MCBC Speaker Series Recap Trial Bike Projects Help Overcome Fear of Change – Part II
This is the second of a two-part series about our recent MCBC Speaker Series event. To read part one, click here.
If anyone knows how difficult the planning process can be in Marin, it might be longtime County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who spoke in “Getting to Yes: Overcoming NIMBYism En Route to Safer Streets” following Julie Flynn’s primer on the implementation of trial bike projects.
When asked why it has taken so long to get to a point where planning is more iterative and engaging, Kinsey acknowledged that the shift can be attributed, in part, to growing frustrations with an unwieldy process often mired in bureaucracy.
Kinsey is now in a role where, among other duties, he advises cities on how to improve their engagement strategies. He works for consultant Alta Planning + Design on a number of Marin projects, including San Rafael’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan update, 2nd to Andersen multi-use pathway, and Bettini Transit Center relocation.
Using San Rafael as a local example of possible applications for the methods Flynn presented, Kinsey made the case that San Rafael’s Downtown streets are in obvious need of improvement, as MCBC has time and again.
Bicycle-involved collisions in Downtown San Rafael (dates unknown). Source: Steve Kinsey, Alta Planning + Design.
He stressed the role of the upcoming Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan update and the importance of building consensus around a few high priority improvements. The plan, which will be adopted this fall, serves as the City’s blueprint for walking and bicycling investments.
Moving from planning to implementation, however, could prove difficult, especially on busy downtown streets where better bicycling may necessitate the removal of on-street parking or reduction in travel lanes.
Many routes to success, but none that will come easily. Source: Steve Kinsey, Alta Planning + Design.
That’s where Kinsey echoed Flynn’s message and highlighted the efficacy of trial projects as a way to overcome skepticism and opposition to bicycling improvements. Perhaps more importantly, said Kinsey, it’s an opportunity to involve the broader community–especially those not typically at the table for planning discussions.
MCBC’s Policy & Planning Director, Bjorn Griepenburg, expressed his excitement for the new approach.
“When we’ve got a proposal to make a street more bike-friendly, it’s too easy for cities and elected officials to shy away due to concerns about parking or traffic impacts; now we can push back and say ‘prove it’–let’s test things out.”
While the second half of the evening was focused primarily on San Rafael, MCBC will look for opportunities to partner with all cities to implement trial projects where appropriate.