| Jun 21, 2011 6:42 am
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Posted to: Transportation
New Haven’s intrepid cyclists politely crashed an I-95 groundbreaking with a show of pedal power and a written plea to the governor: While you prepare to spend another $357 million on cars, consider spending some more money on bike paths too.
Eight members of the Elm City Cycling (ECC) advocacy group rode en masse to the event Monday afternoon on Brewery Street and succeeded in delivering their plea in letter form to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Malloy was in town for the groundbreaking on a project to rebuild the I-95/I-91 interchange to fit in with the new Q Bridge and wipe out left-hand exits and entrances. It’s a $357 million part of the overall ongoing $2.2 billion billion I-95 New Haven Harbor Crossing Corridor Improvement Program. (Click here to read about the height-scaling most recent portion that was completed, and here for another part that activists succeeded in stalling.)
ECC board member David Streever presented the letter to Malloy as the governor arrived onto the site. The letter advocated for a network of bicycle paths and lanes crisscrossing New Haven, providing residents with an alternative to driving and ultimately saving money. It urged Malloy to “take an active role in guiding” future projects for cyclists and pedestrians in New Haven.
“It seemed like this was an opportunity to show Governor Malloy some force of cyclists,” ECC board member Rob Rocke said. Rocke said the cyclists wanted to show Malloy that “we exist and we’d like to call for him to mandate at the state level that cyclist and pedestrian concerns are important.”
The ceremony, held at the site of the future I-95/I-91/Route 34 interchange off Brewery Street, inaugurated the last major phase of the highway improvement program. Besides Malloy, speakers at the event included Mayor John DeStefano, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and James Redeker, the acting commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Malloy thanked Streever for the letter. Later, while other officials gabbed at the podium, Malloy was seen reading the letter (pictured above).
All of the speakers at the ceremony touted job growth, with Redeker claiming the interchange would create 12,500 jobs over five years. (The project is scheduled for completion in 2017.) DeLauro and Malloy cited the project as an example of investment in infrastructure and efficient transportation. The new interchange will “make the difference in Connecticut” by allowing the state to invest in the “movement of people and products in a timely fashion,” Malloy said.
Streever said he believes that “the state needs highways.” But he argued that a greater investment in cycling and alternative forms of transportation would be fiscally as well as ecologically sound.
In his letter to Malloy, Streever noted that one study found that the construction of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates twice as many jobs per million dollars spent as highway construction. He added that these projects have “been demonstrated to improve safety, save lives, and increase the economic health of municipalities.”
Streever said he was pleased that Malloy had read his letter and called it a “nice introduction to our group.”
In his speech, DeStefano sounded a similar sentiment to the cyclists’. “I’m not a fan of highways” since they have “not always been kind to communities,” the mayor said. However, DeStefano lauded the NHCC improvement project as “not just a highway project,” with multimodal improvements including the construction (already completed) of a downtown New Haven commuter rail station.
DeLauro acclaimed a plan to build a commuter rail line connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, while DeStefano referred to plans to bring streetcars back to New Haven.
DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said the agency regularly considers bicycle/pedestrian access for both road and transit projects in Connecticut. He estimated that the state has spent around $70 million on bicycle and pedestrian projects between 1991 and 2009.
“In general, the DOT considers bike-pedestrian access issues for every project,” Everhart said. “Sometimes it’s feasible, sometimes it’s not.”
New Haven activists roundly deplored the DOT’s currently widening of upper Whalley Avenue as hostile to cyclists and pedestrians.
The governor, responding to a question about Streever’s letter, said he accepts the need to include bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in DOT plans.
“I’ve always been a proponent of biking, so that’s an ongoing commitment,” Malloy said. “It works in some places and it doesn’t fit everywhere, so we just have to figure out where it’s appropriate.”
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Governor Malloy,
We wanted to take this moment to encourage you to re-focus the efforts of your Department of Transportation on pedestrians, cyclists and the urban infrastructure they need to enjoy safe travel around and between Connecticut’s cities and towns.
When we compare the cost and benefit of infrastructure spending, we see that road construction provides 7 jobs per million dollars spent. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure not only creates twice as many jobs (11-14 per million) but also has been demonstrated to improve safety, save lives, and increase the economic health of municipalities.
Continual expansion of highway and road infrastructure creates an unfunded mandate to maintain this infrastructure. As bridges crumble and municipalities fail to resurface dangerously potholed roads, Connecticut has to ask: Do we continue to build out excessive road capacity, or do we encourage a mode shift by building pedestrian, bike, and mass transit infrastructure?
You may be familiar with the results of a recent shift in transportation spending in Seville, Spain. A city of 700,000, Seville had some of the lowest levels of bike commuting world-wide. Only .2% of all trips were made by bicycle. In 2007, Seville began an ambitious program to build an 87 mile network of connected bike lanes—separated from traffic and designed to be safe enough that “a 65-year old woman with groceries” could safely ride a bicycle between any two points in the city.
The result is nothing short of incredible. In two years the project was completed, and Seville now boasts that 7% of all trips are made by bicycle. Ray LaHood, President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, has signaled that this shift is the way of the future. He has pointed out that we spend 1% of transportation spending on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, which account for 12% of all trips. He also points out that 14% of all injuries are suffered by bicyclists and pedestrians.
It is clear that this dynamic is both unjust and unfair, and more needs to be done for bicyclists and pedestrians. The economic benefits of doing so are clear and have been demonstrated repeatedly in independent studies. The consequence of not doing more is clear—over 150,000 preventable injuries and over 5,000 preventable deaths per year. An impressive number of people stand ready to work with you to bridge this divide and work toward greater safety for all road users—Bike Walk Connecticut, Elm City Cycling, Transit for America, and many more are ready to help.
Your administration has come out solidly in favor of these types of projects, and we congratulate you on your vision. We believe that opportunities are being missed, however, and wish to encourage you to take an active role in guiding these projects and ensuring that the State Department of Transportation shares the values held by both your administration and our federal administration.
Elm City Cycling Board of Directors
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posted by: Moira on June 21, 2011 7:45am
posted by: MRB on June 21, 2011 8:15am
Good Job ECC, while not currently an avid cyclist I would welcome an increase in bicycle friendly roadways in the New Haven area. I currently live in East Shore and work downtown. There is no safe bicycle route for me to get to work. I just hope the governor listens, unfortunately I doubt he will. I believe those in favor of spending money on bike / pedestrian friendly roadways are a drastic minority. Most people just want to alleviate the traffic so they can get to where they are going faster in their gas guzzling SUV’s.
posted by: thebpp on June 21, 2011 8:21am
Good work, nice letter. In addition to increased funding for bike lanes/paths, i would also like to see greater integration of bikes into the mass transit system. There should be a way to take bikes onto trains during rush hour as a way to commute to your final destination from the train station.
posted by: ASL on June 21, 2011 8:25am
Great letter. Thank you, Streever, Rob, and ECC.
I’m disheartened by DOT’s comments. If by “feasible” (Everhart) and (in)“appropriate” (Malloy), our State leaders are trying to say that sometimes bikes and people, goodness forbid, get in the way of cars, then ECC still has a lot of education and advocacy work to do. Consider, Connecticut, that perhaps it’s the cars that are sometimes infeasible and inappropriate!
posted by: MR on June 21, 2011 8:57am
Great job—thanks! Didn’t know about the higher yield for job creation on bike/ped projects….that’s some nice research work (and a compelling argument given that addressing the job market is Malloy’s top priority).
posted by: Mitch on June 21, 2011 9:10am
Once again new haven’s cycling elite shows it’s hubris by barging in on a ceremony they weren’t invited to.
tell you what guys, teach all the bicyclist in town to stop at stop signs, obey both the laws of the road, and good sense and i’ll be open to begin thinking about putting some of our collective tax dollars into a fund to make the roads a little better for you.
posted by: anon on June 21, 2011 9:21am
Great letter. Time for the Governor and city Mayors to put their money where their mouth is and fund Seville style improvements and create a more equal playing field where cars don’t get 99% of the money.
Sure, because ped improvements create more jobs pe dollar spent, the converse is that less money goes to politically connected fat-cats who profit off huge road projects like the DeStefano Flyover Bridge. More money goes to real working families. The campaign contributors will just have to live with diminished returns.
If this doesn’t change immediately, we should vote our leadership out of office.
posted by: Threefifths on June 21, 2011 10:13am
If bikes are going to be on the road,How about passing this law like they are doing in New York.
City Councilman wants to slap speedy bike messengers, food delivery cyclists with license plates.
How about this.
Nancy Gruskin, Pedestrian and Cycling Safety Advocate
She got a law passed that requires the city to collect data on cyclist and pedestrian accidents.How abou a law like this here.
In fact Her husband, Stuart, died after colliding with a cyclist that was riding the wrong way in midtown. His death prompted Nancy to create the Stuart C. Gruskin Foundation,
This is need here.
posted by: Atwater on June 21, 2011 10:16am
Do we really want to go backwards? Bicycles are okay for independent short distance travel. But, they are old hat and we shouldn’t shape our state’s transportation policy around them. Instead we should focus on mass transit and improved roadways, interstates, bridges, etc. The nation’s economy depends on a solid infrastructre of modern highways, not on yuppies riding bikes. If we are serious about saving our economy and our nation we need to be serious about the solutions and bicycles are not a solution.
posted by: ASL on June 21, 2011 10:26am
Maybe if you had enjoyed a lovely, sunny walk to work today (like I did) rather than having sat in automobile traffic and paying fuel costs for every second you spent at a red light, you’d be in a better mood today! Lighten up! And wise up! If we made highway spending (my tax dollars) contingent on automobile drivers following traffic laws and using good sense, then I’d be up for making spending on pedestrian and cyclist improvements contingent on the same.
posted by: Tom Harned on June 21, 2011 10:46am
By your own admission bicycles are suitable for short distance travel. That’s good, because over half of all trips in this country are three miles or less. Unfortunately, most of those trips are currently make by car. Basically, we’re burning a quart of gas to go buy a quart of milk. That’s not efficient in anyone’s book. Improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities can give people cheaper, more sensible options for a lot of these short trips.
We absolutely need to maintain our highways and invest in mass transit. Transportation systems work best when they provide people with a wide range of options to address a wide range of transportation needs. Contrary to what your straw man argument seems to imply, no one’s proposing the bicycle as a catch-all solution to our nation’s transportation problems. Rather, groups like ECC are seeking to help expand people’s transportation options to give folks a good, affordable and enjoyable way to make a lot of their shorter distance trips. As an added bonus, this would take a good number of cars off the road and reduce parking demand at a lot of destinations.
posted by: MR on June 21, 2011 12:08pm
“posted by: Mitch on June 21, 2011 10:10am
Once again new haven’s cycling elite shows it’s hubris by barging in on a ceremony they weren’t invited to”
...and I’m delighted they did! I don’t quite know how people “crash” something on public grounds when they paid for the project and are the direct (and at-will) employers of most of those in attendance! If more of us had the “hubris” to think along these lines it might go a long way in putting the “demos” back in “democracy.”
posted by: dave bonan on June 21, 2011 12:16pm
the flyover looks so futuristic near Sports Haven. And when you are at Fort Nathan Hale and Lighthouse Park and look back, it looks like a weird futuristic site with a ribbon rising out of the ground.
posted by: streever on June 21, 2011 12:48pm
Our tax dollars funded the speech here (as well as the mini plaques in glass with photos of highways, miniature traffic cones made out of foam for your desk, and several other chotsky items they gave away to the invited attendees—in addition to the catered lunch—for people who were literally paid to attend, all with tax dollars).
While we were not personally invited, I did speak with the police guarding the event and the press conference organizers, and obtained their permission to be there.
Sorry for your confusion on this. Thank you.
posted by: Resident on June 21, 2011 1:18pm
I salute these bicyclists for pursuing this important issue, but I am more than a little frustrated that, in this photograph, they are blatantly braking the law and riding their bikes on the sidewalk. Come on guys, if you want people to take you seriously, play by the rules!
posted by: streever on June 21, 2011 2:01pm
We were departing from the green—which is not a public sidewalk, but actually a private space which citizens are allowed to use.
Bicycle riding is allowed—and encouraged—by the City of New Haven on the green.
As you can see in the photo, we are yielding to pedestrians, and behaving very properly.
posted by: streever on June 21, 2011 2:34pm
(I’m not sure why they censored me asking you to not rush to judgement—I think that is a fair request considering that the photo is obviously of the green & you did rush to judgement on us. I really find the moderation policy of the NHI to be incomprehensible, poorly implemented, and chaotic)
posted by: roger huzendubel on June 21, 2011 3:21pm
This group definitely approached this right . They handed the governor a note which clearly stated their intentions and used an example( although i have no clue how they came up with those many jobs being created through bicycle infrastructure). I think this is a better way to be heard than a lot of groups, like the two fools who protested a bank of america tax loophole by yelling at strangers instead of writing a senator. im only supporting their fight so i can use it as a skateboard laneto be truthful.
posted by: anon on June 21, 2011 3:22pm
If you think bicycling is not a viable transportation option, you probably have not traveled that much beyond New Haven.
In many areas of Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, bicycling is a dominant form of transportation. Some of these areas are far wealthier and healthier than the United States, while others are not.
Obviously investing in mass transit helps everyone too - just like bicycling, a good mass transit system provides benefits for both drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Having alternatives also helps the large proportion of people who do not have the physical or economic ability to own or operate a private vehicle (including most New Haven residents).
Unfortunately most of our decision makers, including I would guess everyone who was invited to this “press conference”, does not fall into that latter category. This unfortunate situation needs to change immediately, and can be done by replacing a large fraction of our public officials and decision-makers with people who actually represent the public.
Cycling isn’t viable for most people in our towns and cities only because the City of New Haven and ConnDOT currently design most of our streets to exclude them.
Here are some facts: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-bike-lanes-federal-funding-20110602,0,7905487.story
posted by: Atwater on June 21, 2011 3:28pm
I’ll never be able to get behind the bicycle as a serious solution to transportation problems. It’s not. Our money is best spent on mass transit, i.e. trains, streetcars and hovercrafts. Proposing the bicycle is almost like proposing the horse and buggy. Actually, I would prefer a horse-pulled buggy to a bicycle, you can carry more stuff in it and its warmer in the winter. Cars are bad, we all know that. But, bicycles aren’t a good substitute. Sure, it seems like a quaint proposition, a citizenry riding to and fro on bicycles, but it’s silly to think that our society will ever slow down to accommodate the impaired speed of the two-wheeled pedal machines. Fast mass transit, that’s what we need; trains, streetcars and hovercrafts. If Malloy seriously considers spending money on bicycle transportation I’m hitching up the horse and buggy and heading to Rhode Island, and, I am assuming, so will a lot of other people.
posted by: anon on June 21, 2011 4:00pm
Somehow I doubt your argument, Atwater. Areas that have seen a large increase in bicycling over the past 10 or 20 years—such as Washington DC, Portland, Minneapolis, Cambridge Mass, and the East Rock neighborhood—are extremely popular areas to live. These areas have “bucked the trend” of declining investment everywhere else. People want to live in areas with a lot of bicycling, not necessarily because they want to ride a bike themselves, but because the economic and community benefits of shifting just a small proportion of the population towards cycling are massive.
Every time someone chooses to ride a bike (or walk), they have an extra few dollars in their pocket to spend on local health care, housing, education, restaurants, small businesses, or manufacturers, or any other number of job creating activities. Every time folks get into a car, they choose to export most of their dollars to Saudi Arabia and China. Check out the studies at IBM, CEOs for Cities, and the National Building Museum about the “Green Dividend.”
Fiscal conservatives should support bicycling and walking investments, because they are far less costly than massive taxpayer-subsidized roads and highways, create more jobs per dollar spent, and move people more efficiently.
The economic benefits of walking, biking and good transit have been proven time and time again all over the world. If Connecticut doesn’t embrace this, it will become more and more of a dead-end for workers, businesses and residents.
As it is now, the proportion of our population that has access to highways is constantly shrinking. Highways like the $3,000,000,000 I91/I95 boondoggle are places that we can not even come close to being able to afford to construct or maintain.
posted by: mitch on June 21, 2011 4:04pm
Streever / asl, et al, i’d tell you what’s on my mind, but big brother at the independent won’t allow me. seems this little “open” forum aint so open.
i’ll ask you this though, when you have to rush your kid to the doctor, your dog to the vet or your wife to the hospital, it wont be on a bicycle, and you will be happy the roads are even a few minutes faster when it means something to YOU.
im sorry if this offends anyone. please forgive my random act of living in the here and now.
posted by: anon on June 21, 2011 4:23pm
DOT still doesn’t get it:
“In general, the DOT considers bike-pedestrian access issues for every project,” Everhart said. “Sometimes it’s feasible, sometimes it’s not.”
Sorry, in New Haven, ALL DOT projects MUST design for pedestrians and bicycles, period.
Does DOT not understand that we have car sharing here, that we have bicycle commuting here, that we have it in critical mass, that we are not going to back down, that we are not going to go away, that we are getting only MORE car sharing and bicycle commuting, not less, that it is even being written into job descriptions at some places in New Haven, that the federal government has included bicycling costs in pre-withholding paycheck programs now, that there are locals in New Haven who commute to work by bicycle, bus and foot who have SOLD their CARS because of car sharing companies in New Haven??
DOT - WAKE UP, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!.
And finally, DOT, there are federal funds earmarked for grants for DOTs to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians and safe street and traffic calming designs and construction. I checked, DOT has almost NEVER applied for them. Connecticut only applies for them for Bike trails, like through parks or along old rail lines when they could also apply for these funds for when they widen roads, or repave.
We are SICK over what DOT—and city—battered and abused us with on Upper Whalley and we are NOT going to let it happen again, not to a single DOT project in New Haven, period. As if DOT knows what bicyclists and pedestrians do or should do on Upper Whalley.
So please, throw in the towel and join us, or find bicycles staring down your bulldozers at god knows how many tens of thousands of dollars an hour in union wages and project delays.
That’s as frank as I can put it, and true. no rhetoric, it is definitely what DOT is going to get if it doesn’t catch on soon.
Join us. Get with it. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s groundbreaking, it can be a model for the nation. You’ll be famous and cool. And it is good for the economy. It is the future, whether you like it or not.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 21, 2011 4:33pm
You’ll be able to get to the doctor’s office much faster in your car if other people would choose to walk, ride a bike or take transit. By advocating solely for automobiles, people are increasing traffic problems, parking problems, pollution; all of which decrease response times for emergency vehicles, increase asthma, and ruin urban environments with asphalt. If more people could walk and bike to work, home, shopping areas and recreation, the streets would be more open and free flowing for necessary car trips to places like the hospital.
You would be doing ambulances, police cars and other families a great service if you walked, biked or used transit for most of your trips. If everyone did this, the street would be safer, more efficient, and hold a higher capacity of people.
posted by: streever on June 21, 2011 4:48pm
Mitch your argument is seriously flawed.
You honestly think building out roads makes less people drive?
It has been proven to do nothing more than lead to greater congestion.
Increasing a road is not going to get ambulances anywhere faster—you need comprehensive transportation overhaul, which is what we are advocating.
posted by: Anon on June 21, 2011 5:15pm
I’m really tired of the anti-biking lobbies treating me like I am some kind of hypothetical. I am tired of the DOT treating my stone cold every day commuting methods as some cute joke.
Hello everyone- meet me, and many like me. We are a growing in numbers, not a decreasing in New Haven.
I walk, I take the bus, and most of all, I ride my bike to work and on my errands.
I am a Zip Car member, so when I need a car, I get one that way.
I sold my car. In New Haven, if you work within biking distance of work, you can do that, because of buses, trains and Zip Cars for longer trips.
And guess what people ARE doing that. I AM doing that. I DID that. I EXIST and this is my life style. I am not HYPOTHETICAL
I am grateful for the study that showed that biking supports jobs and the economy, but it doesn’t take a study to show the obvious.
Look at the Upper Whalley project. Imagine the same project with better sidewalks, bike lanes, better pedestrian crossings, traffic calming.
Put the two side by side—which is better on an absolute economic basis?
It is obvious. The value of the residential house and commercial properties are increased. C’mon, if able to spend money as you please, would you be more or less likely to buy that house on Whalley Avenue with or without the bike/pedestrian amenities? With of course.
If your diner is located on Whalley, are you likely to do more or less business if cars and bikes pleasantly reach you or only cars pleasantly reach you while bicyclists find it a dangerous, shadeless chore to get there?
This isn’t rocket science. It is obvious stuff.
Another thing that makes bicycle and pedestrian arguments so powerful is that they go hand in hand with walkable, human scale street-scapes which benefits cities ten fold economically. EVERYONE knows that. People WANT to live in such environments MORE. DUH. This is simple stuff. What people have to get, is it also is ESSENTIAL stuff, because lives depend on it too.
Upper Whalley is a death trap designed on the notion that streets exist sole as Eisenhower- era civil defense emergency evacuation routes and NOTHING ELSE. They can be that and EVERYTHING else.
Property values are higher in these places, customer bases are more voluminous and in a city like New Haven that is racing towards alternative transportation at a rate that is almost unprecedented, only Neanderthals fail to acknowledge and respond properly. It is OBVIOUS. It is SELF EVIDENT.
Every five-year-old kid gets it, especially if it means his parents will let him ride his bike to the candy shop, and I promise you, on these idiotic roads the DOT shoves down our throats, they won’t.
And as a sometime car driver, I can tell you that I don’t even like driving cars on these shadeless, creepy, unattractive streets, never mind bike or walk them.
even automobilers don’t like them.
DOT could have met every single one of its goals on Upper Whalley, not compromised a single one, by doing it differently. it would have been wider, safer and repaved, just like it is, plus all else.
posted by: J on June 21, 2011 6:19pm
If one of you brain trusts can explain how cycling is feasible for me, a traveling auditor, with a commute from New Haven to North Haven to Waterbury and then up to Hartford while carrying a laptop bag, lunch bag, 2 cell phones-personal and business, I would REALLY appreciate it. Before you go OMG EVERY ONE NEEDS TO CYCLE CAUSE CARS ARE EVIL, try thinking about other people and what their daily needs are.
posted by: Livesinfairhaven on June 21, 2011 6:29pm
Great comments. Thanks for the common sense plus I’m still chuckling. Maybe you should run for mayor, I’d vote for you.
posted by: Dennis on June 21, 2011 7:30pm
If something isn’t done about the pot holes soon in New Haven we will all have to ride bikes anywhere we go.
Fix what we have first before we spend for more.
posted by: William Kurtz on June 21, 2011 8:17pm
You’re right; a bicycle is not the best choice for a vehicle with which to rush your child or wife to the doctor. Neither is your personal automobile; if someone that close to you is in the throes of an illness serious enough to require rushing to medical attention, please call an ambulance. Ambulance drivers are equipped and trained to maneuver through traffic at high speeds; in such an emotional moment, you, likely, are not.
posted by: Morris Cove Mom on June 21, 2011 10:08pm
Way to go, Streever and the ECC! When will the State, and other cities, understand and adopt New Haven’s great cyclist movement? When will they understand that bicycles and cars share the road?
I really balk at Redeker’s claim that 12,500 jobs will be created in the next 5 years of this project. Most will be on a temporary basis, to finish this project, and do not reflect a permanent change in the job situation around here.
posted by: Threefifths on June 22, 2011 6:03am
How about lanes for people who travel like this.There should have the same rights on the roads as the bikers.
posted by: Atwater on June 22, 2011 6:58am
@anon: Correllation does is not equivalent to causation. Sure the gentrified areas of the cities you mentioned might have seen a rise in bicycling, and they are rather popular areas to live, but one does not have to do with the other. All of the cities you mention have mass transit systems that are far superior to anything in Connecticut, they also are home to large universities, medical centres and financial institutions (i.e. jobs)
The problem with the cycle lobby is that they are propsing a form of transportation that was invented well over one hundred years ago and one that hasn’t changed much since then. Bicycles only carry one person, they are slow (compared to motorized transport), and no matter who you are bicycle helmets look silly and mess up your hair. I am all for citizens riding bicycles, but I cannot support public funding of projects that benefit an antiquated mode of conveyance. Someone called bicycle transportation groundbreaking, it was groundbreaking in the 1880’s. Now it’s just a reactionary impulse spurred by liberal environmental guilt and maybe a twinge of self-righteousness. Whatever it’s cause, the fact that my tax money might pay for these projects upsets me. I enjoy the occassional outing with my pogo stick, I could pogo to work, maybe I should petition the governor for pogo-friendly street ways.
The reason why we spend so much money on highways, roadways and other paved surfaces for cars, vans and trucks is because commerce depends on it, as does national defense and emergency responses/disaster relief.
We should take half the money we spend on highways, etc., and spend it on building a high speed rail system and maybe funding a social healthcare program. Or we should spend half the money on fighting childhood hunger (a problem even in Connecticut), or we can throw a dart on wall full of issues more important that bicycle access. To me this is the more responsible thing to do, it is the more reasonable thing to do and it is what I hope we will do in the near future.
posted by: streever on June 22, 2011 8:25am
Don’t tell London about your theories—
A lot of people have posted data, research, studies, and real world numbers that indicate the complete opposite of your assertions. Can you post any data, or are your assertions only anecdotal?
Too bad Expression Engine doesn’t have a plugin that auto-moderates lengthy comments full of talking points with neither data nor statistics!
posted by: Anon on June 22, 2011 8:35am
Atwater: “it’s just a reactionary impulse spurred by liberal environmental guilt and maybe a twinge of self-righteousness”
I live in the hood and if I made one less dollar a week, I’d be on food stamps. Lots of people in the hood commute by bicycle. Thanks for the East Rock stereotype.
No matter how much you enjoy toying with us—the helmets that mess up our hair etc - the fact is pedestrian friendly, commercial street-scapes achieve the same thing we want and boost the economies of those neighborhoods. You just can’t argue that away.
No one is trying to kill cars, we just know the diversity of transportation creates vibrant cities. they go hand in hand with walkable streets.
ask any business owner what is better for business. what is more profitable and creates more jobs.
posted by: anon on June 22, 2011 9:15am
Atwater, within many cities during rush hour, bicycles are actually faster than motorized vehicles. That’s even before you consider the time it takes to park.
It’s no wonder that in recent years, bicycles have become the predominant form of rush hour (commuting) transportation in Amsterdam, central London, and hundreds of other cities.
Tom pointed out a fact that that many New Haven residents are already very well aware of: the majority of trips in the United States are quite short, and can easily be covered without using a personal vehicle.
As a nation, we can no longer even remotely afford to build or maintain the highways and roads that you seem to be pining for. This fact will become abundantly clear over the coming years.
I agree with you that major investments in mass transit will be needed, as well as an increased shift to walking and cycling. The former requires money. The latter just requires smarter policies in how we build and manage our existing road system. As the Green Dividend reports point out, increasing walking and cycling through infrastructure is the proverbial “low hanging fruit,” and actually saves the public enormous sums of money. An entire citywide network of cycling infrastructure costs less than one mile of highway.
As a fiscal conservative, I recommend you check this out.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 22, 2011 10:31am
By advocating for improved transit, better pedestrians infrastructure, and bike lanes, you are helping to reduce congestion on the roads, thereby making your commutes easier and faster. There are many people who live off main thoroughfares (like Dixwell Ave) that could take the bus into the city to work and take it home in the evening. By improving the sidewalks and crosswalks that allow these people to access the bus lines, we would be helping people like you who cannot feasibly use transit, bike or walk for work.
posted by: Tony Pellegrino on June 22, 2011 10:56am
Wish I could have been there with you!
posted by: streever on June 22, 2011 1:53pm
Woah, I’m confused. Most of our members drive routinely. Neither they nor I are against cars. We just think that our tax money should be put to good use, and research shows that spending on bike infrastructure is better for the economy than over-building car infrastructure.
This isn’t an article about us demanding the DOT stop doing anything for cars—it is purely a request that the Governor focus on making sensible economic investments and help build our state’s economy. Are you against that?
posted by: Atwater on June 22, 2011 3:35pm
Over building car infrastructure’s? No, DOT projects are necessary improvements to the state’s highways and roadways. If our highways remain clogged with traffic, pot-holed, outdated, and our bridges fall further into disrepair then our economy will completely fail. One cannot run a business in a region with antiquated roads and bridges. Also, there are public saftey considerations that take precedent over the concerns of a vocal minority, i.e. the Bike lobby.
I am against cars, they are dirty, noisy and wasteful. I’d rather walk when I can and when I can’t I hop the train or bus. And with the limited bus and train service in the area I am limited as to where I can go. Oh well. If tax money is to be spent on transport than it should be spent on innovations and improvements to our public transit system.
And the correlation between bikes and economic improvement is over-stated, plainly said it’s hyperbole. For if the increased bike riding did improve a city’s economy than Mumbai should be the richest city in the world, or maybe Hanoi or Saigon. Or anywhere else where bicycle ownership far surpasses car ownership.
posted by: Walt on June 22, 2011 4:48pm
Picture above certainly looks like the so-called bikist leaders were illegally riding on the sidewalks around the Green, maybe four abreast.
Hazardous for pedestrians it appears, but OK as most bikists feel free to ignore the laws except via the laudable recommendations on their own web pages.
A little hypocritical don’t you think?
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 22, 2011 11:18pm
We need to begin a slow process of weaning cargo transport off of the highways and back on to heavy rail lines. However, for now and until rail transport can be used more, I agree that commerce is dependent on pristine highways to move things around for business. On the other hand, personal transportation is the major contributor to traffic, and if alternatives were in place to allow more people to take transit, walk or bike to their destinations, the highways and roads would be more open for trucks, emergency vehicles and drivers who cannot feasible use alternative transportation (yet).
There is also an assumption built in to your argument that actually turns out to be false. This assumption is that DOT projects are necessary, and good for transportation. This is not always the case, in fact, it is not the case quite often. DOT “improvement” projects often make driving conditions worse, more dangerous, and lower surrounding property values. Road widening projects that only accomodate cars merely induce more driving, they do not alleviate congestion - this has been known since the 1970s, yet no one seems to change anything over at the DOT. DOT projects that created multi-modal streets would be much more efficient, valuable, and safe than the current trend of car-only projects. Additionally, lane widening, lane additions, lane shoulders, metal guard railings, increased lighting, and exaggerated geometries for curves very often have the opposite effect of their intended purpose, which is to make driving safer. The exact opposite actually occurs - people drive faster, pay attention less, and have a false sense of security that leads to more accidents and therefore more “improvement” projects that make everything worse. The DOT is using a very outdated design manual, that should have never been put into practice in the first place.
We should stop building highways immediately. Highways were a bad idea that never should have been built anywhere. In the countryside, there should be parkways; in the cities there should be boulevards. Transport should be done on heavy rail.
posted by: Will Wilkin on June 25, 2011 4:04pm
I’m with the bikers 100% on this. And shouldn’t a big chunk of transportation funds also be used to transition our country to electric cars, charged with wind and solar?