Saturday, December 20, 2008

Signs promote bike safety

Saturday, December 20, 2008
Times Staff Writer
City approves $5,000 for rider awareness project

Huntsville leaders are shifting into gear to make city roads more bicycle friendly.

The $227 million budget approved by the City Council Thursday night earmarks $5,000 in the city's $40,000 sign budget for bike safety signs.

Councilman Bill Kling pushed the earmark on behalf of the recently formed Huntsville Bike Advisory and Safety Committee. The committee was formed in the wake of a bike-car collision on Technology Drive that killed 20-year-old UAH student Sarah Chapman in September while bicycling from campus.

City Transportation Director Richard Kramer told the council $5,000 should cover the installation of about 107 signs.

"We will be working on bike signs and try to get them out as quickly as possible," Mayor Tommy Battle said. Bicycling advocates said they'll make sure city leaders follow through on that commitment.

"We're going to keep reminding you," said Jamie Miernik, bicycle activist and bike safety committee member, noting city promises in October to erect the signs within 90 days.

Sasha Riffle recently got rid of her car and uses a bike as her main transportation. Riffle told the council the signs should improve driver and bicyclist safety awareness and promote Huntsville as a more health and environmentally conscious city.

Kling said the $5,000 earmark will infuse a lot of money toward bike awareness efforts.

"Instead of doing just a small number one year and a small number another," Kling said, "This $5,000 commitment will put out enough signs to have visibility and impact throughout the city and hopefully that will increase awareness to car drivers and bikes and avoid fatalities."

It was not immediately clear what kind of signs will be erected. Kling initially talked of posting the popular "Share the Road" signs but loosely worded the earmark to let traffic engineers decide. City officials and cycling advocates also have talked of using painted markings in traffic lanes.

Chapman's death spurred much of the recent concern about making Huntsville more bicycle friendly but the city's plans were in place long before but slow to materialize.

City planning department employee James Moore recently finalized a map of the city's 158 miles of bicycle paths and greenways and will work with the bike safety committee and traffic engineers to make designated routes safer.

The police department, which has 16 bicycle patrol officers, also has been charged with enforcing bicycle and traffic laws and developing measures like public service ads to keep the public safe. Road planners also will try to include wider shoulders in new road designs.

On a related bike note, the City Council approved a measure Thursday night that will extend the Indian Creek Greenway in west Huntsville. A development agreement between the city of Huntsville and Streetside Communities calls for the engineering, design and construction of extending Explorer Boulevard in Cummings Research Park along with extending the greenway north along Indian Creek.

The 2,000-foot road extension will connect the existing terminus of Explorer Boulevard north of Farrow Road to Pegasus Drive in Research Park to help service the Midtowne in the Park residential development being built by Enfinger-Steele Development.

Developers will pay for the engineering and design and grant city easements. The development agreement lists the cost of the greenway at $662,283.

City planners want to eventually connect the greenway to the greenway segment behind the Village of Providence. Officials say that won't happen until the U.S. 72 West Bridge over Indian Creek is replaced so the greenway can run under it.


Tyler said...

This is the problem they seem to be more concerned with Greenways instead of bicycle friendly roads.

creamrises said...

WOW! That's almost 2.5 cents per person/365 days. Or 0.00683 cent per person per day. Hell'va commitment alrite. All you naysayers who don't believe that local bike advocacy isn't effective.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone going to bitch about the (albeit small) changes and improvements being made for the rest of eternity?


Really, I am tired of stagnation too, but the city council can only do so much. YOU have to go up there and be heard at EVERY meeting. Bring friends, make a party of it, just SHOW UP. They don't realize the size of the cyclist population in town because they don't show up en masse to the city council meetings to DEMAND that things be done.

Valuable time is wasted complaining, especially when you aren't doing everything in your own power to change things.