DC church calls proposed bike lanes unconstitutional

A Washington, D.C., church is mounting a novel argument as it fights against proposed bike lanes -- claiming the lanes would violate their constitutional religious rights.

According to The Washington Post, The United House of Prayer has argued that the addition of a bike lane outside the church infringes on the “rights of religious freedom and equal protection of the laws.”

Though supporters say bike lanes have helped ease traffic in the District and make the city easier to navigate, the church reportedly says many in the congregation live outside the District and have to drive to services. The United House of Prayer, which is about a mile-and-a-half from the Capitol, claims citizens’ rights would be infringed because it would be too difficult and disruptive for the more than 800 congregants to find a spot if the lanes were added.

According to the Washington Post, “The church says that DDOT lets cars park diagonally on the street during busy times, which would be seemingly impossible if a protected bike lane were on the street.” Three of the four possible lane routes would run along at least part of the church street.

In a letter to the DDOT reported by the WashCycle blog, the church said the plan is “unsupportable, unrealistic and particularly problematic for traffic and parking.”

The city, church, and advocates will come together this week to figure out a solution to the bike lane dilemma. In an email to the Washington Post, District Department of Transportation spokesman Terry Owens said, “the bike lane study will last through the end of 2015” and they “will not be making any design decisions, such as how particular blocks are configured, until we have decided on a street and design approach.”

If approved, the construction would begin next summer.