When Fresno makes changes to a road, there is usually very little public outreach. What typically happens is that Public Works says a change is needed, it goes out to bid, the council approves the bid, and the change comes. That’s how it has typically been for small changes like repaving and larger changes like widening roads. Many times, the public doesn’t find out about the proposal until they read the city council agenda where the bid will get voted on.
Last year, councilman Larry Westerlund decided that the process wasn’t working well, at least when the project in question was a road diet/bike lane repaving project. So he ordered up a community meeting which allowed him to delay the bike lane project for a good six months. (Part of that delay was because paving season ended).
I agree with Westerlund that public outreach and feedback is a good thing, but the project he chose to delay makes his intentions clear. Fresno spends millions widening roads all over town every year, with extremely little outreach, but the second a project dares remove a lane, community meetings are called.
Westerlund isn’t concerned with the lack of outreach, he just wants to push back against badly needed bike lanes because he feels he can score political points by opposing them.
One final meeting is scheduled for tomorrow evening, before the project goes before the council again.
Already this project has been delayed for half a year, and last year a second bike lane project was questioned and then cancelled as well. It is very important that those who understand the enormous safety benefit of road diets and the importance of a bike lane network attend both the community meeting and the city council meeting to voice support.
These type of meetings are always attended by folks who generally have nothing else to do and love to say no to any form of change. It is important that everyone else, those who usually can’t show up due to jobs or families make some kind of appearance to make it clear that this project serves a very real purpose.
Ibikefresno has the details
WHEN: Tuesday, May 22 @ 6:30pm
WHERE: Thomas Elementary School @ Millbrook & Gettysburg
WHEN: Thursday, May 24 At around 10-11am
WHERE: City Hall
If you can’t attend the meeting (I certainly can’t go on Thursday), make sure to email your councilmember.
Even if you don’t live in that district, roads are used by everyone, not just the immediate residents. It’s important that the council sees that needless delaying of important projects is bad policy.
The IBikefresno link above includes all the necessary contact info. I will try and make the community meeting tomorrow, but be sure to also check out the ibikefresno facebook page for updates by them.