Wednesday, April 22, 2009

King Street Bike Boulevard Dead in the Water

The headline in the Senile today reads, "King Street Bicycle Boulevard on Hold" but the article itself doesn't back that claim up. If anything, the King Street Bicycle Boulevard that many of us fought so hard for after 2 people died on Mission Street, is dead.

Noticeably absent from yesterday's Public Works Department wish (a.k.a. Capital Improvement Projects) list presented to the city council, the King Street Bike Boulevard has been put on "indefinite hold" due to a budget deficit the size of the grand canyon...or Ryan Coonerty's gut. But budget issues only tell a part of the story - political will, priorities, and the fecklessness of our so-called "progressive" city council is the other part.

This isn't simply a defeat for bicyclists. It is a defeat for folks concerned about oil dependence, global warming, and yeah, bike safety. Public Works Department assistant director Chris Schneiter claims that accidents on King Street are already low so it's safe for bicyclists to ride but that's not the issue. The issue is accidents on Mission Street being high, and likewise the need for an infrastructure that encourages more people to ride/walk while simultaneously discouraging driving. The interests of bicyclists verses automobile drivers here are mutually exclusive.

Even at a deeper level this illustrates the fundamental flaw in approaching something like a bike boulevard as being solely an issue of transportation when in reality it involves ecology, mental health, safety, and sustainability. So the King Street Bike Boulevard is dead....and wouldn't you know it? It's Earth Day today.

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