DDOT held a much, much better meeting Saturday than the first meeting in October about the bike lanes to connect Shaw with Penn Quarter and Downtown. It was orderly, no opportunity for hijacking, and residents, such as myself had a real chance to speak.
I did write out what I was going to say but public speaking nerves got the best of me so I only said a portion of what I had to say and quit before my time was up. As a pedestrian and cyclist getting past New York Ave and Mass Ave are the biggest safety hurdles for me. It is a shame that the 7th St bike lane ends at N St, because I need to get to D. I live, work, shop, eat & worship in the bike lane study area. My church at 8 & N, we might not be a historically black church but we’re a historically diverse church. My church lost its parking lot when the convention center took it over and until recently had to rent a shared lot at 8th and O. My church, Immaculate Conception, started 150 years ago at 8th & N without parking, and will still be there 150 years from now with or without parking. Supporting protected bike lanes is the best pro-life option for this Catholic.
The church representatives from UHOP (a large church and landlord) and some other black churches stood in opposition of bike lanes, because it would take away free parking. Several in this and the October meeting mentioned the disappearance of many black churches in Shaw and blamed it on gentrification, claiming that bike lanes would push them out too.
This is a map from the late 1950s of all the churches in the area (you may need to click to see better). The number of churches (steeple, store front, & house) have been decreasing for years so don’t blame gentrification. Since I have been here about 3 churches I can think of near me closed. One on 4th St was in a townhouse run by little old ladies who got too old to climb the stairs. Another church somewhere on 1st is gone, why? Dunno. And most recently, the screamy lady church on the 1500 blk New Jersey Ave is being converted into housing. With the churches on NJ and 4th the reason why they are gone have more to do with aging out than gentrification.
Many churches, urban, suburban, rural, suffer from too many grey hairs and are dying out. If most of your parishioners look like they belong in active living/ assisted living or hospice care, your church is going to die and no amount of parking is going to save you, just delay the inevitable.
I’m not sure what prize is won by sticking around either. The Help (my spouse) attends a church that before the 21st century was a very white church. In the past decade or more it is very diverse, lotta asians, some Africans, South Asians, and Latinos. They moved and grew. They moved to where their base lived, they moved to where they could share the gospel tapping into new populations, so grey hairs are a minority and families and college kids are the majority. They’ve grown so big that they’ve spun off new churches in far flung (metro don’t go there so it is far flung to me) Maryland. The churches in Shaw that are not tapping into the population of residents are staying to die out or waiting til it is time for hospice care. They are too focused on being a black church and not a church for all people. There are Christians among the newcomers but they are going to Capital Hill Baptist Church or Grace DC ( went once and felt so old, so-so old) and these churches trying to hold on to free parking are ignoring the Shaw mission field for the grave.