Published in the Colorado Daily 8/93
AS THE MILLENNIUM TURNS by Evan Ravitz
As the millennium starts to turn, miracles start to happen. A
City Council member has lifted a finger to check out a citizen's
idea! They're looking into Paul Danish's idea of licensing good
drivers to pick up paying passengers.
This is no ordinary idea. If every car carries 2 people instead of 1, it will temporarily halve our pollution and traffic problems while we work on long-range solutions. Latin American, for example, moves by such "collectivos", which collect people like buses, but are everywhere and of all sizes. America is going to have to forego its "life"-style of 1 person per car if we want to breathe, get anywhere promptly or save some oil for our children.
Paul is no ordinary citizen. He is the most famous ex-City Council member, known for the growth-controlling Danish Plan (now the title of his Daily column.) And he writes often about how the present Council is not giving Boulder much value for their taxes.
Council/ Go Boulder's busing is the epitome of waste: in spite of millions of dollars pumped into Eco-pass for the last several years, bus riding, according to City figures, accounts for only 2.1% of city trips. Even including the full buses to Denver, the median number of passengers on any Boulder bus at any time is 5. All day long you can see empty buses getting 3.83 miles per gallon (RTD average).
Just since last year cycling has increased from 10 to 13% of all trips, an increase greater than total trips by bus! This is in spite of the City spending most Bike funds on recreational trails, free breakfasts, bike polo, paper promotions, plastic bike pins, "stamp collections", and studies ad nauseum instead of safer facilities and enough bike racks downtown. Municipal Judge Hanson is one who has finally given up cycling because of the danger.
Now Go Boulder is proposing to endanger cyclists by advocating for medians and 'neckdowns' on North 9th Street, which violate American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards for designated bike routes like 9th Street: lanes should be 14 feet wide, not narrowing to 10.5 feet as proposed.
This is instead of giving the neighbors what they want: stop signs or speed humps to slow traffic to the speed limit that 70% ignore. The fire department doesn't want the humps. And City transportation officials say people will roll through a stop sign- though they rarely do at 9th and Maxwell. Even if they do, they're slowing down. These officials admit that the medians and neckdowns don't work, but still want to spend $175,000 on their 6-block plan instead of a few hundred dollars for a few stop signs.
This is prime pork barrel waste, a relic from the Idiot '80s when hype was king and a professional PR person, Leslie Durgin, became mayor. Just by spending lots of our money, Boulder wins bike and pedestrian awards, though cyclists and pedestrians know their problems worsen every year.
This money could be paving and striping safe bike paths, a proven winner here unlike subsidizing the empty buses. We could even be doing our own development of electric cars, which the auto industry drags its feet on because they'll lose most of the 40% of their business called "aftermarket". Electrics have no gears or clutches, plugs or points. There are no "internal combustion" explosions necessitating regular overhauls- no rings, valves or heads. Instead of wearing out brakes electrics recharge their batteries with the inertia you've developed as you stop: 'regenerative braking'. The power plants that will charge them are much less polluting, and no more will need to be built because most charging will be at night when the plants operate below peak capacity.
Last year I proposed, in this column, and to Council a package of 7 proposals to ameliorate our car problems. They have all been ignored, as well as those of others. The $50,000 Integrated Planning Process ignores cycling in all four of its scenarios, in favor of busing.
Indeed the only reason Council is looking into the simple, intelligent, ubiquitous (in the rest of the world) "collectivo" transportation solution, proposed by the famous ex-Councilman is because the Colorado Public Utilities Commission is allowing its use in Denver during the Pope's visit. It now takes the next thing to an act of God to get these people to look into citizens ideas!
That's why the November vote on the City Charter Amendment giving us the option to vote by phone is so important: this is the tool to make regular citizen voting on important issues practical. You and I want solutions to problems, not the hype and awards the City pursues. Call us at 440-6838 to help.
Evan is the Director of the
Voting by Phone Foundation, a founding
Bolder Bicycle Commuters, and the instigator of the
new 'advocacy' tables on the Mall, as well as the Mall tightrope-walker.