Tuesday, August 05, 2014

City Council: Public Input: 8/5/14

I claimed my 5 (or six) minutes of public input before the city council meeting tonight to give a message or two. The text I presented from is here...


Council. Mayor.  I’m Michael Christensen and I need help with bicycling in Sioux Falls. I have two messages for you tonight.


On street riding, if done predictably, visibly, safely and courteously is far safer than sidewalk riding. Sidewalk riding can be safe if the rider rides at pedestrian speeds so that it’s easier to meet the legal requirements to stop at all intersections and yield to all traffic in the intersection. At pedestrian speeds it’s also easier for the rider to acknowledge the reality that at every intersection and every driveway there could be cars coming from up to four directions with drivers that are looking on the road for cars not on the sidewalks.

City government must stop believing that sidewalk riding is safer than on-street riding. Any discomfort with this message, due to driver inconvenience, driver or rider incompetence, or anything else, is a fear you must resolve for yourselves. I pledge to you, I am here to help. But it must be resolved.


This city experiences a fatal car/bike crash roughly every three years. I'm sure every time this happens the question is raised, “what is the city doing to improve safety for bicycling?” Currently the response has been to defer the question to Sam the Planner. To be sure Sam is great and the information he provides about safe riding is solid. But Sam has done his job. This is the current bike plan. Seven years ago Sam wrote it and you approved it. You'll approve another later this year. It's time to open the plan...oh, here's my name -- I sit in a lot of transportation planning meetings. I’ve helped with a lot of plans. It's time to stop planning and start implementing.

I propose my city government do the hard work so that the question, “what is the city doing to improve bicycling safety?” can be answered like this…

We are educated.

• We have key traffic engineers, police officers, and planners that have been through training and understand what visible, predictable, safe and courteous riding looks like.
• We understand the predictable, repeatable and avoidable physical hazards of sidewalk riding and the legal hazard as well.
• This knowledge is reflected in the information we provide the public, the facilities we build on the streets, and the traffic and roadway plans we develop.

We educate.

• Together our police, planning, traffic engineering, health and parks department provide
  o three free opportunities each season through three different community centers
  o for adults to learn how to ride safely on the streets and on the sidewalks. *******
  o We have similar age appropriate classes for children.
• Also, we've produced a series of PSAs that we refresh annually and release each Bike Month showing our expectations for safe, law abiding riding, and safe law abiding driving.

We enforce.

• Each year since the previous fatality we’ve issued
• more tickets to drivers for crosswalk, sidewalk, stop sign, and texting violations and
• more tickets to riders for crosswalk, stop sign, and wrong way riding violations.
• This has contributed to less car/bike and car/pedestrian collisions.

We provide a safe and functioning on-street riding environment.

• All of our on street bicycle facilities (sharrows and bike lanes) take into consideration the very real danger of encouraging on-street riders to ride to the right of potentially right turning vehicles.
• We're three years into a 5 year program to convert all actuated traffic signals to a new technology that allow bicycles to be detected. When the program is complete, riders on low volume neighborhood roads can expect to be able to safely cross higher volume higher speed roads without exhibiting unpredictable (red light running) behavior to drivers.
• We make it clear through signage and other ways that predictable, visible, safe and courteous riders are welcome on our roadways.

Our Mayor is engaged.

• Our mayor understands that the pursuit of happiness has a lot to do with mobility, therefore…
• Once a month our mayor rides to work so that he better understands the roadway experiences of citizens that day after day use bicycles for transportation.
• Once a month our mayor walks to work 1.5 miles on Minnesota Ave so that he better understands the roadway experiences of citizens that day after day walk for transportation.

Finally, our money is where the growth is...

• We recognize that the 2014 Long Range Transportation Plan Market Research Survey shows a citywide increase from 1999 of 400% for bicycling and 500% for walking. Therefore, spending has risen accordingly for bicycling and walking related transportation needs: street, traffic engineering, planning, etc.

Thank you for your 5 minutes. I invite council to engage me further on these matters at any later date.

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