[MissoulaGov] Fw: committee update 5-30-07

John Couch jcouch at onewest.net
Fri Jun 1 10:08:06 MDT 2007


I like your idea of a dynamic, traveling discussion of transportation
issues in Missoula although I think there's more to it than searching
for a definition of anti-cyclist. I'd like to explore the routes both
residential and the arterials you speak of with our different
perspectives. A moving, constructive, exploration of the challenges we
face may bring us all closer to understanding just what needs to be
accomplished and maybe how to do it. I apologize though, I'm flying out
this afternoon for a family wedding but I'll contact you when I return
and we can put it together. Of course I would welcome Ed or anyone else
that would like to join us. Ed I've got a bike trailer you can ride
in, it holds up to 120 lbs.........oh...never mind, I think the mini
can join us too!


Paul Sopko wrote:

> John,


> I'll hop on my bike and be glad to meet you somewhere and we can come to an

> agreement on a definition of "anti-cyclist". Remember, 99% of Missoulians

> are not hard-core-ride-my-bike- 12 months/year-everywhere activists as you

> are. They deserve a bike commuter system that they feel safe riding on. Same

> with the kids we are trying to teach to use alternate modes of

> transportation.


> Your suggestions for reducing road widths and vehicle speeds sound great for

> residential streets. I'm don't think its a reasonable idea for arterials

> such as Reserve, Brooks...etc. Bringing motor traffic to a standstill to

> accommodate bicycle safety on arterials designed to efficiently move traffic

> only increases congestion, air pollution and tempers. I don't think most

> Missoula residents are ready for that. Paul S.


> ----- Original Message -----

> From: "John Couch" <jcouch at onewest.net>

> To: "Paul Sopko" <psopko at highstream.net>

> Cc: <>

> Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2007 6:09 PM

> Subject: Re: [MissoulaGov] Fw: committee update 5-30-07




>> Paul,


>> Your "parallel but separate" comment from last week and the "equal

>> grounds"(apartheid?) comment today could be construed by some, perhaps a

>> serious bike commuter, as "anti-cyclist" but as Bob said "I'll work on

>> that". I completely agree with you and Bob the "us vs them mentality" is

>> not productive however if you are a bike commuter you know it's there

>> and you have to deal with it some how, daily. So, I also agree with you

>> that "high speed motor vehicle traffic" is a serious problem. I would

>> suggest that lowering the speed limits within the city and reducing road

>> and lane widths would greatly decrease the potential for serious and

>> fatal crashes between motor vehicles and bikes as well as vehicles and

>> pedestrians. I'm assuming here that the majority of bicycle and

>> pedestrian commuters are within the city. Oh.....and the ever rising

>> price of a gallon of gas and the increasing awareness of the

>> environmental consequences of burning fossil fuel the helps too.


>> john


>> And Alex, I appreciate the fact that City Club is taking up the

>> discussion but 11:30am on a workday just doesn't work for some. That's

>> why I really commend Bob Jaffe for starting this missoulagov list. We

>> need a combination of all these communication venues to facilitate more

>> open discussion, thanks, jc


>> Paul Sopko wrote:


>>> Bob,

>>> Since I made comments last week questioning the city's practice of

>>> mixing bicycle and motor vehicle traffic do you consider me

>>> "anti-cyclist"? I hope not since I share your desire to see both

>>> bicyclists and motor vehicles being able to easily navigate Missoula

>>> on equal grounds. I never advocating pushing bicycles onto sidewalks

>>> but to start thinking about how the current practice is unsafe since

>>> collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles are similar to

>>> collisions between pedestrians and cars......the cyclist or pedestrian

>>> usually ends up dead. I see the bike discussion as a debate about

>>> safety, not a bicyclist vs. anti-cyclist contest.

>>> I wish you would refrain from promoting the "us vs. them" mentality

>>> with these type of comments. It discourages constructive debate (which

>>> I thought you were trying to encourage with your weekly postings) and

>>> promotes the uncivil-confrontational exchanges that Missoula is known


> for.


>>> Paul Sopko


>>> ----- Original Message -----

>>> *From:* Bob Jaffe <mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us>

>>> *To:* missoulagov at cmslists.com <mailto:missoulagov at cmslists.com>

>>> *Sent:* Wednesday, May 30, 2007 11:34 PM

>>> *Subject:* [MissoulaGov] committee update 5-30-07


>>> Greetings,


>>> In Public Safety this morning we continued the discussion about

>>> bike safety. On the way into the meeting Mr. Hendrickson chastised

>>> me for not stopping at two stop signs and failing to signal my

>>> turns. I indicated that I was also riding on the sidewalk as I

>>> approached the bike racks in front of the council chambers. He

>>> reminded me that riding on the sidewalk is in fact legal and if he

>>> had his way all bikes would ride on the sidewalk. I mention this

>>> because the incident came up again in the meeting.


>>> We heard about the bike light program we did this winter. The city

>>> purchased about 150 bike light sets and the police gave them out

>>> to people they stopped for riding after dark without lights.

>>> Overall it was a very positive experience and helped create

>>> opportunities for the police to educate cyclists. We discussed

>>> ways to continue such programs in the future. I indicated that I

>>> agree these things are important but ultimately what will make

>>> cycling safer will be more bike lanes and better infrastructure.

>>> It is easy to go after anecdotal individual behavior but the

>>> infrastructure that cyclists are using all day every day is what

>>> will make a difference.


>>> In the closing minutes of the meeting John recounted how on the

>>> way in he saw a cyclist roll through stop signs and neglect to use

>>> his hand signals. He stated that all the infrastructure and bike

>>> lanes were of no value if cyclists didn’t follow the law.


>>> I’ve been thinking a lot about these comments, both trying to

>>> understand the sudden interest in bike safety from the

>>> anti-cyclists and trying to get a grasp on how they see the issue.

>>> I hesitate to put words in their mouths but “all bikes belong on

>>> the sidewalk” to me says the primary transportation system is for

>>> cars only and bikes need to make do with the pedestrians or

>>> whatever it is that uses that area off the side of our road. I’m

>>> much more of the mind that cycling as a primary form of

>>> transportation is the answer to so many of our problems and we

>>> should promote it in every way possible.


>>> I’m not sure where to start with “bike lanes are of no use if

>>> cyclists don’t obey the law.” First off I should make clear my

>>> position on stop signs and turn signals. I think it is absurd to

>>> expect bikes to stop at all stop signs. Jim Nugent, the city

>>> attorney, is the only person I know who does that. And I bet he

>>> runs them when no one is looking. Robin Hamilton introduced

>>> legislation to change the state law to allow bikes to yield at

>>> stop signs instead of stop. It didn’t go anywhere but it makes a

>>> lot of sense. Obviously, bikes need to yield at stop signs to

>>> other traffic. But stopping when it is not necessary is

>>> unreasonable and most if not all cyclists are unlikely to do it.

>>> It takes energy to stop and start. You lose your balance. You are

>>> on a bike for crying out loud, you can see what is around you and

>>> you are going slow enough that it makes no difference. The

>>> dynamics of riding a bike are just different from driving a car.

>>> Our laws should recognize that.


>>> Signaling is also a hazard for a cyclist riding in traffic. In

>>> general, the only time I signal is when I am stopping in a lane of

>>> moving traffic waiting to make a left across oncoming traffic. I

>>> want to make sure the people behind me know why I am out in the

>>> middle of the road. Otherwise I find it to be reckless to take my

>>> hand off the handlebars to make an obligatory signal that inhibits

>>> my ability to navigate.


>>> Traffic laws I believe are important are staying on the right side

>>> of the road; using a light at night; yielding to cars when you

>>> don’t have the right of way; and probably some more I can’t think

>>> of. I’m sure my critics will jump on my picking and choosing which

>>> laws to follow but these bike traffic laws were obviously

>>> developed by people who don’t ride bikes and are somewhat out of

>>> touch with reality.


>>> But my main objection to the above statement is that it expresses

>>> the perspective that we don’t need to share the road or build more

>>> infrastructure, we just need these uppity cyclists to behave and

>>> get on the sidewalk where they belong.


>>> Enough about biking.


>>> In PAZ we finished the changes to the Planning board bylaws. There

>>> was some discussion about whether they should be able to move

>>> forward without a quorum present. The report we received back made

>>> it clear this was not OK so we scrapped the idea. There was some

>>> concern that projects come forward on deadlines and shouldn’t be

>>> held back just because they couldn’t get enough people to show.

>>> Examining the attendance records show that it rarely happens.


>>> The other main item we covered was a review to the changes to the

>>> subdivision regulations. The main discussion was again on the

>>> definition of agriculture. The state regs say we are supposed to

>>> consider the impacts of a subdivision on agriculture. So it is

>>> important to define what agriculture means. The debate is over

>>> whether that definition should include agricultural lands or just

>>> the actual practice of agriculture. The County regs include the

>>> land definition. Dave S. and I would like to see the city regs

>>> match the county regs. Most people seemed to completely miss why

>>> this was important or what it had to do with subdivisions. I am

>>> hoping we can get a few representatives from CFAC to do a

>>> presentation to PAZ about the importance of agricultural lands in

>>> the valley and why state subdivision regulations say we should

>>> consider the impact of development on agriculture.


>>> In Public Works we discussed the upcoming changes to Miller Creek

>>> road. If I understood correctly there will be one southbound lane

>>> as is and there will be two northbound lanes from the intersection

>>> of upper and lower miller creek and Briggs. (If I have that wrong

>>> someone please correct me). The right lane will then be a turn

>>> only onto Briggs. The intersection of upper and lower will be

>>> redesigned. The county has been charging people up there $1800 per

>>> house in a transportation fee. They have about 1.5 million to put

>>> into the project. The big developers up there will pick up the

>>> rest. I think it is about 2 or 2.5 million.


>>> We also discussed a $31,000 increase to the contract with the

>>> engineers doing the 3^rd and Russell EIS. They need some extra

>>> money to convert the data from the wrong formats used by the bozos

>>> who had the contract before them. They also needed to put more

>>> hours into properly engineering the potential roundabouts at 3^rd

>>> , 5^th , and 11^th . A few people didn’t think we should spend

>>> money doing the engineering on roundabouts since someone said they

>>> might sue us if we installed them. Steve King explained that the

>>> roundabout was a viable alternative and had many benefits. It was

>>> one of the proposed alternatives and needed the engineering to be

>>> done for us to properly consider our options. This is essentially

>>> the whole point of the EIS process.


>>> In Budget Committee of the Whole we had a presentation from the

>>> mayor on his proposed budget. It was a good presentation on the

>>> financial condition of the city. Hopefully it will be available on

>>> the city web site.


>>> We then reviewed CIP projects for two hours. The gist was that

>>> there is a bunch of stuff we need to buy that we can’t afford.


>>> Thanks for your interest,


>>> Bob Jaffe


>>> Missoula City Council, Ward 3


>>> bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us <mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us>


>>> 406-728-1052



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