Published by the Colorado Daily 1/late/95
AS THE MILLENNIUM TURNS by Evan Ravitz
(still 5 years ahead of its time)
25% of Davis, California employees ride bikes to work. (Pearl
Izumi's One Less Car action kit, pg. 4). Why do only 8% of Boulder
County employees ride bikes to work? (1993 Boulder Valley Employee
Survey, pg. 28)
Why doesn't the most famous town in America for bike racing and athletics in general use its bicycles for transportation more?
Boulderites have more bicycles per capita than Davis dwellers. We have well over 100,000 bikes for 95,000 people, Davis has only 40,000 for 50,000 residents. (Izumi kit, pg. 4)
Is it the weather? No. The survey that shows only 8% of us bike to work was taken in the summer. We have 300 sunny days a year here, and to bike in the winter requires only the ski or other cold weather gear most of us own.
Are we too weak? No. The employee survey shows that the average work commute here by bike is 3.5 miles one-way (pg 31). Most all of Boulder is closer than 3.5 miles from downtown. Most of our young (median age 30) and fit populace could do most in-city trips by bicycle most of the time.
It's mostly the danger. Engineer John Allen compared police reports and found Boulder has about three times as many bike accidents per person compared to the national average for cities of our size. That might account for the three times less of us commuting as Davis though we have more bikes per person.
What can we do about the danger? How can we fulfill the world-class potential of Boulder for cycling and reduce traffic by 15 or 20%?
1. We need more bike lanes, complete ones, and better connections between them. Lets fix the pedestrian system at the same time. Engineer Fred Porter has compiled a 500-item list of what needs to be done to get everything connected and working. A world-class system would cost about as much as just one year of just the increase in 'big empty' bus service proposed by City Council as the Transit Tax, wisely buried two to one at the polls November 8. And the City's Modal Shift Survey shows six times as many trips are by bike as by bus, already.
2. The City must stop using bike lanes and sidewalks as dumps for snow and sand. Our separated bike paths are fairly well maintained. Do the same on the lanes.
3. The City must stop building obstructions to cyclists- the medians and 'neckdowns' like the old ones on West Pearl and the new ones on North 9th Street that violate the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards for combined car-bike route widths, by substancial ammounts, forcing cyclists into the path of cars.
4. The City must start enforcing traffic laws to protect cyclists and pedestrians. City statistics show that for every ticket written, millions of violations of speeding laws occur. The modern tool, used successfully in Europe, is called photo radar. This device photographs the license plates of all vehicles exceeding a selected speed, up to one every half-second. A computer then writes tickets to the registered owners, which are sent by mail. Compare this to a cop who needs 10 or 15 minutes to write out a ticket, obstructs traffic dangerously, and makes you late. The City is supposed to be studying this now, but they were last year too. I think they're suppressing it.
5. Most recreational cyclists need racks and baskets or panniers to carry things, and fenders for wet conditions, to use their bikes for transportation regularly. The City could help promote and help us get these things wholesale.
6. White-collar cyclists need showers and locker facilities for clothes and bikes. The City should build one downtown and subsidize large employers to do the same on the periphery.
7. Then, there are ways for Council to stop subsidizing driving, like not charging for the full costs of parking lots.
Now, in the wake of the overwhelming defeat of the Big Empty Bus Transit Tax Travesty is a good time to make the case for supporting cycling as transportation in letters to the editors and speeches to City Council. Come to City Hall at 6PM every first and third Tuesday and give your three minutes' worth.
Evan is chair of Bolder Bicycle Commuters' Transit Plan Committee, the Director of the Voting by Phone Foundation, and board member of the Boulder chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He sold his car five years ago. He wants to hear from you: 440-6838 or email@example.com