Archive for the ‘Bikes’ Category

@CarFreeStpdty

Want less of this?

Are YOU a CYCLIST or PEDESTRIAN that uses Missoula’s many TRIALS, SIDEWALKS, OR BIKE LANES?  Do you care anything about new sidewalk construction, expanding Missoula’s excellent trails system, or getting more bike lanes stripped around town? If so then your chance to contribute to building a brighter future for Missoula active transportation is fast approaching.  The Transportation Planning  office within OPG needs volunteers to help conduct a non-motorized traffic count on Saturday, September 11th and Tuesday, September 14th.   Sign up to volunteer here, or visit their website for more information.  In addition to the count days a volunteer training will occur on September 9th starting at 5:30 in City Council Chambers and last an hour.

Why are these counts important?  Just as with counting vehicle traffic, counting pedestrians and cyclists helps to determine demand for better on-street and off-street facilities, potential help steer funding of various infrastructure improvements, and helps the county to potential win grants for construction projects or programs.  And if your interested in seeing some of the results from the spring count click here to view a map that breaks down the numbers counted in May.

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by @CarFreeStpdty

As construction on the three block stretch of North Higgins grinds towards completion the final character the street will assume is slowly coming into view.  The question is… “will this ultimately create a safer environment for everyone and help to promote business downtown?”  I sure hope so…  I personally think this is a great project, one that is much needed along this stretch of Higgins with the ever increasing popularity of the Farmer’s Markets.  Saturday mornings in downtown are becoming almost unbearable with the number of people frequenting the Saturday Markets… maybe City Council should outlaw those ridiculously huge baby strollers to help alleviate foot traffic… I would hate to see the carnage caused by a three stroller pile-up.

Anyway, foot traffic downtown has certainly increased to the point where giving over more space along this stretch of road makes sense.  A decade ago the Farmer’s Market was respectable, but I would venture to guess that visitors have increased by a factor of three or four over the last decade… especially with the success of the Clark Fork Market.

The North Higgins Streetscape is well ahead of schedule thanks to economic stimulus money.  Originally the idea of downtown business owners and the BID, and first proposed in Greater Downtown Master Plan, the project is meant to create a more inviting, calm, and safe urban environment for pedestrians and cyclists along this often congested downtown corridor… encouraging people to spend more time – and thus money – downtown.

Pedestrians have already had ample opportunity to test out and benefit from the extra real-estate given over to them as the series of bulb-outs have been finished for some time.

While the curb-extensions work well at creating a safe pedestrian environment, at this moment I’m skeptical of the other half of the project… the new, integrated cycle-tracks seen below (in their unfinished state).

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

You all might remember that back in May, Missoula County Transportation Planning Division conducted a non-motorized traffic count.

These counts help with all sorts of things – from planning, to providing raw data for any number of grants that reduce the need for tax money for things like sidewalks and bike paths.

This years county is planned for September. They need more volunteers. The shifts are short – 2 hours, and they need people for 2 days – a Saturday and a Tuesday. Here’s the announce:

Help Us Count!

The Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will be conducting a second round of non-motorized traffic counts on:

Saturday, September 11, from noon to 2 p.m.

and

Tuesday, September 14, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

We are going to be counting bicycle riders, pedestrians and all other forms of human-powered travel at different street and trail intersections throughout Missoula.

Non-motorized traffic counts will help us understand where, when and how much our trails, sidewalks and bike facilities are used and what our needs are for enhancing or improving our non-motorized system.

Thanks to a large number of volunteers, the Missoula MPO conducted non-motorized traffic counts last May. To see the results of the May counts and to learn more about the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project please visit:

http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/transportation/current_activities.htm

To sign up or volunteer, please call 258-4989
or sign up on the website at
http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/transportation/default.htm

If you can help, give ’em a call or sign up on the website. A good count, does, afterall, take good planning.

By CFS

If you haven’t already gotten the chance to view this clip of the Daily Show – basically Jon Stewart gets so frustrated and dumbstruck with politics in Washington that he gives up trying to understand the method behind the madness that he feels like giving up – I ask that you do so now.  It sums up perfectly how I have felt about politics for about the last year and the utter failure of my meek mind to understand the stonewalling tactics of GOPers and the rise of the angry right.

The latest thing to blow my mind occurred last week when Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes’ claimed that Denver’s new bicycle share program was part of a conspiracy to “convert Denver into a United Nations community.”  Who knows what that really means but it seems that bikes could “threaten our personal freedoms.”  So while progressives are attempting to provide America with more transportation choices through making transportation funding more level for roads, transit, and non-motorized modes – and isn’t that what American freedom is all about… choice – a certain segment of conservatives would like to demonize bicycles and even ban them from our roads.  These are the types of people who are rising to the top thanks to the Tea Party… Dan Maes, Sharon Angle, and Rand?

According to a study conducted by several researchers from MIT way back in 2006, and recently updated, we live in the most partisan political atmosphere since the civil war reconstruction era.  Thanks to that radical partisanship we also have the first failed Presidency of the 21st Century… not another FDR but Hoover 2.0.  And I am referring to the perception of a failed Presidency that surrounds Obama at this point.  It is a perception that had its inception early on when the media hyped his first 100 days as akin to FDR’s famous energetic push of legislation and then Obama promptly disappointed.  No matter what the reality is of the Obama Presidency, no matter what pieces of legislation get passed, the last two years have been a failure compared to the hype of “change” that was such a clarion call to the ideologically muddled masses.

And thats the place in the story where the needle skips for me.  The gap between the reality of the Obama Presidency and the perception of Obama that has engendered the Tea Party insurgency, the “Just Say No To Everything” Republicans, and political candidates such as Dan Maes.  Obama as a danger to our future freedom has been manufactured and used to an amazing level of effectiveness.  Far from being the transformative figure he was original billed as, or the secret socialist taking over every facet of American life and ridding America of free-will that the Tea Party would like everyone to believe,  he has proven to be an inept and ineffectual manager of congress, his legislative agenda and worst of all an incrementalist rather than a radical.  In that vein he is akin to Hoover, understanding the gravity of the situation laid-out before him but being to meek to take truly bold action the like of which propelled FDR to the venerated position he occupies in the American psyche.

Little, if anything, fundamental about our country has changed since Obama’s election other than that sentiment in this country has taken another rightward lurch that seemed so unthinkable after eight years of George W. Bush.  The truly transformative presidents of the last 100 years (FDR, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan) all aggressively pushed through their legislative agendas in a paternalistic manner and largely controlled the conversation surrounding policy effectively enough to give us policies and programs that have stood the test of time and have become a part of the fundamental makeup of our Republic.  Whereas Obama has passed a health bill that a Republican resurgence will guarantee the demise of while also being unable occupy the rhetorical high ground in political battles.  Sorry Republicans, but George W. Bush gave us a more radical expansion of federal government powers, powers that fundamentally erode our rights as citizens, than anything Obama has given us.

I understand the anger and fear of an unknown future that people feel at the current moment as jobs continue to vaporize and an avalanche of foreclosures continue to steamroll the economy.  But Obama is not the great monster threatening our freedoms and our future… extreme partisanship and levels of income equality not seen since the 1920s.  30 years of conservative ideology and policies led us to a precipice which we promptly fell off with the bursting of the housing bubble… so it must be the next guys fault and not the cumulative result of decades of policy, greed, and bets gone wrong.

by jhwygirl

A bicyclist was killed Thursday afternoon when he was struck by a truck, just north of Costco, near the exit to West Broadway.

City police officer Sgt. Shawn Paul is still investigating – but the bicyclist didn’t have any identification, and the department may end up seeking help in identifying the man.

The Missoulian story notes that the bicycle lane changes width in that area and that the solid fog line becomes dotted in that area. It’s unclear whether the truck drove into the cyclist, or visa versa.

Sad.

by Jay Stevens

Montana expatriate, Pat Malach, found a link to SlateVideo’s nomination for “America’s Stupidest Bike Lane.”

Honestly, about the only thing going for it is its length. Which is short.

What’s the stupidest bike lane in Missoula? My vote is the bike lane going southbound over the Orange Street Bridge, which ends when the road narrows suddenly after the bridge. It’s just as short as the LA bike lane depicted here, plus it’s deadly.

Any other nominations?

by jhwygirl

This information comes to us via Jordan Hess’ Discovering Transit in Missoula.

Jim Lieter, Community Affairs Director for the MBIA, sent out a letter calling on its apparently under-represented members (along with those other under-represented people like realtors and those in the business community) to “TURN OUT AS MANY BUSINESS PEOPLE AS WE CAN” (his caps, not mine) in order to halt the “Pie in the Sky approach to transportation and land use planning.”

His problem? He feels it is “very slanted towards bike/ped/bus/light rail interests and will be slanted away from growth issues related to both commercial and residential development.”

Missoula’s problem? That MBIA (I won’t go as far as to assume that he is speaking for everyone else) believes it should be as unencumbered as possible, as it has been, and infrastructure should bow only to those with cars.

I mean, suggesting a bias towards bike paths? Sidewalks? Mass transit? WT* is in this guy’s water?

Really – go read it.

And while you’re at it – don’t forget that there is an Envision Missoula meeting today from 3-5 at the South Ballroom at the University Center….and, hell be damned, why not ride the bus?!

by Jay Stevens

Some quick hits from Missoula:

Anthony Michael Dailey, the man who killed biker Stacie Ann Dewolf, was sentenced to 30 years in the Montana State Prison, the maximum allowed by law. He pled guilty to vehicular homicide; it was not part of a plea agreement.

I said it before, I’ll say it again: justice was served, but the punishment has yet to be crafted that can bring back the dead.

Also in today’s Missoulian was City Attorney Jim Nuget’s opinion about emailgate:

“City Council deliberations pertaining to City Council agenda items should be conducted openly in public so that the public has an opportunity to observe the deliberations,” Nugent wrote. “The public’s right to observe City Council deliberations is important for complying not only with Montana’s public right to know law but also for facilitating the public’s right to public participation.”

Sounds about right. Those of us who have had jobs with company or government email accounts know that email conversation is not personal, but public, correspondence, despite the solitary and informal nature of the craft. Now the question is – how to use electronic communications and open them to the public? How about a city council blog that allows public comment?

And last, Mike Jakupcak must have read yrs. truly’s post urging all city council meetings to begin with a chicken dance, only he improved on the idea by donning a chicken suit and reading a pro-chicken poem created for the event:

Before more serious issues arose, Mike Jakupcak read a poem asking councilors to grant chickens “urban asylum” and resurrect from committee a proposal to loosen up a regulation that mostly bans hens from city limits.

“Seek common ground between tastes of Colonel Sanders delicious/And sanitation freaks complaining our droppings are odoriferous,” read Jakupcak, to laughter and applause all around.

You can read the poem at the Missoulian’s new blog, Western Montana 360°. (And why am I always the last person to find about new blogs?)

by Pete Talbot

Usually the folks at the WGM group can be seen at council meetings or at the Office of Planning and Grants. They’re there to mitigate regulations for subdivisions and other developments – things like siting of homes, allotment of open space, density, streets and curbs and gutters, etc. WGM is also often involved with the city and county on major road projects and other infrastructure issues.

Apparently they’re interested in bike paths, too, and have advanced a plan for city trails. I quote:

“We have a lot of folks in our office who bike to work from all parts of the valley. We have brainstormed on where Missoula’s bicycle network could be expanded and have prepared a map for discussion purposes. If you’re interested, you may view it at: http://www.wgmgroup.com/Bicycle_Network_11x17.pdf. Since the Transportation Plan is up for revisions, this is a good time for the community to think about where new bike routes could be added.
Best,
WGM Group”

It looks like lots of lanes and paths and trails, which is a good thing. There were a few comments that some of the existing paths on the map don’t really exist but most everyone responding thought it was a good starting point for the Transportation Plan update.

As mentioned before at 4&20, if you want to be a part of this conversation you need to go to: Missoulagov.org.

A little house cleaning and unrelated to the above topic:

Yesterday I was complaining about the need to call a special session of the legislature to address firefighting budget shortcomings. It seemed like an inefficient use of time and money, and an inconvenience for legislators. It has since been pointed out to me that Republicans in the regular legislative session blocked attempts to make the firefighting budget more flexible. So now all the senators and members of the house get to trek back to Helena for what looks like a one-day session. You reap what you sow.

by Jay Stevens

I admit I don’t read my Missoula City Council listserv discussions as often as I should. It’s a great idea, to start a correspondence between City Council members and the public on issues pertaining to the city. (Just a reminder: none of the correspondence is official business and should not be construed as such.)

In the most recent correspondence, bike lanes on 5th and 6th streets were discussed – two major one-way, two-lane arterials that stretch east-west across the city from Russell to the University. Sixth street is much broader than 5th.

Council member, Bob Jaffe:

In Public Works we saw the plan to re-stripe 5th and 6th streets. A while back the public works department proposed raising the speed limit on those streets to bring the posted limit in line with what people actually drive.

The neighbors didn’t like that idea so we asked the department to come up with ways to bring people’s driving speed more in line with what was posted.

The least expensive approach is to re-stripe the road with more narrow lanes. There will be a bike lane on 5th but there is not enough room on 6th.

John Wolverton responded with an accurate description of biking 6th – which goes towards the city center, towards Higgins. Included was a brilliant suggestion for accommodating bike traffic:

Bicycle-commuting on 6th Street is like a slalom; trying to hug the curb for safety sake, but constantly having to veer left around the numerous and deep stormwater drain-sumps. It really needs a bike lane…

This is especially true of 6th street between Orange and Higgins, where the traffic is the heaviest and the street the narrowest and sketchiest…

I’ve rarely seen more than 4 or 5 motor-vehicles qued up at 6th Street stoplights; so if space is an issue perhaps a single motor-vehicle travel lane is in order. That would also allow for right turn lanes at the stoplights which could alleviate some of the queuing.

If you believe that 6th Street is an important avenue for moving motor vehicles; properly striped, it could be just as important for bicycle commuters.

Brilliant! John is absolutely correct about the traffic. In fact, 6th street between Russell and Orange is hardly used. (Don’t tell all the folks plowing east-west on Broadway, though.) One lane would easily accommodate motor traffic along those blocks. Between Orange and Higgins is another matter; the stretch from Higgins to the university should probably remain two lanes, but it’s wide and already has a decent bike lane. (Repaint it?)

Jordan Hess, chair of the ASUM board of transportation, responded with a more specific suggestion:

I checked all the traffic counts for 5th/6th streets and we could realistically have one vehicle lane with a bi-directional bike lane for the entire length of both streets.To satisfy the university and the state DOT, these streets could revert to 2 travel lanes during the half dozen events on campus that require that much capacity.

In a 40 foot street, the following would be a good use of space:
— Curb and Gutter
— 6 feet of bike lanes in each direction for a total of 12 feet
— 10 foot vehicle travel lane
— 18 feet for angled parking
— Curb and Gutter

The angled parking would keep cyclists safe by keeping parking cars from traveling through the bike lanes. It would also allow for the same amount of parking as is currently available. This would provide another safe route for bicycles traveling to and from the university. Considering the high mode share of bikers to and from campus, this is a great way to safely accommodate everyone.

(It was later clarified in the correspondence that the angled parking should be between the traffic and the bike lanes as a buffer.)

I don’t know if we need 12 feet of bicycle lane. In Europe, they fit two bike lanes in about three feet. But now we’re talking! This would be a biker’s dream!

Council President Ed Childers adds this warning:

One item of concern of which we’ve been apprised: when a lane is wide enough for cars & trucks, cars & trucks will use it.

It’s possible that traffic volumes can easily be accommodated by the single-lane approach. If so, how should that (motor vehicles in the bike lane) be addressed?

…reminding me of trying to bike in downtown San Francisco where FedEx and UPS trucks used the bike lanes as their personal delivery spaces.

Jordan recommended using bollards, steel poles used a barrier, but removable for special events.

All fine and good, excellent suggestions, wonderful discussion, we’ll see it implemented when pigs fly. Why? Cost. Also, consider that the 5th and 6th street corridors are some of our best biking corridors now available. Should creating a biker’s paradise on streets that are half decent take precedence over improving disasterous roads? On the whole, our north-south arterials need help, fast! Orange street? Nightmare. Russell? Death road. Reserve’s pretty good if you breathe exaust and can actually turn onto the street. Higgins north of Hellgate High is pinched, crowded, and has poor sight lines. (Tho’ south of that intersection is a dream!)

On the other hand, if we create a “model” road that’s safe and fast and accommodates bikers and traffic, maybe we could build interest for like projects, and slowly build excellent infrastructure for bikers…

For a last bit to mull over, Bob Giordano of Free Cycles chips in with an observation about city planning:

It’s frustrating to have officials always say we need to design the roads for exact predicted motor vehicle traffic volumes in the future, but when it comes to having excess capacity, there is reluctance to make that space available for non-motorized transport. It’s a double standard that discriminates against cyclists…

Discuss.




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