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Note: As a result of an oversight this wasn’t made public until 2014-02-16! Well better late than never, because it allows me to reference the ironic testimony I gave about “Incomplete Streets” during that county council meeting.

This was the last opportunity of the year for the public to comment before St. Louis County Council on the so-called “Complete Streets” bill, being promoted by Trailnet. As in the previous week, opponents greatly outnumbered the supporters who this time were two mothers and a Trailnet employee.

The mothers’ concerns were mainly to do with the safety of children bicycling on the road or walking to school. Those concerns can be dealt with by, for example, providing a crossing guard for the times when young children are going to and from school, and teaching them fundamental rules when crossing a street, as is done in England where I grew up. Not all children are mature enough to be taught how to use a bicycle for transportation. For those who are, I recommend the comprehensive Diana Lewiston’s “Bicycling in Traffic” curriculum for 13-year-old school children, and as demonstrated in the video Safe Cycling 4 Kids — 10-year-old Theresa shows how

Trailnet’s approach was to point to the law’s adoption by an increasing number of communities and to challenge the suggestion that implementation would be costly.

I agree that more communities are jumping on the bandwagon, my own City of Ferguson regrettably being one of them, and I perceive that transportation engineers favor it as another opportunity for road redesign and striping.

Complete Streets appears to go hand-in-hand with another new fad called Road Diets, in which roads are being restriped with fewer lanes. That may be justified sometimes and can open up desirable options for road treatments, but it is also used as yet another excuse for bike lanes. Or pseudo-bike lanes like the ones in the photo below which accompanied the St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 13th editorial: “Drop the kickstand.”

Below are testimonies I’ve received to date, including mine, in the order in which they were presented.


Karen Karabell TN 124 by 150 M 249 by 300

Karen Karabell, wearing her Traffic Cycling INSTRUCTOR t-shirt

Karen Karabell, St. Louis

I teach safe traffic cycling and I’m opposed to the Complete Streets bill.
         The “Complete Streets” phenomenon reminds me of being back in high school. Remember how in high school the “cool kids” dictated fashion and fads for the rest of us? And the rest of us at least considered what the “cool” kids advocated, because we all want to be “cool,” right?
         “Cool” is the main tool used to promote “Complete Streets”: Don’t get left behind. If you don’t have Complete Streets, you won’t be cool! The millennials won’t choose you. (I’m the mother of three millennials, two of whom still don’t have drivers’ licenses. I’ve asked them and their friends: Why did you choose to live where you’re living? Not a one has said, “This city has great bike lanes!”)
         But who can be against the idea of “complete” streets? The term itself sounds like Mom and apple pie. Everyone should be able to use our public right-of-way in freedom and safety. Who doesn’t want this?
         The problem is that the “cool” kids are remaking our roads in a way that makes life harder for everyone. If their roadway redesigns were merely sophomoric, it might be OK. But they are dangerous! Look to the city for Exhibit A: Manchester Road between Kingshighway and McCausland. Before this section of Manchester was turned into a “Complete Street,” it was one of the city’s easiest roads for bicycling.
         Now that the “cool” kids have had their way, people are getting hurt. Here’s what my friend Susan posted last week on Facebook:
         “Just had a collision with a car this morning on Manchester. Was riding my bike in the new bike lane and someone cut right in front of me to get to the gas station @ Kingshighway and I couldn’t stop. Took out her sideview mirror with my arm. ouch. I’m fine, will be bruised tomorrow and bike is fine, rode in the rest of the way to work, but I sure miss having 2 regular traffic lanes both ways on Manchester. I had 2.5 years of safe riding without the bike lane. So…be careful cyclists, bike lanes are really a much more dangerous place to be than in with the flow of traffic.”
         “Complete Streets” as envisioned by the “cool” kids is a fad. It will come to pass, as all fads do. Meanwhile, those of us who have graduated from high school will keep promoting and teaching the ideals of real transportation freedom. People will choose bicycling when they feel expected and respected as a normal part of traffic. I urge the council to recognize this, and to not be sucked in by peer pressure, fashion or fad.

Nick Kasoff testifying before St. Louis County Council 33 by 217 (L 510 by 369)

Nick Kasoff testifying before St. Louis County Council

Nick Kasoff, Ferguson

Like most people, I view this council as a serious legislative body. So I have to ask you: What has gone wrong with the process on this Complete Streets bill? This council is pushing through a bill which was obviously authored by Trailnet. You are pushing a policy change which is opposed by 80% of your constituents. And you are doing so in a complete absence of facts.
         There are a lot of questions an inquisitive legislator would ask about this bill. For example, Scott Ogilvie claimed that Complete Streets cost the city nothing. But just the “performance measures” section of this bill would easily cost the county $50,000 a year. And the “exceptions” procedure will run up huge costs, as it would require obtaining an exception even for activities like mowing and sweeping. Somebody on this council might have asked Ogilvie how such a bill could cost nothing. But you were silent. In fact, the only time a member has spoken has been to attack Martin Pion for supporting bike lanes on a project nearly a decade ago. And as it turns out, Mr. Pion found his correspondence from that time, and he didn’t support bike lanes at all.
         This bill imposes a complex regulatory scheme on our highway department. It will have costs, and will shift the allocation of department resources. Yet this council has not so much as spoken with the director of highways and traffic. Nobody has questioned the highway department about their cost estimates. Nobody has asked the highway department what impact this bill would have on their ability to maintain and improve our roads. I urge the council to refer this bill to committee, and to take public testimony from the director of highways and traffic. Anything less is a dereliction of duty by the council.
         A few days ago, I engaged in a debate about this bill with somebody on stltoday.com. The guy used a lot of lingo that most people aren’t familiar with, which made me suspicious. So I googled him. Turns out he is the press manager for Smart Growth America, a Washington lobbying organization that receives more than $600,000 a year in government funding. Those are the sort of special interests that are feeding propaganda to this council. You should ignore their fake facts and astroturf lobbying, and start listening to real constituents and the professionals in our highway department.

The following testimony I presented was intended as tongue-in-cheek and humorous, but designed to make a serious point. Namely, that while there IS room for improvement in the way St. Louis County Highways and Traffic performs its duties and interacts with the public, it is already reforming itself, and this draconian measure, primarily being promoted by Trailnet, is self-serving and not in the public interest.

Martin Pion, Ferguson

I know and like former Clayton Mayor Linda Goldstein. After reading her recent letter, and then Ald. Scott Ogilvie’s OpEd, both supporting “Complete Streets,” I’ve had an epiphany.
         After all, who can be against a “Complete Street”?
         Does anyone support “Incomplete Streets?” They’re the ones you drive along and suddenly come to a screeching halt at a precipice. And just beyond it is a big pile of cars, and maybe some pedestrians and the odd bike. And you have to back up against that line of cars that have stopped behind you.
         What a nightmare!
So that’s what “Complete Streets” sets out to correct, as listed in the first section of the bill:

[Note: The following was read without taking a breath in order to keep my testimony within the three minute time limit. Try reading it yourself without taking a breath!]

1105.250 Complete Streets Policy. -The County shall develop a safe, reliable, efficient, integrated, accessible and connected multimodal transportation system that shall equally promote access, mobility and health for all users, and shall ensure that the safety, convenience and comfort of all users of the transportation system are genuinely accommodated, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people of all ages and abilities, motorists, emergency responders, freight providers and adjacent land users.

Let’s start by examing how “Incomplete” the present street is for each mode:

Pedestrians:” Currently, pedestrians aren’t accommodated at all. We don’t have a single sidewalk for them to walk on. And there’s not a pedestrian button or count-down timer in sight. That has to change!

Bicyclists:” If there’s no bike lane how’s a cyclist to get anywhere? We must have bike lanes on every single road, starting right outside your front door.

Users of mass transit:” I must admit I don’t often see buses heading down Florissant Rd. where I live. However, they do seem to manage somehow with what currently exists. And I’ve used MetroLink to hitch a ride on numerous occasions when I’ve biked downtown from my home. I can’t understand how that’s been possible without a Complete Streets bill.

People of all ages and abilities:” I guess the streets need to be modified to handle three-year-olds on big wheels. But I forgot: bike lanes will do that!
Paraquad, which represents handicapped people supports this bill, and I support them. Imagine being in a wheelchair and trying to cross the street when there’s a curb there. I wish there was a solution!

Motorists:” As I noted above, our present “Incomplete Streets” are a disaster waiting to happen for every motorist. Get cracking Alberici!

Emergency Responders:” They’re the ones responding to all those victims of “Incomplete Streets.”

Martin Pion donning helmet to make a point

Martin Pion donning bike helmet to make a point

Freight providers:” I forgot to mention the tangled wreckage of semis. When you’ve gone over the edge on your bike, the last thing you want landing on your bike helmet is one of those big rigs!

The person who adopted the term “Complete Streets” was a genius. According to Wikipedia that was Barbara McCann, who later (surprise!) became the Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition in 2003. It replaced the ineffective term “routine accommodation.”
Who wants that when you can have a Complete Street?!

         
This latest version of Councilman Dolan’s so-called “Complete Streets” bill, Substitute Bill #2 for Bill No. 238, is definitely less objectionable than his SB #1, which came perilously close to county council approval two months ago. However, it still retains the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee which gives Trailnet, the bill’s primary advocate, as well as Great Rivers Greenway, self-serving and unacceptable influence. And it still includes references to “appropriate accommodation for bicyclists,” which can be interpreted to mean bike lanes.

If this is intended as a reasonable compromise those issues should be addressed by deleting the Peer Advisory Committee, which is not even present in the Complete Streets Coalition’s own model ordinance. It should also omit any reference which can be interpreted as including bike lanes, which are intrinsically dangerous, and prejudice the rights of competent legal on-road cyclists.

Substitute Bill No. 2 for
BILL NO. 238 , 2013

ORDINANCE NO. , 2013
Introduced by Councilmember Dolan

AN ORDINANCE
AMENDING CHAPTER 1105, TITLE XI SLCRO 1974 AS AMENDED, “DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS AND TRAFFIC,” BY ENACTING AND ADDING THERETO ONE NEW SECTION ESTABLISHING THE COMPLETE STREETS POLICY.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Chapter 1105, Title XI SLCRO 1974 as amended, “Department of Highways and Traffic,” is amended by enacting and adding thereto one new section as follows:

1105.250 Complete Streets. 1. This ordinance sets forth the guiding principles and practices that shall be considered in St. Louis County (“County”) transportation projects. It is the vision of the County to continue to develop and expand upon a safe, reliable, efficient, integrated, accessible and connected multimodal transportation system that shall promote access, mobility and health for all users; to ensure that the safety, convenience and comfort of all users of the transportation system are genuinely considered, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people of all ages and abilities, motorists, emergency responders, freight providers and adjacent land users; and to continue to encourage safe walking, bicycling, transit and vehicle use for all users, regardless of age or ability, in efforts to create an interconnected network of complete streets, linking communities together. County believes inclusion of complete streets will help promote healthy, livable communities and further support a variety of mobility goals expressed in the St. Louis County Strategic Plan.

2. As used in this section:
i. “complete street” means a transportation corridor for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe accessible travel for all users with a goal towards creating a network of complete streets. Transportation improvements, facilities and amenities that may contribute to complete streets and that are considered as elements of a complete street are: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pedestrian access routes, street and sidewalk lighting, pedestrian and bicycle facilities; access management; ADA compliant transit stops and stations; context sensitive landscaping, utility relocations and street amenities allowing for efficient levels of service.
ii. “Pedestrian” means:
(a) A person on foot; or
(b) A person using any means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle; or
(c) A person using an electrical personal assistive mobility device; or
(d) A person operating a self-propelled wheelchair, motorized tricycle, or motorized quadricycle, and by reason of physical disability, is otherwise restricted in movement or unable to move about on foot.

3. The Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works (“Department”) will, where practicable, economically feasible and maintainable, routinely incorporate one or more complete street elements into County transportation projects to create a safer, more accessible street for all users. These elements provide appropriate accommodation for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, motorists, and persons of all abilities, regardless of age, while promoting safe operation for all users, in a coordinated manner consistent with, context sensitive to and supportive of, the surrounding community.

4. The Director of Highways and Traffic and Public Works (“Director”) shall consider the incorporation of federally recognized best practice complete street elements and allow design flexibility to balance user needs, where appropriate, in the design and construction of County transportation projects, improvements and facilities. Other factors to be considered shall include, but not be limited to: cost of improvements; budget for the project; space and area requirements and limitations; federal, state and local legal requirements and limitations; property rights and acquisition; foreseeable future land use; and on-going maintenance and operational costs. This policy further requires consideration of complete street elements by the Director of Planning and the Planning Commission through the planning, development review and approval process or in other appropriate circumstances.

5. County will incorporate complete streets principles into public strategic plans, standards plans, manuals, rules, regulations and programs as appropriate.

6. County shall foster partnerships with the State of Missouri, local municipalities, neighboring
communities, Metro, business districts, chambers of commerce, Great Rivers Greenway and other agencies, in consideration of functional facilities and accommodations in furtherance of the County’s complete streets policy and the continuation of such facilities and accommodations within other County communities. Elements that require maintenance by other entities will be handled via separate agreement between the interested parties.

7. County recognizes that complete streets may be achieved through single elements incorporated into a particular project or incrementally through a series of smaller improvements over time. County intends to investigate and draw upon various possible funding sources, including partnering with other communities and agencies, to plan and implement this policy in order to make complete street elements more economically feasible.

8. During the planning phase of County transportation projects, the Director will task staff to analyze ways to incorporate one or more complete street elements into the County transportation project and document study results. The study and analysis will include cost estimates, whether the elements can be incorporated in a safe manner, the degree that such improvements or facilities may be used, the benefit of such improvements or facilities to other public transportation improvements, whether additional property is required, physical or area requirements or limitations, long-term maintenance considerations and any other factors deemed by the Director to be relevant. Study details will be commensurate with project type and size and in accordance with implementation procedures. Emergency maintenance and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects will be excluded from study. Routine maintenance projects may be excluded from these requirements by the Director of Highways on a case-by-case basis. Such exclusions will be documented in the planning process.

The Director will brief the St. Louis County Board of Highways and Traffic (“Board”) regarding details of the complete streets analyses. The brief will also be distributed in writing to the Interdepartmental Advisory Team established pursuant to subsection 9 of this section and made available on the County website.

9. The Director will form an Interdepartmental Advisory Team to discuss complete streets goals in context of all County policies, plans and projects and in accordance with the County’s Strategic Plan. The Interdepartmental Advisory Team will consist of Directors or their designees from the Department of Highways and Traffic/Public Works, and the Departments of Planning, Health, Parks and Recreation and any other departments deemed appropriate by the Director. The Interdepartmental Advisory Team shall, within six months of ordinance adoption, initiate the following:

(a) Meet quarterly to discuss implementation and barriers to inclusion of complete streets elements into recent and ongoing projects;

(b) Develop an action plan to more fully integrate complete streets principles into appropriate policy documents, plans, project selection processes, design manuals and implementation (construction and maintenance) procedures;

(c) Propose revisions to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances and other applicable regulations to integrate, accommodate and balance the needs of all users of the transportation network;

(d) Convene a Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee;
(e) On a semi-annual basis, prepare a summary briefing regarding consideration of and progress towards complete streets implementation including quantifying metrics and performance measures and present this briefing to the Board of Highways and Traffic and the County Council.

10. A Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee shall be convened by the Interdepartmental Advisory Team to provide input and support for continuous improvement and coordination of complete streets projects throughout St. Louis County. The Peer Advisory Committee shall include, but not be limited to, representation from MoDOT, Metro, Great Rivers Greenway, St. Louis County Municipal League, organizations that support the disability community such as the St. Louis County Commission on disabilities, the Home Builders Association, and organizations that support multi-modal facilities such as Trailnet. Other members may include representation from the bicycle, pedestrian, youth, elderly or disabled communities or other advocacy organizations as relevant. The Peer Advisory Committee shall:

(a) Meet on a semi-annual basis, convening within six months of the effective date of this ordinance.

(b) Review and provide comment on the Department’s semi-annual report to the Board and County Council.

(c) Provide best practices, lessons learned, case studies and other resources on complete streets that the County can use to continually improve the complete streets action plan developed by the Interdepartmental Advisory Team.

(d) Assist in the identification of appropriate and reasonable performance measures and help establish
benchmarks for performance. The Peer Advisory Committee may seek assistance from appropriate community resources to help measure and monitor performance. Results of the benchmarking and performance will be collected annually and reported to the County Council.

11. County personnel will routinely seek professional development on complete streets principles and continue to attend workshops and other educational opportunities available to planners and engineers so that everyone working on the transportation network understands the importance of the complete streets vision and how they can implement it in their everyday work. County also recognizes that public outreach, education and communication are key factors of success.

ADOPTED:
APPROVED: CHAIR, COUNTY COUNCIL
ATTEST:
ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR COUNTY EXECUTIVE 8
APPROVED AS TO LEGAL FORM:
COUNTY COUNSELOR

Today’s public testimony before St. Louis County Council against SUBSTITUTE BILL NO. 1 FOR BILL NO. 238 (aka “Complete Streets”) was almost unanimous, only Alderman Scott Ogilvie from St. Louis City speaking in favor. He’s worked in a bike shop and described helping numerous customers become comfortable riding on the road. And while he mentioned bike lanes there was never a whisper of bike education playing any kind of role.

The testimony I’d already prepared went out the window when I learned yesterday morning of a car-bike collision with a female cyclist riding in one of the newly-painted bike lanes on Manchester Rd. It was a classic right hook by the motorist, and could have cost the cyclist her life or led to serious injury. The news spread once the cyclist posted about her close encounter on Facebook, as follows:

Susan Herzberg with daughter Gretchen

Susan Herzberg with daughter Gretchen

Susan Petsche Herzberg
Monday, December 16, 2013 @ 9:54 am near St. Louis, MO

Just had a collision with a car this morning on Manchester. Was riding my bike in the new bike lane and someone cut right in front of me to get to the gas station @ Kingshighway and I couldn’t stop. Took out her sideview mirror with my arm. ouch. I’m fine, will be bruised tomorrow and bike is fine, rode in the rest of the way to work, but I sure miss having 2 regular traffic lanes both ways on Manchester. I had 2.5 years of safe riding without the bike lane. So…be careful cyclists, bike lanes are really a much more dangerous place to be than in with the flow of traffic.

Later Susan added:

Yes Gretchen was safely at school. I was westbound on Manchester just after crossing Kingshighway and she was turning right into the gas station. I feel very lucky, it was a slow speed crash and no, I didn’t get to keep the mirror.

Susan has actually done a nice job of summing up the problems with bike lanes: they may encourage more cyclists to ride, although the numbers may be exaggerated, but they also lure novice cyclists into dangers of which they are totally unaware. At the same time they create potentially serious problems for informed and skilled cyclists who know how to bicycle safely. Below are copies of the two currently available testimonies presented at the council meeting opposing this bill:

Martin Pion

Martin Pion

Martin Pion, Ferguson

In past weeks, you’ve heard from cyclists who say bike lanes are dangerous. Trailnet says you should pass this bill because it makes cycling safer, and certainly some cyclist do believe so. Today, I was going to tell you about some bike lane crashes in other cities. As it turns out, I didn’t have to go so far away.
         In October, after MoDOT resurfaced Manchester Road/State Route 100 in St. Louis City they re-striped it to comply with the city’s Complete Streets ordinance. The previous four-lanes have now been reduced to three with the addition of bike lanes in some areas, These bike lanes are “by the book” – having an extra 2 ft buffer lane alongside parking lanes to mitigate a bike collision with an opened car door, and they are striped by today’s bike lane standards.
         A fellow cyclist, Susan Herzberg, uses this route every day, to commute from her home in south St. Louis to her work in Maplewood. She has done this for two and a half years, without incident.
         Yesterday, that long run of safe riding came to an end.
         Susan was riding westbound on Manchester Road, and had just entered the new bike lane after crossing Kingshighway. A woman entering the gas station turned directly in front of her. Because of the bike lane, Susan was in the driver’s blind spot. That is a problem with every bike lane, which can’t be avoided.
         Susan hit the car with such force that she tore off the righthand exterior mirror. Thankfully, Susan’s injuries were minor. She quite easily could have been dead.
         Accidents like this happen every day in bike lanes all over America. That’s why the way to make cyclists safe is to provide them with education in using the roads safely, and demand that they obey traffic laws just like other drivers.
         In their recent editorial opposing this bill, the Post-Dispatch said, “At the very least, the council should know whether the bill will kill people.” Given the time for research, I could provide numerous examples of cyclists who were killed, in bike lanes, by crashes just like this. That is why as a cyclist, with a concern for bike safety, I ask you to VOTE NO on this bill.

Below is a photo accompanying my printed testimony. A motorist is waiting to exit the entrance to the BP gas station where Susan was right hooked by the turning motorist just west of the intersection with Kingshighway. The photo shows Karen Karabell following me along Manchester Rd. before it was re-striped with bike lanes, so that we could readily control the lane when necessary for safety. At this location there is now a bike lane alongside the curb which prejudices such cyclist behavior. Susan estimated that Karen is about 10 ft beyond the point of impact.

Karen Karabell cycling along Manchester before restriping, just about 10 ft. beyond the point where Susan was right-hooked

Karen Karabell cycling along Manchester before restriping, just about 10 ft. beyond where Susan was right-hooked on Monday morning, December 16th, 2013

Note: Please click above photo to enlarge it. Use back arrow (top left of window) to return to this page.

Nick Kasoff

Nick Kasoff

Nick Kasoff, Ferguson

Trailnet and other advocates for the Complete Streets bill have presented this as a popular measure that your constituents support. Would it make a difference to you if I showed you that they were lying? Well, see for yourself. On Trailnet’s website, they cite a 2010 MoDOT study showing 53% support such programs:
(Source: http://www.trailnet.org/advocacy/complete-streets)
The same claim appears on the website of the “Missouri Complete Streets Information Center”:
(Source: http://mobikefed.org/content/missouri-complete-streets-information- center)
         So it looks like a slim majority supports Complete Streets. But it just so happens that Trailnet is misleading the council in a very serious way.
         You see, this 2010 survey wasn’t just a one-time thing. MoDOT asked the same question every year since 2008, and 2010 was the only time it received majority support. I’ve provided the council with the relevant pages of the MoDOT surveys that Trailnet DIDN’T bother to tell you about.
         And if you look at them, you’ll find that in the latest survey, from 2012, Complete Streets received the lowest level of support ever: 63% of those surveyed were OPPOSED to diverting road funds for Complete Streets. In the St. Louis district, 60% were opposed to diverting road funds. And in a 2009 survey for St. Louis county, more than 80% opposed more spending on bike trails in every council district except Mr. Dolan’s. In Dolan’s district, only 60% were against it.
         Now, you might say that accusing Trailnet of lying to the council is an overstatement. Maybe they just haven’t updated that web page in a long time. Well, if only it were so. In fact, that very same page was updated with an alert asking members to come speak at the council meeting last week:

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Attend the St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday, December 10th at 5:45pm and show your support. You are free to give testimony, or just observe the process. Every person counts! The meetings are generally 30-40 minutes long.

         So now you know. Complete Streets is opposed by a large majority of your constituents. And, the organization which is lobbying you to pass it has knowingly based that lobbying on a lie. That’s why in a recent editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, “Complete Streets would give a small number of people a claim on a disproportionate share of public dollars that should benefit the greatest number of people.”
         I hope you’ll take these facts into consideration, support your constituents, and vote no on this bill.

Eli Karabell talking to Councilmember Hazel Erby on 2013-12-10

Eli Karabell talking to Councilmember Hazel Erby after the council meeting on 2013-12-10

Eli Karabell gave impassioned extemporaneous testimony in opposition to this bill. Among his comments was this one:

         I feel 1,050 times safer when there are no bike lanes on the road!

Eli is the son of Karen Karabell who runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis. During both previous county council meetings Karen had also testified against this Complete Streets bill. After the meeting Eli was interviewed outside the council chamber by a reporter from St. Louis Public Radio and again expressed strong opposition to the bill. After we parted in the parking lot Eli cycled back to his Central West End home in St.Louis.

Eli Karabell was followed by Stephen Baker, Wildwood

Stephen Baker

Stephen Baker

Dear Council Members,

On its surface Complete Streets sounds like a wonderful idea. But there’s much more to it than safety and comfort for all users.
         Complete Streets creates division among road users, then attempts to mete out resources to accommodate the self-proclaimed entitlements for a minority. These entitlements come at the expense of everyone. Road easements will increase. Number and size of lanes will decrease. And conflicts will be created between classes of road users. The capacity of roads will be decreased.
         This can already be seen in how St. Louis City has already implemented Complete Streets on Manchester Road and on Chippewa Street. There are also studies that show that the number of accidents and deaths increases when traffic is segmented in that way that Complete Streets promotes.
         There is also a real cost to implementing Complete Streets. According to this bill, every update to a road, even private roads, will require design rework according to the Complete Streets Policy. This will in turn delay the maintenance of degrading roads and increase the costs to the state, county, cities, private road owners, and businesses.
         There are incomplete estimates from the county’s Highways, Traffic and Public Works division of the cost increases in implementing changes to a small portion of the county roads. The bill also requires county employees to attend national conferences, which by the way are put on by the same organizations that are promoting this bill. Doesn’t this sound self-serving?
         And, no estimates have been made for the costs to cities, school districts, and businesses for the changes that will be mandated by the Complete Streets Implementation Committee. The Complete Streets Implementation Committee will be overseen by the Complete Streets Peer Advisory Committee, a new committee that will by statute include members of the very organizations that are promoting this bill. Again, is this self-serving and self-promoting?
         Some of the organizations that are promoting this bill measure their success in number of lane-miles of bicycle lanes and cycle tracks without regard to safety or usability. This is not the type of leadership that I want to see directing how the roads that I use will be designed.
         This bill is a bad idea. There are better ways to spend public dollars to incorporate pedestrians, bicycle drivers, motor-vehicle drivers, and transportation drivers on the same roads.
         I am asking you to reject the Complete Streets Bill.

Thank you.

Last week, opponents of St. Louis County Council’s SB1 for Bill #238, the so-called “Complete Streets” bill, dominated the Public Forum, with no one speaking in favor. Before this week’s county council meeting, Trailnet alerted the troops, urging them to attend and speak in favor, so I for one expected scores of Complete Streets supporters lining up at the podium.

And some did attend, but those opposing more than held their own, as is clear from the relevant official meeting minutes, courtesy of the County Clerk’s office, and appended towards the end of this blog.

A total of 6 spoke against this “Complete Streets” bill versus only 5 in favor.

There was some surprising testimony from two cyclists among the five speaking in favor:

Chuck Avery of Clayton, describing himself as “biking for over 20 years” and racking up “thousands of miles a year,” stated “We’re all here advocating for what we think is the safest way to get people out riding bicycles”. (My emphasis.)

Mr. Avery should become “Cycling Savvy” by taking a CyclingSavvy course and learn what really makes on-road cycling safe.

Andy Heaslet of St. Louis, another cyclist, also spoke in favor of the bill. I applaud him for how he’s integrated bicycling into his business. For the past three years he said he’s been making his living as the owner of a bike-based restaurant delivery service. According to the minutes: Both Mr. Heaslet and his employees deliver food from restaurants to various customers throughout the region. He stated that he and his employees prefer riding on Complete Streets and those with protected bike lanes and facilities.

He’s relying on paint to think for him, which is dangerous, instead of knowledge of what makes on-road cycling safe. The antidote? He should attend a local CyclingSavvy course and encourage his employees to do the same!

There aren’t any on-road training sessions offered now but anyone can get a taste for what CyclingSavvy is all about by attending a 3 hour presentation in St. Charles in January. Please click the link St. Charles To Host CyclingSavvy In January

Note: Please click any photo below repeatedly to enlarge it. Use back arrow (top left of window) to return to this page.
Acknowledgement: Please note that the photos of Nick Kasoff and Karen Karabell were taken by Harold Karabell.

Nick Kasoff testifying against the bill with (from L to R) County Executive Charlie Dooley, council chairwoman Kathy Burkett, and councilmembers Hazel Erby and Dolan looking on

Nick Kasoff testifying against the bill with (from L to R) County Executive Charlie Dooley, council chairwoman Kathy Burkett, and councilmember Hazel Erby and bill sponsor Pat Dolan looking on

Testimony by Nick Kasoff, Ferguson, at St. Louis County Council meeting, December 10, 2013

The professionals of our highway department have an intimate knowledge of the transportation needs of our county. Complete Streets would take control of county roads out of their hands, and give that control to the small group of special interests who wrote this bill. That would be a complete catastrophe.
          Complete Streets will cost us a bundle. And a lot of that money will be spent on consultants and reports, on board meetings and staff time, to meet the complicated requirements of this law. We’ll also be spending it on lawyer’s fees, because Complete Streets creates a protected class of minority road users. If you don’t build a bike lane where I want it, I can sue you and claim you’re violating my rights. But it’s not just construction and planning. This bill requires equality in “operation and maintenance.” So now, instead of plowing streets to the side, you’ll have to plow the bike lanes and sidewalks as well, and find another place for all the snow. If you don’t, pedestrians and cyclists may sue you. How much is that going to cost?
          Complete Streets will also slam on the brakes for private development. That’s because the bill applies to private streets and parking lots as well as county roads. Forcing every development to comply with these complicated rules will drive up costs, and drive development out of the county.
          Supporters say that we don’t have to do every street right away. I guess they’re hoping you’ll pass the bill without finding out what’s in the bill. This bill requires that Complete Streets standards be met on every street when it is restriped or resurfaced. So we’ll get a big bill, and we’ll get it in a hurry.
          The bill also requires coordinating and receiving approval of all road plans from a bunch of entities. This includes municipalities, schools of all sorts, civic centers, Metro, unspecified “other high visitation facilities” … and of course, Great Rivers Greenway, one of the groups pushing this bill. How many county staff people will it take just to satisfy this one requirement?
          If you want to handcuff our county highway department and bankrupt our county government, this is a great bill. If not, you should vote NO. Passing Complete Streets would be a complete catastrophe for St. Louis county.

Martin Pion testified next.

Martin Pion testifying

Martin Pion testifying

Martin Pion, Ferguson

The November 19th Minutes recorded that Phil Valko, Director of Sustainability at Washington University St. Louis, spoke in favor of SB1 for Bill #238, which I oppose.
          I knew Phil when he was Trailnet’s Active Living Program Manager in Ferguson, and invited him home to lunch one time. I wanted to explore ways we might collaborate on bicycle transportation issues and the conversation went well until we started talking about North Elizabeth Avenue.
          Phil said he wouldn’t advocate anyone bicycling on that road because there was no room for bike lanes. That’s when I realized that Trailnet and I were poles apart.
          In fact, I routinely bike home along Elizabeth Avenue from downtown Ferguson. It’s a lovely country-like 25 mph road maintained by St. Louis County Highways and Traffic, tree-lined and mainly residential except for Paul’s Market. While it has narrow 11 ft. lanes and barely any shoulder, it’s generally no problem to bike along it.
          One rare exception for me was in 2004 when an aggressive SUV driver insisted on passing within inches in-lane, all the while blaring his horn. Fortuitously, I was wearing a helmet-mounted videocamera and caught him on tape, which allowed me to identify his license plate! I’ve posted a detailed review of the incident on-line, including a clip from the video [at http://cycling.mohiking.com/SUVhorn_movbig.html or tinyurl.com/o68ac6z].
          One of the lessons I learned from that unpleasant run-in was to bicycle further into the lane. Another was to control it when I judged it unsafe for a following motorist to pass, such as when approaching a blind bend, and then move right again once safe. This technique now has a name: “Control-and-release.”
          This past Spring, I bicycled up and down Elizabeth Ave. many times practicing control-and-release while seeking yard sign locations for my run for Ferguson City Council. Never once did I have an unpleasant encounter with a motorist.
          Trailnet’s focus on bike lane stripes both reduces road safety for competent cyclists like me, while giving novice cyclists a false sense of security. It’s the wrong approach and I urge you to oppose it.

Next was Robert Mick.

Robert Mick testifying against the bill without any notes for prepared testimony

Robert Mick testifying against the bill without any notes or prepared testimony

Robert Mick, Ferguson

According to the official minutes, he “stated he drives a car but is a bicyclist and he walks and cycles to work constantly. However, Mr. Mick stated he does not see the advantage of bike lanes. He expressed his agreement with Mr. Pion’s opinion that bike lanes provide a false sense of security and are restrictive. He concluded that he “does not see the need for Complete Streets legislation.”

Next to speak was Karen Karabell, who runs CyclingSavvy St. Louis in her spare time.

Karen Karabell testifying

Karen Karabell testifying

Karen Karabell, St. Louis

I’m Karen Karabell. As you know, I teach safe traffic cycling and stood before you last week. As you also know, I am opposed to your Complete Streets bill. Why did I come back?
         I want to offer some history about Trailnet, the organization that has been diligently working for your support on this bill. For years now, Trailnet has been vilifying the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic. They’ve even managed to cast national aspersion upon the department’s public information spokesman.
         Trailnet did this because Highways & Traffic refused to buy their mantra that “segregated” on-road facilities are the way to encourage people to choose bicycling.
         Years of experience have taught us that segregation does not work. That’s because “separate but equal” is always separate, but never equal—and even dangerous.
         Just two days ago in Los Angeles, early Sunday afternoon in broad daylight, a cyclist was killed by a motorist. The cyclist was a prominent 65-year-old attorney for the entertainment industry—and he was riding in a bike lane. The motorist was a sheriff’s deputy, driving on routine patrol at normal speed. Google it. This keeps happening. It’s incredible that people who should know better are still pushing bike lanes and cycletracks for bicycle transportation.
         Complete Streets is touted as a green initiative. It is not. It creates traffic jams, adds bureaucracy that cripples the effectiveness of your engineers, and increases costs—which results in fewer projects, more unmet needs, and more traffic jams. Green? No way!
         There is an easier way. We now know how to teach anyone how to ride anywhere safely, courteously and with ease. We teach these skills at a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest infrastructure “improvement.”
         Our amazing St. Louis-area team of six trained instructors has offered CyclingSavvy for two years now. I invite Trailnet to take advantage of CyclingSavvy training. I invite this council to do the same. Join us on your bicycles, have fun in our workshops, and experience the epiphany of safe traffic cycling.
         What is our vision—the vision of people who have discovered how to cycle safely anywhere? We believe that you will hop on your bicycles when you truly know how to be safe, when you feel welcome and respected on the road, and when you are not dependent on special infrastructure to go where you want to go.
         We all desire civility and safe passage on our roads. But your Complete Streets bill will not advance these ideals. Please: Don’t muck up St. Louis County roads with mandates.

Following are the testimonies of those speaking for and against the bill, as recorded in the Journal, with those testifying against identified as Con.

Journal of the County Council – December 10, 2013:

PUBLIC FORUM

Chairman Burkett called upon those persons who had signed cards to speak at the Public Forum.

Pro: Ms. Margaret Johnson, 7509 Gannon, University City, MO, 63130, addressed the County Council and stated her support for “Complete Streets” legislation (Relates to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, pending on tonight’s Final Passage Order of Business). Ms. Johnson shared her opinion and information regarding the societal changes regarding biking and walking to work and other destinations. She noted that some roads need to restrict non-vehicular traffic, “but it’s time to adjust our thinking and get on with changing our car culture to one that embraces pedestrians, bicyclists, parents pushing strollers and people in wheelchairs”. Ms. Johnson stated she personally walks and rides as much as possible, for pleasure, exercise and errands. She shared examples of how and where she rides her bike. Ms. Johnson stated her opinion as to why passage of this legislation would provide long-term benefits to St. Louis County and she encouraged St. Louis County to “change to fit the times”.

Con: Mr. Nick Kasoff, 125 Royal Avenue, Ferguson, MO, 63135, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and restated his opposition and opinions regarding the proposed Complete Streets legislation. He stated his observations and shared examples as to the possible financial impact this proposed legislation would have for St. Louis County in view of the regulations that would be put in place including slowing the process for private developments, the need to coordinate and receive approval of all road plans “from a bunch of entities” and the increase in County staff needed to meet the new requirements. Mr. Kasoff concluded by stating “passing Complete Streets would be a complete catastrophe for St. Louis County”.

Con: Mr. Gene Hutchin, 9447 Radio Dr., Affton, MO, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and restated his opposition to the “Complete Streets” policy for St. Louis County. Mr. Hutchin shared information concerning a recent incident where he nearly struck a bicyclist who was not wearing protective safety gear. Mr. Hutchin encouraged the Council to support the use of safety equipment requirements on bicycles. He further stated the idea of adding more bicyclists with the Complete Streets legislation is ridiculous and “you ought to be requiring these people who want to ride their bicycles like that to have safety equipment and they otherwise be certified like drivers of automobiles.” Mr. Hutchin further stated that he thinks this legislation is a waste of money, noting that you’re not going to replace the automobile and you won’t find thousands and thousands of people riding bicycles to work.

Con: Mr. Martin Pion, 6 Manor Ln., Ferguson, MO, 63135, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and restated his opposition to Complete Streets legislation. Mr. Pion shared information with regard to a conversation he had at some point with Mr. Phil Valko, Director of Sustainability, Washington University in St. Louis, and a former Trailnet’s Active Living Program Manager. Mr. Pion pointed out that recently Mr. Valko had spoken in support of Complete Streets legislation and he recalled that Mr. Valko was not supportive of “anyone” bicycling on North Elizabeth Avenue because there was no room for bike lanes. Mr. Pion further shared some of his experiences biking up and down Elizabeth Avenue and stated that “never once did I have an unpleasant encounter with a motorist”. Mr. Pion expressed his opinion that “Trailnet’s focus on bike lane stripes both reduces road safety for competent cyclists like me, while giving novice cyclists a false sense of security.” He stated that this is the wrong approach and he urged the Council Members to oppose Complete Streets legislation.

Con: Mr. Robert Mick, 36 Royal Ave., Ferguson, MO, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated he drives a car but is a bicyclist and he walks and cycles to work constantly. However, Mr. Mick stated he does not see the advantage of bike lanes. He expressed his agreement with Mr. Pion’s opinion that bike lanes provide a false sense of security and are restrictive. Mr. Mick related his experiences as a biker on today’s roadways and he stated he is as courteous as possible to motor vehicles when riding his bike because he drives also and he understands the situation from that perspective as well. He further stated he is hopeful that motorists will become more understanding and considerate of bicyclists but does not see the need for Complete Streets legislation.

Con: Ms. Karen Karabell, 4147 West Pine, St. Louis, MO, 63108, representing Cycling Savvy, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated she teaches safe cycling and restated her opposition to the Complete Streets legislation. She shared her observations and some “history” about Trailnet. Ms. Karabell pointed out that this organization has been working diligently for the Council’s support of the Complete Streets legislation. She shared information concerning Trailnet’s purported attempts to negatively portray the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic, stating Trailnet chose this approach because the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic refused to support their recommended provisions for bicyclists on County roadways. Ms. Karabell shared the circumstances surrounding the recent death of a bicyclist “in broad daylight” who was riding in a bike lane in Los Angeles, California, and was killed by a motorist. She proposed that Complete Streets legislation would create traffic jams, adds bureaucracy and increases costs. Ms. Karabell stated, “we now know how to teach anyone how to ride anywhere safely” and stated teaching these skills costs a fraction of even “the cheapest infrastructure improvement”. She invited Trailnet and the Council Members to take advantage of Cycling Savvy training and experience the “epiphany” of safe traffic cycling. Ms. Karabell stated we all desire civility and safe passage on our roads and further stated her opinion that the “Complete Streets bill will not advance these ideals. Please don’t muck up St. Louis County roads with mandates.”

Pro: Ms. Stefany Brot, 8145 Cornell Ct., University City, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated the University City Council just passed biking and pedestrian improvements to be included in its Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Brot further stated that she sees that the City of Clayton passed the Complete Streets Program and she plans to work to see the Complete Streets Program passed in University City. She shared her experiences while recently chairing a fundraiser, “Bike the Tree Walk”, and stated that they had 36 riders and had such a great time. Ms. Brot stated it was a very great day and she thinks it will be an even better day if the Council votes for Complete Streets in St. Louis County. Ms. Brot shared information concerning a trip to Vancouver, Canada, that she and her husband took with regard to the bikers that she observed using the designated bike paths on the major streets. She stated that she believes “we will be much better off when we have bicyclists, pedestrians and people riding MetroLink all over our County”.

Pro: Mr. Chuck Avery, 315 Kingsbury, Clayton, MO, 63105, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated he is a bicyclist and has been biking for over 20 years and generally is on his bike at least three or four days a week and that amounts to thousands of miles a year. Mr. Avery pointed out that he is retired and has been very fortunate to be able to travel to different cities around the Country and ride his bike in different cities that have bike infrastructure and bike lanes. He noted that it is really interesting to see how both the motorists and the bicyclists have learned to work with each other and respect their space. Mr. Avery further stated that he strongly believes bicycling is a good form of transportation and he thinks it would be nice if you decide to go somewhere in the County or the City to have bike routes with bike lanes or bike trails. Mr. Avery related that he is here tonight to encourage the Council to support Complete Streets. He stated it is a real concern how dangerous it can be to ride a bike. “We’re all here advocating for what we think is the safest way to get people out riding bicycles”. Mr. Avery noted that he advocates the use of trail systems and bike lanes and therefore, urged the Council Members to support the Complete Streets.

Pro: Mr. Charles G. Wilbur, 5211 Weber Rd., addressed the Council Members with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated he is here to advocate for Complete Streets. Mr. Wilbur shared that he has been a bike commuter for about two years and bikes from his home to his office near Lindbergh and Highway 270, with part of his commute on County roads, then Grants Trail and then back onto County roads. He shared he was happy to get off the roads and onto the trail and away from the cars and the crazy drivers. Mr. Wilbur pointed out that he took a safety class and that helped, but he still prefers a bike lane over taking the road to “be separated from the giant SUV than have him sitting behind me, misgauging how fast he’s going and bearing down on my back wheel”. He also shared his experience with walking outings and the choices he and his wife make in this regard.

Pro: Mr. Andy Heaslet, 3540 Juniata, St. Louis, MO, 63118, addressed the County Council with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and stated that he is a resident of the City of St. Louis. He shared his experience with making his living the past three years as the owner of a bike-based restaurant delivery service whereby Mr. Heaslet and his employees delivered food from restaurants to various customers throughout the region. Mr. Heaslet pointed out this delivery service was accomplished via bicycles in the City of St. Louis, and he stated that he and his employees prefer riding on Complete Streets and those with protected bike lanes and facilities. He urged the Council Members to support Complete Streets in St. Louis County.

Con: Ms. Lisa Pannett, 2915 Three Acres Ln., St. Louis, MO, 63125, addressed the County Council … and stated she disagreed with comments indicating everyone was for the Complete Streets plan with regard to Substitute Bill No. 1 for Bill No. 238, 2013, and made reference to the “Sustainability Plan”. She further stated her opinion regarding the proposed plan, made suggestions in this regard and questioned if the Council Members had read the plan.