By Tessa Berenson
October 15, 2015

A Washington, D.C. church has complained that a proposed new bike lane in front of its property would infringe upon its religious freedom.

The United House of Prayer wrote a letter to the District Department of Transportation saying that a bike lane out front would snarl traffic and parking in the area, which “would place an extreme burden on the exercise of free religion by the United House of Prayer Congregants.”

The letter also claims the lane would be unconstitutional under equal protection, saying the bike lane proposal “[appears] to be part of a recent pattern and practice of targeting historically African-American churches with restrictive parking regulations and extremely stringent enforcement to drive them out of the District.”

District Department of Transportation spokesman Terry Owens responded to the Washington Post about the church’s concerns, saying, “We are factoring what we hear into our decision-making, and will continue to work on minimizing and mitigating any impacts when we get down to a preferred alternative,” and that the bike lane study will last through the end of 2015.

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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