Below are prepared comments received from those who testified at the county council meeting on January 21, 2014, as well as transcripts I’ve made from video posted later on-line by TheGatewaytvnetwork.
County council members subsequently approved Substitute Bill #2 for Bill #238 (aka “Complete Streets”) by 6 votes to 0, with Chairwoman Hazel Erby abstaining.
Once again, I spoke against this Complete Streets bill. I’ve been doing so since first reading about it in the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on 2013-11-24 titled St. Louis County is poised to approve measure for bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads. But fortunately I’ve not been alone, having been joined by others who also concluded this bill was a bad idea, promoting actions which the highway department already takes, in many cases, or other goals which are undesirable and self-serving.
This is a long blog, reproducing practically everything relevant that was said that evening, but I feel it’s worth recording for future reference. I’ve also inserted my comments into other’s testimony, prefaced by my initials, MP , when I felt it worthwhile.
Written testimony provided by speakers is highlighted in blue. Testimony I have painstakingly transcribed, in part or in full from on-line video, is in white.
All told fourteen speakers testified, 10 against and 4 in favor, in the following order:
CON: Alan Leaderbrand, Lemay.
04:47 – 06:38 (minutes in the on-line recording)
“Good evening. My name is Alan Leaderbrand and I live in Lemay, and I’m here to ask you to vote down the Complete Streets. I’ve got the new revised bill that you’re putting forth but still I don’t see where the additional costs of doing Complete Streets are put forth. I don’t know what the additional miles of road for the county to maintain. The costs are going to go up, which means the H&T Dept. won’t be able to repair the same amount of miles of roads each year.”
Referring to the Post-Dispatch: “The City of Clayton, which has already instituted Complete Streets, is now proposing to put forth on the ballot an increase in their property taxes because they don’t have enough funding for their streets. That’s what I’m concerned about, if you do this Complete Street, in a year or two you’re going to come back for a tax increase because we don’t have enough money to take care of our roads anymore because you’ve upped the cost tremendously to institute a program to take care of adding bike lanes for a small, you know, 1% or 2% of the population that rides their bikes. I don’t see a lot of bike people riding their bikes right now, in the wintertime. So I don’t see it as a justification for the additional expense.
So I ask you to please, vote no, and kill this measure. Thank you.”
PRO: Ronald Dubson, Crestwood.
12:24 – 14:51
“My name is Ronald Dubson. I’m representing Metropolitan Congregations United.
I live at 26 Jo Ann Pl., in Crestwood, MO (63126) in the county, it’s about 2 blocks from Big Bend and Sappington Rd. I’ve lived there for the past 7 years.
For the past 3 years I have ridden my bicycle to get to work from my home to the Sunnen Metrolink station, and I take the MetroLink train to North Hanley, and from there I catch the No. 34 Express Bus to my place of work on Riverport Dr. at Magellan Health Services. Now, my bike ride takes me down Big Bend from Sappington Rd. to Webster University, and some of that road is two lanes and some of it is 4 lanes.
I want to speak in favor of Substitute Bill #2 for BILL NO. 238 introduced by Council member Pat Dolan. When I told my primary care provider, Dr. Michael Bavlsik, that I was riding my bike to get to work he told me that riding a bike is a great form of exercise, but it’s extremely dangerous to ride a bicycle in commuter traffic. And then he told me about someone he knew who was killed on a bicycle while making a left turn at an intersection.
I did not take my doctor’s advice, but I do try to avoid making left turns.
MP: In general, avoiding left turns is neither desirable nor necessary. Moving left is required if you wish to turn left or continue straight and your lane becomes a right-turn-only lane, for example. It can be done safely, but acquiring the relevant knowledge and skills is desirable, just as it is for a motorist. Lane control and left-turns are demonstrated in a video I shot while bicycling with Gerry Nolls, owner of The Ferguson Bicycle Shop, and posted previously at BICYCLING Made SIMPLE. This video also demonstrates that the current road system, despite being dominated by automobiles, CAN work well for cyclists too. Ensuring equality of access, as in Ferguson, and safe cycling knowledge are key.
In my opinion, adding bicycle lanes to certain parts of the county is neither feasible nor possible. However, whenever it’s possible, I think it should be done, because the developers who created our current system of roads in the county assumed that eventually everyone, to get from point A to point B, would be driving a car. I think that was a very shortsighted decision, and I don’t think it’s fair to the people who want alternatives to automobiles. Thank you.”
CON: John Peters, Chesterfield.
15:21 – 18:04
38 Meadowbrook Country Club Estates, Chesterfield, MO 63017
“Good evening. I am concerned about the passage of a Complete Streets policy in St. Louis given:
1) The numerous bridges that are reported to need repair or replacement in a significant fashion;
That the county police are taking on the task of policing more and more area of the St. Louis County.
I’m concerned that more land will be needed for the increased acreage for the street infrastructure, primarily by additional cost buying additional land for enhanced streets.
And if not buying the land from the property owner, that the land could end up being taken under an eminent domain policy.
And that an enhanced street infrastructure will undoubtedly be used by a sigificantly smaller percent of the population, I feel, of the non-automobile vehicular public.
This is after the county has spent millions upon millions of dollars to enhance streets, and to widen streets to reduce or eliminate bottlenecks.
So, in closing, I’m concerned that the dollars spent will be exorbitant and (not justified by) the ultimate use of the enhanced infrastructure, as in Austin, Texas, that went to the Complete Streets policy. I understand that their costs have come to $205,000 per block.
We see so many things in the paper about needing to increase and enhance our police department. And again, roads and bridges. I don’t think we want to take on the task of guessing to see if we’ll have enough money for Complete Streets also.
CON: Nick Kasoff, Ferguson. 18:12 – 21:22
The Complete Streets bill is supposed to make our streets more usable by pedestrians and transit users. After recent storms, pedestrians on Airport Road had to walk in traffic lanes, because even on major arterials, the county does not plow sidewalks. And bus riders stood in the street waiting for the bus, as cars skidded by, because the county plows a wall of snow onto the sidewalk.
If you really cared about making our streets better for pedestrians and transit users, that would be a good place to start. Instead, this bill sends highway staff to Complete Streets professional development and workshops. How can you justify putting up county staff at the Ritz Carlton while leaving bus riders standing in the street?
I also reviewed county ordinance 1105, and there’s no statutory training requirement for any other subject. In the 200 years since this county’s founding, no ordinance has demanded that highway department personnel attend particular symposiums and meetings. Yet you would tell us that Complete Streets is of such vital importance to our county that planners and engineers must be required to routinely attend workshops as a matter of legal requirement?
And, you still have the Peer Advisory Committee. The county will pay them to provide advice to the highway department, and to gather data on road usage. Meanwhile, bus riders will still be waiting out in the street. The disabled will still be driving their scooters in traffic lanes. But Trailnet will be getting paid.
Finally, a quick word about the character of those pushing this bill. Last week, Rhonda Smythe told two baldfaced lies in her testimony. First, in answer to accusations that Trailnet hoped to secure taxpayer dollars through Complete Streets, she said, “We raise every dime that we bring in the door.” In fact, according to their most recent IRS filing, they received more than $430,000 in government grants, more than 1/3 of their total contributions. Second, she cited MoDOT’s “Missouri on the Move” survey as showing support for bike lanes and buses over smooth roads. She forgot to mention that MoDOT specifically states that this was NOT intended to be a statistically significant survey. She also forgot to mention that they took surveys at Great Rivers Greenway, and at the Earth Day Festival in Forest Park. And amazingly, the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation has already listed passage of this ordinance as an accomplished fact on their website.
This is a bad bill, being pushed by people who have repeatedly lied to the council. I urge you to do the right thing, by voting no.
CON: Susan Herzberg, St. Louis.
Susan Herzberg addressing St. Louis County Council
21:35 – 24:00
“Hello. I’ve heard that you’ve all heard many of us a couple of times over the past weeks in the course of discussion of this bill, Complete Streets, and I wanted to come here in person because I feel so strongly about this.
I am a daily bike commuter — yes, even in winter. And sometimes I call myself a “bike evangelist,” but I’m not here as part of any special interest group. I’m here as a concerned citizen.
I was hit by a car in the bike lane on Manchester, the newly-painted bike lane, and I could have been killed. Luckily it was winter and I had on a lot of clothing, which means a lot of padding, so I was alright. I knocked off the mirror on the side of the car, which upset the driver. It was a terrible situation but luckily I’m all right. I was only bruised and cut a little.
A motorist was turning right and ran right into me. I could have been killed.
I’m here to tell you that I wasn’t really sure but I know now: bike lanes create a dangerous situation. Previously on Manchester Road there were two traffic lanes (in each direction, four altogether) and I rode safely in the second (outside or curb traffic lane) on Manchester for 2-1/2 years without incident whatsoever. And then, once the bike lane was put in it created a dangerous situation.
So, cars don’t know that you’re there. They don’t know how to deal with a bike lane and the person turned right in front of me and right into me.
The person turned right in front of me and right into me, and it caused a collision.
So, I’m here because I believe people’s lives are at stake. I believe these bike lanes are not going to help anyone.
I know everyone up here is a conscientious person. I know you are all well-intentioned and conscientious people. If not, you certainly would not be in county government.
So, I’m asking you, please: Just take some time and consider, what is safest for the cyclists? Who will be liable when someone is killed in a bike lane? Those who design and implement a dangerous condition? Why do this? The cyclists don’t need this. We don’t want it. It’s just to give an illusion that this is a better and safer place to be. But it’s really not.The safest place for cyclists is in with the flow of traffic. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to listen to me today.”
CON: Stephen Baker, Wildwood.
24:13 – 25:13
315 Timber Meadow Dr., Wildwood, 63011
“Once again, I’m here to speak against the Complete Streets proposal. This bill is a ploy for special interest groups to get money to get their voice in front of this council. There’s no reason for special interests to be listed in the bill to say money has to be spent in their direction.
This bill is no longer a blatant land grab: it’s a more subtle land grab. But it still needs a lot more rework. This bill is not good for the interests of the community and I think you should vote it down.”
CON: Jennifer Bird, Crestwood, 63126
Jennifer Bird: “Just because someone says they have facts doesn’t make it so, but I do have the paperwork”
26:58 – 30:27
“Thank you for taking my comments. I would first like to thank Mrs. Erby for taking your name off the Complete Streets legislation. I would also like to thank the council, mildly, for revisiting and removing some of the things. One of the things I’m very happy to see removed is that privately constructed streets and parking lots shall adhere to this policy. I think that Mrs. Erby is probably the most reasonable person on the council so I wanted to express my appreciation for that.
I also want to correct the lies that came from Rhonda Smythe last week, who is a representative of Trailnet. She indicated that Trailnet was completely privately funded. That’s false. I have the 990 here. The most recent I have is from 2011. I’ll go over a few numbers briefly.
I’ll start with Ann Mack’s salary. Executive Director, reportable compensation $93,795, and then for other compensation is $6,216. That’s a lot of money but we’ll ponder that later.
I’m going to go on to government grants (contributions), which are public dollars: $433,203.
Just because someone says they have facts doesn’t make it so, but I do have the paperwork. I’ll be happy to leave it with you if you wish.
Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 2.28.41 PM (2)
An organization that normally receives a substantial part of its funds from a governmental unit or from the general public. So substantial public funds are what they receive. [check ~29:30]
If you do the math it shows they are 90% publicly funded.
And lastly, GRG contributed $57,650 to them. They’re the people that got the Prop P tax money last year: that’s $31 million out of the area that’s not being spent by people because it’s a tax.
With Clayton new taxes. Lindbergh looking for new taxes. Clayton just instituted Complete Streets. Having to put for new taxes on the board, I think yo should vote no on Complete Streets … and I hope you will. Thank you.”
CON: The Honorable Teresa Douglas, Committeewoman in the Lemay Township.
Hon. Teresa Douglas
30:44 – 34.14
8208 Weimar Dr., St. Louis, MO, 63123.
“Hello. My name’s Teresa Douglas, I’m a Committeewoman in the Lemay Township, Mr. Stenger’s district. I’m asking you to stop this Complete Streets program today. There are so many things that have not been disclosed to the public. For example, you mention in there that you’re going to allow for facilities management: what facilities are going to be built with this Complete Streets program?
You mention that a study will be done, yet everything that I read in here keeps saying we will comply with Complete Streets and it’s going to happen with or without the study. It says that the only time that we’re going to NOT abide by that is if it’s for routine maintenance or ITS mass transit. So we’re going to do it whether the study says it’s going to be expensive or not, or not feasible.
It talks about building mass transit stops. How much is just that going to cost? Has there been any cost analysis of this?
The facilities: I’m wondering is that anything like the Oakville Living Center that has to comply with the St. Louis County strategic plan?
Has any one spoken with the truckers? Has anyone spoken with the Teamster’s Union because they’re under a mandate to increase the length of their trucks? As it is, they can’t get around all these roundabouts. They have to drive over the curbs. They’re knocking down street signs. I’m hearing from truckers that they can’t even get in to make their deliveries. You’ve narrowed the street down to put in bike lanes. How are you going to tell people that their grocery store is closing down because they can’t get merchandise?
I have a report from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA that this is going to create congestion. They’re saying that’s OK because that’s going to be good for the bicyclists. Is congestion good for the community? Is a business going to want to build in St. Louis in a more congested environment?
Berkeley University out in California is working to defeat this because of the congestion problems this has created.”
PRO: Rhonda Smythe.
Rhonda Smythe: “So, even the, (quote) bike people are supportive of Complete Streets”
411 N. 10th St., Ste. 202, Policy and Advocacy Manager, representing Trailnet 0:34:26 – 0:36:41
“Good evening. If non-profits competing for grants makes us for-profits, then I guess all non-profits are actually for-profits. Trailnet competes for grants available to non-profits. Some of the opposition also competes for and receives these same taxpayer dollars that are available through grants.
Last week I provided information on the USDOT and FHWA policies for the inclusion of walking and biking infrastructure into transportation projects. I also provided information from the AARP and the National Association of Realtors supporting Complete Streets, as well as the most recent MoDOT survey for the St. Louis region that shows strong support for public transit and safe spaces for bikes, and I’ll give you that information after I’m done.
Throughout the policy process you have heard or received supporter testimony from Paraquad, WashU., SLU, the Municipal League, Great Rivers Greenway, Metro St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, the American Heart Association, labor officials, local elected officials, statewide elected officials, transportation professionals, and activated residents. You’ve heard testimony from a St. Louis City elected official that Complete Streets did not increase the City’s transportation budget. You heard testimony from an engineer who has implemented Complete Streets. You’ve heard from municipal leaders who want the ability to implement their community’s Master Plans. You’ve heard testimony from numerous residents about the need for safe places to walk and bike.
Last week, Missouri statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian advocacy organization ran a survey asking the question:
“Do you support the adoption of the Complete Streets policy in your community?”
They got 515 responses statewide. Of those, 94% were supportive of having a Complete Streets policy in their community, with 3% neutral and 3% opposing.
In the St. Louis metro area there were 256 responses with a 92% rate of support.
So, even the, (quote) bike people are supportive of Complete Streets policies overall with 5 (percent) neutral and 3 (percent) opposing.
This policy lays out a vision for Complete Streets in St. Louis County. It sets a path for the region we could become. Implementation is in the hands of county departments. And, once again, I appreciate your time on this issue. I ask that you please vote yes on Complete Streets.”
MP: I don’t find it surprising that Trailnet can demonstrate widespread support for something as seemingly desirable as “Complete Streets.” As I noted in previous testimony I gave, intended to be ironic, who wants “Incomplete Streets”?
It also doesn’t surprise me that this would have the overwhelming support of the “bike people” surveyed by the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, of which I was formerly a member. The overwhelming majority of cyclists and non-cyclists have had no soundly-based bike education. Without that knowledge, bike facilities in the form of bike lanes would seem an attractive way to accommodate bicyclists on public roads.
CON: Karen Karabell, St. Louis.
(CyclingSavvy Instructor) 36:52 – 39:57
I am opening my three minutes with a challenge to the media.
Karen Karabell, turning to the media during opening remarks
I hope that one of you will follow the money on this issue. There is very little money in cycling education. However, a lucrative new industry has developed around advising municipalities on how to create and install on-road facilities for bicyclists.
I am thrilled when facilities support safe cycling on our public roadways. I want people to choose bicycling! But what we are seeing in St. Louis in the name of “Complete Streets” are facilities that make riding more dangerous.
The Bicycle Industrial Complex knows this. They know that “separate” on-road infrastructure is not truly separate, and sooner or later leads to this: (Holding up “Splat!” graphic.)
Still, for reasons I don’t have time to go into here, the Bicycle Industrial Complex continues to recommend the painting and installation of fancy stuff on our public roadways that actually makes transportation harder for both cyclists and motorists.
I wish that one of you would give us the real story.
Council Members and County Executive Dooley, I want to thank you for your time over these last couple of months. My guess is that you want nothing more than for this issue to go away.
If you vote no, I promise that you will be vilified on a national level, as David Wrone was last August. I could write the headline for Streetsblog myself:
“What is wrong with those stupid Midwesterners?”
There is nothing wrong with us. We, who are not blinded by ideological fervor or by our pocketbooks, have no trouble cutting to the chase. Infrastructure that creates conflict on our roads between cyclists and motorists is unethical. It is dangerous. It should be removed, before another person is injured or killed.
This is a conversation that can no longer be entrusted to the paid professionals of the Bicycle Industrial Complex. This remaking of our public roadways to accommodate bicyclists is a very serious matter, and deserves thoughtful public discussion. I am deeply grateful to the Council for allowing this discussion to be held.
Karen Karabell finishing her testimony.
CON: Eli Karabell, St. Louis.
40:06 – 43:09
“Good evening council members. Good evening County Executive Dooley. I want to stand up here as a simple American. In my humble opinion I believe that this Complete Streets bill will lead to people getting hurt. But not only that, it will be a disaster for the region.
A perfect example of this is, um, I’m a bicyclist and I ride on a street called Jefferson Avenue, a major north-south street. On this street there’s a bike lane, and this bike lane is one of the most dangerous pieces of anything I’ve ever seen in my life. I will not ride in it because if I do ride in it I’m putting my life at risk. And if there was not a bike lane there I would feel much, much safer.
Now let me also say, quoting Frederick Douglas, that I will unite that anyone that will do right; I will anybody to do wrong. And to keep to Frederick Douglas’s legacy and the great legacy of the civil rights leaders, like the late Dr. King, I believe that we need to defeat this bill.
I believe if this were to go to a referendum it would fail by 70%
I beg you to please vote this thing down, not only because I feel like it’s a bad bill but, like what happened to Mrs. Hertzberg, I think it would hurt people.”
CON: Martin Pion, Ferguson
43:22 – 46:30/46:50
Madame Chairman, Council members, and County Executive: first, I’m sorry for my weekly appearances. However, I’m convinced it’s been necessary to oppose Complete Streets.
The Complete Streets Coalition is a wonderfully self-serving organization that has adopted a brilliant name to replace the original term: “reasonable accommodation”, as I pointed out a few weeks ago. But what does it really accomplish?
You’ll recall its guiding principles are to accommodate everyone, regardless of age or ability, in a multimodal transportation system. Let’s examine that goal.
It won’t impact the bus system or MetroLink. Those require funding, especially MetroLink, which has been rebuffed by residents of St. Charles County, regrettably.
It won’t change the situation for Paraquad, which already is served by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act that requires curb cuts and other accommodations for the disabled.
I’d like to see more planning for pedestrians, such as wider sidewalks, and safer ways to cross major intersections. My experience in England proves that more can be done and I’d welcome County Highways & Traffic be more open to somewhat novel ideas, but funding will again be partly an issue.
However, there’s tension between the different modes: with a given amount of right-of-way, widening sidewalks comes at the expense of others in the corridor, i.e. motorists and/or cyclists.
And that brings me to the most contentious issue: what kind of infrastructure best allows motorists and cyclists to coexist safely while preserving efficiency?
I believe Exhibit A is Manchester Ave.-MO Route 100, recently restriped according to Complete Streets principles. Great Rivers Greenway advocated for bike lanes. Where they couldn’t be accommodated, a single mile long westbound lane with sharrows down its middle has been striped. And to accomplish that required removing one regular travel lane. That has led to the following problems:
For cyclists: Door zone bike lanes and curbside bike lanes, either of which can lead to cyclist fatalities or serious injuries. The latter nearly did so in the case of cyclist Susan Herzberg last December 16.
Gutter bike lanes are also magnets for debris and often are uneven, with parallel joints near the curb. Those joints can grab a bike wheel and cause a crash, which happened to me several years ago .
For motorists: Frustration at being delayed, due to fewer travel lanes and to a lone cyclist in a lane with no legal passing permitted – for one mile!
And all to further the ambitions of Trailnet and Great Rivers Greenway?
Please: kill this bill.
PRO: Charles Wilbur.
47:02 – 49:57
“Good evening all. My name is Charles Wilbur. I live down in Councilmember Stenger’s district, I believe, off of Weber Rd. (sic). I was here in the middle of December listening to testimony and I testified then and there was a whole lot of feelings and anecdotes, and I’ve seen this happen and I’ve seen that happen going around the room. And I left feeling like, as someone with a background in science, I was not really satisfied with that, so I went looking for some data. And the only data I could find I found off of a blog called “Taking the lane” where they linked to a study on the bike lanes that were added on 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue in NYC.
MP: Charles Wilbur makes a really surprising statement about the paucity of good information on-line. For example, John Forester, often credited with being the father of vehicular cycling, has an extensive web presence on the subject at http://www.johnforester.com/articles.htm. John S. Allen is another valuable on-line resource at http://www.bikexprt.com/index.htm. I conclude that Wilbur was just looking for material to back up his own view of the subject. But finding such material doesn’t end the debate.
And NYC, being NYC, was very thorough in how they documented the safety, the effect on retail, and all the other effects of putting those bike lanes in on those two avenues. So the blog post was rather literate so if you’ll indulge me I’ll quote it a little bit.
MP: Wilbur then quoted from ” Breaking: Bike infrastructure debate officially over,” posted May 7, 2013, by Elly Blue in Commentary, omitting some verbiage for brevity, as indicated by blue italicized text below. The full text is on-line at
In 2007 NYC added protected bike lanes known as “cycle tracks” to two previously car-centric one way arterials in Manhattan, on 8th and 9th Avenues.
These lanes – basically, regular bike lanes with a physical barrier (often parked cars) and special signals at intersections in order to separate people on bikes from people driving and walking – were controversial before and after construction, with lots of dithering and yammering about how they would hurt business and freight, cause crashes, hold up traffic, and waste time and money.
The city’s transportation department released a study in October, 2012. The bike infrastructure did more than make cycling safer: The study found a 35% decrease in traffic crash related injuries to all street users on 8th Ave (path), and a whopping 58% decrease on 9th Ave. That’s a 58% decrease in crashes as a whole. Not just pedestrian crashes. Not just bike crashes. All traffic crashes dropped by 58% on 9th Ave.
MP: I believe the 58% figure was for ALL crashes, but if correct, it’s a significant reduction and one must ask how it was achieved.
Intersections are typically high risk locations for bicyclists and motorists because of turning movements. John Allen describes it as a Cadillac example of such a treatment. In addition, John Allen, who rode and videotaped it in 2012, has provided helpful feedback which I’ve now had an opportunity to review.
Basically, this road has had a major makeover for several blocks, with a one-way bike lane alongside a sidewalk separated by bollards and on-street parking from two adjoining one-way travel lanes. Cross traffic at each intersection is also one-way, alternating in direction.
John Allen’s video shows pedestrians standing in the bike lane waiting to cross it, which is a little unnerving for cyclists riding at 15 mph or more. Occasionally John Allen yells at them to ensure they yield to him.
Cyclists have a separate light signal which is a mixed blessing because it lasts only half as long as the one controlling motor vehicles. There is still potential conflict with motorists turning left from the adjoining left-turn-only lane. I would also assume that any vehicular cyclist preferring to ride in the traffic lane would find the presence of the bike lane prejudicial to their doing so.
This is an improvement for pedestrians, who now have an island part-way across the street to assist when crossing it.
I’ll return to this subject in a detailed blog to follow.
“Meanwhile, retail sales income in locally-based businesses along the 9th Ave lane went up as much as 50%. This was during a recession. In the same period, borough-wide retail sales only increased 3%.
This was during a recession. In the same period, borough-wide retail sales only increased 3%.”
Charles Wilbur: “.. to the CyclingSavvy people … Missouri has the seventh worst drivers in the country.”
So protected bike lanes do cost money to install—with every penny furiously contested—but next to nothing compared to routine roadway maintenance and expansion projects. And instead of continuing to cost the community, they boost business, grow the tax base, and save money for the people who use them. And they (even) create smoother traffic flow for people who (must still drive) are still driving. ”
I was going to throw in to the CyclingSavvy people and the ones who advocate biking in traffic lanes another little stat that I came across while I was doing all my research.
Missouri has the seventh worst drivers in the country. Those are the people you’re putting your lives in the hands of when you get out in the traffic lanes, so just bear that in mind.
Thank you for your time.”
MP: Wilbur’s final poke at competent cyclists exposes a glaring lack of knowledge. It is based on the belief that a cyclist controlling the lane on a multi-lane road is at greater risk of being rear-ended by a faster-moving motorist than a cyclist in a bike lane off to the side.
That is not typically the case.
While such car-bike crashes do occur, often involving either drunk or distracted motorists, most are due to intersectional conflicts. They occur when a motorist, wanting to turn at an intersection or driveway, crosses a cyclist’s path and the cyclist is in the motorist’s blind spot or the motorist fails to notice them.
This is what led directly to the car-bike collision involving cyclist Susan Herzberg. As she noted in her testimony, for two-and-a-half years she never had a problem when controlling the curb lane. But only one month after it was replaced by a bike lane stripe, she was right-hooked in the new bike lane.
PRO: Linda Friese.
50:11 – 51:11
“I, too, would like to voice my support for the Complete Streets. At a time when we’re facing all these problems because of climate problems, and overweight and not enough physical activity, that we need to put as much effort as possible into getting people out in the street and walking and bicycles and any other form of physical effort is very important. Adding more space for bicycles to encourage them and fewer people to drive. Getting rid of some of the driving and parking issues.
I really hope that you’ll vote for the Complete Streets. Thank you.”
Council members’ comments prefacing their votes on the bill:
Chairwoman Hazel Erby
: First of all, I’d like to commend Councilman Dolan and his staff, specifically Eric (Eric Fey, Executive Assistant)
, for the work that you’ve put into this bill. The meetings with everyone, to hear everyone’s concerns. I know you’ve worked very hard on this bill. I think I’ve changed my mind a couple of times sitting here tonight just listening to the concerns that everyone has. I know, and I believe in, a walkable, bikeable, community.
However, when I hear some of the safety concerns, it bothers me. The concerns I had, particularly the cost control in terms of the highway department, I think have been addressed.
Councilmember Erby announcing her vote with Councilman Dolan looking on
But I’m concerned about the safety issues and I’ve wrestled with that as well because, it doesn’t say that you have
to ride in that bike lane, am I correct? You have a choice
as to where you can ride. So, with that, (sigh)
I don’t know. I abstain. I’m just not prepared to vote on it tonight. I’m sorry. I know Pat has worked very, very hard on this, but I abstain.
Councilmember Kathy Burkett
: I also would like to thank Councilmember Dolan for the time and effort that he has put into this, and I know that his concerns were legitimate. I know that he wants to be able to take care of as many of his constituency as possible, as all
of us do. That’s one of the reasons that we got elected, was to take of the people that live within our districts and live within the county.
I too, like Chairman Erby, do believe that the future, you might say, dictates that we become more user-friendly, as far as bicycling and walking. And most of you know me know that I’m a huge, huge
proponent of mass transit. So I, again, like Councilmember Erby, there are some things that concern me. I understand that Sheryl Hodges, who is head of the highway department, is in favor of this bill, and that gives me much pleasure, because even though we are bicyclists and walkers, streets are made for motor vehicles, and highway department people are made to look at the availability and the use of those roads for motor vehicles.
So I am going to vote yes
on this. I do believe that there are some concerns, and I may add, just as a personal note, that if you see me in my white 2006 Chrysler Seebring, and you’re riding [58:09] a bicycle, you’d probably be smart to pull over and let me go by. (Laughter.)
Councilmember Colleen Wasinger
: Thank you. I want to thank everybody who’s come here over the last several weeks to give your input, both for and against the bill. I think the bill before us is a product of much work on both sides, and I’m very appreciative to Councilmember Dolan and Sheryl Hodges and Glenn Powers, who I know were very involved in coming up with a better bill.
MP: Sheryl L. Hodges, D.E., is St. Louis County Director of Highways & Traffic; Glenn A. Powers is Director of Planning.
The Complete Streets ordinance is a transportation policy that will allow different methods of transportation to be considered, not mandated, when highway projects are being thought out on an annual basis. The policy before us tonight states that the ordinance sets forth guiding principles, again not mandates, that shall be considered by the St. Louis County Highway Department.
With regard to cost, which I agree was a great concern, there is no mandate to spend any money in this particular bill. Projects will follow our standard procedures, which is that the highway department will make a recommendation to the council for projects, and the council will have an opportunity to vote on the proposal. In addition, the public will be allowed input, as is our standard procedure on any items that come before us.
Because of these checks and balances that are in place I am going to vote yes, in favor of this bill.
Councilmember Mike O’Mara
: Just real brief, er, I’d like to thank Martin Pion. We’ve always had a cordial relationship whether we agree or disagree. I mean, we at least talk. You’re probably the most dynamic – you never know what gear you’re going to show up at this council with.
And as we discussed on Old Halls Ferry project, I know you had some input in that too. We did put a bike lane in in that particular project. We also added a bus lane before the elementary school to back up onto the main thoroughfare.
So those are individual projects, the same as this Complete Streets will be individual projects, and we’ll work together with the community to make sure that they are the safest for St. Louis County, and keep the cost down. It is a big thing with the expense for St. Louis County, but I think, Pat, you’ve done an excellent job, working with both
sides to move this project along.
So with that, I go with aye.
Councilmember Pat Dolan
: Thank you. I don’t know where to begin here, but I’d like to thank the council for their patience throughout this, no matter how the vote goes. We’re here to listen to citizen’s comments and do the best we can. This is not just a District 5 Complete Streets policy, it’s a St. Louis County Complete Streets policy. So thank you all for your consideration and your patience. I also want to make a special thank you to Eric Fey, my assistant, who did a majority of the work on this. I can’t take all the calls and answer all the e-mails, and Eric’s done a tremendous job of representing the 5th District and St. Louis County, so thanks Eric.
When we started this last April, or whenever it was, we had two different spectrums. No Complete Streets at all, and then Complete Streets that would be beyond any imaginable, I guess. So two different viewpoints were brought together, and it was really a collaboration of both ideas.
Trailnet, in my opinion, does a great job. We need organizations like them in St. Louis County to speak for people. This wasn’t just a Trailnet and highway department issue, there were a lot of other interested organizations, and municipalities, but more importantly, the residents.
The basic reason that we’re doing this is that we’ve been shown that the residents desired a Complete Streets policy and a consideration of it. So that’s why I undertook this and I appreciate again everybody for everybody’s input and I had the pleasure of talking to all sides on this issue, and I guess most of all, I enjoy seeing the passion
people have about this in St. Louis County, whatever side you’re on. It’s rewarding to me, so with that I say aye.
Councilmember Steve Stenger
Councilmember Greg Quinn
: I too would like to thank everyone who has come out to speak on this bill. Obviously, some very passionately held opinions. Some people have said that bike lanes are safe, and some have said that those lanes are not safe. I have some thoughts about the subject also, but I think we should all be glad that I don’t design streets.
(Subdued chuckles from fellow council members.)
This bill, fortunately, leaves the decisions about highways and highway expenditures, highway safety, where it always has been: with the county highway department, the highway experts. The highway department has always made the decisions on what is safe and what is not, and they will continue to do so under this bill. The bill doesn’t compel any money to be spent on existing roads or on future road projects.
For any money to be spent on any existing roads or any future road projects, any specific proposal will have to come before the council for approval, as it always has. So really in that regard the council will have the final say in whether to approve any particular project.
So I don’t foresee runaway expenditures with this bill, so I vote aye.
MP: Possibly without realizing it, Councilmember Quinn has put his finger precisely on the issue. If this bill is leaving decisions to the highway department “on what is safe and what is not,” and also “doesn’t compel any money to be spent on existing roads or on future road projects,” then that implies this bill is serving absolutely no purpose!
So why not simply vote against it?