WHO: Boulder for Safe Streets
WHAT: Action in support of protected bike lanes in Boulder and the need for safe streets
WHEN: Wednesday, 30 September, 5:15PM
WHERE: Beginning at Greenleaf Park (intersection of Spruce Street and Folsom Street), Boulder, Colorado
BOULDER, COLORADO—Bicyclists and safe street advocates will gather this afternoon at 5:15 pm at the corner of Folsom and Spruce Streets in Boulder to mourn the removal of protected bike lanes on Folsom Street and support of safe streets for all users. On Tuesday night, Boulder City Council unanimously approved early termination of the trial bike lanes. The lanes were installed ten weeks ago with an intended duration of 12-18 months.
Protected bike lanes are one of several infrastructure modifications included in Boulder’s Living Labs program, which seeks innovative ways to reach the city’s long-term transportation goals, including 30% of trips in Boulder made by bicycle by 2035. Over 200 US Cities have successfully installed protected bike lane projects in the past three years. So far only three projects have been removed.
Metrics that staff and Council identified as indicators of success have all been “trending in the right direction,” according to Kathleen Bracke, Manager of GO Boulder. Yet Council member Lisa Morzel has been advocating since August that the project be scaled back. On Thursday September 29th, city staff made the same proposal, recommending early removal of the southern half of the project—in a meeting closed to public comment—and circumventing normal procedures in bypassing its own citizens’ Transportation Advisory Board.
A council election in November, the local newspaper’s interest in stoking controversy, and vehement reactions from a “green” city’s motoring public have led to a perfect storm that doomed a safer street for bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles. “Boulder used to be considered one of the most most bike friendly cities in the country,” said Alana Wilson, one of the event organizers. “Unfortunately that no longer seems to be part of the Boulder brand.”
In a letter to city council, local resident Charles Brock wrote about the need for safe streets: “I’ll never forget rushing to the hospital when my high-school-aged son was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Folsom,” Charles said. “I hope he’ll finally be fully recovered by the end of this year, five years after the crash.”
The reversal in street safety “has been a setback, for sure,” remarked Eric Budd, another organizer of the event, “But we’ve been able to mobilize a lot of people who ride bikes in Boulder. Working with national organizations and our terrific local group, Community Cycles, we will be moving strongly to bring Boulder back as a leader in creating safe streets for people. We need leadership to implement Boulder’s ambitious transportation plan.”
At an event where people were encouraged to write love letters and poems to the Folsom bike lanes, many wrote about finally feeling safe on a dangerous road. “Dear Folsom,” one wrote,” My kids want to bike now because of you. I feel finally feel safe with my family.” “Oh Folsom, how I love thee!” wrote another. “My commute is so safe and happy!”
Said Budd, “I hope Boulder can recommit and actually take steps to reverse this unfortunate path. The future of progressive cities lies in prioritizing human-scaled, calmed, safe environments.”
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