EDITORíS DESK: The plan needs a better plan
Pressed for time and space last week, only a passing glance was given in this space to the initial steps being taken to update the city's bicycle master plan.
But I really think it's an issue that's worthy of deeper consideration, especially now, when there is still time - or so it seems - to make adjustments. I know Welling Clark is hopeful that's the case. As you might recall, the Westside Pioneer interviewed him last issue about the case he is making for a neighborhood emphasis in crafting such a plan. To some, that may sound like semantics, because of course the public will get to comment, and the proposal by city staffer Kristin Bennett, whose duties include bicycle planning, specifically mentions it. The key word, I think, is when. In the Bennett proposal, all the early work would be handled by city "insiders" (staff and appointed committee members). Once they have a "robust"(her word) framework in place, a consultant would be brought on board to fine-tune the plan and finally the public would get its chance. This prompts the question, what are the odds of anyone with serious concerns at that point having the slightest chance of changing much? Even now, neither Bennett - who is an avid cyclist herself - nor the Bicycle Advisory Committee has shown the slightest interest in the key question Clark raised about the wisdom of mixing cars and bikes on roadways. The government these days forces parents to keep their children in booster seats until age 8, out of concern for their safety, then eagerly paints sharrows on roadways that those same youngsters might ride on. What currently seems to be exciting Bennett and the committee is counting the bicyclists on local roadways - hoping for a high percentage (Boulder reportedly has 8 percent, and if the Springs can claim at least 5, well, you can imagine the ardent funding pleas before City Council).
So what is the problem with reaching out to neighborhoods early on, to learn about their particular situations and concerns? Bennett's love of cycling is hardly a crime, and I admire her administrative skills, but when potentially millions of city dollars are at stake, maybe a more impartial administrator ought to be handling this project.