Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tax Increase Will Give us Safer Streets for Cycling - Vote Yes on 2B

Published Oct. 4, 2010 in the Fort Collins Coloradoan

In 1880 the League of American Wheelmen (now “Bicyclists”) began the “Good Roads Movement” to promote better roads in rural areas for recreational bicyclists.  Farmers initially balked at funding new roads but businesses found that good roads promoted commerce so they supported the movement.  Farmers eventually joined and when the automobile came along all these groups allied to promote better roads for their mutual benefit.

In Fort Collins today we face a similar situation.  Motorists, business owners and cyclists (who are also often motorists) need to rally the vote in favor of initiative 2B to increase our city sales tax so we can maintain the excellent transportation system that we have built over the last 30 years.

Well maintained streets and trails are critical to promote safe bicycling.  Who would allow their kids to bicycle to school if they have to swerve into traffic to avoid potholes?  Or who would commute to work by bicycle if they got frequent flat tires from glass and debris in the bike lane?   

Poorly maintained bike lanes promote illegal and unsafe behavior.  If bike lanes aren’t plowed people resort to riding on the sidewalk or the wrong way down the street. (Note the adjacent photo:  This is Lake Street on the Colorado State University Campus;  the east-bound lane is poorly plowed but because the west-bound lane gets some sun and is clearer, students choose to pedal the wrong way down the bike lane.)

I look across Spring Creek to the Spring Creek Trail on winter mornings.  This trail is a major bicycle commuter route.  After a snow storm at 6 a.m. the Parks and Recreation Department sweeps the trail, and shortly thereafter, the bicycle commuters appear.  If the trail weren’t swept of snow cyclists would have no alternative but to ride on busy Shields or Drake Streets, Prospect Road and Centre Avenue to get to work or school.  Many would abandon their bikes and begin driving a car.

Seniors enjoy our trails year round.  On sunny winter days, even though there is snow on the ground and on streets, senior cyclists and others can ride the Spring Cr. Trail to the Poudre River Trail and then west to Old Town while walkers and joggers have access to natural areas and nearby neighborhoods. 

Our situation is pretty clear: we have built an infrastructure through thoughtful, hard work of citizens and City staff that allows us to be called the healthiest metropolitan area in the nation (Gallup Poll, March 2010).  We are one of the top twelve bicycle friendly communities in the US (League of American Bicyclists, 2010).  And we are one of the top six places to live in the country (Money Magazine, 2010).  

Without revenue, the City will begin to cut back on services like plowing and sweeping bike lanes or trails.  We’ve already been advised that the Parks Department will lose two million dollars. 

As a member of the City’s Economic Advisory Commission I see statistics and I hear regular reports that validate Forbes’ ranking of Fort Collins as the fourth best small metropolitan area in the US to locate a business and to build a career (2010).   Businesses locate here because of the great City we have built.  Let’s keep it that way.  Please vote yes on initiative 2B.

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