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Fear of Public Outcry Puts Brakes on Bike Lanes

City officials turned away a federal grant that would have been used to construct bike lanes on Pinehurst Road.

 

City officials had a chance to make Pinehurst Road safer with federal money, but killed it last week, largely because of public relation concerns.

"Maybe the neighborhood will be a little more receptive if they see the grander scheme of things," Mayor Dave Eggers said.

A plan would have put four-foot bike lanes on both sides of a one-mile stretch of Pinehurst Road using a $447,000 Safe Routes to School grant meant for improving routes for students. In July, neighborhood outrage for the grant: a separated bike trail on Pinehurst.

The Nov. 17 decision, which divided officials, came one week after a workshop in which staff revealed a master plan for better connecting pedestrian and bicycle routes across the city. During the workshop, they listened to neighborhood complaints about speeding motorists on Pinehurst Road (from Michigan Avenue to San Christopher Drive).

In the master plan, a portion of Pinehurst Road near the is a proposed bicycle and sidewalk multi-use trail area.

Officials were varied in their reasons for opposing the grant.

Julie Ward Bujalski said the bike lanes seemed like a better outcome for adults than for the intended young recipients of San Jose.

“I don’t think there’s a mother alive who would let her child ride in the bike lane,” Bujalski said. “If I would not put my own child on a Safe Routes to School project then I can’t support it.”

David Carson’s biggest contention was the appearance that the decision looked rushed. He said the neighborhood had no idea they were voting to cut four feet into their yards — albeit the public right of way.

“When we make this vote to do this, they’re gonna come unglued," he said. "And it looks like we’re passing this really quick."

Both Ron Barnette and Julie Scales voted for the plan.

“Its high time some of our (federal) tax money comes back to the city,” , said. “This is gonna save some $250,000 of our taxpayers additional money.”

“If we can make it safer I think we should,” Scales said.

Some neighborhood residents opposed the plan because of the safety concern of having bicyclists riding alongside speeding motorists.

The mayor was the deciding vote. Just a week earlier Eggers spoke of his dream for pushing Dunedin into a bicycle-friendly era. He said he “wrestled” with the final decision, cast Nov. 17.

“We have the right to put the sidewalk in, we have the right to put the bike lanes in,” he said. “But there’s still work to be done… We need to have a lot more outreach."

He said staff needs to reach out to neighborhoods with the master plan.

"We want to get people turned on about bicycles," Eggers said.

He added that he was “sad” to vote against it:

"There is life here for this... We believe in the master plan, and we need to go on the road with this."

Liz Taylor November 23, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Dunedin needs to continue to push for more bike and pedestrian friendly routes. Pinehurst road is a dangerous place for cyclists of any age given the speeding and lax enforcement. Perhaps reducing the speed limit and stepping up enforcement City wide can pay for a separate trail.
-Ed Harris- December 02, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Voting this down was another example of poor leadership and loads of misinformation. Federal grants for Bike lanes have been around for a long time and the grant in question allowed for ample time to install and/or delay the project if the City changed it's mind. There was no rush! Residents and council's have been talking about this for years. Bike lanes always will benefit adults first (as they should) allowing us to check them out and make sure it's safe for kids. The bike lane in question would have benefited Dunedin High School students the most, and the street path could have been altered to mirror Douglas Ave from the stadium to Main St. A paid study to find this out is NOT needed simply ask the students! You know the children of the people who voted you into office. There seems to be a handful of people, who are very vocal that members of our council listen to, as opposed to the masses that love Dunedin and enjoy keeping it fun, delightful and fresh. I've got a news flash for ya! Bikes and Golf carts are here to stay, we as residents and business owners have always wanted them and will always want them! That includes electric charging stations too! The future is here and we are clearly not ready to move ahead, sounds to me like changes need to be in order, but what do I know, I'm just a plumber and my family has only been here since the 40's lol

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