Guest Opinion published 12/4/96 in the Boulder Planet
I thank letter-writer C. Kliger, whose building lost resident
parking on 13th St. when bike lanes were striped on
last month for not taking the bait offered by Transportation Division
to again divide neighbors against cyclists. We have a Division
which takes the cake -about the same portion of the City budget
as the Defense Department is of the Federal budget- by getting
citizens to fight over crumbs.
The classic example of how The Division works is their multi-year
promotion of traffic circles, which the Camera's front page story
of 10/30/96 says "have pitted neighbor against neighbor":
In 1988, North 9th Street residents started asking
for several 4-way stop signs to slow traffic. The Division said
4-ways wouldn't work, although the one at Maxwell and 9th
worked OK. Bolder Bicycle Commuters and most cyclists opposed
the circles, medians and neckdowns the Division proposed, as these
things violate national (AASHTO) and Boulder (Transportation Master
Plan 1988, pg. 2-20) standards of 14-foot minimum lane widths
for streets designated as bike routes. Many neighbors went for
it since the Division refused them stop signs or raised crosswalks.
After 6 years and over $10,000 of studies, reports and acrimonious
meetings, 9th Street got a circle, a median and a set
of neckdowns, costing some $120,000. Some go the wrong way around
the circle and accidents have increased. Last month 4-way stops
were installed on 9th at Dellwood and Forest, finally
solving the problem!! The "test" traffic circle at 17th
& Pine is THE most dangerous intersection in town as measured
by calls to the Close Call Hotline (441-4272). The test circle
at 15th & Pine is 3rd worst. May these
be the deathbed of the Division's concrete chicanery, not of some
child on foot or bicycle!
Bolder Bicycle Commuters members persuaded the Division NOT to
stripe bike lanes on 13th from Balsam to Forest, thus
preserving some 20 parking spots. There is little traffic north
of Balsam on 13th and we don't feel threatened there.
(13th St. residents deserve the same resident parking
as the better-organized -and politically connected- Mapleton Hill
and Whittier neighborhoods they're sandwiched between.)
Bolder Bicycle Commuters also persuaded the Division NOT to take
parking for a bike lane on Sunnyside, a 2-block street immediately
west of Broadway and south of baseline that is shared with the
Broadway bike route, also because it is not needed. We were unable
to convince the Division NOT to build the million-dollars-worth
of tunnels under Mohawk and Gilpin.
It is sad that so much of Boulder's business community buys into
the image the Division creates of cyclists grabbing for every
inch of turf. Let's remember that Boulder has ONE good continuous
E-W bike route (the Creek Path) and ONE decent continuous N-S
bike route (Broadway-13th-15th-Broadway).
While we fight over crumbs, the Division takes the cake as the
biggest part of the bloated City bureaucracy. Ken Hotard of the
Board of Realtors, also in the 11/13 Planet properly condemns
City government for growing faster than the City. Our city government
has 1,800 "full-time equivalent" employees, while Fort
Collins with 10,000 more people has only 1,100! These extra employees
of course vote for the City Council which pays them, Council hires
more, and the vicious cycle keeps grinding away. This is like
the council's self-appointment process which citizens just ended
at the polls, demanding to elect their own representatives by
The business community would be wise to join with environmentalists.
If young, athletic, compact, sunny Boulder fulfilled its potential
as a cycling town (biking for 25% of all trips like Davis, California
or 40% like big, rainy Amsterdam, instead of our measly 12%),
people would see that it is not primarily growth which makes our
lives congested and polluted, but unnecessary over-use of vehicles.
But the Division can't build an empire on cycling. They are set
on a wasteful "system" of tangled, weaving bus routes,
which run emptier (an average of some 5.5 passengers on a 45-passenger
bus) than single-passenger autos! Citizens voted against their
$250-million Transit Tax 2-1 in 1994, but the parasitic Division
is doing polls and focus-groups, honing their propaganda to wear
The Division and City government as a whole slavishly re-enact
what caused 18th-century philosopher Rousseau to observe:
"Keeping citizens apart has become the first maxim of modern
Bolder Bicycle Commuters holds monthly public meetings and can be reached at 449-7439.
Evan Ravitz was voted "Best Activist" by readers
of the Camera and is a member of
Bolder Bicycle Commuters.