“Change is necessary,” is a quote often preached by campaigners during our election seasons, or by management in a struggling business, or within schools or athletic teams as policy becomes out-dated. But I will argue that even when sometimes change is referred to as necessary, it’s not always the case. In this feature, I will give you two examples of change that are not necessary, and my opinion on why though not absolutely necessary, they are great decisions!
Recently, the citizens of my hometown, Georgetown, KY have experienced a change in the way they travel through downtown because of some lane changes. About two months ago, it was reported in our local newspaper “Georgetown News Graphic” that the state highway department had decided to change the lane configuration through town on Broadway St., which is also KY HWY 25. The change would include mill work, followed by re-paving and re-striping, in which the four lane street would change to a two lane with dedicated turn lane in center and the two north and south bound lanes would be bound by bicycling lanes. Well, you can only imagine the chaos and confusion this caused and city officials hastily tried to have the plan reconsidered, holding town hall meetings and sending messages through our state elected officials. How the state highways are constructed and striped is not a matter that they vote on, but I also spoke with our State Representative and State Senator personally, just to ensure that they heard a voice in favor of it. Well I, for one, and I imagine I am in large company, although we aren’t voicing our opinion nearly as loud as the complainers, am very happy to see this change come about. I can only assume that anyone owning a business or living in this area, the state has done them a huge favor by slowing down traffic, making the roadways, sidewalks, and the entire downtown experience safer for all.
Before the construction began, there were numerous wrecks on this stretch of highway within a residential area that encloses an elementary and middle school while extending to the county high school on the north end and another elementary school on the south end. Even the “nay-sayers'” primary complaint is that it has slowed traffic down, creating congestion, and people are stuck in traffic. I will always argue that you are not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic, but my wife happens to use the Broadway St./Hwy. 25 corridor on a daily basis in the process of dropping off our three sons at three different schools (1-elementary, 1-middle, 1-high), and then picking them up from school, and sometimes returning to drop off for sports practices. She claims at no time has it taken her more than five to ten minutes to get through town. While some city officials have been on record in the local newspaper (over and over) stating that all the state has done is create a mess in downtown, the reality is, that now the integrity of our downtown, and the safety of our citizens’ travel will be a little more prevalent than how quick you can maneuver from one end to the other.
Before this highway re-construction project began, the state offered statistics from two or three similar towns where the same change had taken place successfully. Now that it is complete, they can include Georgetown in the statistic for the next town. So now that an unnecessary change has taken place in our community, we will benefit from the changes. Our downtown is not a mess. Once again, it’s a downtown that offers slower moving traffic, highway safety for all commuters, including walkers and bicyclists along with drivers! I’m sure our downtown businesses will benefit as we become a trend setter as a bicycle friendly community, which is a movement very rapidly growing across the United States.
The other unnecessary change I want to speak on involves our mission statement. RAM Cycling is committed to increasing bicycle awareness and will always remain committed to the enhancement of this great health and safety improving sport/past-time. We have also claimed to be committed to having a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law implemented in the state of Kentucky. This is part of our mission that I feel we should change. Now, before you get upset as an avid cyclist, hear me out, please.
For those unfamiliar with a “3 Feet 2 Pass” law, it is a bicycle friendly road right that has been passed by numerous other states, that sets a legal limit of three feet minimum of space between a car passing a bicyclist or pedestrian while walking or jogging. Make no mistake about it, I am not against the passing of this law, I hope one day it can be passed in our great state of Kentucky. I simply feel that it should no longer be part of RAM Cycling’s mission to see that it happens, and now I’ll explain myself briefly.
We actually have no idea how many laws are currently on our books, and in the United States, an average of hundreds of local, state, and federal laws are written or changed on a daily basis. What happens when a new law is passed? Well unless you are made aware of it, you don’t know about it, and as we all know, that makes it even more difficult to enforce it. So how does all this come to light with new laws? Money! It takes $$$ to get laws passed, then more $$$ to make people aware of it, and even more $$$ for training of officers and the process of enforcing it. Being naturally conservative at heart, I’m not opposed to raising money for something I believe in, but I think the money we may be able to raise at RAM Cycling will do the community much more value by putting it all back into the “raising awareness” side of our Mission. After all, it’s also a fact that many laws are broken on a daily basis anyways. The matter of allowing a safe distance between your vehicle and a cyclist or pedestrian while passing them is a human moral value, and doesn’t need to be law to be followed. Simply imagine that as you are about pass a cyclist or pedestrian, how would you pass them if it were your spouse, child, or parent? Because that’s exactly who is on the road.
To find out about safe roadway travel in Kentucky and how the State Transportation Cabinet feels about it please check out their website at: http://transportation.ky.gov/share-the-road/Pages/default.aspx