Thursday, March 13, 2008

Keep working toward Complete Streets

At the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC last week, I learned about the "Complete Streets Act of 2008" (S. 2686) pending before the U.S. Senate. Like our Kentucky bill, SB 145, it would represent a significant step forward. I'll tell you about it in my next post. For now, here's an update on Kentucky SB 145. Given that it typically takes 7 years to get a bill through the US Congress, we should not pass up an opportunity to institute a state law that can improve conditions for bicycling and walking.

On Feb. 27, SB 145 was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue (A&R) Committee, where it appears to have sat uneventfully. Given the tight budgetary times, I presume that some A&R Committee members would feel content to let the bill die in committee for fear that passing it would require Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to spend more money. SB 145 merely requires KYTC to "fully consider" providing for bicyclists and pedestrians when planning and designing roadways, and to report on those considerations. The bill, as written, has negligible budgetary impact.

Merely including consideration of bicyclists' and pedestrians' needs in KYTC's routine roadway planning and design process would constitute a step forward. In many cases, they would find that the they could safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians without spending more money. In other cases, they would find that a very small additional investment (say, 1% of the project budget) would yield a roadway that makes driving safer and more convenient while providing safe space for bicyclists and pedestrians. None of that can happen without routine consideration of the needs of non-motorized travelers. The annual report required by SB 145 would enable citizens to learn how frequently that consideration took place, how frequently KYTC acted on it, and whether their actions adequately addressed our needs.

I just called the Kentucky Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 and left the following message for all members of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, along with Sen. Katie Stine:
"Support SB 145 (Complete Streets). Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can implement this policy within its existing road budget. SB 145 is an essential step toward creating a transportation network that serves all Kentuckians well."

I included Sen. Stine so she can see this message in favor of her bill. I urge you to make a similar call to encourage A&R Committee members to send SB 145 back to the Senate floor with a favorable recommendation. With a few days left in this legislative session, the legislature can still take this opportunity to move Kentucky toward Complete Streets.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bashing, in a good way

Saturday night saw the first Dream Machine Biker's Bash, a fund-raising party for Bicycling for Louisville. We exceeded all expectations for attendance (over 250) and proceeds (over $10,000). Thank you to all of you who joined us for our party! We had a great time.

Some crowd favorites included:
  • the wonderful food by Finbar Kinsella
  • the 5-minute roller bike-a-thons, featuring riders Chrissy Halioris, Nancy McElwain, Walter Lay, and Glenn Francisco. Glenn scorched the rollers with an average speed of 44 mph (5.9 km in 5 minutes)!
  • equipment displays from Scheller's, Bicycle Sport, Bike Courier Bike Shop, Bluegrass Bicycles, Clarksville Schwinn, and Goose Creek Cycles
  • active bidding on great silent auction items
  • the climactic raffle drawing for a $1000 shopping spree at Scheller's and ultimate overhauls from Bike Courier Bike Shop and Clarksville Schwinn. Congratulations to raffle winners Jerry Gordon, Carrie Christensen, and Phyllis Croce!
I thank our wonderful major sponsors: Scheller's, Planet Bike, SRAM, Jan Arnow, Republic-National Distribution Co. of Kentucky, Buchenberger, Darst & Eggers, Highland Cleaners, Barkstown, Bicycle Sport, Bike Courier Bike Shop, Bluegrass Bicycles, Clarksville Schwinn, Goose Creek Cycles, Donna Connell, YMCA of Greater Louisville, and ABC/Disney.

Special thanks to the people without whom the event could not have happened: event coordinator Kathy Schmitt; super-volunteers Tom Armstrong, Jim Duffy, and Garrett Adams; Bicycling for Louisville board members Steve Anderson, Jan Arnow, Kathryn Berla, Michael Crawford, Tim Darst, Joff Hoyle, Marilyn Motsch, Stewart Prather, Vertner Smith, and Dan Trabue; an amazing crew of event volunteers bearing a marked resemblance to the roster of the LBC Ya Yas; Mark and Lynn Luking; and our incredibly capable and hard-working office manager and all-around person-on-point Katie McBride.

Next week, I'll post some photos of the Biker's Bash. Stay tuned!

We already have ideas for a bigger and better Biker's Bash next year. Keep your calendars open for a Bicycling for Louisville Halloween event, too! Bicycle advocacy isn't all work - it's fun, too!

I leave in 2 hours for the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, thanks to a scholarship from Planet Bike and Bikes Belong Coalition. When I return, I'll share what I learned from the leading minds in bicycle advocacy in the US.