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Martin Pion

Martin Pion

The following crop of St. Louis Post-Dispatch Letters to the Editor, published so far in January 2014, again reveals sharp divisions on this issue. An assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University writing in support today (January 20th), points out that this bill isn’t just about cycling, which is true. He writes, it’s all in the name, “Complete Streets,” which I agree is a brilliant piece of marketing, since before the name “Complete Streets” was adopted, supporters were merely pursuing “routine accommodations.”

The reality though is that modes other than the private auto ARE being accommodated routinely now on public roads, including public transit, walking and cycling. We have buses (and MetroLink, although expansion of the latter has been stymied by public resistance to additional funding, which Complete Streets legislation won’t change). Most urban and suburban areas in the county already have sidewalks. They are not always as well-designed as one would wish; for example, they are sometimes partially obstructed by utility poles or street furniture, and typically they are rather narrow so that two people cannot walk comfortably side by side. Complete Streets won’t change that.

Finally, this legislation is supported by Paraquad which represents the disabled community, but you have to wonder why. There is already the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which has existed for decades, and which has wrought major positive changes. Curb cuts at intersections are one of the most visible examples, but providing them is, as is often the case, governed by available financial resources. And even with a federal law sometimes they are poorly designed.

Which brings me back to bicycling infrastructure of the kind aggressively promoted by Trailnet, a leading supporter of this bill and of bike lanes. Informed cyclists, especially those like myself who are trained bicycle safety instructors with decades of experience, know that bike lanes actually make roads more dangerous for cyclists, and that is the basis for our opposition to them and to this bill.

Article on ‘Complete Streets’ was overly negative
January 16, 2014
Joellen G. McDonald • Richmond Heights

Your front-page article on the “Complete Streets” program under consideration by the St. Louis County Council was incredibly biased and overly negative (“Bike-friendly planning hits bumps,” Jan. 12).

With all the hard work that has gone into getting this program set up and before the County Council, why have you elected to present such a negative picture? How unfair of Steve Giegerich to focus on Karen Karabell without presenting at least one opinion of another regular bicycle commuter who thinks Complete Streets is both needed and wanted.

County Councilman Pat Dolan is my representative, and I give him my full support for what he is doing to get this program implemented.

‘Complete Streets’ improve quality of life for everyone
George Hazelrigg • St. Louis
January 17, 2014

Noted in your “Bike-friendly planning hits bumps” article (Jan. 12), the move to accommodate additional bicyclists on roads designed for cars and trucks is “basically a change of philosophy.” True. But the supporters of “Complete Streets” policies are not promoting bikes over cars. Yes, America’s streets were originally designed for cars and trucks. But supporters are not anti-car; many if not most bicyclists drive cars as well. This is not a bicycle issue, although even commuter cycling in St. Louis has “soared,” according to a recent Business Journal article.

Complete Streets simply reflects a growing nationwide belief of citizens and cities that streets are public spaces that should afford all users safe access and enjoyment regardless of their age, ability or means of transportation. Trailnet is but one advocate. Add pedestrians, transit users, the elderly and disabled, and school kids. And for an opponent to accuse Trailnet of “self-interest” when she is teaching bike safety to those few bikers who prefer to ride in vehicular traffic … please!

The good news is that Complete Streets really work, they are not busting tight city and county budgets, and more and more street engineers, motorists and editorial page writers around the country are signing on to a change of philosophy that improves the quality of life for all of us.

Bicyclists should pay for license to use roads
Tom Lehman • Webster Groves
January 17, 2014

To County Council member Pat Dolan and the supporters of the “Complete Streets” program regarding the slowdown in their efforts to spend more public money for bicycle-friendly roads, I say “Thank goodness” (“Bike-friendly planning hits bumps,” Jan. 12).

The time has come for the many bicyclers out there to pay their own way to use the public roads. It’s time for them buy a license from their city, county or state government and to have the license displayed on their bike or their neon posteriors.

Everyone else in this state, in order to use a public thoroughfare, needs a license. You need a boat license if you will be using a public waterway. Your car or motorcycle needs a license to be on the roads. Your plane needs a license to fly. You need a license to walk in a public stream with a fishing pole in your hand. It’s time to either license the bicycle rider or his equipment. A bicycle license would also help in the recovery of stolen bicycles as referenced in the Along For The Ride column (“Bicycle anti-theft registry is rolling out in St. Louis,” Jan. 12).

If they were contributors and paid for the right to be on public highways, like myself and my work van, I could better tolerate the spending of more public money for them and I could better tolerate them ignoring the traffic laws I must obey (i.e., stop signs).

It’s in the name: ‘Complete Streets’
J. Aaron Hipp • St. Louis
Assistant professor, Brown School, Washington University

January 20, 2014

I am afraid the St. Louis County Council is being misinformed or is short-sighted in its ongoing discussion of a countywide “Complete Streets” bill. It is all in the name: Complete Streets policies guide transportation planning by assuring the transportation needs of all users are being met, whether that be via personal vehicles, public transit, walking or cycling. In the past five years, 5.1 percent of employed St. Louis County adults used public transit, walking or cycling as their primary mode of transportation, a number 50 percent higher than in 2000. Cycling accounts for the smallest percentage of these three nonprivate vehicle forms of commuting.

There are distinct income and racial differences in the use of public transportation and walking in the county. Fifty-nine percent of county residents using public transit as their primary mode of transportation to and from work earn less than $25,000 per year, and 72 percent of those who primarily walk to work earn less than $25,000. County residents who are African-American are over seven times more likely to use public transportation to travel to work and three times more likely to not use a personal vehicle.

Complete Streets are not just about cycling with traffic or in newly constructed bike lanes. The policies ensure all modes of transportation, and all people, are considered equitably in street projects. The passage of this bill would at least provide a safeguard that there is complete consideration when spending taxpayer funds on streets.

‘Complete Streets’ bill would bring wasteful distractions
Hans Levi • Ferguson
January 20, 2014

Joellen G. McDonald’s letter, “Article on ‘Complete Streets’ was overly negative” (Jan. 16), deserves a response.

I’ve followed the debate on Complete Streets, and commend Steve Giegerich for his interesting and balanced coverage of this controversial issue. As a motorist, I assumed that cyclists preferred bike lanes.

So it was instructive to see Karen Karabell, who was featured in the article, demonstrating how to safely ride on existing roads, without handing taxpayers a costly bill for special lanes. Rather than spending potentially millions of dollars on bike lanes, and pushing cars into fewer lanes, it makes sense to provide cyclists with the appropriate training to safely share the road with cars.

Rather than responding to the latest fads and buzzwords, defeating Complete Streets will allow the county to continue meeting our real transportation needs, without the wasteful distractions this bill would bring. I urge the council, including my Councilwoman Hazel Erby, to vote no.

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