PPSP Comments to the Stevens Point Plan Commission regarding the Portage County Bike/Ped Plan

[Note: The following is a transcript of a statement I made at the September 8 Stevens Point Plan Commission meeting as they took action to adopt the portions of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan pertinent to the city.]

My name is Bob Fisch and I am the Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point. I am asking you to vote to approve adoption of the portions of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan pertinent to the city of Stevens Point.

I created Poky Pedaling Stevens Point as a means of encouraging more people to ride bicycles. These slow themed urban rides typically attract 15-to-20 people. My main demographic is in the 45- to 65-year-old range, equally split between women and men. I have had children under 10 and adults over 80 enjoy these community building events.

I want to clarify that I realize no financial benefit by acting to make bicycling better. I don’t own or work at a bicycle business. My Poky Pedals are all free, and I accept no advertising on my website. I don’t get paid to write my blog posts or to speak to you about bicycling. I am not trying to persuade you for my own monetary gain.

My motivation for making bicycling and walking better is to make my city a better place to live. Creating better transportation options has numerous benefits for our community.

Better bicycling and walking create good independent mobility options for our elderly, enabling them to participate more fully in civic life.

Better bicycling and walking give more good transportation options to low-income residents, allowing them more control over their finances and providing a clearer path to the ranks of the middle class.

Better bicycling and walking create safe options for children to travel to school, which is an important step towards addressing the childhood obesity epidemic affecting our community.

Better bicycling and walking improve public health. Not only does this reduce health care costs for those who bike and walk, it also creates a healthier community resulting in reduced health insurance expenses for public employees. Reductions in these taxpayer-funded expenses means that even people who don’t bike or walk see financial benefits from better bicycling and walking.

Better bicycling and walking creates jobs. The need to attract young creative employees to replace our aging workforce is well documented. Among the tendencies of this new generation of workers is a strong preference for bicycling and walking instead of driving. They want to live, work, and shop in vibrant places that prioritize building for people instead of building for cars. In order to hire these coveted employees, companies are discovering that they need to be located in the types of vibrant places where these young adults want to live. Making bicycling and walking better will inspire such young creative types to live here, thereby attracting businesses who want to hire them.

Approving this plan is a crucial step towards better bicycling and walking in our city. This plan was shaped over an 18-month period, guided by a collection of elected officials, municipal staff, and ordinary citizens. I am one of the ordinary citizens who served on the Urban Steering Committee. The team of consultants who led our efforts has excellent credentials and used their ample knowledge of current bicycling and walking trends throughout Wisconsin and the US as a whole to inform us committee members in our guidance.

The collective expertise and commitment of all these contributors led to an outstanding document that serves as a blueprint for making bicycling and walking better with substantial emphasis on the city of Stevens Point. The plan not only makes excellent recommendations for routes and infrastructure that comprise the engineering part of better bicycling and walking, but it also provides exceptional guidance for education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.

For those less informed about such topics, the first few chapters lay out a compelling case in plain language for making bicycling and walking better. Plan recommendations draw on these motivations for explaining the expected benefits from their implementation.

I wish to make one final point. This plan is simply a plan that does not come with any commitments for expenditures. The plan does make dollar estimates to inform decision makers considering implementation issues. However, adoption of this plan does not commit our city to spending a dime on its recommendations. Many of the plan recommendations that might be expensive as stand-alone projects are likely to be implemented as part of scheduled road reconstruction projects when the additional cost for making bicycling and walking better can be negligible. Your approval of this plan is not an approval to spend taxpayer dollars. It is merely an approval of the blueprint for better bicycling and walking that can be implemented opportunistically as fiscal priorities allow.

Please vote to approve adoption of the portions of the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan pertinent to the city of Stevens Point.

Thank you for listening.

Disclosure: Bob Fisch, Chief Bike Fun Officer of Poky Pedaling Stevens Point, was a member of the Urban Steering Committee for the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. Posts about this project appearing on the PPSP website are part of a broader PPSP effort to keep readers informed of bikey news in our area. Nothing posted on the PPSP website should be considered to be official communication from the Portage County Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Project. The official website for this project can be accessed at http://portagecobikepedplan.wordpress.com.


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