In the News….
Below is a fleshed out version of the Star Telegram article covering Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting. If you were there at the meeting, and you read the original article, you know why we had to put our two cents in. Additions/corrections are in bold.
Arlington residents weigh in on bike paths
Posted Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011
ARLINGTON — While some a lot of residents cheered the city’s plans to add bike paths as a way to make Arlington a healthier, safer, more attractive community and give people more of a choice in their transportation options, other a few vocal opponents to making Arlington better for everyone (who also happen to be residents) criticized the paths as expensive and inconvenient for motorists and property owners.
More than 100 people gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday night to weigh in on Arlington’s proposed Hike and Bike Master Plan. Many wore yellow T-shirts to show their support for the bike plan. “It was impressive to see all that yellow in the audience,” said one attendee not quoted in this original article.
The 30-year plan calls for adding more than 100 miles of on-street bike lanes through the city as well as other amenities, policies and infrastructure improvements geared to make Arlington friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists.
Several residents said cycling has not only provided a recreational outlet for their family or an alternate way to commute, but has also helped them connect with other residents and businesses.
“I have discovered and rediscovered parts of Arlington I never knew or had forgotten about,” Heather Baker said. “Arlington is an awesome city when you see it on a bike.”
But others, such as Carl Oehler, said they couldn’t support a plan that they fear [sic] would add congestion to busy city streets by encouraging slower cyclists to travel with cars.
“Why would anybody want to plug up a city that has good transportation,” Oehler said. Hike and bike supporters countered that the city only has “good” transportation for cars, but that streets are made for walking and bicycling, not just motorized vehicles, and that bike lanes will improve traffic flow by providing bicyclists a place to travel on the right side of the road out of the flow of traffic.
When resident Zack Maxwell complained [sic] about the possibility of being stuck behind a cyclist traveling 10 mph, someone from the opposition sarcastically yelled, “Get used to it!” A couple of cycling enthusiasts reminded the crowd that state law says bicycle riders have the same right to use street lanes as motorists (Note: It is true that bicycles currently have right to ride in the street, but not all motorists are up-to-date on their traffic laws, and they see bicyclists as encroaching on their territory. The plan calls for striped bike lanes that would create a delineated space for bicyclists).
Speaking after Mr Maxwell, one supporter said, “I am a road racing champion. I live in Arlington, but I don’t train in Arlington. It’s just not safe. And when I ride, I sure don’t go 10 mph.”
Resident Kimberly Frankland said is concerned designated bike paths on city streets would cost taxpayers to maintain as well as create. Her opinion is that the city would have to spend more on street sweeping to keep the 5- or 6-foot wide paths clear of debris that could injure cyclists, an expense not mentioned in the hike and bike plan, said Frankland, who added that she does not believe that the number of cyclists in Arlington justifies the plan. (Note: Ms. Frankland’s opinion is not informed by three things 1) the survey in the Plan that shows people would ride more if they had on-street bike infrastructure, 2) studies have shown that bicycle infrastructure increases ridership, and when people see others riding, they too begin riding more and 3) Ms. Frankland’s statement that the plan would only benefit 0.4% of Arlington is false because it is based only on those who are expected to commute to work on bicycle. She leaves out three other categories of bicyclists that make up 98% of all estimated bike trips. The projected bicycle demand on p. 2-13 of the plan estimates that 28,159 bicycle trips occur in Arlington from school children, college students, and other “utilitarian” trips.
Other expenses have been outlined by the city staff. Bike paths can cost $3,000 per mile for a simple stripe painted on a road lane or up to $1 million a mile for paths built through a park that require a bridge over a creek. Comparatively speaking it costs $1 million dollars per lane mile to build a road so on-street bike paths would be about 0.3% of a road’s cost. City staff has stated in past meetings that bike projects would only be done as part of regularly scheduled road maintenance and not as stand-alone projects, and would be done only if funding is available.
The plan also recommends $15 million to fill gaps in sidewalks, $118 million to build the off-street bike trails and $500,000 to $800,000 for on-street bike paths. However, city staff emphasized that these costs are spread out over 30 years, and that cost and budget would be addressed year-to-year, project-to-project, depending upon availability of funds. Staff discussed figures at the meeting estimating that the cost of on-street bike routes would be only 0.4% to 0.6% of plan’s estimated costs, while greenways and trails completely separated from roads would comprise 88% of the plans cost. Sidewalk gap improvements would be 11% of the total cost of the plan.
If the plan is approved, projects could be paid for with bond funds, grants or private donations. Improvements such as striped bike paths or new sidewalks would be coordinated with rebuilding streets, officials said.
“If we had just started this plan 30 years ago, it sure would have cost a lot less money,” resident and plan supporter Wesley Miller said. In response to the opposition speaker that made the comment to City Staff, “I didn’t see any negative aspects of the plan presented” Mr. Miller commented “I haven’t seen any negative aspects of the plan that aren’t silly.” Mr. Miller then took his seat to a round of applause generated by over two-thirds of the people in the room.
Susan Schrock & Bike Friendly Arlington
Read the original article here