|Bike Friendly West Bend envisions multiple routes throughout the city.|
This week, Bike Friendly West Bend is stepping up its efforts to bring a master bike plan to the city. Jeff Puetz, BFWB’s president, has contacted the Common Council to request not only the addition of the bike plan as an agenda item for the Council’s meeting on December 18, but also face-to-face meetings with individual Council members in advance of the public meeting. BFWB’s plan is a collaborative effort with City staff and it enjoys financial backing from West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, but its adoption is far from guaranteed. The Common Council has heard the pitch before.
What makes the latest appeal different is its focus on the “why” and not on the “what.” Here is BFWB’s business case for the bike plan, reprinted verbatim from the document shared with Council members this week:
The Common Council and Bike Friendly West Bend agree that building and maintaining a transportation infrastructure and public safety are roles of government. Please consider that bicycling is a form of transportation with the same legal standing as motorized modes of travel.1 Bicycling is also the sole effective transportation means for some people, such as children and senior citizens. Though cyclists appreciate the ability to cycle on sidewalks in West Bend, sidewalks are less safe than properly marked streets.2
The bike routes requested within the Bicycle Plan for the City of West Bend update the transportation infrastructure, increasing safety for all road users while providing a more usable transportation infrastructure for bicyclists. Safety is especially important for children, families and less experienced bicyclists. Bicyclists can be divided into four categories: Strong and Fearless, Enthused and Confident, Interested but Concerned and No Way No How. The largest category by far is the Interested but Concerned group at 60%3 - and this is the group that will benefit most from route safety. Increased safety addresses the concerns of employers like West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., which supports a bike commuting program. The identified routes connect places where people live to places they want to go, leveraging the existing roadway infrastructure, by only adding signs and paint.
State and national statistics suggest about half of your constituents regularly bicycle. A Wisconsin commissioned study on the economic impact of bicycling states that 48% of Wisconsin adults cited bicycling as a recreational activity in which they participate.4 Articles and anecdotal evidence suggest that the bicycling rate among children is similar.
In separate surveys of residents, West Bend Parks, Recreation and Forestry and Washington County Planning and Parks found that more bicycle facilities are a top priority of residents. As anecdotal evidence supporting the validity of these surveys, on May 10, 2017, 318 people participated in Bike to School Day in West Bend at 4 schools.
The number one impediment people cite when asked what prevents them from bicycling is lack of a bike infrastructure.5 This holds true across multiple formal and informal surveys.
For residents and for businesses in the City of West Bend, building a bicycling infrastructure will have numerous benefits.
A robust bicycling infrastructure increases public safety and reduces conflict between motorists and bicyclists. When cyclists have designated space they know where they’re supposed to be and drivers know that as well. There’s greater awareness and, subsequently, less conflict when space is clearly spelled out.
Bicycle tourists have money to spend! Locations with a robust bicycling infrastructure attract people from the surrounding area. Ozaukee County’s Interurban Trail and Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail are prime examples, bringing hundreds and sometimes thousands of users to nearby businesses every day. Those destinations are reaping bicycling tourism dollars that could be spent in West Bend. Some of those dollars are from West Bend residents who leave our city to find destinations with a more robust bicycling infrastructure.
Local businesses get a commensurate increase in sales with a nearby bicycling infrastructure. Several studies show bicyclists spend more per month per person than motorists.6 If the City’s proposed 25% share of Washington County’s sales tax is successful, increased sales will directly benefit the city.
A robust bicycling infrastructure raises commercial property values through increased demand for space as business sales increase. Wauwatosa’s revitalization along W. North Ave. with new bike lanes and other traffic calming features is a prime local example of how a more bikeable and walkable approach has yielded an economic boon.
A robust bicycling infrastructure attracts and retains residents and businesses to a city. Cities are competing to attract new businesses and the next generation of worker / entrepreneur. Businesses are moving to where the workers are. Local amenities are a key consideration in attracting residents and businesses, especially considering the revolution of telecommuting.
A robust bicycling infrastructure reduces strain on parking and delays the need to build new parking. For every one to two cyclists who choose to bicycle to their destination (Farmers’ Market, Dublin’s, MOWA, downtown businesses, etc.) one less vehicle parking spot is needed. More bicyclists also reduce the congestion associated with jockeying for position for parking spaces. Our bicycle parking plan utilizes off street bicycle racks which don’t compete with car parking. The cost of constructing a parking spot is in the thousands of dollars. Bicycling within the city saves expense to the city. That’s not even considering that every trip taken by bicycle instead of by car reduces road wear exponentially.7
Low cost compared to demand is the final factor you should consider when making your decision.
Through the generosity of West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., which is concerned about the safety of its employees who commute by bicycle, we have a pledge to cover the cost of materials for the implementation of all routes.
With signs estimated to last 15 to 20 years, the annualized cost of signs is less than .1% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. With pavement markings estimated to last 2 to 3 years, the annualized cost of the paint for pavement markings is less than .3% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. The total annualized cost of materials for maintaining the proposed bicycling infrastructure is less than .4% of the 2017 West Bend streets budget. This small percent of the streets budget is all that is needed to support a favorite activity of approximately half your constituents.
Labor estimates for sign installation and pavement marking is approximately 1,406 person-hours, which will be spread over more than one year. If acceptable, volunteer labor for implementation of all routes could cut the city’s labor commitment.
1. Wisconsin State Statute 346.02(4)(a)
2. Articles on the dangers associated with bicycling on sidewalks 1 2
3. Four Types of Transportation Cyclists in Portland
4. The Economic Impact of Bicycling in Wisconsin
5. Here’s what keeps people from riding a bike
6. Bicyclist spending habits
7. Road wear comparison
What can you do to help? First, contact your alderman before December 18. Ask that the bike plan be added to the December 18 agenda and then give your personal reasons in favor of its adoption. Council members are very receptive to contact from their constituents, so your voice will be heard clearly. If you are not a resident but you work, shop, or enjoy recreation in West Bend, then contact the mayor. Second, attend the meeting. Again, BFWB is hoping for December 18. Watch the city's website for the agenda.
BFWB’s master bike plan is a practical, financially-responsible step toward better, safer bicycling for both transportation and recreation. Please show your support.