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League President urges Vancouver Mayor to reinstate bike program funding

Posted by on June 16th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Vancouver BFC Award
League President Andy Clarke
riding in Vancouver in 2005.
(Former BTA Executive Director
Evan Manvel is on his left).
(Photo © J. Maus)

Andy Clarke, President of the national non-profit League of American Bicyclists has personally weighed into the fight to save Vancouver’s bike program from impending budget cuts. As currently proposed, Vancouver’s Transportation Improvement Program would eliminate that city’s bike program and advocates on both sides of the river have mobilized forces to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Now the issue has become a concern of Clarke, who visited Vancouver in 2005 to award the city a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community award. He has written a letter to Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and I reached Leavitt today to get his response to that letter.

In his letter dated June 11th, Clarke warns Leavitt that a cut to capital funding and city staff would “effectively curtail the strides Vancouver has made in the past few years.”

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

“While I recognize that sacrifices must be made during such lean economic times, such drastic cuts seem counter to the great direction your city, and the entire region, has been heading. In 2005, I visited Vancouver to present the Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community award on behalf of the League to your predecessor Mayor Pollard, an honor that was successfully renewed in 2007. It was a well-deserved and hard-earned recognition of the city’s work in accommodating and encouraging bicycling…

If Vancouver is to continue its positive trend upwards in bicycling rates, funding for the bike program and program staff must be reinstated, if not increased. I strongly urge you to look into this matter and to make these budget cuts elsewhere.”

There’s still no sure sign that Mayor Leavitt and his fellow members of City Council will find money for the bike program and other programs facing cuts (walking and ADA facility programs are also on the chopping block), but Leavitt told me via email today that they’re working to find a solution.

When asked for a response to Clarke’s letter, here’s what Leavitt wrote:

“City transportation and budget staff are presently scouring the budgets of funded transportation projects to find any possible opportunities to continue city support of bicycle education/advocacy, pedestrian safety, and ADA accessability programs during these difficult times of significant budget shortfalls.”

Advocates at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance see a glimmer of hope in that response and they continue to work with partner groups in Washington to put more public pressure on Leavitt.

Leavitt says he expects City staff to present further TIP budget options for him and Council to consider at their scheduled meeting on June 21st. Expect action alerts from the BTA and other groups prior to that meeting as well as calls for more email and phone calls to Vancouver City Council members in the days to come.

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  • Marcus Griffith June 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    It is nice to see the various bike groups coming together in support of Vancouver’s Bike and Ped Program.

    Bike Me! Vancouver, the BTA, the BAW and the LAB have all worked hard to communicate the importance of the program. Additionally, despite the Columbian’s editorial, the editorial board of the Vancouver Voice (which I am NOT part of) has came out in support of the bike and ped program as livability assets.

    Furthermore, members of the Clark County Bicycle Advisory Board, local business associations (including the Chamber of Commerce) and neighborhood associations are all voicing support for the program.

    Vancouver may be a bit Vantucky, but it is showing signs of being just as much Vanfunky.

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