A contrast in vision.
What are your planners seeing?
Both the nearby Naval War College and our local Planning Commission held hearings last week. They examined transportation improvements in the coming decades. The Navy was looking globally, of course, and we were looking at 40 square miles.
We didn’t discuss the widening of the Panama Canal, nor the opening of shipping lines through the Arctic.
The Navy didn’t discuss bike paths.
But the big difference between the two meetings was not scale. It was motivation. The context of the Navy’s hearing was their big worry about the cost and availability of fuel. (See previous post about what the Pentagon is thinking.)
“A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity . . . [even] assuming the most optimistic scenario for improved production.”
“[I have] urged the military to reduce the risks associated with climate change, including cutting its dependence on fossil fuels.” (Admiral Gary Roughead regarding the workshop, interviewed by Reuters)
“I want people who are looking at this through a different lens.” (Ditto)
Sadly, our commission is using the same old lens. Their weighted criteria:
Mobility 29%, Safety 23%, Cost-effectiveness 16%, Economic Development 13%, Local support 11%, and the Environment 8%
They want to build a six-mile bike path. It has scenic river views and would attract weekend bikers and tourists. But it doesn’t go near the shops, workplaces, schools, libraries, churches, doctors’ offices, or cinemas we normally drive to.
I’ll still need to take my car (or walk) to any of those destinations. The commissioners think the town center will be dangerous for bikers and expensive to change. But I think not being able to bike instead of drive will be seriously dangerous to my budget when fuel prices rise. Just as the Navy does.
A lot of communities are rushing to put in bike paths. If yours is one, take a look at whether they will actually reduce the number of gallons of gas you and your neighbors need to pump.
Or whether they just have scenic river views.