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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bike/Ped Plan: It’s just words

Written December 14th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This new Albany walkway is separate from the bike lane, as it should be.

This new Albany walkway is separate from the bike lane, as it should be.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has come up with the draft of its new Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan, and it has asked for further public comment. To me the plan is similar to the much-ballyhooed Paris climate accord in this respect: Lots of words but no action to bring about a particular result.

In the first place, why bundle cycling and walking in the same plan? Unless you are pushing your bike because it has a flat, walking and cycling are fundamentally different and mutually exclusive ways of locomotion. On designated paths, walkers interfere with cyclists, and cyclists are a risk to people moving on foot. That’s why cities usually prohibit bikes on busy sidewalks.

You may think it’s nice that the state would want to plan so people can get places on bikes and on foot. But you’d be disappointed, because as ODOT says in an invitation to an open house in Portland Monday night: “The plan does not address specific projects.”

Instead, it fills page after page with the windy language of the modern bureaucratic state. You get a taste from the opening of the “executive summary.” The plan, according to the introduction, “creates a policy foundation for the state, supporting decision-making for walking and biking investments, strategies, and program. … The walking and biking direction established in this plan helps bring about an interconnected, robust, efficient and safe transportation system for Oregon.”

No it doesn’t. It doesn’t create anything other than 82 pages of handsome photos, graphics and statements of the obvious (“Walking and biking are essential modes of travel,” for example) and self-evident goals, listed as safety, accessibility and connectivity, mobility and efficiency, community and economic vitality, equity, health, sustainability, strategic investment, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. Who could possibly want anything other than those?

Plans don’t write themselves, though a plan-making software program could have produced this one. In our government, plans like this require the work of any number of staffers and paid consultants, plus volunteers on assorted committees to advise and review. This costs money, effort and time, all of which could be better spent on real-world steps to improve the efficiency and safety of our walking paths, bikeways and roads. (hh)



12 responses to “Bike/Ped Plan: It’s just words”

  1. Rich Kellum says:

    if the average bicycle is going 10-15 mph and the average walker is going 3 or 4 mph that is a difference of 7 to 11 mph. vs cars at 55 and bikes at 15 on roads a difference of 40. which is safer??

    • Depends on who gets hit. Collisions on bike paths are bad news. (hh)

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Well Rich, bikes have a lot of sharp, pointy things.
      Want me and my 260 lbs. running over your carcass at my normal 13 MPH?
      How about a toddler that darts in the way?
      How about an idiot racer that can easily obtain 30+ MPH on a bike?

      They are considered “Multi Use Paths”, although cyclists take 100% of the flak from cost etc.

  2. Bob Woods says:

    “This costs money, effort and time, all of which could be better spent on real-world steps to improve the efficiency and safety of our walking paths, bikeways and roads. ”

    Very true. But you’ve also been around long enough to know that when actual projects are proposed, folks come out of the woodwork wanting to know: “Who came up with this?” and “Why weren’t we asked what we want?” and “This is just another bunch o bureaucrats telling us what to do!”.

    It use to be easier when folks let professionals work things out but those days are long gone. Now it’s process, process, process to try and forge agreements up front.

    If you can figure a way to get us back to the the more efficient streamlined way, I’m with you.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      “Very true. But you’ve also been around long enough to know that when actual projects are proposed, folks come out of the woodwork wanting to know: “Who came up with this?” and “Why weren’t we asked what we want?” and “This is just another bunch o bureaucrats telling us what to do!”.”

      It’d take a “psychic” to come out of the “woodwork” BEFORE projects are proposed.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Another government plan with no discernable results or concrete actions? Shocking.

    Like everthing in life you get out of a plan what you put in. Government tends to put in lots of money. The objective is to spend, not to pursue results.

    My experience is that unlike twinkies, the shelf life of most government plans is about a day and a half.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    The unintended and unfortunate outcome is that our towns are so separated by distance to make bicycling to work, shopping & what not a real chore. We used to mark a day’s travel & back by horseback between towns. Bicycling is a great exercise but between here & Corvallis a real throw of the riders dice!…JE

  5. Oldtimer says:

    On country roads motorists are expected to slow for farm equipment like tractors and combines. When bicyclists must share a path with pedestrians, they too should slow and keep in mind the pedestrians may be older and slower. A simple bell alerts pedestrians and you can call out passing. Passing should be on the left so walkers should stay to the right. Yes, they too often go back and forth at will without thought. never-the-less bikers should slow to a speed they can stop without hitting a walker. Biker too often feel rules don’t affect them. Pedestrians seem to have no rules. they should. Forcing little and old bikers to the slanted irregular surface between a curb and traffic is not good at all. It is a farce but brings in funding as a bike lane. But the slower traffic should have the right of way, and keep out of the way of faster.

  6. John No says:

    While I understand the need for some foundational documentation to set general direction, perhaps those of us who would like to be closer to the ground might appreciate the survey currently being done about the Albany/Corvallis bike path?
    http://www.corvallisalbanytrailsurvey.com/

 

 
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