WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP: For more than a year and a half, Bicycling In Greensboro, Inc. (BIG) has been petitioning the Greensboro Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (GUAMPO) to establish a standing Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). GUAMPO is the federally designated entity that determines how federal, state, and local funds are used for transportation projects in the greater Greensboro area (including bike lanes, sidewalks, and off-street paved trails). Currently, users of bicycle and pedestrian facilities do not have an official voice in the transportation decision-making process in Greensboro. For comparison, at least 7 of the 17 MPOs in North Carolina already have such committees. In response to BIG's requests, Robbie Perkins (the Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), which is GUAMPO's decision-making board), agreed to direct GUAMPO staff to develop recommendations for creating such a committee to present to the TAC. Initially, staff agreed to present their recommendations by around Spring 2010. By June 2010 no recommendations had been presented, so BIG sent a follow-up letter. Staff then agreed to bring recommendations forward by December 2010. The December 2010 TAC meeting was cancelled, so now these recommendations are finally scheduled to be presented at the January 2011 TAC meeting. The description of the item in the Agenda Item Summary for this meeting reads:
"Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee Options & Alternatives -- Prompted by requests from Bicycling In Greensboro, MPO staff has completed research and reviewed options for and alternatives to an MPO Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. A preferred alternative involving public involvement and community outreach strategies instead of a committee will be described."
Although this summary statement does not give the details of staff's actual recommendations, there is enough evidence to indicate that the recommendations will not be a satisfactory response to our request, for several reasons:
1) The current federal regulations governing MPOs already require MPOs to "provide citizens, affected public agencies, representatives of public transportation employees, freight shippers, providers of freight transportation services, private providers of transportation, representatives of users of public transportation, representatives of users of pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities, representatives of the disabled, and other interested parties with a reasonable opportunity to comment on" development of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP), and the Public Participation Plan.
2) The GUAMPO Public Participation Plan and the Greensboro Urban Area Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Master Plan (aka BiPed Plan) also already state that GUAMPO will conduct public involvement and outreach activities in order to seek input from all interested parties.
3) BIG specifically requested creation of a committee comprised of individuals from throughout the community with direct knowledge of and experience with the needs and preferences of bicyclists and pedestrians. While the BPAC would certainly provide input on the several large, long-range planning documents maintained by the MPO (especially the BiPed Plan), the real significance of the BPAC would be its ability to provide timely, consistent input to both the TAC and to staff on issues related to specific bicycle and pedestrian projects.
WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO: Urge the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) to not accept the recommendation offered by MPO staff, and instead to establish and appoint a standing Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, generally similar in structure and function to that described in the two letters submitted by BIG to the MPO in September 2009 and June 2010, respectively. The TAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 2pm in the Greensboro City Council Chamber, located on the 2nd floor of Greensboro City Hall, 300 West Washington Street.
It appears a fair few people have made a New Year's Resolution to commute by bike. On Monday evening I saw four people on bikes commuting after 6:15PM (Sunset was 5:16PM). Except for one guy on Old Battleground, none of them had a head light. One had a tail light on the bike, another had a tail light on the helmet and one had no lights at all.
Excepting the person on Old Battleground, the guy with no lights appeared to be the brightest of the bunch though. He was walking his bike off the edge of Holden Rd.
The guy with tail light on the bike was the one that spooked me the most though--I encountered him shortly after pulling onto Lake Brandt Rd. I noticed him as I pulled level with him going in the opposite direction. Had he been faster I might have pulled out in his path because he was invisible from the front.
Helmet light guy was a similar situation (just about the same location except I was approaching from behind this time). The light mounted up high like that with no passive (reflectors) or active lighting on the bike made it appear he was around 200 yards further up the road than he actually was when he was in the black holes between street lights.
My point--If you need to ride when the sun doesn't shine, get a head light and a frame mounted tail light. The head light to reduce cut-offs by pull-outs and left-crosses and so people can find you in their mirror when they merge into your lane; a frame mounted tail light so you are recognizable as an SMV at the expected range. The vehicle code is written with safety paramount--flaunting it does no one any good.