Saturday, February 19, 2011

Visit to Seattle to Discuss Bicycle Signals

I was invited up to Seattle to present to a group of engineers, planners, and architects from the City of Seattle, SvR Design and the Cascade Bicycle Club.

I was excited about the chance to share some of the work we're doing, because I find it forces me to reflect on the work we're doing and the presentations always stimulate discussion and in many cases ideas that I hadn't thought of. You can also get a pretty good sense from the audience when we're doing innovative things. Not just innovation for the sake of innovation, but with the intent of improving conditions.

The biggest chalenge for the engineers I spoke with is believing the build it and they will come concept. One of the engineers asked specifically how we can spend the money for detection for bikes when there are only a few of them using the facility. It's clear from the question that the City's vision hasn't been shared and the link to sustainibility hasn't been made. I feel strongly that I am serving the City and our mayor. I also happen to agree with the goals, the mode split targets, the intent of our infrastructure spending. Yet, even if I didn't I think I could make the argument with whatever policy it is that there are specific expenditures that would make the signals and street lighting better and meet my interest in sustainability.

The argument for transit priority that I would make is that the costs for transit exist and as a taxpayer, I want to reduce the costs to society of operating the transit vehicles. With street lighting, an investment in new fixtures would reduce long-term electricity costs and the coal that's burned in Boardman (Oregon's favorite coal planet).

There are obvious equity issues associated with pedestrian investments and we're able to make those investments as the requests come in because we prioritize providing access for all users.

But back to Seattle! They have been doing some great things as of late as indicated in the City's Blog. The trip to Seattle was quick with less than 3 hours in the City. I would have liked to have a chance to spend more time and have more a of a chance to learn about what they're doing as opposed to being the presenter, but that's for another time. The ITE Quad meeting is coming up in April.
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