Yes, it's another bicycle / "now that I'm a GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL" post.
Upon closer examination, I understand now why I didn't notice my appointment to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board by the Alachua County Commission. I don't think I was appointed by the Alachua County Commission. Rather, I think I was appointed by the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization for the Gainesville Urbanized Area, which in turn is part of the North Central Regional Planning Council. Pretty byzantine, eh?
The board is composed of 13 members. The city of Gainesville gets five -- four "regular" members, plus one slot specifically reserved for a student. The county gets four. And MTPO gets four. Here's the boilerplate on "mission" from the city's site:
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB) makes recommendations (serves as advisory) to the City of Gainesville Commission, the Alachua County Commission and the region's transportation authority concerning federally funded projects and resources, the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO), on all matters concerning planning, implementation, and maintenance of policies, programs, and facilities for the safe and efficient integration of bicycle and pedestrian transportation into the Gainesville Metropolitan Area and Alachua County transportation systems. This includes, but is not limited to, the design of roadway bicycle facilities, shared use paths, sidewalks, jogging paths, hiking trails, bicycle parking, and the enforcement of motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle safety regulations. The Board makes recommendations to the Commissions and the Metropolitan MTPO regarding budgetary matters in connection with its duties. The BPAB consists of citizen volunteers who have a special interest and expertise in bicycle and pedestrian issues.
Since I haven't met the other board members yet, I can only speculate as to their personal interests and focuses, but I've got a pretty firm handle on mine, and it looks something like this:
Gainesville and Alachua County are very bike/pedestrian oriented areas, and I divide the biking/walking into three types:
- Exercise and/or athletic training: I see lots of people out on the streets, highways, and bike trails who are clearly training, either for competition or just to get in shape. That's a good thing.
- Recreation: On any given sunny afternoon, it's not uncommon to see family groups -- e.g. one parent pulling a stroller behind a bike, another parent on a bike, and perhaps a couple of kids who are old enough for their own bikes -- out for a leisure ride to the park or whatever. There are numerous "green space" areas with trails for mountain bikes (and, in some cases, trails that street bikes can handle).
- Practical transportation. People walking or biking to the grocery store. People walking or biking to work. People walking or biking to get to the gym or to the club or to class.
- As I point out in a recent post, each pedestrian or cyclist reduces motor traffic congestion (and, for those concerned about pollution, point emissions from exhaust pipes*) on the roads. If accommodating them is cost-effective versus widening roads, building more roads, etc., it just makes sense.
- Roads, trails, and sidewalks that are poorly designed vis a vis pedestrian and bicycle traffic lead to dangerous interactions between that traffic and motor traffic. People end up in the hospital, or even dead.