlantic which provides driver services from New Jersey to Virginia put out a press release urging its members to oppose bike lanes that are being installed along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. Unlike the District of Columbia DOT, this professional organization is not basing their concerns on a specific traffic study but rather a fear of doomsday gridlock.

“If implemented, this plan could make things worse. Lane closures must be approached with extreme caution to avoid excessive traffic delays and the diversion of motorists into neighborhood streets, increasing cut-through traffic in peak periods.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic's DC Managing Director, Public and Government Affairs Lon Anderson goes even further, in an Op Ed piece he called the bike lane plan a "war on drivers"

Here in Philadelphia, we've became accustomed to such knee jerk reactions. Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky has written article after article as to why bicyclists and bike lanes make no sense for the city. Like others of his ilk, he bases his positions on anecdotal information, however his jabs of bicyclists have been subject to widespread criticism, which may explain why has taken to discrediting our bike count data.

But the studies done on the Spruce and Pine Bike Lanes as well as other places where bike lanes have replaced travel lanes show that the "war on drivers" is as about as real as the bike lane fairy. Before and after counts on Spruce and Pine Streets indicated that bike traffic on those streets nearly doubled while traffic speeds decreased by a meager 2 mph. The pedestrianization of Broadway in New York City was a lane reduction project on a grand scale, yet NYC DOT's study showed positive results without sending Manhattan into the feared gridlock.

The AAA Mid-Atlantic press release highlights their membership poll to point out that their members are not happy with bike facilities, but it doesn't take much to put a spin on the results - "Polling shows some residents already have some misgivings about the proposal. In fact, 53 percent of District residents say bike lanes and other added bicycle perks will not make them more likely to bicycle to work on a regular basis, the 2010 AAA Transportation Poll ® shows. Even so, 20 percent of surveyed AAA members in the District said the changes would compel them to become regular bicycle commuters." So does that imply that up to 47% of AAA members would consider bicycling to work more often? I also wonder if the 20% of AAA Mid-Atlantic's membership who favor more bicycle facilities would want to continue to be part of an organization that doesn't share their values.

For those that don't like AAA Mid-Atlantic's Politics there are other options. Most notably Portland based Better World Club which offers several plans that roadside assistance for your vehicle and your bicycle. For the car free they also offer a bike only assistance plan. Those who enroll in this program automatically become a member of the League of American Bicyclists.

Spruce St

A advancing brigade of bicyclists passes an unsuspecting line of parked cars in preparation for the "War on Drivers"


Anonymous said...

I am waiting for the BCGP to explain why they helped Stu Bykofsky write his column about the bike count. Does anyone in your office understand the phrase "no comment"?

kati @ aaa mid-atlantic said...

Hey. I work for AAA Mid-Atlantic and I wanted to comment on this because I am also a cyclist (although in the DE area) and was a little concerned.

I emailed our Public and Government Affairs group asking them if they could clarify a little further on the issue. Basically, it boils down to the fact that AAA Mid-Atlantic is against the bike lanes being put in as there is NO formal procedure in place (public hearings, surveys, etc) which means that both drivers and cyclists are being left out of the conversation. They are not anti-bike or anti-bike-lanes in general.

Since I head up social media for AAA, I blogged about it. Just wanted to correct some misinformation that's out there. You can read the full post here: