Monday, May 17, 2010

At Council: Planning Slights non-motorized Traffic

There's a short City Council session this evening. On the agenda is an appeal from the Planning Commission regarding a proposed apartment complex near Crossler Middle School. It shows some of the ways we systematically devalue walking and biking, and ensure that we don't have to accommodate them, instead pumping increasing numbers of drive-alone autos through our transportation system.

Without drilling into other issues, it is notable for the scant thought given to non-motorized traffic.

The traffic analysis conducted by an outside firm (apparently when school was not in session) counted no pedestrians and one bicycle in the vicinity. None of the relevant agencies showed interest in making it possible for students to walk and bike to school - the auto or bus was the prevailing default.

"Short trips without driving" are far from easy here. The staff report concludes, however, that the "streets provide a network for pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles." With the lack of sidewalks and bicycle facilities in the area, and with auto traffic clearly prioritized, it is difficult to understand how the existing streets "provide a [functional] network."

This is why creating a Safe Routes to Schools Plan, updating the Transportation System Plan, folding these into the Comprehensive Plan, and ensuring they are interpreted and implemented with care is important.

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