May 14, 2013
Bike Lanes are coming: From when I began writing this newsletter a recurring theme has been that you can make a difference. I am so happy to report that once again Eagle Rockers did get involved, they made their opinions known, and they made a difference. I applaud all, including those who did not share my passion for bike lanes, for getting involved, attending meetings, sending emails, sharing your views in blogs on Patch, etc. You made a difference, supporting a change that will transform downtown Eagle Rock.
A few days ago, at an Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Meeting (ERNC), the vast majority of attendees (mostly Eagle Rockers) said “yes” to bike lanes and the Council listened. As a result of the strong support the Council voted to send a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of buffered bike lanes for Colorado Boulevard. Again at the DOT meeting held the previous week, attended by more than 100, a strong majority of the attendees expressed support for bike lanes on Colorado. Finally, for more than two years Take Back the Boulevard sponsored a series community meetings attended by more than 300 attendees. The need to slow traffic down on Colorado and doing that by changing one traffic lane in each direction to a bike lane again and again was affirmed by both meeting participants and 280 respondents to an on-line survey. If you attended a meeting, contributed to a blog, wrote emails in support or opposition, or in any other active way joined the conversation, pat yourself on the back. You got on the playing field and you made your voice heard and you made a difference!
When are the bike lanes going to happen is the obvious next question. The Department of Transportation has hinted that they may be implemented by June, 2013. However, I would not consider that a firm commitment. Like most things, it is more complicated than simply changing the stripes on the road; the stripes need to go in the right places. Engineering studies will need to be completed, detailing how bike lanes can be optimally implemented on the Boulevard. Some of the things the plans will need to consider are pedestrian crossings, the responsibility to support traffic movement, and to place the bikers at the lowest level of risk possible. Below you will find more information on what’s next after bike lanes.
The Road We Have Traveled
Re-purposing a traffic lane to a buffered bike lane on Colorado Boulevard is a key component of the plan to make Colorado Boulevard the Main Street that better serves the entire community. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) plan to consider for bike lanes on Colorado is part of a city-wide master plan, developed before Take Back the Boulevard’s (TBTB’s) existence. However, had there been strong community resistance to the plan, bike lanes in Eagle Rock could have been in jeopardy. TBTB’s key contribution is best represented by extensive community outreach for the last couple of years. Those meetings were not based on “pro” or “con” positions for bike lanes or anything else, but encouraged a collegial discussion of all possibilities. As a result of TBTB’s extensive community dialog, when the DOT came to our neighborhood there were many stakeholders who had participated in the TBTB discussions, they understood the benefits that fewer traffic lanes and new bike lanes would bring to Eagle Rock, and they spoke in support of the DOT plan at both the DOT and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meetings. It is true and logical that many who spoke in support were bikers who live in and around Eagle Rock. They are stakeholders as much as anyone else. After all, if the meetings were about dog parks, wouldn’t you expect dog owners to be well represented?
The focus of the initiative now moves on to other changes to the Boulevard that will further contribute to the goals of safety, greater pedestrian appeal, and create a Main Street atmosphere that is attracts businesses and patrons. Additional cross walks are being pursued with the DOT. Bumpouts, parklets, and other streetscape amenities will also be pursued. Whereas funding already existed for the bike lanes, TBTB will be required to secure funding to support further Boulevard improvements. An important part of the process of seeking funding is the ability to provide an overall vision of the goals for the Boulevard. Albeit not as quickly as I had hoped, preparation of the Master Vision Document, which provides that vision, is progressing and should be ready for distribution soon.