A plan to put bike lanes along Connecticut Avenue is causing controversy once again, after a newly elected ANC commissioner posted a photo making an offensive gesture to a sign against the lanes in front of a D.C. business.
On election night, Commissioner-elect Hayden Gise tweeted a since-deleted picture in front of Brothers Sew and Vac with her Advisory Neighborhood Commission colleagues giving the middle finger. The caption said: “The ANC 3C Majority has something to say – we’re doing bike lanes. F’ the ops.”
Jose Ventura has worked at Brother’s Sew and Vac for 30 years. Over the last three decades, repairing vacuums and running the Cleveland Park store, he’s seen a lot of changes along Connecticut Avenue.
Now he says bike lanes will suck the air out of their business by blocking foot traffic.
“They’re going to take away all of the parking that we have on the main street,” Ventura said.
That’s why, he said, the owner put up a sign in the window a few weeks ago. It was part of the group Save Connecticut Avenue’s campaign against Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to add nearly three miles of protected bike lanes along the busy street.
The proposal is applauded by bike advocates, but bashed by folks like Ventura. And now the hot-button issue has landed some newly-elected local leaders in hot water with their constituents.
“You know what we need their support and the way it looks, we are not getting it,” Ventura said.
The problematic post didn’t sit well with business owners like Christopher Stadnyk, either. His father opened Frame Mart Gallery on Connecticut Avenue in 1968.
On top of being against the bike lanes, he said the photo is a slap in the face.
“How privileged it is that they can saunter down to someone else’s basic establishment and give the bird and flick them off. No one here is going up to their house to flick them off,” he said.
Gise did not respond to interview requests from News4. She tweeted an apology over the weekend, saying the message she conveyed was disrespectful to those with differing views.
“I think elected representatives should be listening to their constituency, more than posing for pictures,” Stadnyk said.
The group behind the signs started an online petition that has already garnered nearly 2,400 signatures.
As far as what the bike lanes will actually look like, that won’t be known until the project goes into its design phase, which should start in the spring.