A plan to install bike lanes along Connecticut Avenue reignited controversy after a newly elected ANC commissioner posted a photo making an offensive gesture at bike lane signs in front of D.C. businesses.
On election night, councilor-elect Hayden Gise tweeted a deleted photo in front of Brothers Sew and Vac, and her Neighborhood Advisory Council colleagues gave them the middle finger. “The ANC 3C majority has something to say – we’re building bike lanes. Action be damned,” the headline said.
Jose Ventura has been with Brother’s Sew and Vac for 30 years. Over the past three decades, he has repaired vacuum cleaners and operated the Cleveland Park Store, which has seen many changes along Connecticut Avenue.
Now, he says, bike lanes impede pedestrian traffic, reducing their business.
“They’re going to take away all of our parking spaces on the main streets,” Ventura said.
That’s why, he said, the owner put a sign on the window a few weeks ago. It’s part of a campaign by the group Save Connecticut Avenue to oppose Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to add nearly three miles of protected bike lanes to the busy street.
The proposal was welcomed by bicycle advocates but criticized by Ventura and others. Now, the hot-button issue has pitted some newly elected local leaders and their constituents.
“You know we need their support and the way it looks, we’re not getting it,” Ventura said.
The post in question is also not for a business owner like Christopher Stadnyk. His father opened the Frame Mart gallery on Connecticut Avenue in 1968.
In addition to objecting to bike lanes, he said the photo was a slap in the face.
“What an honor they can hang out to someone else’s basic facility and drop the bird. No one here is going to go to their house and drop them,” he said.
Guice did not respond to News4’s request for an interview. She tweeted an apology over the weekend, saying her message was disrespectful to those with different views.
“I think elected representatives should listen to their constituencies, not pose for pictures,” Stadnick said.
The group behind the banners launched an online petition that has garnered nearly 2,400 signatures.
As for what the bike lanes will actually look like, we won’t know until the project enters the design phase, which should begin in the spring.