Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anatomy Of Progress

Warning – on roadway bicycle facility celebration that may seem to contradict other things I’ve written follows.

The City has a community bicycle committee. Some official document somewhere requires it. The bicycle committee exists in part to provide opportunity for citizen input to The City. One of the ways the bicycle committee does this is by participating every five years in the process of updating the master bicycle plan for The City.

Over the past few years the committee has participated in the creation and adoption of a new master bicycle plan. Within the last six months the appropriate governing and citizen bodies have reviewed the new plan and approved of its use.

Part of the updated plan involves the creation of roadway bicycle facilities. The City’s plan is to introduce a variety of these facilities around town and receive feedback to help determine their usefulness and acceptance and whatnot.

In May The City striped three longish sections of roadway with a single stripe. These sections were considered shared bike/car parking “lanes.” There are no signs. Drivers mostly use them to determine where to park, cyclists presumably would use them as bike lanes where there aren’t parked autos blocking. Remarkably I first discovered these facilities in The City on Bike to Work Day. They striped a road I commonly use. I use these facilities a few days a week.

Today a new press release arrived. The City striped a new roadway and next week will place bicycle insignias in the lanes. Here they are, the first dedicated bike lanes in The City (excepting whatever that thing on Teem Drive tries to be).

Also next week The City will place sharrows on three sections of roadway. I expect these will be my favorite facility because they don’t imply separation between road lanes and cycle lanes.

So here’s a recipe I think helped to bring this sort of activity out of The City –
1. A local bicycling community that is arguably stronger now than it’s ever been.

2. At least one city transportation planner that recognizes that department’s responsibility to facilitate a variety of transportation methods.

3. A good relationship between the two. One supports the other. The Planner provides the procedures and methods for The Community to communicate to The City. The Community participates in the procedures and methods and supports The Planner with feedback and use.
That’s the way I see it. Surely there are some finer points I'm missing and I could be altogether wrong. Maybe it’s just some bike shop owner in a smoke filled room telling Vito to get the job done.

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