Saturday 18 November 2017

FRINGE JOURNALISTS AND MINORITIES WORRY US THE MOST

Relating health problems with bad air such as heart is disease, diabetes and obesity to bicycle riding is a stretch that needs some contrary words. What are the real connections that matter to resolve this problem?

 Bicycles and their pathways for safe passage cannot be envisioned properly to adapt only to existing road based routes for healthy “commutes” free of “danger, worry and inconvenience”. Where is the graphic depiction?

 Brian Jones needs to be far more transparent about what $1.3 billion of infrastructure gets in the way of benefits for cyclists with this supporting infrastructure that reduces these so called relationships to health hazards.

 Remember to share “planning ideals” with substantive facts toward convincing the public at large about how our sons and daughters can ride a bike safely to school and back, let alone riding safely to a friend’s house, shopping or church anywhere else.

 Graham Kaye-Eddie.

M.U.D.                        11/22/2010

ROBERT PRICE: Embracing this planning ideal nails two goals

The Bakersfield Californian | Saturday, Nov 20 2010 10:04 PM

Last Updated Saturday, Nov 20 2010 10:04 PM

As a group, hard-core bicyclists have a subversive reputation. With good reason, too. Many of them have, as much as possible, moved away from that most common of cultural reference points, the automobile. They lurk on the fringe, and people on the fringe worry us. Especially if they’re wearing spandex leotards.

But life here in the American mainstream keeps leading us to some of the same conclusions those cycling subversives have long been pointing to.

Namely, that we’d all be a lot better off if we followed their lead.

Two recent events tell elements of the story: On Oct. 19, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board voted to pass along a $29 million bad-air fine to valley residents by way of a $12 car-registration surcharge. Our air is getting better, but not fast enough for the federal EPA.

Then, on Nov. 16, the Kern County Department of Public Health hosted a day-long symposium to call attention to the worst public health crisis in our history: an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. We’re ranked 58th out of 58 California counties in heart disease — meaning worst — and we’re 57th in diabetes deaths. Sixty percent of our population is overweight or obese.

In between those alarming status updates, on Oct. 28, the Fresno City Council took a noteworthy step toward addressing the health of its own citizens, approving a Bicycle, Pedestrian & Trails Master Plan that will expand that city’s existing 137 miles of bicycle paths, lanes and routes into a 900-mile transportation network.

The quality-of-life implications of reconfiguring the transportation grid of a city in such a way that it becomes possible to commute on a bicycle relatively free of danger, worry and inconvenience ought to be evident.

It’s the potential to fight obesity and bad air that should have the Bakersfield City Council wondering how to hasten the arrival of a bicycle city. And I don’t mean a bicycle-friendly city, which suggests that we’ve merely ceased to be bicycle-hostile. I mean a city that gives reasonable weight to bicycle (and pedestrian) infrastructure, so that motorists aren’t unduly aggravated by the competition for road space. Done right, many might actually be compelled to switch teams.

But that represents a big, daunting, expensive, uncomfortable culture change. And we don’t do change well around here.

“This needs to be a political decision,” said Bob Smith, the civil engineer who founded the nonprofit organization Bike Bakersfield a decade ago. “The city staff, the engineers, are going to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them unless somebody tells them otherwise. And the way we’ve always done it is not successful because of these obesity rates and our air pollution issues. Hey, we’ve got to do something different.”

Quietly, cities all over the country are doing just that — they’re embracing community-planning principles known as “complete streets” that factor in bicycles and pedestrians in a meaningful way.

Complete streets standards have been adopted in every corner of the U.S., from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Roanoke, Va., and from Edmond, Okla., to Spokane, Wash. In 2008, 25 cities adopted compatible policies, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition. In 2009, about 50 did so, and, with six weeks left in 2010, another 60 cities have adopted the principles. The city of Los Angeles is likely to adopt complete streets standards next month.

L.A. planners are working with various bicycling communities to create robust bicycle boulevards, as opposed to simple “bike-friendly streets.” They’re talking about more prominent signage, bright asphalt markings known as sharrows, special intersection treatments and assorted traffic calming devices.

Fresno’s plan, which will take decades to fully implement, doesn’t merely widen bike lanes, create bicycle-only routes and add signage and sharrows — it will include bicycle racks and lockers throughout the city, according to city engineer Bryan Jones. The price tag is $1.3 billion, but much of that expense represents the construction costs of new roads. A portion of the cost would be borne by developers as they construct homes and develop infrastructure for the city’s growing population.

State and federal transportation grants are out there, enough for any city to get things rolling — but the will must exist and local governments must fully sign on.

This is the perfect time to talk about it here. Bakersfield is in the midst of a General Plan update, and some of these bike-mobility issues are already on the table.

“The evidence now is if you build good facilities, people will ride,” said Smith, who would like to see canal banks incorporated into a cycling infrastructure plan. “Plenty of communities are putting those principles to work. Politically we in Bakersfield are a little slower to catch on, but that can change if enough people want it to.”

Or, perhaps we’ve decided we can just put up with off-the-charts smog and obesity. Dealing with that stuff is hard, but change is harder.

E-mail Editorial Page Editor Robert Price at rprice@bakersfield.com

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