In defense of bike plan
By Gerrit Slatter and James Ramsey
As chairs of the city's Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) and the CTAB Bicycle Advisory Subcommittee (BAC), we respectfully request that the Westside Pioneer clarify for its readers some key points about the bicycle and trails master plan process that will soon be undertaken by our community.
The Editor's Desk column (“The plan needs another plan” in the Aug. 4 Pioneer). suggests that “all the early work would be handled by city “insiders” (staff and appointed committee members)”. There appears to be some confusion about what this “early work” in the planning process is and the roles of City of Colorado Springs staff, boards and committees. Based on the draft scope of work for the planning process, City staff's “early work” is to ensure that as much data, information and other resources are ready and available for the start of that process. This includes information on existing bicycling conditions, up-to- date mapping, copies of related City plans, bicycle accident data, etc. That being said, the involvement of key city staff like Kristin Bennett (Public Works) and Sarah Bryarly (Parks Department) in this planning process is essential given their subject matter expertise as managers of the on-street and off-street bicycling networks, respectively, and their primary roles implementing the plan once it is completed.
As for the role of appointed city board and committee members, those of us who serve on the boards and committees connected with bicycling (CTAB and the BAC plus the Parks Board and TOPS Working Committee) are residents who have volunteered from around the City to serve as a citizen voice on the issues charged to our respective groups. This “early work” serves as not only the basis for gauging where we are at today but provides valuable information for analysis about the community's future bicycling needs. When it comes to the development of the actual plan, there will be numerous opportunities for community participation, which will follow these initial and necessary steps. The “early work” is not the actual development of the plan.
There also appears to be some confusion in the column about the role of a consultant in this planning process. The city will be seeking a consultant with significant expertise in bicycle and trail planning to support the development of the plan. Central to the plan's development is community participation, and the public will be engaged through various methods like focus groups, social media, online surveys, and public meetings that will be facilitated by the selected consultant. As such, the bicycle and trails planning process will be a public process open to participation by neighborhoods citywide as well as individual citizens, interested businesses and other stakeholder groups.
The editorial further suggests that city staff and the BAC have not “shown the slightest interest” in Mr. Welling Clark's question about mixing bicycles and traffic. We take exception to this statement. City staff as well as the CTAB and the BAC consider public safety to be a fundamental part of accommodating all roadway users. As we have both learned while serving on the CTAB and the BAC, there are no “one size fits all” solutions for accommodating the different transportation needs in our community. We see the Bicycle and Trails Master Plan process as an opportunity to identify needed improvements and additions to our bicycle network with the community's input and then recommend the appropriate facilities and tools to address those needs. Mr. Clark's question will certainly be taken into consideration along with the input of many others in the community as needs are identified and recommendations prepared.
We appreciate the interest in the process of updating the community's Bicycle and Trails Master Plan and request your patience in assessing a planning process that has only just begun. There will be ample opportunities for neighborhoods, citizens, and other interested groups to participate as this process moves forward over the coming months.
Gerrit Slatter chairs the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, and James Ramsey the CTAB Bicycle Advisory Subcommittee.