Seems like our city council is having difficulty setting priorities for the 2022 budget. Maybe we can help. Rather than airing a laundry list of topics here (because there are many of them), I’d like to propose we focus and help them prioritize between two specific topics first. The budget for sidewalk improvements vs. the budget for bike lanes. (In case you’re interested, the entire list of budget decision packages can be found here.)
The current proposed 2022 budget has $901,780 earmarked for new sidewalks and $1,562,390 for bike lanes. At the special city council meeting Thursday evening, Councilmember Distelhorst proposed allocating additional budget for bike lanes.
My casual observation suggests that I see more people walking around neighborhoods, downtown and the waterfront than I do see people riding bikes. And I don’t think I’d get an argument that our sidewalks throughout the city need attention. Sidewalks are everywhere (or should be). Your neighborhood, my neighborhood. I cringe when I see mothers jogging, pushing baby strollers over some of our uneven sidewalks. Or young children learning to ride their bicycles on them. Or us old people out for our daily walk. Even Council President Paine lamented after her fall and subsequent injuries as a result of a poor sidewalk. So why add more money to an already well-funded bike lane project when our needs are elsewhere?
There is somewhat a sense of urgency behind this as the council has imposed an expedited schedule for this year’s budget approval process (long story). Councilmember Distelhorst is expected to introduce his motion to increase the bicycle lane budget at the next council meeting. So here’s my ask. Please provide your comments below on how you would prioritize between these two budget line items, sidewalks or bike lanes. We’ll forward them onto the City Council in advance of their meetings. And if you’re so inclined, please send a quick note to the council directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with your priorities.
Spread the word. Let’s help them help us.