Tuesday, December 23, 2014

7:00pm Tonight in Stamford: Support Complete Streets

If you live in Stamford and don’t read this post all the way through I’m okay with that - provided you attend tonight’s public meeting (7:00pm at 888 Washington Boulevard) of the Board of Reps or otherwise show support for Stamford’s Complete Streets Ordinance. Write a letter to the editor of the Stamford Advocate, shout from the rooftops, borrow Speakerbike - whatever you need to do to be heard.

As you probably guessed, I’ve been riding the Bikeducken lately - you know, that cargo bike I welded last year from the parts of eight discarded bicycles. Two photos taken with my phone really capture everything anyone needs to know about a city that’s been shaped by cars:

This is my bike pausing at the parking lot at Ridgeway last Friday. As you can see there are a lot of cars searching for an elusive parking spot. Some of the motorists - both in and out of this parking lot - were staring at me; presumably because the Bikeducken looks strange. But you know what? I was staring at them because what they chose to get to where they’re going was a lot more odd than what I chose.

As you can see, I had no trouble finding a parking space at Ridgeway. But going forward: I want trouble. 

I’ve long ago lost count of the number of passionate cyclists I know that won’t bike through the heart of Stamford because they are too afraid - hence the empty bike rack. Anything this city can do to reduce that fear - including bike lanes - needs to be the big priority in 2015. Hand in hand with that has to be actions - including blanketing the city with usable bike parking that encourages people to not drive their cars into or through the city. Bikes take up less space, and that means motorists have fewer cars to compete with when searching for parking on their own. 

Adopting and aggressively implementing a complete streets policy - which will save lives, by the way - is the only direction this city can travel in. 

You don’t even have to take my word for it: gas is cheaper now than it has been in years and AAA cited that as part of why we’ll see more traffic on the roads this holiday. The National Bureau of Economic Research also published a report five years ago that concluded that increasing the provision of roads would do nothing to relieve congestion

And what was just discovered in California isn’t just a final nail in the car culture coffin, but it is a financial disaster: $1 billion was spent to widen a mere ten miles of the 405 freeway and traffic commute times increased by one minute after it was completed

A shorter way to say we've spent a lot of money on a problem only to make it worse is known as ‘induced demand’: We’ve thrown gobs of money at cars and all it has done is encourage people to drive more. Now is the time to encourage people to drive less. 

Please attend tonight’s hearing, take action to support Stamford’s complete streets ordinance, or both. We’ve already killed four pedestrians on our roads this year. Let’s try for none next year. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

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