A plan to create bike lanes along Connecticut Avenue has sparked controversy again after a newly elected ANC commissioner posted a photo with an insulting gesture at an anti-lane sign outside a Cleveland Park store.
On election night, commissioner-elect Hayden Gise tweeted a since-deleted picture in front of brothers Sew and Vac, showing their colleagues on the Neighborhood Advisory Commission giving the middle finger. The caption read: “The ANC 3C majority has something to say – we make bike lanes. For the ops.”
Jose Ventura has worked at Brother’s Sew and Vac for 30 years. He has witnessed many changes along Connecticut Avenue over the past three decades, while repairing vacuum cleaners and running the store in Cleveland Park.
Now he says bike lanes will suck the air out of their business by blocking foot traffic.
“They’re going to take away all the parking we have on Main Street,” Ventura said.
That’s why, he said, a few weeks ago the owner put up a sign from the Save Connecticut Avenue group’s campaign against Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to add nearly three miles of protected bike lanes along the busy street.
The proposal is welcomed by bike advocates but slammed by the likes of Ventura. And now the thorny issue has got some newly elected local leaders in hot water with their constituents.
“They know what we need and it looks like we’re not getting them,” Ventura said.
The troubled post didn’t sit well with business owners like Christopher Stadnyk either. His father opened the Frame Mart Gallery on Connecticut Avenue in 1968.
Aside from being against the bike lanes, he said the photo was a slap in the face.
“How privileged it is that they can walk into someone else’s ancestral home, dodge the fuck and shoot them. Nobody here goes to their homes to snap them off,” he said.
Gise did not respond to News4’s interview requests. She tweeted an apology over the weekend, saying the message she was conveying was disrespectful to those of different opinions.
“I think elected representatives should listen to their constituency instead of posing for photos,” Stadnyk said.
The group behind the signs started an online petition that has already collected almost 2,400 signatures.
What the cycle paths will look like in concrete terms will not be known until the project enters the planning phase, which is scheduled to begin in the spring.