Sunday, August 10, 2008

County Engineers and Bikeways.

Its been a month and yer humble host is finally getting around to posing on the bikeway issue.

Fort the Love of Dayton blogged on this back on July 10th, mostly reposting a DDN op-ed discussing the resistance of the county engineers to a complete streets proposal, where roads would have paved shoulders as bikepaths.

The engineers called this an "unfunded mandate".

One wonders if they oppose sidewalks, too.

This opposition is the usual "we've always done it this way" approach typical of bureuacracy. And it's misleading, too.

Areas that are suburbanizing will be seeing growing traffic, requiring realignment and widening of country roads. Sidewalks and bikepaths should be incorporated into road widening projects on arterial and collector roads.

This is different than adding new bikepaths to existing roads as stand-alone projects, which could be costly. By incorporating non-auto features into road widening plans one could realize economies of scale as contractors and subcontractos would be bidding on fairly large projects, with the bike lanes and sidewalks being a small component of the project cost.

Sure, cost per mile would be higher for a road project as there would be extra pavement involved. But this would just mean smaller projects, or projects phased over multilpe years.

The issue of demand is a classic circular argument, since no one will use bikes if bikepaths aren't built, but since no one is using bike the engineers can say the demand isn't there.

The way I see it the issue is one of choice. Failure to incorporate complete streets into regional transportion planning for suburban areas limits choice and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy about bike use.


Admin said...

Jeff I appreciate you posing on this issue.

Yes I think city traffic engineer types view sidewalks negatively. They get in the way of what they are trying to do to move traffic (cars). But alas they concede they are a necessary evil. Perhaps we can convince them the bike lanes are a necessary evil too. I think all city and county engineers should have to abandon their cars for a week and ride bikes or the metro to see what it feels like out here.

Jefferey said...

I am a bit skeptical about bike lanes as commuter things, but they make a lot of sense for getting around for recreational purposes, or even doing errands to the local mini-mart and such.

A good example of a town with a solid bikeway system is Davis, California. Perhaps Beavercreek and other suburbs could require developers to add bike lanes.

I know they seem to be doing this down in Mason, where bikeways are going in alongside new development.

Admin said...

Getting developers to put in bikeways typically requires having a bikeway master plan. (Much like the area's master thoroughfare plan.) The master plan would set lines on the map where future trails are to be installed or widened, much like the road plan. Then when a developer wants to build he will be asked to complete the portion on his site.

But with the resistance I have witnessed I doubt these guys (engineers) will even be able to agree on this step.