From: Falls Area Bicyclists Members and Active Transportation Advocates as signed belowRE: The proposed Capital Improvement Plan does not reflect the public’s desire for safe, comfortable, and connected active transportation routes
Dear Mayor TenHaken, Council Members, Director of Public Works, and Director of Parks & Recreation,
We, the executive board and members of Falls Area Bicyclists along with fellow active transportation advocates, write to you today in regards to the proposed Capital Improvement Plan(CIP).
First of all, we are grateful for the past and future investment in our greenway trail system. Sioux Falls is truly blessed with a trail system that rivals any municipality. However, we are not writing to you today about trail funding. We are concerned about the lack of dedicated funding for safe and connected on-street routes for bicycling, walking, and other active transportation modes.
Our analysis of the $67 million budgeted to streets and highways in the 2023 CIP indicated a mere $300k is allocated to pedestrian and bicycling improvements.
The need for safe on-street routes to ride a bike, skateboard, walk, or use a scooter has never been greater. The increased popularity of electronic bikes, scooters and other e-devices are creating dangerous conflicts on our sidewalks. However the use of bicycles and other active modes in the street feels dangerous to all but the most confident. High vehicle speeds and distracted drivers only highlight the need for a network of safe easy to use routes.
The CIP invests millions on adding lanes, new arterial streets, and expanding intersections. This in turn generates more vehicle congestion and a built environment that is increasingly hostile to anyone outside a car. The CIP is also a testament to how expensive it is to maintain all the streets we’ve already built. And yet even as costs continue to rise, the solution to our transportation issues is to simply add more motor vehicle capacity by expanding our existing network.
Active transportation projects cost a mere fraction of traditional infrastructure and have the potential to reduce trips by automobile, encourage a happy and healthy population, and provide a more financially sustainable transportation network.
We ask you to meet the expectation of our Complete Streets policy and fund active transportation projects. We are not alone in calling for making active transportation a priority in our future transportation funding.
- Go Sioux Falls 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan(MPO) calls for transportation that considers all users.
- The Sioux Falls Health Department’s Community Health Improvement Plan states that active transportation options are essential to reduce chronic disease.
- The Sioux Falls Sustainability Program calls for improvement in multi-modal transportation to protect our environment and combat climate change.
- Downtown Sioux Falls advocates for bikeable and walkable streets because it boosts profits and economic growth.
- Neighborhood associations, the American Heart Association, SD AARP, and many more organizations call for walkable and bikeable communities to support their missions.
An important example, the 15th Street Bicycle Boulevard project has been designated as a high-priority bicycle route by the Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee since 2017. The boulevard would create a safe and comfortable route to ride a bicycle from the zoo to downtown. This two mile cross-town connector would have a transformative effect providing an east-west option designed first for bicycles but still allowing motor vehicles. A family could safely ride from their home by the zoo to The Levitt in just 15 minutes.
Over the past five years there has been some small funding allocated to the 15th Street Boulevard and the first phase was completed last fall. Unfortunately it is impossible to determine from the CIP when and if the next phases of the boulevard will be completed. The boulevard project and any other active transportation projects are not listed in the CIP, making it impossible for citizens to track any investment in active transportation projects.
We are asking today that the 2023 CIP reflects the priority that our MPO, health department, citizens, and other organizations have placed on active transportation. Make on-street active transportation projects their own line item in the CIP, and separate them from the sidewalk additions to arterial roads (currently lumped together in Project #11075 in the CIP). Fund on-street active transportation to a level that in five years we can look back and say yes, we did make our transportation system better, safer, healthier, and more sustainable for everyone!
We sincerely hope that everyone reading this letter has had the chance to experience Sioux Falls on a bicycle beyond the bike trail. Our city is amazing by bicycle. Yes, even in the winter. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to make Sioux Falls the best little city in the midwest!
President, Falls Area Bicyclists
Ride Director, Falls Area Bicyclists
Attached: Co-signers and comments