How Does One Go About Making Their Town Safer For Cycling?

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by youcansellerz, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. youcansellerz

    youcansellerz New Member

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    I moved from Lake Stevens, WA (a very bike-friendly place) to Riverton, WY, which is quite the opposite. There's a total of 1 bike path, that is more for recreation than actual commuting. There's essentially two main roads in town, one going east/west, the other north/south (highway 26). Both suffer from the same issues, particularly when it comes to cycling:

    -Cracked, pitted, and generally poorly-maintained roads. I'm constantly weaving back and forth to avoid giant potholes and cracks.
    -Very fast speed zones, mostly 45/50mph. Obviously the city won't change this, but it's worth mentioning.
    -Poorly designed intersections and crossings.

    There's a lot more that I could go on about, but that's it in a nutshell.

    So here's what I'm asking: Obviously we can't change everything we don't like about a city, but what would be some baby steps I could take to help improve my town for cyclists? I've seen a few out and about, and every one I've talked to has voiced the same concerns; poor road conditions, little to no infrastructure to help cyclists, etc. What can I do to at least get the idea of change in people's heads?
     
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  2. BikeBikeBikeBike

    BikeBikeBikeBike Well-Known Member

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    Hey what a good post! I wish I knew the answer to this one. If I did I would make my life about making every city in NA bike friendly.
    So of course I don't have an answer, I'm not even sure one exists.
    But there are steps that can be taken.
    Have you talked to your elected representative at each level of government?
    Have you reached out to see if there is any organization working towards this goal for your: neighborhood, city, region/area/parish, state/province and country?
    If there is none, why not create one!
     
  3. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Education. Write letters to the editor, local paper. Talk to local bike shops about it. Get a tv station to do an interview with you then repeat. Cultivate a local bike culture.
     
  4. Catsyo

    Catsyo New Member

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    Try and encourage as many people to start riding as possible, and educate them.

    I haven't been riding long, but I've seen how my town has grown dramatically more bike friendly over the past few years. That's part of the reason I started. When I moved here, we didn't really have bike lanes and there weren't many bike racks around, even on the college campuses. As road cycling picked up in popularity here, I've seen plenty of changes. Now it's way easier to find a place to safely park a bike downtown than it is to find a parking spot. There's many more bike lanes. I've heard that drivers are a little bit nicer to cyclists than in the past now that people are more used to it.

    If you can get more people into riding, then they become a demographic local politicians want to court. They'll court that demographic by improving infrastructure which will go a long way to make things safer.
     
  5. Totalarmordestine

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    I am in the same situation. I started riding last year and this year I am commuting. No bike paths, no trails, horrible roads, etc

    All you can do right now is obey the traffic laws, be very visible, be courteous, and hope for the best. It's what I am doing. Although I see no physical changes, I do see more cyclists
     
  6. tarverten

    tarverten New Member

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    I feel for you, Brother/Sister. I have lived in bike friendly cities and towns for the past 17 years, and moving back to my hometown would basically feel like painting a target on my back. When I was younger I thought nothing of confidently taking my lane as rednecks honked and zoomed past, but now in (ugh) middle age I doubt I would be comfortable taking the same risk.

    As for changing your town for the better, the only thing I can think of is to try to sniff out other local cyclists and organize a group to petition the town for small changes, like 'share the road' signs, or marked bike routes that avoid the scariest thoroughfares. Exploring to find the best routes for yourself is also a simple and productive way to spend your time.
     
  7. blastguardgear

    blastguardgear New Member

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    As others have said, I'd first look for allies in the form of other cyclists. Check with local bike shops and talk to anyone you see riding a bike. Then I'd check into the town's political structure, particularly with regard to transportation. Is there a citizen's committee that's involved with transportation issues - if so make sure you and/or other cyclists get a seat on it. Also get the agenda for any city council meetings and see when they discuss road and other transportation issues - then get some of your allies together and ask to speak about any changes you'd like to see. Start with things that are relatively inexpensive - improved signage, fixing some of the worst pot holes, etc. Then see if you could work with the city planning department in laying out some bike routes to get across town more safely. One strategy is to have a street that parallels a busy arterial designated as a bike route with relatively few stop signs or traffic lights, but to avoid it getting too much car traffic which would get opposition from residents have some barriers erected every few blocks that bike and peds can go through.
     
  8. thepieeatingjay

    thepieeatingjay New Member

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    I'm not a big believer in the need for separate infrastructure, but there are things you can do.

    You're first step should be to assess what's already happening (or not), what the community consists of, and who has influence or contacts. You're a newbie there, and small town power structures don't tend to like new faces coming in and making waves. One place to start is with Ousportin'. The owner is a long time active road cyclist, and should have some sense of the local history. Make an evening appointment, bring a couple of beers, and sit down and learn. (tell hi, the Chain-L guy sent you).

    I also suggest that instead of looking for bike specific projects, you find common ground with motorists, which will broaden your base ten or a hundredfold. Things like better pavement, properly marked fog lines, sewer grates flush to the road surface, and so-on benefit everybody, and are easier for elected officials to swallow.

    For example, I happened to drop in to the town police station on another matter, and asked the desk sergeant if he had any idea when they were going to repave a major street that was in pitiable shape. He explained that this street wasn't city responsibility and they were waiting on the county. He added that it was costing his department a fortune in car wheel, front end and suspension damage. Using that as leverage, I pitched the local county legislator, "hey, it's not about bikes, your local cops are spending a fortune...." The street was repaved within 2 months.

    Getting action from city hall, is about building alliances within the power structure, and convincing them that what's good for you, is good for everybody, including them.
     
  9. shadowsupernature

    shadowsupernature New Member

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    I think there's very little you can do as its really a political issue, and if your not a politician then its hard to change anything. I don't believe that a civilian can change a culture of a town. So if possible get involved in the politics of your town. In the meanwhile you can buy a rough mountainbike and maybe not have to worry about road conditions so much.
     
  10. Damien Lee

    Damien Lee Active Member

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    Well, bicycle lanes would be a good place to start. Closing all those potholes would be another, as those are insanely dangerous for cyclists, and they even pose a danger to motor vehicles as well. And if town councils would regularly release printed materials to their constituents, in order to educate them about cycling then, that would be absolutely awesome.
     
  11. erook7878

    erook7878 Member

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    It's pretty difficult to change the status quo in small towns like that. It's just a matter of you as an individual to the do the best to stay safe. Unless the local gov't wants to fill those potholes, there isn't a whole lot you can do.
     
  12. cyclenthusias44

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    That's a good comment. One should make a move like this.
     
  13. cyclenthusias44

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    I agree with you. As a individual, we must take the responsibility.
     
  14. Corzhens

    Corzhens Well-Known Member

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    It seems like you are describing the roads in our village. As I had posted in another thread, majority of the roads in our village are not paved hence they have the tendency to develop bumps and potholes especially when the rains come. With that, we cannot do anything because it is up to the government to fix the road.

    But my utmost concern is not the paving of the roads but the bike lanes because it is more important. So many road accidents involving 2-wheels can be avoided when there is a bike lane. But that would need a big budget since a bike lane is an extra width of the road.
     
  15. forest_kitten

    forest_kitten New Member

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    This is an issue that is very important to take on, but also realize that nothing will change overnight.

    The first step is to organize all the bicyclists in your town. There are probably quite a few who aren't in contact with one another and do not realize the strength that comes from numbers. Once you all connect (through craigslist or a facebook group or the old-fashioned advertising on bulletin boards at the post office and grocery store), you can organize an awareness bike ride, fundraiser for better roads and even attending town hall meeting or petitioning in front of government buildings.

    This whole process will take a while, especially if it requires restructuring roads to create bike lanes, but easier stuff like fixing potholes or raising bicycle awareness should be a bit easier to accomplish.
     
  16. sharkantropo

    sharkantropo Member

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    Well, those baby steps you mentioned are great steps in fact. Most people that complaint about a matter don't take any action to improve it. You can initiate a bicycle awareness group and endorse the activity to engage more locals. You can bring the issue to the town council backed with a lot of signed papers to propose the idea of tax investment on bicycle lanes, tracks and roads in general, that could also catch the attention of local media, so more power to your cause.
     
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