Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- Paul Draper, community representative
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Steamboat Springs Nevermind that Routt County commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Doug Monger ignored the wishes of many Strawberry Park residents and much of the cycling community.
Nevermind that they refused to reconsider their decision.
And nevermind that commissioners have pushed back a larger, needed community discussion on the issue until the fall because, as Stahoviak said, people are busy enjoying the summer.
Stahoviak and Monger's dig-in-our-heels approach to the County Road 36 re-striping issue smacks of leaders who are out of touch not only with their constituencies, but also with their own Master Plan.
Stahoviak and Monger last week voted to widen the traffic lanes on the straightaway portion of C.R. 36 by 1 foot, thus narrowing the shoulders from 5 feet to 4 feet. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush was the lone dissenting vote.
The request to widen the road for vehicular traffic came from Strawberry Park resident Geneva Taylor, wife of state Sen. Jack Taylor. Opposition came from the cycling community and many other Strawberry Park residents, some of whom offered $1,000 for increased signage if the commissioners would agree to leave the existing lane widths intact.
Stahoviak and Monger say their decision was made based on a number of factors, including historical discussions, citizen comments, the types and volume of traffic on the road and their personal observations.
Their decision doesn't appear to be based on the Routt County Master Plan, which Stahoviak and Monger ratified in April 2003. The Master Plan includes a section on transportation and a stated goal to "create a multi-modal transportation system of corridors, highways, pathways and mass transit options that will, at a minimum, not increase congestion and will move people throughout the Yampa Valley in an efficient, environmentally sound, affordable and appealing manner."
Accordingly, the Master Plan lists the county's policies as they pertain to transportation. Several touch on points relevant to the C.R. 36 discussion:
- 11.3.G. Pedestrian/bike system which connects retail areas, public facilities, recreational areas and neighborhoods with a minimum of auto-truck-rail conflict is encouraged.
- 11.3.H. Protect and respect the rights of the pedestrian.
- 11.3.I. Encourage the use of non-motorized and public transit for recreational and local transportation needs.
- 11.3.N. Encourage the separation of transportation modes as much as possible on county roads through the use of parallel trails or wide shoulders.
The commissioners argue that C.R. 36's 4-foot shoulders already are the widest in the county, but they're missing the point. Their decision sent a message that flies in the face of everything we should be trying to accomplish as a county: promoting alternative forms of transportation, reducing vehicular traffic and encouraging healthy lifestyles. In case the commissioners forgot, they can refer to their own Master Plan.
Regardless of what residents think about the commissioners' decision last week, we're concerned about the ratcheting up of animosity between motorists and cyclists. As well as being counterproductive, such discord creates a dangerous situation that could lead to serious injury or death.
As we stressed during last week's Bike to Work Week, motorists and cyclists owe it to themselves and others on the road to understand and follow state laws. We also must remember that the cyclists, equestrians, walkers and joggers who share the roadways with motorized vehicles are often our neighbors, co-workers and friends, or the tourists who help fuel our economy. Frustrated motorists and cyclists do themselves and other users of the road no favors when they act belligerently toward one another.
Moving forward, we hope our county commissioners will begin to recognize the value in focusing their efforts on alternative forms of transportation. Indeed, the continued growth of our local cycling community is proof that others in the county already are heading down that path. It would be prudent for our elected officials to jump on board.