Fed up with a transportation planning process they say perpetually prioritizes cars over the safety of people on bicycles, the entire Salem Bicycling Advisory Committee quit last week, as Dustin Luca reports for The Salem News:
The group works from a master plan of objectives that was drafted in 2010, according to Ernie DeMaio III, a bicycling enthusiast who was a member of the committee until last week.
Since the committee was created, he said, “biking has become much more popular, not just as a recreational tool but as an alternative means for green transportation across the city,” DeMaio said. “We implemented all the recommendations of the master plan and have been working on putting together a new master plan.”
The situation with the intersection at Lafayette and Loring followed a trend of instances that DeMaio said had been wearing on the group.
“We’ve seen it repeatedly — the projects the city advances, where the designs for roadways are still being done in old-fashioned ways with old-fashioned standards,” DeMaio said. “By the time a project reaches us, where we can have a say in how it can be built, we’re frequently told, ‘We’re too far to change things now.’” […]
In a letter to [Mayor Kim] Driscoll dated Oct. 14, the eight members wrote that “bicycling amenities and infrastructure are (and should be) integral and essential elements in a multi-user street planning policy. … The SBAC does not consider bike infrastructure to be luxuries to be bartered with when road or project improvement budgets or schedules are challenged.”
Even though Massachusetts ranks as one of America’s best states for bicycling, head outside the Boston area and most streets remain woefully incomplete, prioritizing vehicle speed over the safety of people on foot and on bikes.
I’m sorry that the SBAC has given up on making progress from inside the system, but I hope the story serves as a wake-up call to Salem city government.