Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ACHD - Roadways to Bikeways

Our local transportation agency has begun a new attempt to eliminate the "bike-lane dead ends" around the county. They are calling their effort "Roadways to Bikeways."

You can read about it, and take a survey, by clicking HERE. (Please go to the link and take the survey if you are a cyclist, or would-be cyclist, in Ada County.)

The "major elements" of the project are to:
- review and inventory existing bicycle infrastructure,
- do bicycle "head counts,"
- prioritize deficiencies,
- create a map,
- develop a guide for use in future county roadway projects.

There's also an article about it on the daily newspaper's website - click HERE to link to the article.

According to the author, Kate Brussé, the plan is costing $250,000. (And ACHD spends about $1.7 million per year on bike lanes and sidewalks. That actually sounds low to me, if you're including sidewalks.)

(I've got a small stake in this - I'm the cyclist who's quoted, right at the end of the news piece.)

A couple comments:

This is not the first effort by ACHD to do this sort of thing. In fact, I was a "volunteer concerned citizen" a few years back, when they convened some local engineers and bike-riding citizens, to identify bike-facility disconnects, and suggest fixes. (My assignment was Emerald Street, and how to get from the Emerald/Orchard area - where the bike-stripe ends - to downtown.)

I'm not sure what became of that study, and/or why there is a need to redo it now. As much as I'm in favor of making our community as bike-friendly as possible, I'm not convinced that doing yet another study, and redoing tasks that have been done before, is the best use of taxpayer dollars. (I've still got my copy of that last study, if ACHD would like to borrow and photocopy it.)

Ms. Brussé didn't misquote me... but I'm not sure her article conveys the points I would like to make.
1) There is not a consensus, even among experienced transportation cyclists, that dedicated bike facilities are a 100% good thing. Why? Some non-cyclists will mistakenly assume that bicycles only belong in dedicated bike paths and lanes, unless there's also an ongoing educational campaign. (Bikes belong EVERYWHERE!)
2) For novice and occasional cyclists, bike paths and lanes are a good thing. One of the main deterrents to transportation cycling is the perception (whether accurate or not) that riding in the streets with motor vehicles is inordinately dangerous. A bike-stripe can change that perception.

7 comments:

db said...

Thanks for linking to the survey. I hope some good will come of it, although I share your thoughts on doing yet another survey when we could be acting on the last one.

Clancy said...

I took the survey. One part didn't work very well.

Riding to work today I was mildly cut off by a car turning left across the bike lane. Not a near death experience but rude. Another lady in a car rolled down her window and said my exact same sentiments about the other car. She then proceeded to tell me about the survey and article.

I think awareness/education of the general public would go much further than feeling safe in a bike lane.

db said...

I think awareness/education of the general public would go much further than feeling safe in a bike lane.

That was the main point I tried to make in the last part of the survey -- the "essay section" if you will. Educating drivers that we are vehicles, not toys that should be restricted to the sidewalk, is more critical than a white stripe on the shoulder of the road.

danielo said...

This is a tricky and frustrating topic. On the one hand, of course I would like more public money spent on cycling. On the other hand, I am skeptical about how it will be spent by a bunch of car-addicted politicos. I'm with clancy and db -- general public education is invaluable.

Like most cyclistas, I have learned to fend for myself. Yes, I'd like to see more effort put into planning for cycling facilities, but I also know that when push comes to shove (or when wheel comes to bumper), it'll always be up to me to defend my own safety. Having more courteous drivers would go a long way to reducing my stress.

danielo said...

And I can't believe I forgot to mention (and include in the survey, though an email will shortly correct my oversight) one of my biggest pet peeves about supporting cycling:

EMPLOYER INCENTIVES

I'd like to see employers encouraged (and strongly so) to support alternate transportation among their employees. Most daily transportation is work-related, and I think it's high time employers started paying attention to that. Where I work, 1/4 of the entire property is dedicated to employee parking. I am allowed to park my bike inside, but it's a begrudging allowance, and my bike is regularly moved around when it's "in the way." They just spent nearly a grand to have the parking lot resurfaced -- how about buying me a $20 bike lock?

In truth, I don't need a bike lock, and I don't expect my employer to buy me one. However, it'd be nice if there was a perceivable level of understanding and appreciation for the contribution I make to my workplace, and to my community, by NOT driving.

Clancy said...

Danielo, We talk in my office about employer incentives for using the bus or bikes. One would be purchasing buss passes for employees who use it at least 3 times per week. Course the owner said why not just charge $100/month for parking. That would be a great incentive.

Apertome said...

I am one of the ones who feels the way you describe about bike lanes -- they make car drivers think that's where the bikes belong. Some of the biggest problems I've had with drivers were in areas where there was a bike lane, but it was in bad shape or had debris on it, or I took the lane near an intersection. Drivers think I'm not where I "should" be and give me lots of crap.

On the other hand, some other streets have signs that say "Bicycle Route," and those never seem to cause me any trouble, whether or not I'm following the "route."