In Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News, Lanie Fleischer speaks out in support of the Anchorage Bike Plan. Thanks Lanie!
It’s time to adopt new, 20-year Bicycle Plan
COMPASS: Other points of view
By LANIE FLEISCHER
Of all the things we have come together to accomplish in this town, our greenbelts and trail systems truly define Anchorage. Now it’s time for the next phase.
The new Anchorage Bicycle Plan is a 20- year transportation plan which confirms that bikes are a legitimate mode of transportation in our community. The plan identifies routes for bike commuters and makes some of the connections we have longed for within the existing greenbelt trail system.
The plan, before the Anchorage Assembly for a public hearing on March 2, strives to make it safer to truly commute to work and to take care of business by bicycle, as more and more people are doing.
You’ve probably noticed these “utility” bicyclists travelling to work, to school or doing errands; most travel an average of five miles per trip and an astounding number are bicycling year round.
Maybe it’s the endorphins they get from bicycling, maybe its just that they feel great, maybe they are saving money by not using a car, but they are out there, typically heading from their homes to Downtown, Midtown, the U-Med district and shopping centers — places that our greenbelt trails don’t go directly. It is safe to assume that every adult “utility” biker we see on our streets or pathways represents one less car in our lane.
The Anchorage Bicycle Plan strives to make riding safer. It is a plan that has sensibly examined Anchorage roads to identify a bicycle network and create safer routes for bicyclists that will not cost us a fortune. Five-foot-wide bike lanes at the edge of some roadways called for in the plan give bicyclists more places to travel safely. You can see a few of these striped bike lanes around town; Southport and the new Elmore Road extension are examples of roads where this approach can work well.
Even without this plan Anchorage is recognized as a Bicycle Friendly City with a bronze designation, but this plan, created with the help of the ad hoc group, “Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage” promises a safer future for bicycling in Anchorage. It will help polish our reputation (and destination) as a great place for bicyclists.
While we spend about $120 million for road projects in Anchorage every year, the bicycle plan proposes to spend slightly more than that amount spread over 20 years. This is a bargain!
Anchorage voters have consistently supported trails by their votes and, equally importantly, by using the trails in ever-increasing numbers. It’s because the trails are alive with people of all ages and stages and through all seasons that we have our great trail system — just as we envisioned almost 40 years ago.
It is time to take it to the next level by adopting the new Anchorage Bicycle Plan.
Lanie Fleischer is a longtime advocate for trails in Anchorage. The trail along Chester Creek is named for her.