My Low-Cost Big Bright Green Idea!

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Alexandria, and especially its Old Town, is beautiful! Its biggest advantage other than its gorgeous old houses, its strategic location, its easy navigability, etc, is its walkability. My ideas revolve around this great advantage and they seek to emphasize it in all parts of Alexandria. There are two things that I propose and they are both in my view low cost changes that are easily implemented:   I.              MAKE KING STREET A WALKING, BIKING, TROLLEY STREET.   A.         A description of the project, including location and resources needed.    This is easy, and it is absolutely feasible to turn King St. from the marina to King St Metro a walking street. In Amsterdam for example, there are many streets open only to pedestrians and bicycles. When asked, Amsterdamers are proud of that, and they fully embrace this aspect of their city. Throughout Amsterdam, cars are discouraged with extremely cost prohibitive parking fees and scarce parking spaces. I don't think Alexandria should go to this extreme because we Americans love our cars a bit more than most people. However, by making this King St. a walking street, Alexandria will start a culture of walking and make it a focal point. Alexandria will be a model to emulate among cities. Its citizens will rejoice and embrace walking, making it part of their daily routine.   B.         The estimated cost of the project.    The cost of this project is very minimal. There is no need to change the infrastructure to start, and the traffic lights may remain to service the intersections. Other than redrawing the lines, signage and advertising, the costs are merely nominal. I propose that the trolley have the middle lane, and go up or down the street making a turn by the Metro or the marina. The middle lane for the trolley will be surrounded with generous bike lanes on both side. To launch this project there is no need to widen the sidewalks. However, widening the sidewalks may prove necessary within 5 years as the walkers may exceed the locals and few groups of tourists we see today. I am certain this will become a staple of Alexandria!   C. How long the project would take to be implemented?    This can take no more than a month to fully execute, and Alexandria may launch this on the 4th of July! This will give drivers time to plan for other routes. By the end of the summer, Alexandria's King St. will seem to have always been designed in this fashion. It will be almost a seamless transition.      D. Who the beneficiaries of the project will be?    Most everyone will agree that both visitors, businesses, and local residents will benefit. More importantly, Alexandria will be the greatest beneficiary. King St is a beautiful street that drivers do not appreciate at this time as it is congested and as a route, nearly insignificant because there are many alternatives to taking it. Parking is a nightmare and most tourists attempted to park their car to enjoy this beauty get rude treatment from locals who are very nice and generous people--in other circumstances.    II. PROMOTE BICYCLE LANES THROUGHOUT ALEXANDRIA.   Old Town is only a part of the whole of Alexandria. Let us promote biking throughout. Let us also protect the cyclists who often find themselves in a jam. For instance, when passing a loading truck, a bicycle rider may have to go into the car lanes, and cars are often inconsiderate either because they are in a hurry or because they are distracted. Bikers are less distracted than car drivers, and therefore they are less likely to cause accidents. The more bikers, the safer our city becomes. DC took the lead on this, but we can surpass what DC has started by including all neighborhoods and making Alexandria a leader in green commuting, a model in road safety, and a great place to raise our children!   A. A description of the project, including location and resources needed.   Again, this is not calling for new infrastructure. Rather, this is a change in allocation of resources. Bike lanes can be made safer by adding a protective barrier between car lanes and bike lanes. This is a way to endorce this way of commuting and this healthy lifestyle. See for example these great ideas: http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/how-create-bike-lane-seconds.html   B.         The estimated cost of the project.    The cost of this project is minimal. It calls for some changes, however, it need not be implemented all at once. Alexandria may select the easy parts where implementation is easier and make a five year plan to reach every part and corner within its borders. See, for example, http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/1-mile-protected-bike-lane-100x-cheaper-1-mile-roadway-chart.html.    C.         How long the project would take to be implemented?    This should be a mid-range plan--that is within five years or less. There are easy changes to implement and get the ball rolling. Here are some great ideas:  http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/how-create-bike-lane-seconds.html     D.         Who the beneficiaries of the project will be?    Most everyone will agree that all will benefit. Business will boom, especially refreshment and snack shops, bike mechanics, and street vendors. Tourism, businesses, and local residents will benefit. We surely must try to make our homes greener, and often, it is the small steps that spearhead great change.   Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas. I hope you find them interesting, and I sure hope to win the prize!

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