Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pedaling legislation

SB 145, the "Complete Streets" bill introduced by Sen. Katie Stine, has been sent to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee for further consideration before any possible action by the full Senate. This makes sense, given that any bill in this legislative session must withstand concerns about whether it will cost our cash-strapped state any money. Sen. Stine anticipated this concern by removing from this bill any mandate that the Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) spend any money to make roads more accommodating to bicyclists or pedestrians. Instead, SB 145 merely insists that the Cabinet "fully consider" looking out for our needs. If their consideration leads them to believe that accommodating non-motorized users would unacceptably increase the cost of a road project, they need not spend any money on our behalf.

What, then, makes SB 145 worthy of our support?
  • It makes the consideration of facilities for bicycling and walking a state law, rather than an obscure and often overlooked internal policy of the Transportation Cabinet.
  • It requires the Cabinet to file an annual report listing the roadways built or rebuilt, along with the reasons for not including pedestrian or bicycle facilities in any roadways built without them. This provides public accountability not currently present.
  • It is acquainting the legislature with the concept of Complete Streets, making it easier for us to find supporters for a stronger bill later.
  • It shows our appreciation for Sen. Stine's initiative and willingness to take a legislative risk, making it more likely that we can work with her for future bicycling and walking improvements.
  • It gives us the opportunity to urge our Senators and Representatives to amend SB 145 to make it stronger.
Again, with a simple call to a toll-free number, you can support SB 145. Call the Legislative Message line at (800) 372-7181 and leave a message for all Senators to support SB 145, the Complete Streets bill. If you have a bit more time to invest, click this link to e-mail Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Sen. Charlie Borders urging that the committee hear testimony on SB 145 and report favorably on it, sending it back to the full Senate for action. Note that SB 145 will encourage the Transportation Cabinet to make new and rebuilt roads safely usable by all Kentuckians, and provide the Commonwealth with great financial benefits in terms of improved public health higher productivity, and more tourism.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Starting to Roll

Welcome to Barry's Bike Blog. I will follow current events, concerns, proposals, experiences, and wild ideas related to bicycling in Louisville, surrounding Kentucky counties, and southern Indiana, with occasional forays into state and national bicycling issues.

We live in exciting times for bicycling. I see more people on the streets riding for recreation and transportation, more people taking part in more types of bicycle racing, and fantastic growth in the number, size, and prestige of races taking place in and near Louisville. New charity bike rides, memorial rides, and special event rides seem to spring up each year. Local and state elected officials and government staffers have taken much more interest in bicycling over the past three years or so, with the result of new laws and government policies regarding bicycling and the bicycling environment. If you ride, you know that we face plenty of frustrations, too. I'll share news and musings on all of these topics.

Starting tomorrow, I'll update you on bills in the Kentucky General Assembly with the potential to lead to many more miles of safe and enjoyable bicycling routes in Kentucky. If you want to read the bills and form your own opinions before reading mine, look at:
  • Senate Bill 145, to require routine consideration of bicycling and walking in roadway planning and design
  • House Bill 291, to create a state rail banking fund to preserve abandoned rail corridors for future rail-trails
The links above will take you to an overview and legislative history of each bill. Once there, click on the link with the bill number to download a Word (.doc) format copy of the bill.

I hope that you find this blog interesting and useful. Please post comments or e-mail me feedback and suggestions.

Wishing you a warm, dry place to sit out the ice storm...
Ride well,