Church says bike lane would violate their right to religious freedom

The District government is going through the rather municipally boring process of determining where to build a bike lane on the east side of downtown.

And one church has given a charged response to some proposals, saying that a bike lane near its property would infringe upon “its constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom and equal protection of the laws.”

[Full article]

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Comment by Simon Paynton on October 24, 2015 at 8:02am

I can understand their concern, that the bike lane will block the parking for the church.  But I think it's somewhat childish, hysterical and disingenuous to dress it up as a religious freedom issue. 

Frankly, I don't think that bicycles and a modern city centre are a good mixture.  I don't understand people who want to risk getting squashed under a lorry just so they can get to work on a bike.  Ees seelly. 

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 24, 2015 at 8:40am

Frankly, I don't think that bicycles and a modern city centre are a good mixture. 

They've worked quite well in many European cities as well as some in North America (I've heard so about Portland Oregon but unseen will know better than any of us), Vancouver, San Francisco etc. It's simply a case of drivers having to get used to slower vehicles on the road. The goal is to have less combustion engines spewing CO2 right?

 I don't understand people who want to risk getting squashed under a lorry

That's why there are bike lanes.

just so they can get to work on a bike.

When a downtown parking space costs minimum $300 and when the alternative is to ride on the metro or bus...standing in a packed space for one hour...then...yeah...a bike is a pretty reasonable solution.

 that the bike lane will block the parking for the church.

Tough....that's the comings and goings of city planning.

But I think it's somewhat childish, hysterical and disingenuous

Remove the somewhat part...and replace it with utterly or extremely or moronically.

Comment by Strega on October 24, 2015 at 10:41am
It seems to me that when an organization or institution in the USA wishes to object to some planned action, they have to point at some part of the constitution to validate their objection. Apparently it isn't sufficient to object based on practicality; laws don't extend to cover that.
Comment by SteveInCO on October 24, 2015 at 10:54am

Apparently it isn't sufficient to object based on practicality; laws don't extend to cover that.

When you are dealing with a commission run by people with an agenda, practicality won't matter to them.  And many such bodies in the US are taken over by people who want to "get people out of their cars" and will impose high taxes, "traffic calming" and other measures to do so.  Note that it doesn't matter if the agenda is a good one or a bad one, the fact is, appeals to practicality will be overridden by that commission's overarching agenda concern.

Comment by SteveInCO on October 24, 2015 at 10:59am

I should add that I agree the "religious freedom" argument is just batshit silly.

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 24, 2015 at 11:09am

When you are dealing with a commission run by people with an agenda, practicality won't matter to them.

Yes...traffic plans in smaller cities have gone insanely overboard with bicycles. In Madrid they placed a motorized bike sharing program and it was a disaster because they didn't think at all of the consequences and additional needs...the best place to put stations or discussing with the police the problems there might be. 

That being said...in large metropoli...congestion taxes and a greater amount of public services is all that has kept them from becoming a smog nightmare and congestion that would live up to LA standards. Our cities are incredibly dense with millions of people living in a few square kilometers...with more and commuters and tourists packing in every year. In London...before the congestion tax I blew my nose and it was black mucus...every day. After the congestion tax...it actually became possible for taxis to take you anywhere faster than the tube and you could walk down a street without listening to unending honking and road rage. Amsterdam and Barcelona did the same thing...and it's now a pleasant city to walk in. Moscow included it and it was a very popular measure. In Berlin...they added tons of new urban rail and metro lines instead of underground parking. Again...very popular.

´The problem in North American planning is...most cities are totally unwilling to build new subway lines or urban rail. It's a massive investment and the ongoing narrative is "small government". In the long term this will really hurt cities like San Francisco or Washington DC. Instead they turn to small solutions (like bike lanes) as though it's the answer...instead of a small complimentary solution to much bigger solutions they are unwilling to implement.

Comment by SteveInCO on October 24, 2015 at 11:49am

There's also the fact that outside of certain cities in the northeast, American cities are very spread out, which increases the cost of a mass transit system, and lowers its realistic utility (chances are, it won't pick me up from where I need to be picked up, nor take me where I want to go, and even if it does, it will involve long waiting times at transfers).  Mass transit works a lot better in densely populated areas, e.g., Manhattan.

Comment by Unseen on October 24, 2015 at 11:57am

They have a case...without the silly 1st Amendment angle. A business could make a similar case without appealing to the 1st Amendment.

Comment by SteveInCO on October 24, 2015 at 12:11pm

I guess they imagine that if Hobby Lobby can win with a "Freedom of Religion" argument, where everyone else has failed, then this should be a slam-dunk.

I once got into an argument with a god-and-country conservative who tried to claim that Obamacare was yet another example of "Christianity being persecuted."  I eventually pointed out to him that of all the people suing to be exempted from it, ONLY religion had gotten a carve-out from Obamacare, so that meant it was pretty much the exact fucking opposite of what he said, that instead, Christianity is still given a lot of deference in this country.  That was the end of the discussion.

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 24, 2015 at 12:57pm

Yes...very true about spread out cities...but there is still the congested down town core. I think cities like Calgary and Edmonton (very spread out) has an intricate network in the centre and then only a couple lines extending out. Then there are the s-bahn or LRT which are underground in the centre (intricate) but then follow a few tracks on the road to the suburbs. Many suburban rails have a free park and ride. Often riding is free within the downtown core. These are common in many European cities as well as in Australia and Western Canada. Minneapolis is building one as well. 

In any case...mass transport includes more than just rail lines. Melbourne and Ottawa have dedicated bus lanes and dedicated bus hi-ways. Seattle used to have it before the built a couple metro lines. And then there are the equally loved and equally hated bike lanes.

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