Read on KGNU's Morning Magazine, 2/20/95:
Hello, this is Evan Ravitz with City Watch, a look behind the hot air curtain of the Imperial City of Boulder.
This morning we look at transportation, our biggest problem. The City Transportation Director told City Council a month ago that buses can't prevent traffic from worsening drastically in the next 15 years. That's true. He also said there is nothing we can do about it. That's false. Here is evidence that his department is deliberately ignoring and even harming the most successful and promising transportation alternative in Boulder, bicycling. First the ignoring:
In writing, and at several public meetings, the Transportation Director and his Florida consultant deliberately misrepresent the potential of cycling, in the face of the City's own statistics. They've told me several times they will continue to assert their opinion, in spite of the facts. Their letter to council says: "[Bicycling's] role will be restricted (for most people) to trips of 2 miles in length or less... As a result the commute trip market,... and the carbon monoxice problem cannot be adressed through the bike mode." But the 1993 Boulder Valley Employee Survey shows that the average bicycle commute here is 3.6 miles one way!
While they have no example of a successful bus program to follow, they ignore the bicycle's success in much larger cities in Europe, and in Davis, California, where 25% of employees bike to work, three times our 8%. Yet we have more bikes per capita and we are the most famous bike racing city in America.
Here's some of the evidence they are harming cycling:
The City's latest Modal Shift Study, for which some 1000 Boulderites keep detailed travel diaries, shows that cycling, which inceased rapidly in the early '90s, is now level, or even decreasing, while busing is up, but still 4 times less common than biking. Similarly, work and school bicycle commuting is down, as is bike ownership. The City study of the HOP shuttle bus shows that 2/3 of its riders would have otherwise walked or biked.
Here are a few ways the City has succeeded in getting people off bikes and on the bus:
1. The City selectively enforces traffic laws, such as the crackdown reported on the Camera's front page, April 27, 1993 in which 97% of tickets were given to cyclists and pedestrians, protecting poor cars from nasty bloodstains.
2. The City builds useless medians, and neckdowns which violate professional standards for street widths and force cyclists into the path of cars. Former Councilman Harris testified that he was afraid to ride his bike in this concrete chicanery. Current Councilman Myre says they don't actually slow traffic as advertised.
3. The City funds a Bicycle Program that actually fights the interests of cyclists! In the battle for the 13th Street Bike Path, the bike coordinator actually backed the merchants' 14th Street Detour solution, when most cyclists, including unanimously the Boulder Velo Club, backed making 13th a pedestrian mall with a bike path. The program then switched to backing the compromise that was finally built. This bike coordinator actually advocated medians and neckdowns as good for cyclists!
4. The City rarely enforces traffic laws to protect people. City studies show over 85% of cars speeding, and only 1 in 6 million speeders being ticketed. The City is now in the second year of not really studying Photo Radar, which in Europe effectively warns and then tickets speeders. The City refuses to look at the European success.
Now why would the Transportation Division want you busing not bicycling? The motive is greed:
1. The Transit Tax, wisely defeated 2 to 1 at the November election, would have put $400,000 a year to busing administration alone. Not even the City bike program can justify anything like that much work for administrators. Obviously we buy our own bikes and drive them ourselves, unlike buses.
2. Road engineers know that road damage increases as the fourth power of vehicle wheel load. That is, a bus weighing 10 times what a car does, damages the road not 10 times, but 10,000 times more
than a car. And a car does 10,000 times more than a bike. So a bus causes 100 million times the damage of a bike. With a Boulder average of only 5 or 6 passengers on a local bus, each does almost 20 million times the damage they would if they biked. And guess what? Transportation Division is in the paving business. This is a huge hidden cost of buses, which unlike heavy trucks, pay no road use taxes.
We should turn our transportation program around 180 degrees. The best solutions are the cheapest, and are being ignored: cycling and telecommuting. Our City dinosaurs see only fossil fuel solutions. And dollar signs.
You can call me, Evan Ravitz, at 440-6838