07 March 2011

How I might spend $2 million.

The Columbia Missourian reported last week that bicycle riders will be able to experience a safer ride from the City out to the Katy Trail. I am happy for recreational riders who will feel safer and the Route K drivers who are probably quite sick of having to Share the Road.

What bums me out though is how far this money could have gone to serve much larger numbers of bicyclists within the City of Columbia. The Missourian says $2 million to build this bike lane, which will come with a total road resurfacing of Route K as it leads into the Village of McBaine.

When I did the math last week, it will cost $1.2 million to build or reconstruct sidewalks along Broadway in west Central Columbia. There are existing, but crumbling sidewalks in some of this area, the area near where I live. There are an estimated $60 million worth of unmet bike and pedestrian needs in Columbia alone.

I don't want to take any of the wind out of the sails of the recreational bike riders who will finally get their paved shoulder on Route K, but I could think of about a dozen MoDOT-owned locations within the nearby City of Columbia where the money could have served low-income citizens, youth and those who choose not to drive. MoDOT: Consider also sidewalks and bicycle paths along Route PP or Route WW on Columbia's growing northeast side. You would make a much larger impact in terms of getting people to work and shopping who truly need these facilities.

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