There is no doubt that transportation dollars are being squeezed both in Minnesota and around the country. Every infrastructure dollar being spent will be scrutinized and reviewed for the collective belt-tightening that is happening at State Capitol buildings.
With that in mind, as a cycling community we need to not only look at protecting the dollars that flow our way, but also making sure that we are using them in the most efficient way possible. This got us thinking, what would we do if we had the money of the previous 10 years to spend over again?
What follows is our opinion of how best to spend cycling allocated funding.
Best uses of funding (in order of priority).
1. Cycle tracks and dedicated off-street bike paths. – Expensive and difficult to get built-in existing cities? Yes, but physically separated cycling-exclusive pathways along streets are proven to be safer for cyclists. Also this encourages more new-to-biking people to venture out on their bikes for errands and commuting. The more people who view cycling as a legitimate means of transportation, the better off we all are.
2. Signs and educational material directed towards motorists. – We are big fans of the recent series of signs being run in Tacoma, Washington. These were created for the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Washington State Department of Health. Check out some more signs at Copenhagenize.
3. Bike lanes. – Why did we rank bike lanes so low? This is based solely on efficiency per dollar. Bike lanes are job creators (PDF), but they are not cheap ($5,000 – $50,000 per mile). In Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the lanes are un-usable for five months a year.
4. Educational material events directed at cyclists. – Collectively we have a lot to learn, every time a cyclist runs a red light, or rides at night without lights, it reflects on our collective group poorly. That is why programs that give away free lights to cyclists riding without them, and riding eduction classes help us all.
5. Money for legislative and other lobbying efforts in an attempt to create better laws to help protect cyclists. – After spending the day in the Capitol yesterday, this is much-needed.
We don’t believe that we have all (or the best answers). This list was complied and ranked based on personal opinions, and we want to know your opinion too! Sound off in the comments. Have more to say than that? Send us an email and have your opinion posted on CTC (firstname.lastname@example.org)