Bob Dunning is offended. He noted in a recent column that he was in Portland and greatly disturbed by a sign he saw – “Portland: Bicycle Capital of the Nation.”
He then notes the headline from a few days ago in his paper: “Resignations, suspension leave bicycling commission without a quorum.”
He writes: “How could this be in the city of Davis, the true Bicycle Capital of the Nation?”
Anne Ternus-Bellamy noted in the opening paragraph of her Enterprise story, “The bicycling capital of the nation has a problem: The commission that oversees bicycling and transportation safety in the city of Davis doesn’t have enough members to hold a meeting.”
But here’s the thing about the column that is clearly tongue-n-cheek. There was no such attention two weeks ago when the staff for the city delivered what should have been a very sobering assessment of our bike infrastructure.
We have focused heavily on roads for very good reason – but the bike paths in this town are actually in worse shape.
We have 51.7 miles of bike path in our city as part of the glorious infrastructure programs from decades ago that formed the backbone of our city. But like roads, that infrastructure is in deep decline.
Right now our streets rate a 57 – which in grade school would be a failure, but we grade roads on a curve, so it’s only fair. But the bike paths are worse. They are at 52. If you get below 50, on the PCI, it would be considered poor.
Drilling down – 46.3 percent of our bike paths are poor and another 14.9 percent have failed – a PCI of less than 25.
Compare that with our roads which has a 57 PCI overall and 65% of them are either Good or Fair with just 29.3 percent poor and 5.5 percent failed.
Staff presented several cost estimates at the meeting two weeks ago for the bike paths.
The existing budget will allocate about $7.6 million over the next 10 years which will result in the bike paths declining from a 52 PCI to a 38 PCI.
Unrealistic as well is the “fix everything” scenario that would cost $60 million over the next 10 years but take our bike paths up to a 90 PCI.
In order to just maintain the current PCI, we have to triple the budget to $22.2 million over the next ten years. Just to maintain the current PCI for roads and bike paths will cost just under $100 million over that time, just about $10 million a year.
But that only keeps our roads and bike paths in the current state which is not great.
The city’s target PCI for roads is 68 for arterials, 65 for collectors and 60 for residential roads along with 68 for bike paths.
The cost of that is $79 million for streets and $38.7 million for bike paths. That’s almost $11 million a year – and even that only gets us to a 63 PCI for roads overall which is below state average.
Bottom line here – it is easy to see the commission unable to hold meetings as a symbolic problem, but the city is losing its bicycling status in large part because we have failed to maintain our great bike infrastructure.
—David M. Greenwald reporting