Friday, January 31

Oh No You Don't

If you were a regional transportation planner and someone in the district highway office that covers the area where you live "forgot" to notify you of a public meeting for a big road project in your hometown. . .what would you do?

BUT. . .not only did they forget to notify you, prior to that they emphatically told you that there would be no bike lanes in town and tipped their hand that even before the public meeting they'd decided how the road was going to be built. . .without any public input. . .how would you feel about that?
And before THAT regarding a different project they'd told you that they couldn't justify the cost for bike infrastructure in your hometown even though surrounding communities were putting them in like they were made of chocolate and buy-one-get-two-free.  How would that make you feel?
Would you think it was dodgy that they were trying to exclude you from the process even though they were supposed to be including you?  Would you think they weren't really excited about working with the public on the project? 
Well, you sure wouldn't be giving them the benefit of the doubt would you?!
I’m not saying that any of this stuff has happened.  And I’m definitely not saying that I’ve fired up the troops and started my social media campaign to get as many locals to attend as possible.  And I’m not saying I called a well-connected friend and said: “We need to apply some political pressure to the situation” to make sure all user groups are represented.  I’m definitely not saying these things.
I haven’t pulled up the county’s tourism plan and printed numerous copies with the section on cycling highlighted which reads:
Goal 3: Make improvements, if necessary, to state roadways containing bicycle route areas.
Explanation:Improvements may need to be made to state highways containing current and proposed bicycle routes. These improvements may include but not be limited to: shoulder improvement, “pull off” locations, resurfacing, pavement marking, and widening.
Strategy: Work with the Kentucky Department of Highways and Area Development District Transportation Advisory Committee, as well as other applicable bodies, to coordinate any necessary improvements that may be identified.
I haven’t done that.  Nope.  Not me.
And I don't want bike lanes in town.  I most definitely don't want the DHO to break up the continuous rumble strips they are most certainly planning to put in with the new pavement.  And I wouldn't want them to consider any choke-points that would endanger cyclists or pedestrians on the road that already has vehicular traffic moving at 60+ mph speeds before widening and improving the corridor.
Why would I want any of that?


What I have done, however, is have one of those experiences that you imagine planners to have.  I met with three bike advocates in a coffee shop in one of the historic downtowns of the region and we talked about what we can do.

I know that the Chief District Engineer for the Bluegrass area has expressed a desire to create a regional bike plan.  I know that many cycling advocates have been working hard to bring about a signed and mapped network of routes throughout the region.  And I know that my position affords me the unique perspective to be able to bring all these players together.  I know most of the players and what they're doing even if they don't know each other or what else is going on just over their county lines.

Days like today, even though I'm critically behind on some important work elements, make me feel like I'm in the right place at the right time and that things are getting ready to explode with me at the epicenter.  I'm okay with that.

1 comment:

  1. I don't see them as the panacea that many do, but in my small town having bike lanes or sharrows on the main drag would go al long way to sparking some much needed dialogue and would be a good first step to better changes. Driver/cyclist interactions are positive already, but we need something to legitimize cycling (and walking) as a form of transportation. Right now there is more than enough real estate for it, and the changes they're suggesting they've already decided to make will degrade conditions by encouraging faster speeds through town. If nothing else making them include bike lanes instead of another drive lane would act as traffic calming.

    The traffic numbers don't seem to justify four lanes and a turn lane (about 5,500 ADT) considering most other communities in the area that have bike lanes have them on roads with much higher ADT and are typically two lanes with a center two-way left turn lane.