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VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L  September 1999

VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L September 1999

Subject:

Are we focusing on the right thing?

From:

Jon Kaplan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 15 Sep 1999 21:30:17 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (93 lines)

VT bike/ped advocates -

Just a warning up front.  I fully expect that my comments will
generate some serious discussion (intended), but they may also offend
some people (not intended).  That said, here goes my 2 cents (or
more).

Even though this is the VT bicycle AND PEDESTRIAN coalition, I have
seen little or no discussion about peds over the last few months that
I have been following the list.  There has been a good discussion
about road shoulders, VAOT policy towards achieving this and so on,
but I wonder if this is time well spent.  What is our goal?  If it is
to make VT roads and village streets bicycle and pedestrian friendly
for the benefit of the highest number of existing and potential
users, then the discussion of rural roadway shoulders is way off the
mark.  I am a recreational cyclist (both mountain and road), a
bicycle commuter and a walker for both exercise, but mostly for all
those short trips that most people jump in the car for.

Given the National statistics on average bicycling and walking trip
lengths,  11/2-2 miles and 1/2 mile, respectively (Nat'l Bicycling
and Walking Study), it makes the most sense to make improvements in
areas that have land use characteristics that will allow people to
walk or bike to their destinations (i.e. dense and mixed use).  This
means that to provide benefits for the maximum numbers of VT
residents and visitors, we should be concentrating on making our
village centers and urban areas pedestrian friendly as a first
priority, traffic calming residential and downtown streets as a
second priority and last, providing bicycle facilities such as bike
lanes or separated paths.

Rural roadway shoulders will only benefit bicycle touring groups and
recreational cyclists out for a 20-30 mile ride and the handful of
die-hard commuters who brave the steep hills and probable lack of
facilities like showers at their workplace to bike to work.

The plain truth is that, right or wrong, cycling is a special group
where walking is something that everyone does (even the car-o-phile
walks to their car and from it to their destination).  Therefore, by
providing pedestrian facilities - sidewalks, better crossing
opportunities, pedestrian signals, median refuges, etc., a larger
segment of the population will be able to choose this mode over
driving.

While I do believe that bicycling is a viable option for getting
around our villages and urban centers, the truth is that it will take
a lot to get more people to bicycle.  I think our efforts towards
improving bicycling conditions should be in the area of traffic
calming (which will also benefit pedestrians) and providing bicycle
parking at key local destinations like schools, stores, libraries,
etc.  Separated paths are sometimes the right solution for
accomodating bikes, but they are extremely expensive and I can't help
but think how many miles of sidewalk could be built for every mile of
bike path.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project of Washington, DC came out
recently with a series of aricles on how transportation affects our
quality of life.  I believe that you can view many of these articles
at www.transact.org.  One article that caught my eye was how the
state of CA passed a bill to spend $20 M a year to create safe
bicycling and walking routes to schools.  Most of the money is coming
from the Federal Hazard Elimination and Safety fund with 1/3  going
to traditional roadway projects and 1/3 going to local roads and 1/3
funding the safe routes project.  What is VAOT doing with its share
of HES funds?  My guess is that none of it is going to bike/ped type
improvements.  This is something we should focus on changing.  I need
to get the VT statistics for bike/ped accidents and fatalities, but
my guess is we could make a significant safety argument.

Well, that's enough ranting for one night. I probably shouldn't have
saved it up for this long.  Thanks for listening and I look forward
to the inevitable discussion.  To sum up:

1) Focus on pedestrian accommodation in village centers and urban
areas

2) Institute traffic calming on residential streets and downtowns

3) Provide bicycle parking at downtown destinations

4)Get VAOT to use the TEA-21 (Federal transportation funds) that are
available for bike and ped improvements - not just the mandatory
Enhancement program

Jon Kaplan
Transportation Planner
Bike and Ped advocate

==========
VTBIKEPEDPOLICY-L: The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy Discussion List
Subscription control: http://list.uvm.edu/archives/vtbikepedpolicy-l.html.
For help: email [log in to unmask] with the word "help" in the message body.

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