Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chuck Dahlem's postiion on bicycle-advocacy issues

Charley "Chuck" Dahlem (e-mail; no website) is a candidate in the race for District 3 (southeast Wichita). Today he e-mailed his response to the e-mail I sent to all the candidates for City Council; below is his response in full:
Thanks for the information. In my opinion, I think it is an excellent idea that should be vigorously pursued. I would suppport such a measure with great enthusiam, in that it would promote physical fitness, as well as savings of fuel costs.

Keep in touch and thanks again for the information!!!

Charley "Chuck" Dahlem

Again: my posting of the responses I receive is in no way intended as an endorsement of the candidates.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Janet Miller's position on cycling-advocacy issues

As you may know, Tuesday, April 7 is election day for city council representatives in districts 1, 3 and 6. Janet Miller (link now fixed) is a candidate in the District 6 race, and last week I wrote her to ask her to speak to bicycle-advocacy issues and what if any measures she would support as a member of the council. This evening, I received her reply; it appears in full below. I should add that this isn't intended to serve as an endorsement of Miller's candidacy; I provide it here as a service to readers who plan to vote and/or for whom cycling issues are important:
Hi John –

Thank you for your inquiry about my position on making Wichita more bicycle-friendly. I am 100% behind efforts to move Wichita toward being a better place for cycling as an alternate mode of transportation. This includes supporting not only the addition of bike paths, but also moving toward the philosophy of “complete streets” that are bike/ped/car accommodating. As President of the Park Board, I have been actively advocating for this concept for a number of years. I think the City’s planning staff is moving more in this direction, but other City departments aren’t quite there yet. I am on a mission to help move us in this direction, which would include more bike paths, more on-road bike lanes, installing bike racks on public buses and in public spaces, and providing “share the road” education. Last fall, I participated in one of the local KDOT town hall meetings and advocated for the inclusion of bike/ped projects, funding, and incentives in the next 10-year transportation plan. I am also an advocate of the local annual “bike to work” event.

You certainly have my permission to print my answer on your blog, and I thank you for the opportunity to weigh-in on this important issue. My guess is that we have a number of acquaintances in common who enjoy cycling in Wichita (and who would enjoy it even more if we had the infrastructure to support it!) I look forward to meeting you in person one day soon. Let me know if I can answer other questions or clarify any of my answer.

Miller's opponent in District 6 is Bob Aldrich. I have sent him the same letter I sent to Miller; should I receive a reply from him before the election and have his permission to do so, I will post his reply here.

EDIT: In my District 6-centric frame of mind last week, it didn't occur to me that the candidates in the District 1 and 3 races might also have some thoughts on infrastructure as it applies to cyclists. Therefore, I'll be e-mailing those other candidates and posting their responses as I receive them, too.

Sunday Ride #6: New Gypsum Creek path

Veloroute map. I took my usual commute route to reach the eastern end of the route, took the new route as indicated (included here is my turn north along the Canal Route up to Mt. Vernon), then returned home via my commute route.

Greetings, all. It appears that I can resume something that resembles regular blogging here. Thanks again for the kind wishes sent the Mrs.'s way.

A couple of Saturdays ago, when it looked like spring had arrived, I thought I'd check out the new bike path I'd written about in my previous post. There is good and not-so-good to report.

The good: The path proper is concrete and is indeed complete from George Washington to Wassall. Being so new, it's of course in great shape. There are also places for benches along the path, and it appears the city will be planting some trees in a couple of places. From the path's western terminus at Wassall, it's a short one-block ride down Wassall to the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-135. Moreover, on the day I rode there, the city is putting a new, wider sidewalk in at the intersection of Pawnee and Minneapolis, which will make crossing Pawnee easier and safer. My teaching schedule this spring isn't conducive to bike-commuting (I have late classes each night), but some weekend I plan to take this new route to see how it might fare as part of my commute-route in terms of distance and time.

The not-so-good: as I have noted before about the Canal Route, this new stretch, naturally wend-y by nature because it follows the creek, nevertheless makes some bizarre arbitrary bends on perfectly-flat land. Thus, at times it created in me the sense of not covering much ground. Meanwhile, the pedestrian bridge seems designed to discourage cyclists from riding across it: I suppose one could ascend the ramps while astride one's bike, but they are too steep and turn too abruptly to descend safely. True, to cross the bridge on foot takes just a couple of minutes, but it's that disruption of getting off and then getting on again that strikes me as irritating.

The bad: One word--Plainview. It is no secret to most Wichitans that Plainview is a rough part of town; and, given that the entirety of this new path runs along that neighborhood's southern boundary, sometimes right along the houses' (often unfenced) property lines, riders are hereby alerted to this. On my ride, I saw a couple of pit bulls staked out on chains in backyards--I saw them because, as I said, some of these yards aren't fenced. Granted, their chains were short enough to prevent them from reaching the path, and I apparently was too boring to them to cause them to do much more than bark a couple of times at me; but it's not as though there are signs warning cyclists or pedestrians about all this. It may be that there are plans to install fencing or plant hedges along the route, but I saw nothing that would indicate such a thing. In short: it's a bit dicey down there, even in the daytime, and you need to know this in advance. All that said, though, the city is to be commended for building a path along that route. As I noted in the earlier post, bike commuters on the south side of town heading to the McConnell area should find this route to be useful to them, and it also provides a safe bike route for kids who attend the two schools the path passes. Most important of all, whether intentionally or not and slalom-y curves aside, it argues against the assumption most people (and city-planners) have of cycling as a middle-class recreational activity.

As my first commenter notes on the previous post, there are still more paths to come for the south side, most notably a path (construction to begin this summer) that will link the Arkansas River path's southern terminus at Garvey Park with this same just-completed new path. Good. But now: about that much-needed east-west route through the city's center . . .