Saturday, June 30, 2007

Finally a Real Start

That is a cell-phone photo that I hope will one day be historic. Even if it's just historic to me.

The photo shows a whiteboard that lives in the city council briefing room in the basement of the city hall. Written on that white board is a plan for a plan to develop a Master Bike Plan for the City of Spokane.

Since joining the Bicycle Advisory Board (BAB) about 9 months ago, when virtually the entire board was reset, we have made our priority 1 mission to develop a real Master Bike Plan.

Without such a plan any chance of getting funding from anyone, including our own capital projects folks in the city, is basically zero. When federal, state, or other folks with money give their money away for bike facilities, they want to see that the money goes into a community that supports the project. The most obvious way of illustrating that, is showing that the community has bicycle policy and regulation baked into the over all comprehensive plan.

Our comp plan has a lot of bike stuff in it. But there is no Master Bike Plan -- not to mention that there's not a real unified set of policy, nearly no regulation and certainly not a peep on funding. There is a bike map, which is often (irritatingly) referred to as "the bike plan." Aside from being outdated and clearly developed by non-cyclists, it's incredibly inadequate as a tool from which to develop real policy, codification, and regulation -- all elements which are required for any kind of significant funding.

To build an effective Bicycle Master Plan then, requires a lot of skin in the game from the City of Spokane. It requires time from planning and engineering. It requires review and buy in from the council and capital projects as it's developed. It requires citizen and cycling input. It must be shepherded through the political processes around planning, GMA conformity, and just general political goo. It's a document that must be done well and be driven, developed, and written by professionals -- not a bunch of volunteer cycling fanatics. We've been asking the city for some full-time heads to devote to the plan for months now.

On Friday, we had the acting head of planning, the head of long-term planning, engineering, and a really cool woman from capital projects (the money folks) sit down with some of the BAB folks and develop a strategy for developing a draft of the bike plan w/in a year. This is huge. This is huge because we had the right folks in the room, we have correct prioritization w/in each department to finish this project, and we have a commitment to finish the project from these departments, backed by the city.

The "plan" will include, at a minimum: policy, regulation, prioritized projects, and funding specifics.

These are still early days and surly there will be lots to learn and lots of hard work ahead, but for the first time since joining the BAB, I am really hopeful that we may see real stuff happen in the time I am actually a member of the BAB. Yay.

In other news.

Another bike accident in Cheney. Kid. No helmet. Airlifted out. Last word was that he was in critical condition.

Pedals 2 People had a super successful run at fixing up 85 bikes over the last two weeks. That means 85 people that were bikeless yesterday, now have a bike to ride. Blog post on it here.

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