Life Beyond Cars

Photo by gwhalin

Do you bicycle?

Do you wish you did?

Even if bicycling isn’t for you, it’s possible that you just think that cities are nicer to live in when they contain bike lanes.

Oh, and pedestrians need a place to walk also.

We own one bike between the two of us and pretty much never ride it. Part of the reason for that is the brutality of riding around Montgomery streets with:

a) No bike lanes

b) No sidewalks

c) A population totally unaccustomed to sharing the road (Seriously, can you imagine riding your bike through that Carter Hill/Narrow Lane/Mulberry intersection?)

That said, this is not a permanent state of affairs. There are actually a number of folks in our town who support bike lanes, whether for fitness or more abstract “quality of life” reasons. Some people might object to the pollution created by our ongoing slavery to fossil fuels. Others may think it’s simply more scenic to see people pedaling around on bicycles.

But Montgomery’s bike lanes aren’t going to build themselves. Since politicians usually take the paths of least resistance (and since there’s no direct money to be made by constructing bike lanes), we’ll have to push. And there’s plenty of ammo with which to do so. If you aren’t convinced by the above reasons (pollution, health, etc.), there’s also the self-interested point-of-view stating that our city is more attractive (and thus property values higher) when we provide people the option of using bikes to get around. It’s a fact.

Fortunately for you, if you’re reading thus far, you’re likely sympathetic to the cause and you have a unique opportunity right now to make your voice heard. The Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is taking citizen input on a plan to bring more bike lanes to our fair city. We know you are probably bored by democracy and have lots of Internet to consume and TV shows to watch. But seriously, letting them know this is something you care about isn’t all that hard. And it benefits you, whether through fewer emissions for you to breath, a healthier population consuming fewer health care resources, or higher property values.

As is too often the case, this information came to us too late to alert you to the public hearings that were held. We can only blame the folks who didn’t send out info with enough advance notice for it to circulate. But the public comment window remains open.

The MPO’s bike and pedestrian plan update is here. The plan was adopted back in 2003, so the fact that we are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel means that someone has been dedicated in pushing. But that’s no excuse for you not to help. Projects like these need folks to speak up in order to make them as good as they can be. We don’t want some messed up, unconnected lanes that nobody will use. We want the real deal — not some like these.

To contact MPO staff, stop by 495 Molton Street, Montgomery, call Robert E. Smith Jr, Senior Transportation Planner, MPO Administrator, Planning and Development Department, Transportation Planning Division at 241-2249, or email rsmith@montgomeryal.gov; April Delchamps, Transportation Planner, 241-2734, or email her at adelchamps@montgomeryal.gov; or Kindell Anderson, Transportation Planner, at 241-2754, or email him at kanderson@montgomeryal.gov. Content forms are due by Aug. 17, so don’t put this off.

It’s worth noting that the MPO’s website is very text-heavy and pretty intimidating. If their goal is to solicit public comment and involve folks in planning, they should probably find a clearer more accessible way to organize their online information. Don’t be deterred.

 

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  1. Heather says:

    Mark bikes quite a bit, and mostly avoids biking anywhere dangerous by going through neighborhoods and avoiding major intersections. There is a back route to Publix where they removed old railroad tracks that is pretty safe. You can get downtown by going through the Garden District, although it gets a little more dangerous when you get close to the capitol). In other words, where there’s a will there’s a way ūüėČ

    Turning Decatur/Norman Bridge from 3-4 lanes back into 2 to re-embrace the connection between neighborhoods and residential nature is something that I am passionate about. What I would love to see is it go back to two lanes and have them transform the other 1-2 into bike lanes+ sidewalks.

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