I've been considering Jon Kaplan's letter, and I'd like to share my own
thoughts. First of all, I am one of the cyclists on the committee. I
commute to work and enjoy cycling long distances between towns. So, I am
biased from the other direction. Jon's argument is a good one. I've
heard it before--from Tony Reddington. We would benefit more people for
the money if we build sidewalks and roundabouts to encourage walking and
cycling short distances, mainly in larger towns. Undeniable. However,
I've not heard there are competing interests. That is, there's a law on
the books about improving shoulders when road projects are undertaken.
I've not heard anyone advance the notion that if they don't pave the
shoulders, there will be more money for sidewalks and roundabouts. If
there is no competition, then the discussion on shoulders, from a
cyclist's or pedestrian's pont of view, is very important.
Then, I'd like to offer a few reflections on Jon's argument, from the
other side. I believe it is our place, as a committee, to form a vision
of Vermont as a cycle-friendly state. Of course, this is self-serving to
those of us who ride. so what. What would the state look like if cycling
and walking were as important in the planning process as cars? Although
sidewalks and roundabouts are of great importance in the total picture,
to limit the discussion to them is way too narrow, in my opinion. To say
the shoulder discussion is important only to a handful of Vermonters who
cycle distances and to the bike touring industry ignores the importance
of the bike touring industry to the economy. As rail trails have become
a tourist destination and an economic boon to communities that host
them, so a state the has a reputation for bicycle friendliness and
safety will attract more of the kinds of tourists most of us would like
The action of creating a vision is the first step in the process of
change. If we believe that , say, 10% of the trips under 5 miles should
be made by bicycle or on foot, what would our streets and roads need to
look like? I commute 7 miles to work. What should the roads on my route
look like to provide for my safety? What I'm saying is that if we limit
the discussion too narrowly, we may never create the changes most of us
would like to see, though we might get more roundabouts and sidewalks.
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