Neighborhood focus in city bike plan?
Proposal by OWN’s Clark not an immediate hit at Bike Committee meeting
The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) wants to put an emphasis on neighborhoods in city staff efforts to update the 15-year-old Colorado Springs bicycle plan.
Welling Clark, the OWN president, said this week he thinks neighborhoods “know their areas better than some consultant. Why not harness that?”
What's uncertain is the extent to which city officials want to approach the plan that way.
Clark suggested at the Bikeway Advisory Commit-tee meeting July 26 that neighborhoods could be uniquely useful. Residents' knowledge of their areas could be employed in providing “system engineered” data to indicate what's working and what isn't in the present bicycle on- and off-street system, he said.
He made his comments after the board had heard Kristin Bennett, the city's nonmotorized vehicles planner, outline a proposal in which she recommends “the development and maintenance of a robust bicycle infrastructure system and the necessary support facilities, amenties, programs and activities for safe, efficient and convenient bicycling.”
Her proposal to attain these goals includes seeking involvement from “all areas of the community,” including neighborhood groups, but is not specific as to what might be expected from them other than that they be “engaged in the process.”
Clark elaborated after the meeting that in developing a new bicycle plan, it should be taken into account that bicyclists make up a small percentage of the community; that much of the expenditures for new bicycle infrastructure upgrades and maintenance could end up being paid by people who ride seldom or not at all; and that in the interests of safety the city should find ways to separate bikes from cars.
He also noted that in Bennett's plan-development timeline the city won't actually be working on collecting data right away, which would give various neighborhoods ample opportunity to gather and analyze data from their individual locales that could be fed back to the city.
Bennett's plan calls for staff, aided by five city-appointed boards, to do the initial work, including writing up a “request for proposals,” preparatory to hiring a consultant in January who would lead a public plan development process over a six-month span.
This spring, OWN disagreed with City Transportation staff about putting sharrow markings for bicycles on West Colorado Avenue. Based on an open-ended City Council directive, transportation staffers had planned to stamp them in last month, but were overruled at the last minute by Chief of Staff Steve Cox
Jim Ramsey, the Bicycle Advisory Board chair, offered to meet separately with Clark. “I want to make sure we're heading in the same direction and that staff is in sync,” he said. He invited Bennett to attend. She did not say for certain, indicating a concern about a conflict related to the perception of favoritism.
Westside Pioneer article