Church Funeral Attendees Taking Bike Lanes for Parking?

by Borderstan.com February 21, 2012 at 8:00 am 7 Comments

"Borderstan", DC, bike, lanes

The 15th Street bike lane. (Luis Gomez Photos).

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

TBD investigated what is and is not allowed for a church funeral. The official policy indicates that parking in the bike lane is not permissible; tweets from some irritated cyclists, however, testify to the policy on the street being compassionate “parking permissiveness.”

If the cars were double-parked and causing traffic on 15th Street NW for motorists, would the situation have been different? It’s worth noting that the DC Department of Transportation responded to the cyclists’ complaints, but the cars were gone by the time the unit showed up at the church (St. Luke’s Episcopal at 15th and P NW, by the way).

This is not the first time residents have voiced concerns over a church’s parking; in 2006 and then again in 2008, Sunday morning double-parking sparked a lot of heat and anger in Logan Circle. Since the issues have been raised (then and now in the comments), as to whether is this simply a preferential play for cars… or do Christian churches, or African-American Christian churches, get spared more tickets than area temples?

Or is ticketing just infinitely more lax on Sunday, which has little to do with some people thinking that it’s God’s day?

  • Lance

    “or do Christian churches, or African-American Christian churches, get spared more tickets than area temples?”

    Wow! And so the separation of church and state, enshrined in the Constitution, takes yet another turn which would founding fathers could never have foreseen … giving cyclists a leg up on people mourning the loss of a friend or family member. Come on … let’s show some compassion here and stop playing with technicalities. Cyclists aren’t restricted from using all the regular lanes throughout the area. A one or two hour inconvenience in not being able to use a dedicate lane, is just that … an inconvenience. I don’t see this as an issue worth starting a culture war over … much less one where we start quoting constitutional rights. It’s just good common sense that we show respect to these mourners given the very little downside and sacrifice. Unless, of course, you think having to find an alternate lane/road is a big sacrifice. Drivers do that everyday. And THEY don’t have the option of driving on the sidewalk when things get bad on the road. Let’s put this very minor matter in perspective.

    • M

      Thank you for the perspective Lance. I agree that it isn’t really a big deal, but I think it brings up a larger issue. I think that some members of several churches in the community feel entitled to ignore DC parking laws when it suits them, and not just for funerals. Whenever they are challenged on this, they either drop the race card or accuse members of the community of “religious intolerance.” Sorry, but just because you’re going to church doesn’t mean you can just park where you please. Separation of church and state does not give anyone the right to double park. Finding a legal parking spot in Borderstan is a huge hassle for everyone. If you don’t like it, the green line stops at 13th and U and there are buses galore.

      I agree that funerals are different, but if the church would make a request for an emergency no parking zone, the extra cars could easily be accommodated without blocking bike lanes, lanes of traffic, alleys, crosswalks, fire hydrants, etc.

  • Paul

    The cycle track in question (not “bike lane”) runs in both directions on 15th. It’s simply not safe to use the regular travel lanes in the counterflow direction. To avoid the funeral parking, a southbound cyclist would have had to use the regular travel lane against the flow of automotive traffic. Perhaps WABA needs to do some outreach to this church. I’m sure a repeat of this situation can be avoided, if it’s handled respectfully, and as a request, not a demand.

    • Lance

      @Paul,“To avoid the funeral parking, a southbound cyclist would have had to use the regular travel lane against the flow of automotive traffic.”

      Actually, no … All they’d need do is either go one block to the east and use the bike lane on 14th, or alternatively, go one block to the west and share the southbound lane of 16th. (And in either case, they could also legally use the sidewalk on either of these alternate streets given that the prohibition on riding on the sidewalk only applies in the Central Business District.)

  • Mike S.

    Funerals ARE different. Why not allow parking in the bike lane? Having mourners, especially elderly mourners, cross a bike lane to get to their cars would seem to be more of a safety hazard than having cyclists find another option for two hours.

    Compassion is a commodity that is far too scarce these days. For goodness sake, someone has died and people are grieving. Stop whining about the bike lane. Your world hasn’t come to an end, but someone’s has…and their family and friends deserve some slack.

    As for the Sunday morning weekly blockades, that’s an entirely different story.

    • Lance

      Mike, Yes this is very different from the Sunday morning weekly blockades. This is more akin to ’emergency no parking’. A while back GGW had done a good job explaining how the lanes (and cycle tracks) are supposed to work. But I don’t think (unfortunately) that explanation got widely disseminated. Basically they said we need to think of it as a lane like any other except for that it is reserved for the exclusive use of cyclists. Now that doesn’t make it exempt from all the reasons that a regular lane (i.e. one where cars go) can be used for other purposes. For instance, it’s still okay for cars (or anyone) to use that bike lane (like any other lane) for drop offs and pick ups unless there is signage indicating otherwise (i.e., ‘no standing anytime’ signs), and emergency vehicles can pull into it and park there … just like they would in a regular lane.

      Similarly, and I think this is an important safety issue, GGW pointed out that a driver making a right turn SHOULD pull into the bike lane (where the dotted lines indicate it’s okay to do so) just like they would at any other lane before making their right turn. And, accordingly, a cyclist coming behind a car stopped in the bike lane for their right turn (perhaps waiting for a light change or a stop sign)should NOT pass the car on the right. Like any other situation where you have someone in your lane in front of you stopped, you should pass to the left IF it’s safe to move into that lane, and if not, then you should stop behind the stopped car … just like any other traffic.

  • Gumpper

    This particular church also refuses to shovel the sidewalks when it snows, but it does manage to plow ots parking lot. They are not good neighbors.


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