Bicycle Transportation is definitely treated as an after thought in the Minneapolis - St. Paul regional area. A review of the Metropolitan Council Transportation Plan 2030 reveals a total lack of system and network development for bicycles written into the plan. All the rest of the transportation modes emphasize systems, network development and coordination. When bicycle and pedestrian modes are planned to be second class with no network policies there is a policy block to federal, state and local money, civil engineering and development. The effect on the usability of the bicycle and pedestrian transportation modes is devastating.
I submitted public comment on the current Transportation Plan in 2010 concerning bicycle and pedestrian transportation. My remarks mostly addressed the lack of system and network development for these two modes of transit. The other transportation modes in the Plan: Highway, Mass Transit, Freight, Rail, Air have a lot of talk about systems and networks and the regional and national connections to the networks, network priorities and coordination, financing, preservation, maintenance and operations.
But biking and walking are treated differently, no network and the system is to be planned and implemented locally, not regionally. This creates the conditions of bicycle and pedestrian transit as a second class mode of transit ignored regionally. The effects are evident when the maps supplied by the Metro Council are reviewed. The bicycle route map is a hodgepodge of discrete unconnected lines and abrupt endings at political jurisdiction boundaries. The other maps for non-bicycle transportation modes are obviously regional networks of transportation.
COMMENTS on Chapter 2, Prioritizing Regional Transportation Investments
-- From the document: "Strategy 2d. Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments: The Council will encourage roadway and transit investments to include provisions for bicycle and pedestrian travel. Funding priority for separate bicycle and pedestrian improvements will be based on their ability to accomplish regional transportation objectives for bicycling and walking."
-- Strategy 2d. Comment: Unlike strategies 2b and 2c, there is no mention of preservation, operations, maintenance of the existing pedestrian and bicycle investments. Public stairways, trails and bicycle parking seem to have no coordinated maintenance, route preservation or operation funds. There is no mention of network and system development. Pedestrian and bicycle trails and routes are typically discrete, beginning nowhere and abruptly ending without interconnecting, lacking navigation and a network approach to maintenance. System and network development should be a priority and all sub strategies should acknowledge network and system priorities.
COMMENTS on Policy 5: Investments in Regional, National and Global Connections -- Bicycle and Pedestrian system and network are left out of the connection strategies. These transit modes should be included in the connection strategy list to develop the system and network of these modes.
COMMENTS on CHAPTER 9: Pedestrians and Bicyclists -- The lack of a regional system and network for the pedestrian and bicycle routes is reinforced by bad policy in this Quote from CHAPTER 9 EXISTING SYSTEM: "... facilities for such trips are best addressed at the local, rather than regional, level."
A different introduction should be written emphasizing system network development and coordination between jurisdictions and a system and network approach used for routes, navigation signs, maintenance, detour routes, snow removal, etc.
People may have shorter trips but many trips cross boundaries, to restrict network development to local planning is terrible policy. The total lack of system and network planning and coordination also affects the land banking of future rail routes.
The map included in CHAPTER 9 shows discrete uncoordinated routes that end abruptly at jurisdictional lines and make it difficult to use bicycle and pedestrian routes for transit. Continuing a "local only" approach is nonsensical. System and network approach to bicycle and pedestrian routes must be emphasized in the document as an overriding priority.
-- COMMENT on CHAPTER 9 Policy 18: Providing Pedestrian and Bicycle Travel Systems
The word network is missing from all the strategies 18a-18f. Network development of bicycle and pedestrian systems should be a priority, not a secondary effect.
Regional route priorities should be established to create a properly networked system to determine funding.
The continued treatment of bicycle and pedestrian transportation modes as second class modes not worthy of regional network and system development shows a lack of civil engineering input in this area. Networks have value, many times more value than discrete unconnected routes. For example asking that a bridge includes pedestrian and bicycle modes is worthless when local planning is uncoordinated across political jurisdictions. Another trail to nowhere is created which wastes resources.
Navigation, operation, maintenance, preservation and basic service standards are lacking across the metropolitan region which can only be remedied by policy that looks at the whole system and network of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Engineering follows policy and funding. The lack of a network and system perspective for bicycle and pedestrian transportation modes in the Metropolitan Council Transportation Plan for 2030 will set us back another 20 years.
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