Archive for November, 2011
What better time to avoid being overheated. Missoula in the winter can be a great place to get around via active transportation. Personally I concur with Kevin Hyde that bicycling is the preferred way to go. Having been a year round commuter during my working years I became quite comfortable riding in most any weather. Finding the right streets can be a challenge but is well worth the effort to help keep the body in shape during the down winter months. What is your active method for commuting during the winter; bike, bus, walk, run? Add your comments!
Several BWAM board members recently attended a briefing by WGM Group about a Missoula Redevelopment Agency planning process on how best to spend a few million dollars in the Midtown area or sometimes referred to as URD III. Midtown is the area of Missoula that includes Brooks and Southgate Mall. It’s not common to have these kinds of funds to invest in the following, all of which can significantly increase walking and biking:
Basic Curb and Sidewalk Infrastructure Needs
These projects are recommended to improve pedestrian safety, aesthetics, property values, parking, drainage, street cleaning and maintenance. These include curbs and sidewalks that are missing or in poor condition, curb extensions, and median refuge crossings.
Transportation Network Improvements
These projects are recommended to improve connectivity and circulation within Midtown and to destinations outside the district. These include trail connections, bike routes, new traffic signals or roundabouts, street improvements, and new street connections.
Streetscape and Aesthetic Improvements
These projects are recommended to improve the identity, aesthetics, and character of Midtown. These include gateway signing, wayfinding, landscaping, and pocket parks
WGM is asking for feedback on the plan. Visit the WGM Midtown site to check out the details and consider weighing in on what you think is most important. They need to hear from you by December 2.
BWAM, of course, wants to see the city’s sidewalk system completed as quickly as possible. Probably most of you do as well. One of the best ways to increase safe and appealing walking and some rolling for everyone-toddler to senior- is a complete sidewalk system.
BWAM is pleased that the Pedestrian Connection Subcommittee of the City Council has been formed which furthers a specific priority implementation goal of Missoula’s recent Active Transportation Plan. This subcommittee is scheduled to meet two more times in December and then submit its recommendations to the Public Works Committee.
Please consider contacting the City Council subcommittee members by email or phone and expressing three things (it is great timing for them to hear briefly from you):
1) Appreciate that they are tackling the unsexy topic of sidewalks. Belief that sidewalks are important, particularly for the most vulnerable. Consider the 8 and 80 principle: how safe is it for 8 and 80 year olds to walk out on streets that you know about that don’t have complete sidewalk system?
2) Support for revamping how we fund sidewalks so that there is much less of a burden on individual property owners. Bob Jaffe is leading the charge with a good new approach that is like health insurance, with the city as a whole paying the bulk of the costs.
3) Support for going beyond the status quo of what is currently invested annually in sidewalks to generating additional funds. We need to complete the sidewalk system sooner than in one hundred years. This could be done with Jaffe’s model and it could be done by aggressively pursuing some other promising funding ideas as well.
• Marilyn Marler (chair)
• Cynthia Wolken
• Dick Haines
• Bob Jaffe
• Pam Walzer
• Ed Childers
Here’s some more bad news regarding the bill that was released by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday. There is a section of the bill that will create a mandatory side-path law on federal lands. The next actual vote or action on the bill may not be for several weeks when it reaches the Senate floor – so an on-line petition has been set up by the League of American Bicyclists to show outrage to this potential law. A petition gives America Bikes Coalition the flexibility to “deliver” it at the most opportune moment. More action on other parts of the bill will also follow.
One of the best ways to increase safe and appealing walking and some rolling for everyone-toddler to senior- is a complete sidewalk system. Over the last few years, many Missoulians have recognized the need to find more effective ways to fund the replacement and addition of sidewalks in the city and to fill the many gaps more quickly. This has been a longstanding BWAM priority and there is an encouraging new development. The Pedestrian Connection Subcommittee of the Missoula City Council is currently meeting to address these concerns. The next meeting is November 16 in the Council Chambers and the discussion has been promising to date. Greg Oliver will be attending as the BWAM representative and will provide updates and more during the next few weeks. Please consider attending this meeting and expressing your support for making the completion of our sidewalk network a priority and finding better ways to equitably cover the costs. Contact Greg Oliver at 396-4805 or click here to e-mail Greg if you have questions or suggestions about this matter.
Late on Friday, November 4, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) published its proposal for the next federal transportation bill, called MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century). The 600-page bill will be marked-up in committee on Wednesday, November 9. The proposed legislation makes significant changes to the core, dedicated funding programs for bicycling and walking activities.
- The current dedicated funding programs for bicycling and walking (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails program) are combined into one program, with significantly less funding.
- An expanded list of eligible activities are added to this smaller funding pot, including such big-ticket items as NEPA compliance and land acquisition for wetland mitigation.
- The proposed bill effectively allows states to completely opt out of the program and would allow all this money to be redirected to highway construction.
Originally, the bill also lumped highway and street construction projects, including high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, as part of the expanded eligible activities. On Tuesday, Senator Boxer received bipartisan support for an amendment that will remove all but one of the road uses (NEPA & wetlands). While this is a positive step, there is still a lot of work to do. The America Bikes Coalition hopes to continue to make changes by working with Boxer and EPW staff to restore dedicated funding in the bill.