Thursday, January 04, 2007

monday night smackdown: bike lanes vs. parking

AANews revs up the public's ire in preparation for the Monday night public hearing on the proposed non-motorized plan by pitting the sacred cow of parking against the holy grail of NMT infrastructure, bike lanes. The NMT plan, prepared by Norm Cox of the Greenway Collaborative, recommends removing on-street metered parking on some streets to make room for bike lanes.

So, Batman, as an innocent child plummets toward the gaping maw of the volcanic furnace, the pendulum laser-saw of death takes aim at the love of your life. Who will you save? Rene Geff offers up the most obvious solution, explaining "I would be willing to sacrifice parking ... to get bike lanes, but it has to be replaced somewhere else." The plan actually does call for adding parking on other streets to make up for the loss.

We don't generally advocate for parking supply increases. Instead we would like to see more effort towards efficient use of existing parking and more emphasis on encouraging non-car options. However, as our downtown relies on a lot of out-of-towners for financial support and we don't offer much in the way of inter-city alternatives, now does not seem the time to cut back on the overall parking supply.

After he finishes wagging the parking-vs-bikes dog, Gantert does touch on an issue raised by cycling groups. WBWC has been working for some time to remove signs promoting sidewalk cycling routes. City staff has spent a lot of time looking for reasons they can't get rid of them while agreeing that they are not a good solution. According to the article, City Transportation Guru, Eli Cooper, pointed out that the green ad white signs are advisory, note regulatory. The implication (perhaps more from Gantert than Cooper) is that no one is forcing cyclists to use the sidewalk. But, consider other green and white, advisory signs like highway exit signs and signs directing one to public parking. We generally assume that this advice is coming from someone who knows better than we do. We do not usually question whether the green and white advice is guiding us into situations that are proven repeatedly to be the more dangerous option.

We encourage you to show up and speak at Monday. But we also encourage you to read the original report before taking the bait that the News has laid.

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