“Attending church does not make you more entitled to public roads”


At Large Council Candidate David Garber has a thoughtful response to the recent church/bike lane battle of 2015:

“-We have to treat the people, institutions, organizations, and businesses in the city equally. The government’s responsibility is to seek equality and opportunity for all, outside the context of specific beliefs and religions. I grew up in the church and understand that it’s an incredibly important part of the lives of many people in the District. That’s okay. But that doesn’t come with a get-out-of-the-rules-others-have-to-follow-free card. Attending church does not make you more entitled to public roads and sidewalks than the grocery shopper, weekend worker, neighborhood resident, or library user. If we give special passes to one group, we have to give those passes to others. Instead of offering passes at all, we should create a context and a rulebook that is enforceable, enforced, and fair across all people groups and belief groups. To do otherwise is not fair within a government and a city that encompasses so much diversity.”

You can read his full remarks here.

169 Comment

  • It’s people running for public seats/offices like David Garber that make me pause when I consider leaving DC in the future. If more cared and took charge about their communities, and not just themselves – I’m sure we’d be pleasantly surprised about what we can achieve.

  • Appreciate his voice of reason during this really tense time.

  • Trying to be as objective as I can but — in my years in DC, it is traditionally “some” churches that get away with double-parking, etc. on Sundays. But not all.

    • Why would you think that some churches don’t get away with double parking? I would assume that these churches tell their parishioners to not double park and break the law.

    • +1 All churches aren’t getting away with double parking. I attend Foundry on 16th St who has an arrangement with one of the local parking garages. There are several other churches near Foundry and I haven’t seen double parking in that area. Most of the churches I’ve seen that allow double parking are in the Shaw area. Back when the double parking started, that area was less populated and there were fewer people cycling around the city. I don’t see why it has to be either or with the bike lanes. Perhaps having them “unprotected” in certain area around churches is the best compromise. I do feel that the churches were there long before people wanted to move back into the city and should have some special consideration, however it does bug me that most of the drivers who double park don’t have DC plates or pay taxes here…

      • I go to St. Matthew’s downtown. Double parking is NOT encouraged or even thinkable. And cars that park in the very tempting alley alongside the cathedral are ticketed lickety-split. So when I pass by all the double-parked churches on some Sundays, I wonder what gives?

      • “…that the churches were there long before people wanted to move back into the city and should have some special consideration” BS, you missed the whole point of David’s remarks: nobody should be any more entitled to the city and its resources than anyone else.
        Especially churches, in my opinion, who don’t pay any taxes!

      • I don’t feel like churches should get any special consideration whatsoever. If, however, the church brought huge amounts of money into the community, or if it were the source of a huge amount of tax revenue, I might change my tune. Until then, I’m going to continue singing the same song.

  • Bravo! Besides the bike lanes issue, the double parking on Sundays situation bugs me to no end.

  • In terms of a political calculation (and that’s the only reason candidates speak on controversial issues), this is an… um…. interesting one.

  • I’ve been following the debate about a 6th St bike path for several years now and actually think David Garber really missed the mark here. He is basically saying that the churches are asking for a free pass and maintenance of the status quo. But he doesn’t acknowledge that the churches continue to be an important presence in the community and people who go to those churches essentially built the communities around them. Parishioners largely drive in (sometimes daily) to attend church functions and they need places to park. Parking is tight. They’ churches are not just digging in their heels for its own sake. This change would affect them badly.
    On the other hand, the church communities don’t seem to be taking other alternatives very seriously either, and I think this is going to hurt them in the end. It’s not unreasonable to want another bike path in Shaw and 6th St. makes a lot of sense.
    Essentially, I think both sides are turning this into a zero-sum game without considering the full range of alternatives, such as trying to build a new parking structure to accommodate everyone who needs parking. I hope they turn to a mediator to try to find some common ground rather than just talking past each other.

    • UHOP is welcome to purchase a lot that is zoned for a parking structure and to build to their hearts content.

    • They don’t need to park there. They want to park there. And I have about zero compassion for them when they pull these bully tactics.

      • +1. And being an ex-resident (look at all the MD plates around the churches on Sunday) doesn’t entitle you to special treatment. You used to live here? Great. You don’t any more? Good for you. Now stop blocking in my car. And while you’re at it, stop trying to influence government decisions in a city in which you no longer live and to which you no longer pay taxes.

        • +1. Try going east on South Dakota or south on Rhode Island on a Sunday. Maryland plates lined up blocking the right lanes causing the roadway to become one lane. There’s plenty of unzoned parking on the neighborhood streets, so why can’t they park there?

          • Or worse, parked in the left lane! A few weeks ago, at about 4 pm on a Sunday on Rhode Island Ave (west) I nearly rear ended a car parked in the left lane. How is that legal?!?

    • I would agree except that the churches demand FREE parking. The abundant (particularly on Sunday) parking available in paid garages in the surrounding blocks is unacceptable to them.

    • “He is basically saying that the churches are asking for a free pass and maintenance of the status quo. But he doesn’t acknowledge that the churches continue to be an important presence in the community and people who go to those churches essentially built the communities around them.”
      Unclear to me what the second sentence has to do with the first sentence. Lots of things are important parts of a community. Grocery stores, for example. And lots of people help build the community. Don’t see why any of that should afford them special privileges.

    • I appreciate you articulating the complexity of this issue and not perpetuating the “cyclists vs. churchgoers” narrative that many news outlets are pushing.
      That said, I completely disagree that both sides are equally unreasonable here. Each of the proposed cycle routes.options (or maybe all but one) would require a church losing their Sunday diagonal parking privileges. It would also make it more difficult for parishioners to double park. Personally, I think those are both positives. I grew up in the church as well, but as a resident, i think this city goes too far to accommodate parishioners from Maryland.
      This church owns properties (that it does not pay taxes on) all over Shaw. It has a revenue stream that dwarfs many area businesses. If it wanted to accommodate its membership, it could convert any of those properties to parking or use the revenue from those properties to provide free/subsidies parking for members from Maryland. The church is being disingenuous when it claims installing a bike lane that will make the street safer for local residents and bike commuters is going to infringe on it religious freedom or harm its membership. It has plenty of options to provide parking to its out-of-district members, they just won’t be free/paid for by taxpayers.

      • I wouldn’t say that both sides are being “equally unreasonable.”The churches aren’t exactly offering up practical alternatives and that’s a real problem. But I also think the presumption that the churches that have been in the neighborhood a long time should simply accept a proposal that will have a negative affect on them (and pay $$$$ themselves for a new parking facility) isn’t constructive either. A real solution is one where neither side gets everything they want and both sides get something they want. We’re not even close to that right now.

        • Fair point. But I don’t think there is a compromise solution that makes any sense. An independent study identified several potential routes for a bike lane. All or most of those routes would require a church losing its privileged diagonal parking. Choosing a different route, doesn’t represent a compromise for all sides, it represents the church exercising a veto over city policy.

          • I agree that’s where things stand right now — it’s either bike lanes or parking spaces — and that’s not a good solution. I’m just not sure David Garber’s approach is really helping matters much since it seems to reinforce the false (old DC, black) church vs. (new DC, white) divide. I’m convinced there has to be a resolution to this that isn’t winner take all.

      • I am virulently anti-religion and hate the idea of giving special rights to believers, but the concept of pushing this congregation to build a parking garage might not be the best solution. A parking garage that will only be filled on Sunday is not the best use of land in Shaw. I would rather the church continue to develop market rate housing. It might be better to compromise and allow diagonal parking on Sunday only, or make the entire block commercial and allow valet double parking for a price.

        • Alas, building a bike lane on the west side of 6th St would preclude diagonal parking Sundays, which they already have. Which is why they oppose the bike lane. Although there is an alternative proposal to just have the bike lane on the east side of 6th, which I’m unsure of why they oppose.

          Besides, no one is saying they have to build a parking garage – they can rent parking from one of several nearby garages/lots on Sunday, have parishioners simply pay for parking, or run shuttles, etc. But if free parking is so existential for them, then maybe that is the best use of their land.

          • Couldn’t there be a bike lane — but an “unprotected” one — added in the area where there’s currently diagonal parking on Sundays? Not as good as a protected bike lane, but better than nothing?

          • @testdoc: This seems like the obvious answer, doesn’t it? There’s a bike lane, but one that allows the continued misappropriation of parking by PG county res . . . sorry, slipped for a second, let me try it again. There’s a bike lane, but one that allows congregants to continue to park as they have historically parked. (You can see I’m have a definite opinion about this, but I am trying to reach a compromise.)

    • “people who go to those churches essentially built the communities around them.”

      Hahahaha. No….just no.

      • “Just no.” Um, why “just no”? It’s not an absurd thing to say and dismissing it outright isn’t exactly making a strong case.

        • After how many years of living here and how many good deeds am I entitled to bending the rules for my own benefit?

        • I think these churches have contributed a lot to the fabric of the community and the culture of the surrounding area. That shouldn’t be diminished or dismissed. These churches DO NOT serve the current community of the neighborhood as evidenced by the fact that their membership is primarily driving in from MD every Sunday.

          • I’d be happy to commend a church or have the city officially thank a church for some specific contribution. But that doesn’t mean they get additional rights beyond other citizens.

          • “These churches DO NOT serve the current community of the neighborhood.” I totally disagree with that. UHOP was my landlord for three years (2010-2013) and that was the absolute best landlord-tenant relationship I ever hand, hands down. My landlord was someone I would consider a friend. Any time I had any issue with our apartment, it was addressed immediately and completely without any unneeded drama. I hope they keep building more buildings in Shaw because they’re a huge asset to the community.

          • Neat tax shelter for them too.

          • In response to FKA Shawess….I had an incredible relationship with Bozzuto. They were always responsive to issues, fair with rent increases, and had fantastic front-desk people. That said, the city government and police have never bent over backwards to make sure that Bozzuto employees and building residents enjoy free benefits at the expense of other city residents.

          • Also, the other community-building work that Shaw churches have done is not exactly ancient history even if many parishioners have since mode out of the district. These are the churches that built up Shaw again after the ’68 riots and supported the communities there during the 80s crack epidemic. The people who did that community work are some of the same people driving in for church.

          • “These are the churches that built up Shaw again after the ’68 riots and supported the communities there during the 80s crack epidemic. The people who did that community work are some of the same people driving in for church.”
            Shawess, I’ve gotta say I think you’re way off base here. That some of the parishoners were civil rights activists and on the forefront of urban renewal 25+ years ago just doesn’t give them any special say or veto power in urban planning. The fact is that (i) many, if not most of the affected congregants live outside of the city, and (ii) keeping the status quo as is would be an incredibly inefficient use of resources – let’s make things convenient for one day each week while keeping things ineffective (and unsafe) for every single day.
            I appreciate your point that there should be an accommodation, but the problem is, the church isn’t amenable to that. They want no bike lanes, and that’s that. They’re not interested in compromise. With that kind of attitude, of COURSE they’re getting the same reaction. They’re used to being able to dictate this kind of thing to the city (perhaps they still can), and they’re just astonished that a group of people have the temerity to hold a different opinion (which is, by the way, based on traffic studies and urban planning principles). To put it in terms they’ll understand, they reap what they have sown. We have not yet gotten to the point where they are reaping the whirlwind . . . but it’s close.

        • Because it’s factually inaccurate. The people who go to these churches are for the most part from maryland. They contribute nothing to the city, and I wasn’t aware that if there is a vague sense that your ancestors lived somewhere you get to use city services to your own end at the expense of people who CURRENTLY live in this city and who have turned shaw, for example, into a place where there aren’t open air drug markets, prostitutes walking the streets and gun shots going off constantly.

          • Don’t know DC tax law for non-profits, but hopefully there is some analogue to UBIT so that they are contributing at least something to the District’s coffers. I had no idea these churches had as many business and property interests as are discussed in this thread.

          • saf

            Yes, unrelated business income is taxable to churches.

    • There are many churches in DC who helped build the neighborhoods around them, have members that drive in from the suburbs multiple nights a week for events, and continue to build the community without special parking arrangements. Their members legally park where they can, the church makes special arrangements with nearby parking garages, and yes, it is inconvenient and frustrating to try to get to church for some of them. Churches in Dupont Circle are especially good examples of this: Foundry, St. Thomas, St. Luke’s, O St. Baptist. None have double parking or back-in parking permissions and have not dug in their heels on issues like this. I think it’s important to remember that the special parking these churches have (and they claim as basic right of their existence) is not right that all churches are claiming and is a problem that other churches have dealt with in a neighborly, productive manner.

      • Catholic Charities provide buckets full of social services, lowering your tax burden and paid for by the folks in the pews.

      • I lived next to the church at 13th and Irving for 11 years, and never once had or noticed this kind of problem. Sure, Sundays were crowded (though that was equally attributable to the Target), and I was a little irked when they got 3 full spaces changed to “no parking” by their front door, but nothing like this. They were good, decent people who didn’t think that had special sway over the neighborhood because they’d been there for a while.

    • I really have to get back to work now, but just want to say again, more directly this time, that I think the parties need to come back to the table and come up with some more creative solutions to this problem. I don’t think the right solution is either A) new bike lane or B) not a new bike lane. The issue of church parking needs to be addressed in a fair and equitable way, without putting the full cost of that on local churches, and so does the issue of adding a new bike path in Shaw.

      • I am a UHOP neighbor and agree that they are good landlords and good stewards of their properties. However, they are absolutely bullies when it comes to parking. They steamrolled DDOT re: extending the hours of diagonal parking from 2pm to 9pm last year (against a city traffic study) and there is no reason to believe they will be reasonable here. I generally like having UHOP as a neighbor. I just wish they were held to the same rules as everyone else in the neighborhood.

      • I still don’t get why the city should bear the burden of providing special parking privileges to church members.

      • justinbc

        Churches don’t pay taxes on all the fleecing they do of their followers. If they have to pay for a parking lot they’re already 30% ahead of a restaurant or other business in a similar situation.

    • But he doesn’t acknowledge that the churches continue to be an important presence in the community and people who go to those churches essentially built the communities around them.

      no. they didn’t. they moved out when it got rough.

      • Blithe

        I’d be interested in knowing what data you’re basing your last assertion on. My grandparents were among the many who helped to build their church in Shaw in the 1920’s. They — and their children — lived in Columbia Heights and paid taxes for services that their segregated community didn’t receive. They lived there during the Depression, during the devastation of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and the drug and violence plagued decades after that. How much more “rough” would you like it to be?

    • justinbc

      Why should a church get any more special treatment than say a restaurant? They both provide a place of gathering for neighborhood restaurants (and people coming in who aren’t residents), but you would never see a cop refuse to ticket someone illegally parked in front of a restaurant. And at least the restaurant pays taxes.

    • “. . . the churches continue to be an important presence in the community and people who go to those churches essentially built the communities around them.” Judging from the continued violence and endemic dysfunction of those communities, this isn’t praise.

  • No more Double Parking for Jesus!!!

  • Was he at the meeting last night? Did he speak out or just issue a statement the next day? My guess is he’s probably not counting on those opposed to the lanes to vote for him anyway. Those who are opposed (and not md residents) will probably vote for Vince Orange and those who are not will probably be split among garber, shallal and white.

  • But where is Big Daddy supposed to park his Bentley when driving in to worship an ascetic?

  • I think I’m going to move my car into one of “their” parking spots every Saturday night and leave it there until services are over.

    • I really want to organize this in the neighborhood.

      The city does not enforce ANY parking regulations on Sundays in deference to church parking. I think neighbors should organize and parallel park on 6th Street on Saturdays, staying through the day on Sunday. If the city decides to enforce the diagonal parking restriction, we’d have a great separation of church and state claim.

      The church is a bully about parking. They bullied the city to extend the diagonal parking to 9pm (even with a DDOT study that indicated otherwise) and they have friends in high places and aren’t afraid to exert strong pressure on the mayor and council outside of regular city processes.

      • If you had a car2go account and a friend to shuttle you around the neighborhood, you could collect a bunch and park them right there… I think that would make a statement.

      • The city has been enforcing diagonal parking near 9th and R. Cars with neighborhood permits that do not move into the diagonal position at 7 am Sunday are ticketed.

        • Seriously? But cars who park illegally while attending church are not?

        • 1. That’s so f@#% absurd that it’s funny.
          2. Thanks for the heads up – let’s diagonal park at 7am Sunday. Anyone know a good brunch spot nearby?

          • I’d recommend doing this with a zipcar or car2go….folks at UHOP might not react well to you taking “their” parking.

    • There’s very few ways to get a parking ticket in this neighborhood on a Sunday, but that’s one of them.

  • Regarding all the double parking on Sundays – Does anyone know if DC has an unofficial policy not to ticket churchgoers (or anyone) on Sunday? I always see the most daring illegal parking on Sundays (from cars with MD plates)….blocking alleys, blocking hydrants, double parked for hours at a time, etc.

    • I think it’s an unofficial policy of looking the other way. The city doesn’t have parking enforcement on staff for this on Sunday.
      If you call the police and identify the spot, they will come out and issue a ticket. Which seems like an awful waste of resources.

      • The city definitely enforces parking on game days and whenever there are events around Nationals Park on a Sunday. I have seen cars get tickets AND towed on Sundays. Not sure why they can’t get someone to ticket church goers in Shaw on Sundays.

        • That was the exact same point I made a few weeks ago. So you’re not in to religion, maybe your church is a baseball stadium which meets 81 times a year (especially here). Why can you not just park on sidewalks, across crosswalks, in front of fire hydrants, etc.?
          Separation of Church and State should not allow for these special exceptions. Everyone is also ignoring a greater point on this as well. You aren’t allowed to park in these places because they are safety hazards. They didn’t make these areas no parking zones because they wanted to take away parking spots they made them so because it creates a dangerous situation when cars are parked there.
          Petworth is crazy on Sundays. There are probably 20 churches in a mile radius of my house and people park where TF they want. I’ve almost been hit with my daughter crossing legally on a crosswalk (at a stop sign even) because cars were parked so terribly.
          The double parking alone on weekdays is insane but the church brings it to a whole new level. DC was worried that the speed cameras weren’t bringing in as much money as they had planned for well here’s an idea. Why don’t they hire a few extra ticketers and go after all these illegal parkers. That will fix the problem and in the interim bring in a LOT of tax money, much of it from Maryland.

          • You need to check out the youtube video linked further down.
            I don’t normally say this, but: I hope you’re a lawyer.

    • I’ve specifically requested a police officer to ticket church goers on my block and the officer who responded to the call said he will get in trouble with his boss for ticketing on a Sunday for cars parked near a church…Take from it what you want.

      • I really wish you had a video recording of that.

      • i too have complained via 311 and on MPD listservs to request ticketing of safety-related issues (parking in front of my local hydrant, blocking the ramp and crosswalk so my kid in a stroller had to go over the curb, etc) and have been told that no one was available on Sunday’s to ticket.

        Absolutely crazy (to me) that this situation exists.

        • It’s not MPD who is making the “do not ticket on Sunday” policy – the edict not to ticket churchgoers comes straight from the mayor and the council. And this church, in particular, has a direct line to power in DC that they do not hesitate to exercise.

          • I don’t doubt that’s true, but why do we tolerate it? Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, any other disinterested council-member….why are some churches in DC privileged above other churches and residents?
            As a Christian, I’ve always believed religion needs to be protected from politics as much as politics need to be protected from religion.

  • I can’t stand the double parking and illegal parking that cars around churches seem to get away with on Sundays. Oh DC has no problem ticketing me parked on my own block when I’m 20ft from a stop sign (the rule is 25ft) at 3am on a Tuesday, but they won’t ticket all the people committing the same violation and others at 11am on a Sunday. Plus, at least half of the cars I see parked around the churches are from MD and VA,so they are not DC residents.

  • Purely rhetorical question here: When does it make more sense for the church to move to the parishioners rather than forcing the parishioners to drive to church every weekend?

    • justinbc

      When you have to pay for a new building versus staying in the one you got virtually for free.

      • I assume that prime property in Shaw or Mt. Vernon Squangle would buy a very very nice church and rectory in MoCo or PGC. If the church exists for the benefit of the parishioners, by does the priest/reverend/minister insist that they come to him every Sunday instead of going to where his flock lives.

  • There is a church behind me. Almost every car parked in the bus lane, on the bridge over N. Capitol, and double parked on T Street are from Maryland. No ticket has ever been issued.

    • Sorry, forgot to add in this is every Sunday.

    • yeah, and they block the bus stops so people with wheelchairs cannot get on or off the bus. We should have zero tolerance and tow cars in bus stops immediately. love thy neighbor, except if they are in wheelchair and use public transportation.

  • I don’t see how your framing of the issue is any different. We all know the sense of entitlement by the churches emerges from the assertion that they have contributed a lot to the city.

    The problem is many others have done the same in different ways and a government can’t favor one contributor breaking the law and not let another. So, the candidate remains correct.

  • Every Sunday I wonder why oh WHY wasn’t ANY parking including in the Convention Center? Seems like they could have gotten a lot of birds with one stone by putting in some spots there.

    • Imagine that…people coming for conventions can manage to use public transit to get there. But church goers have to drive.

  • What specifically do these churches do for the community? I don’t credit them with building the community any more than the bottomless mimosa brunch crowd.

  • andy

    I do not see the speech as conciliatory. Contrast this with what Aimee Custis offered at GGW. I do not want a Council Member who would clearly step forward to identify himself or herself on one side of a discussion like this where middle ground remains available. If these are the kinds of issues where Garber wants to distinguish himself against Vincent Orange, no thank you.

  • This issue is complex, but one thing that commentators are ignoring directly but some are insinuating indirectly (big daddy’s Bently…) is that there is a real racial component here. I’m a biker, I’m white, I’m making decent money, I’m a transplant (12 years ago). Shaw has been built and re-built and re-built again by many people. Who does it belong to now? I don’t think that’s a healthy argument to engage in. The double parking is frustrating. But I’m willing to endure (if you will) Sunday traffic frustrations for the sake of not demanding the disruption of a deep-seeded tradition within many black communities in DC. Many of those folks now live in Maryland. Tax revenue isn’t being generated. So what? I don’t buy their status-quo argument and don’t appreciate their justification of the car culture, but I would not venture to replace what is seen as their entitlement with another group’s sense of entitlement. This is a part of the churchgoers culture. Of black churchgoers, nevertheless, in a city that is suffering (yes, suffering) rapid racial transformation. I am willing to cede transportation inconvenience on a Sunday to preserve what I believe is an incredibly important part of this city, not only historically but also currently. I don’t want the narrative to be bikers displace black churchgoers. This is not just a transportation issue.

    • +1 million

    • You’re right–it’s not just a transportation issue. It’s an issue of whether DC is going to prioritize its residents, or PG County residents. It is not “entitlement” for DC residents/taxpayers to want improved infrastructure and city services, and it absolutely is entitlement for non-residents (even if they once lived here) to expect to be catered to at the expense of current residents.

    • @ Conflicted Bicyclist No need to be conflicted. You’re not ceding transportation inconvenience on a Sunday, you’re ceding covenience and safety EVERY day for the sake of the church’s transportation convenience on Sunday. That’s what they’re demanding in refusing to support a bike lane.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Serious proposal: UHOP should let the protected bike lane be installed and cease protest conditional upon DDOT closing the bike lane and allowing parking in it during certain negotiated hours on Sunday. Discuss.

        • Do you understand what a protected bike lane is? I don’t think you’d make that suggestion if you did.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Yes I understand what a protected bike lane is. If every single inch of it were protected, bikes could neither enter nor exit, and it couldn’t cross intersections. With some creativity this could be accomplished.

          • They are protected **from car entry**, not protected from anything entering.
            Please show me a diagram of how that would reasonably work.

          • HaileUnlikely

            It would take some work from a competent professional engineer to get the design right, but if DDOT and the community could agree with this in spirit, it could be accomplished easily.
            I’m not a professional engineer and will leave the design to those who are paid to design such things, but off the top of my head, bollards spaced such that a car moving slowly at a sharp angle could drive across (e.g., to park) but could not just veer into the bike lane and drive along in it. Parking would be prohibited except during XXX hours, and bikes would mix with traffic on this block only (as they do everywhere else without a protected bike lane) on this block only during parking hours only.
            Bottom line: if can easily get 95% of what you want while still allowing your neighbor to keep what they want, and it results in your gaining a ton and only losing a tiny little bit, just freaking take it. You don’t have to wrest away everything your neighbor wants so that you can have 100% of what you want.

          • Could the upright separator things be made so that they could be swiveled and folded down on Sundays?

          • What you’ll end up with is something difficult and complicated. We can already bike in the road – we could just have no bike lane. The purpose of a protected bike lane is to make it **safe, simple, and predictable** so that more timid people who otherwise wouldn’t dare hop on a bike are willing to give it a go. All these compromises that you’re talking about would make it useless to that end.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Difficult and complicated? We have lots of places were parking is permitted during certain hours but not during other hours. We have roads that are open to cars during most hours but closed to cars during certain hours (parts of Beach Drive in the park). Heck, we have reversible lanes where vehicles travel at highway speeds in one direction during most hours but in the other direction during special hours. We figure out how to make those work. If we can figure out how to make those work, we can figure out how to make this work.

          • Do you actually bike around the city?
            I challenge you to do this. Bike the length of L street in the dedicated bike lane and 15th street, which are relatively simple. Then bike the length of M st in the dedicated bike lane, which has more “complications”. Tell me which is more likely to encourage people to bike.

            I can handle either, but I feel the stress much more on M street. That translates to scaring some people off biking and is exactly contrary to the point of a protected bike lane.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Honestly my biking skills are well below average, and I’m intimidated by the existing bike lanes (including 15th St) because I know that I will be in the way of more competent bikers who are much faster and more competent than I am.
            However, Haile’s lacking cycling proficiency notwithstanding, a protected bike lane could be designed exactly like 15th St, and operate exactly like 15th St, for the entire week and Saturday, but with a one-block segment where the bike lane is re-purposed for parking and bikes go into mixed traffic for part of the day on Sunday. It could be even more physically protected than the L St bike lane, on which the posts are spaced so far apart that I see vehicles enter the bike lane and use it as a cheater passing lane fairly regularly (I see this fairly regularly between 13th & 16th, don’t know other parts so well). Designing from scratch, the posts could be much closer together and beefier, such that a vehicle would never attempt to maneuver through them other to park on Sunday.
            Finally, I don’t own a car either, and I certainly am not directly impacted by the parking situation at UHOP. I just don’t see the need to make this an all or nothing battle. As I see it, that risks getting nothing, and it also risks needlessly alienating a big chunk of the community on the way to getting “all.”

          • If you’re intimidated by 15th street (no judgement), I think you’ll find M street to be a non-starter, and that’s not OK. Once you start bringing in workarounds, you end up with something more like M St.
            I just don’t see what you’re saying as a viable option.

            As an aside, there are plenty of inexperienced / slow bike riders on 15th St. As someone more experienced / sometimes faster, I’m not worried about folks like you. I pass when it’s safe and its no big deal. Just don’t pass me when I’m waiting at the next red light… wait in line.
            The really twitchy racers / jerks tend to just go in the general purpose lanes.

    • That’s well stated and certainly your prerogative. I welcome you to donate your own money (and start a funding page or bottomless mimosa charity brunch) so that the church can buy parking for themselves or a shuttle bus or whatever private means they choose.
      My problem is with advocating for the city to make special accommodations that take away from the rest of us.

    • “I don’t want the narrative to be bikers displace black churchgoers.”
      Agreed. I think the proper narrative is that entitled churchgoers want to maintain their privileges against what is in the best transportation interest of a city they don’t even live in.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Agreed 100%. I think we DC newcomers (also 12 years, also white) lose more than we gain when we ignore, disregard, and run roughshod over the communities and institutions that were here before us.

      • justinbc

        What do we possibly lose by requiring non-residents to legally park in our city when they visit once a week? It’s not like they’re just going to stop attending church, it just might take them 5 minutes longer to get in the door.

        • HaileUnlikely

          The goodwill of our neighbors. If we steamroll them at every turn, we lose that. Even if most of us don’t care about that and just want our bike lane right now, there will probably be times in the future when we’ll wish we still had it.

          • So… their bullying tactics are excusable, and we shouldn’t push back. OK, thanks. You’re right – I don’t have good will left for them.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I think their assertions of their religious freedom being violated are patently nonsensical, but making elderly black churchgoers give way to young white cyclists is about as in-your-face of a symbol of gentrification as a high-priced PR firm could think of.

          • justinbc

            You know black people ride bicycles too, right?

          • HaileUnlikely

            Justin – In some situations, perception matters, and that’s pretty much how this will be perceived, even if what you say is also true.

          • what do you mean “if”?!?!

          • HaileUnlikely

            Ok, “…even though what [Justin said] is also true.” That fairly obviously is not the point, though.

      • +1 to what HaileUnlikely said.
        “It’s not like they’re just going to stop attending church, it just might take them 5 minutes longer to get in the door.” Walking around this neighborhood on a Sunday, you see many of the people going to church are elderly or small children. Some need assistance to walk. I’m not sure it’s as straightforward an issue as “let them walk a bit longer.”

        • justinbc

          So drop grandma and the kids off at the door then go find yourself a legal parking spot. I can’t believe there are people actually advocating intentional breaking of the law here.

          • You’re assuming there are two able-bodied people here — one to drive and the other to walk in grandma/baby. I don’t mean to get deep in the weeds here because what’s the point, but just wanted to point out that there are some big assumptions, abstractions and generalizations being thrown around here.

          • FKA – I’m sure the church has some young men (or women) who would love to play valet withe cars. And the grandmas will probably love having the youth of the church taking care of them and treating them like royalty with curb service.

          • And it’s not like any other church has elderly parishoners who manage to get to church without double parking right in front???
            Why in God’s name does this (or any church) think that it is acceptable to flout city regulations while going to chuch?

      • saf

        And how about us long-time residents (33 years in DC, 25 in Petworth), churchgoers who think that parking legally is long overdue? And yes, my church has a SMALL lot, and folks who don’t park in the lot park legally on the street or in local garages.

    • justinbc

      Your argument would be a lot stronger if there were literally nowhere else for them to park.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I’ll add that I think their assertions that this would violate their religious freedom are patently nonsensical and doubt that they themselves even believe that, which rubs me the wrong way. I still agree with your main point, though.

    • The white liberal guilt is strong with this one…

    • The “Big Daddy’s Bentley” remark wasn’t racial. It simply juxtaposed the wealth on display at every UHOP parade (including Bentleys) against the entitlement for free public benefits demanded by an institution founded on the teachings of an ascetic.

  • Greatergreaterwashinton published parts of a letter from the Americans United for Church and State to the city on this that I thought was very good in terms of points and tone.


  • They don’t pay any taxes and reap all the benefits of city services supported by taxpayers yet they don’t want a safe bike lane to protect those taxpayers. You’re welcome UHOP.

  • It’s hilarious that the church in the photo was chosen for this article. I live on the same block, and this church is notorious not just for monopolizing our parking on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – they actually go so far as to reserve prime spots with traffic cones hours in advance. Drives me bonkers.

  • clevelanddave

    So if we are treating people equally, then lets devote a proportionate amount of roads/sidewalks to bikers. Bikers take up a lot less room, and they are slower than cars, but they probably make up about 3 percent of passenger traffic. So lets give them 3 percent of the roads? No, that of course would not be fair or realistic, but to make a four lane road into a two lane road for bikes, reducing flow by 50 percent on an already overcrowded street? That makes no sense either. Maybe put a bike lane on a secondary road- or widen New York Avenue (or build a parking structure and eliminate most on street parking on NYA)? .

    • It would be *AWESOME* if 3% of the paved roads in DC were dedicated for bikes. Since there aren’t dedicated bike lanes on most streets, that would translate to a lot of new dedicated bike lanes.

      Also, do you realize that this discussion is about putting a lane on a secondary road?

  • I wish the picture was panned out a little more so it could show my favorite liquor store in DC. Shout out to the owner Lee!

  • Holy Sh*t; logic and fairness. I know who I’m voting for.

  • I agree with the writers point that churches should not necessarily get special treatment, but the same argument could be made for bikers. The rights of bikers are consistently put ahead of drivers in this city, while they pay less in taxes for the roads they ride on. I know that’s not a popular point of view here, but bikers are just another special interest group – just like churches.

    • once those churchgoers start following the law and parking legally we can consider giving them more space to park. until then, they don’t deserve anything….. sound familiar? (hint: switch cyclists for churchgoers)

  • Random question. A church near me (I St NE) puts a sign out every Thursday and Saturday-Sunday blocking off 3 or 4 spots as “reserved for pastor” and “reserved for pastors family.” Is this legal to do? None of the signs are official (I have seen official church parking signs on G St NE). Could I park there (if I really needed to and was comfortable with the likelihood of my tires getting cut or something)?

    • no. not legal. move them and park there. They could have it marked as a loading zone if they really wanted to. In fact, that’d be great. just follow the law. stop blocking ADA ramps and bus stops.

  • Last Sunday on 7th in Petworth my curbside car was blocked by a row of double parked cars belonging to church-goers that ignore residents’ cars, bike lanes, and neighborhood parking rules. I had left my hazards on in an attempt to alert would-be double parkers. In the past, I’ve left notes asking nicely to not box me in.

    After waiting by my blocked car, a man came out from the church and started yelling at me, saying that they’ve been doing this for years and that “you people” should know better and not park where I did (read: this situation was my own doing…). A nice woman from the same church defended me. A third man was helpful and after abou 30 mins my car was free. Funny thing is, this pisses off old and new residents alike on our block who are continuously inconvenienced by a small portion of inconsiderate church members.

    This is so frustrating, cuz, really it’s has to do with basic consideration. It seems that the same sense of entitlement I see is not unique, but rather institutionalized in this city. Yet, there are plenty of reasonable church goers, some of whom have expressed disapproval of this inconsiderate parking. These are the folks who will help resolve this madness.

    • Personally, I think it is long past time to start to call tow trucks if they block you in. It’s still illegal. Hope they like their car at the impound.

      • I highly doubt they’ll get towed. DPW won’t do it, and no private company will do it because they can’t get authorization from DPW on a Sunday. I think MPD may have tow trucks, but will only use them for public safety issues.
        Complete BS.

  • If having to walk 1-2 blocks may lead church goers to stop going to a church (as some churches argue) that says a lot about those churches and/or the faith of those people. This is what i hear: If i can’t park in the same block of my church…i just may have to stop going to church, after all God did not give us legs to walk to a church service. The bible says so i am entitled to parking in frobt of my church!!!

    • Blithe

      Actually it probably says more about the age, agility, and health of at least some of the individuals that you regard as “those people” than it does about their faith — or about their commitment to the community where many of them have lived, worked, and paid taxes for more decades than most of the people who comment here have been alive.

      • then put a loading zone like a hotel does and valet the cars. And frankly, how long someone has worked or paid taxes has nothing to do with accessibility. I’m all for making accommodation, but the people who need the accommodation should know better than to block ADA ramps and bus stops (a bus that cannot pull to the curb cannot load or unload anyone with a wheelchair).

      • And that entitles them to free and illegal parking forever? No matter how it affects other tax paying, community supporting residents?

    • @chix: Your comment referring to “those people” says a lot more about you than it does about the people to whom you refer. A friend and I decided to have lunch at the Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria at the UHOP Friday, and at least 25% of their customers and workers were elderly. Two people at the table next to ours were using motorized chairs to get around. Not all people are young, nor do all people have legs that work as well as yours.
      Your comment was insensitive and prejudiced against the elderly and disabled, or “those people,” as you call them. Unless, of course, you meant “those people” to refer to a different demographic.

      • Lol. Stop. Please. You’re playing yourself by implying prejudice/bias. Let’s stay on topic and nit try too hard to parse words if it’s gonna cause you to catch feelings.

  • I actually live on Sixth Street and the road is crazy dangerous — for everyone. It’s entirely residential with cars racing at speeds that surpass 50 mph. The road wasn’t built for or intended to accommodate four lanes of traffic plus two parking lanes. In fact, the road currently doesn’t meet city regulations in terms of width requirements. I measured and the width is currently 55 FT but to accommodate four lanes plus two parking requires (per city regulations) 60 FT.

    Something HAS to change — bike lane or no bike lane.

  • I live in DC. The gym is my church. Can I double park in front please?

  • This has absolutely nothing to do with a bike lane, and has everything to do with old vs new residents. Until someone wants to address this fact with UHOP, nothing will actually get solved.

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