Source: Link NKY
Gift Promoting Bike Safety Could Open Eyes to Larger Conversation: ‘It’s the Concept of Making Our Streets Safer for Everyone’
October 26, 2022
That’s the sound drivers, bike riders and pedestrians will hear more often in Fort Thomas if all goes according to plan. At the October city meeting, council member Ken Bowman announced that Reser Bicycle in Newport donated 400 bike bells to Fort Thomas residents in the hopes of promoting safer riding, especially on sidewalks.
Jason Reser, owner of Reser Bicycle Outfitters in Newport, donated the bells after learning that safe bicycling is an issue in Fort Thomas. It’s been a growing issue across the region as people seek alternatives to driving.
“Fort Thomas is pretty unusual in Northern Kentucky because a lot of kids ride their bikes to school,” Reser said. “Fort Thomas and Fort Mitchell are really the only communities where people really feel safe to let their kids ride to school, that the roads are safe enough for them to use.”
However, he said, a lot of children are riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Fort Thomas is also known for its walkability — and this is causing issues between bicycle and scooter riders and pedestrians.
“What’s going on now is kids are riding to school and people are using the sidewalks, but the sidewalks are not that big,” he said. “And now, there’s also the electric scooters, and those go a little bit faster than the bicycles, especially on the sidewalk, so that’s becoming an issue up there.
“We thought, hey, if we can try to draw awareness to this, multiple users on the sidewalks. It’s a little gesture, but maybe we can make people a little bit happier, make it easier to share the sidewalk for now.”
The concept of complete streets, Reser explained, is to reconsider how and why we use our streets.
“A lot of street and road design has been about the most efficient and fastest way to get cars from point A to point B,” he said. “But now there’s a lot of thought, especially when you’re looking at urban and suburban locations, toward places where people really shouldn’t be speeding up. It’s the concept of making our streets safer for everyone.”
Complete streets is an approach to city and street planning that takes into consideration not only bicyclists, but people in wheelchairs, scooters and golf carts, as well as pedestrians. The term has made it’s way into planning and design circles and even to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
According to the Department of Transportation website, “Complete Streets approaches vary based on community context. They may address a wide range of elements, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, bus lanes, public transportation stops, crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, modified vehicle travel lanes, streetscape and landscape treatments. Complete Streets reduce motor vehicle-related crashes and pedestrian risk, as well as bicyclist risk when well-designed bicycle-specific infrastructure is included (Reynolds, 2009).”
Reser cited projects by Newport, Fort Thomas and other river cities to create a “smart corridor” on U.S. 27. He said city officials and planners are paying close attention, and there are a number of organizations in our area hoping to influence those leaders.
He pointed to a November 10 summit at Northern Kentucky University hosted by Tri-State Trails, an organization promoting expansion of the region’s trail and bikeway network. The summit will feature guest speakers from other communities that have moved toward complete streets and other pedestrian and bicycle friendly infrastructure.
Communities that provide more options for transportation and better connectivity also have a better time attracting employers, he noted. He said organizers for the summit are pushing this fact and hoping that area leaders are listening.
He said, going back to Fort Thomas, he hopes planners can take a hard look at how streets are being used.
“Is it necessary to have four-lane streets plus parking, basically six lanes wide just for cars?” he asked. “So many users are running and biking and using golf carts now… A lot of people say, ‘Well, this is just for bikers.’ I would push back and say, really this creates more safety for everyone.”
There are a number of organizations advocating for “complete streets.” One of them is the Smart Growth America, and greater details of the concept is available on their website. Reser Bicycle Outfitters is located at 648 Monmouth St. in Newport. Fort Thomas residents can pick up their free bells at the Armory in Tower Park. A few are also available from the Fort Thomas Police Department.