By Mark Carlisle
Glendale’s Citizen Bicycle Advisory Committee decided on a new mission statement last week that will focus the committee’s efforts on all “non-motorized” transportation rather than just bicycles and pedestrians.
The committee is also considering a change of its name to reflect its broadened efforts.
The Citizen Transportation Oversight Committee, of which the bicycle committee is a subcommittee, will need to approve the new mission statement that the bicycle committee passed unanimously in its Monday, May 7 meeting.
“Traditionally and historically here we’ve been for pedestrian and bicycle, and right now we’re looking at picking up the horse riding and other non-motorized activity,” said bicycle committee chair Larry Flatu during the meeting, adding that he wanted to check that the transportation commission was OK with his committee widening its scope to other areas.
Transportation planner and bicycle committee staff liaison Patrick Sage did not think the transportation commission would take issue with it.
“I have no doubt that they’re going to say, ‘We like your mission statement.’ I don’t foresee a problem there,” Mr. Sage said.
The proposed new mission statement reads as follows: “The mission of the Glendale Citizen Bicycle Advisory Committee (Committee) is to advocate for all forms of non-motorized transportation in the City of Glendale. The Committee’s efforts will be directed to improve the safety, health, well-being and overall happiness of Glendale residents through the promotion of active transportation and recreation.”
The only word added in the May 7 meeting was “safety.” Otherwise, the committee stuck with the statement drafted by member Paul Marsh and edited by Mr. Sage.
The committee’s expanded purview follows an effort by Glendale to increase investment in non-motorized transportation through its new active transportation plan, which, according to the plan’s website, is a “blueprint for a complete and accessible active transportation network that encourages physical activity, emphasizes regional connectivity, is equitable and provides persons of all ages and abilities with transportation choices.”
The new mission statement does not do much to officially expand the committee’s role. Instead, Mr. Sage said, the details will be worked out as the active transportation plan is more thoroughly defined.
“We’re not defining anything specific at that point,” he said, referring to the transportation commission’s pending approval of the mission statement. “Then, as we move through the active transportation plan process where your committee’s involved and the (transportation) commission’s involved, then I think that parsing out will get very clear and in that context, it will probably be a more full discussion at that point.”
The transportation commission, bicycle committee and transportation department staff began work on the active transportation plan in February and is currently assessing the city’s current infrastructure for non-motorized transportation. In October, the process will switch from research to developing a plan, which will go before City Council in early 2019. The plan comes in hope of using transportation funds saved by Council’s decision not to pursue light rail in the city to flesh out under-utilized transportation options. The bicycle committee could mirror the city’s new transportation endeavor in a potential new name, as committee members floated the suggestions of “Active Transportation Commission” or “Non-motorized Transportation Commission.”
“I think that the trend generally, both in the Valley and in the profession, is that ‘active transportation’ as a reference term is replacing ‘bicycle/pedestrian’ in the nomenclature,” Mr. Sage said. “I would suggest the committee put some thought to it and consider it.”
Mr. Sage said, generally speaking, the term active transportation is synonymous with non-motorized transportation in the industry, but it includes some motorized vehicles.
“We want to make sure we’re inclusive of things like scooters and motorized wheel chairs,” he said. “Because we are talking about transportation, but we’re also talking about access. And that’s an important component of what the active transportation umbrella is looking to incorporate.”
Committee members said that with the broadening of the mission statement, they hoped to cover transportation areas that aren’t receiving proper attention currently under the city’s staff and committees.
During the May 7 meeting, Mr. Sage also presented on his experience at the 2018 Arizona Bicycling Summit April 6 in Mesa, where a key topic was electronic bicycles, or e-bikes. Members recommended someone come talk to the committee from a government agency with experience with e-bikes or perhaps an e-bike vendor to inform the committee about the product.
E-bikes provide a battery- powered “pedal assist” to make accelerating easier while some have options for fully automatic acceleration with no pedaling. The bikes, that can reach speeds of up to 30 mph, could present a safety issue for Glendale which, though not widely posted, has a 15 mph speed limit on most of its trails.
Mr. Marsh, who owns an e-bike, said he believes e-bikes could get more popular as prices go down and the population ages.
“There are people who say that when the prices of e-bikes start to drop, you are going to see such a bike explosion,” Mr. Marsh said. “Then again, maybe it’s visions of sugar plums (from) manufacturers or sellers of them.”
Mark Carlisle can be reached at 623-876-2518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.