Jack Trautman: Not about stripes
June 29, 2008
Steamboat Springs — To Routt County commissioners Doug Monger and Nancy Stahoviak:
Do you really think that narrowing the shoulder width on C.R. 36 will stop those cyclists riding three abreast from breaking the law? Conversely, do you think that narrowing the traffic lane will stop speeding motorists from breaking the law? Addressing these issues is a matter of education and law enforcement. Unfortunately, with your votes last Tuesday, you thumbed your noses at Routt County citizens who were ready to part with $1,000 of their private money to help address the issue of education through signage on C.R. 36. You gave a clear signal to these concerned citizens that you don’t need their money–ironic in these times of tight budgets. These citizens were proactively trying to help educate motorists and cyclists with money above and beyond their county tax dollars. This is something your stripes don’t begin to address.
It’s not about the stripes. It’s about creating understanding and empathy between motorists and cyclists. To Nancy Stahoviak, who did not experience a “calming effect” when driving down C.R. 36, and to her husband, whose drive down C.R. 36 “made him nervous,” please recognize this: every cyclist who rides in a shoulder on a county road feels “nervous” and anything but “calm” when he/she hears a car approaching from behind. They hope to God that the motorist is not distracted by talking on a cell phone, switching stations on the radio or otherwise not paying attention while their car drifts into the shoulder. A stripe on the road won’t address this, but raising drivers’ awareness of the presence and vulnerability of any nonmotorist in the shoulder will. So will actions your constituents expect you to take on C.R. 36 and other county roads like 129, 131 and 14, to make them safer for nonmotorists.
It’s not about the stripes. It’s about having county commissioners who are aligned with and reinforce the “brand” and “image” of Steamboat and Routt County. People come to live here, many at reduced wages, in order to be in a part of the world where year-round outdoor recreation is paramount. Tourists visit here from around the world for the same reason. This “brand” pays a lot of bills in this county. Mr. Monger and Ms. Stahoviak, your votes to downgrade the bike-friendliness of C.R. 36 is a step in the wrong direction of reinforcing our brand. It will be difficult to retain our silver-level “Bike Friendly Community” designation, or ever achieve gold or platinum status, with decisions like yours. And it’s not just about cyclists. It’s about equestrians, runners, dog-walkers, bird-watchers – anyone out enjoying nature or getting exercise on C.R. 36 or any other county road. Our brand is not “the fastest and most calming driving on county roads in Colorado,” despite what your votes would suggest.
It’s not about the stripes. It’s about evaluating whether our county commissioners are aligned with what we are all about. To Diane Mitsch Bush, congratulations. You get it. To Mr. Monger and Ms. Stahoviak, you listened to the voice of one politically influential county resident and completely ignored dozens of your constituents imploring you to reinforce what we are all about. I’m afraid you don’t understand what makes us want to live here, to pay our taxes and to re-elect you.
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