Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 14, 2014

Another View: Add bike lanes for people to enjoy

Want proof of the power of the people?

Look no further than PASS, Plattsburgh Acquiring Safe Streets. It’s an effort to improve the safety of North Margaret Street, started in 2012 by six concerned citizens ...

The most impressive aspect of their multi-year advocacy was their approach. They didn’t show up at a Plattsburgh City Common Council meeting to complain — or scream, as some do.

They did thorough research, lobbied businesses for letters of support, made their own video, gathered hundreds of signatures to “respectfully petition” the city to reconfigure Margaret Street ... reducing the four-lane road to two lanes with a middle turn lane and adding on-street bike paths to each side.

Their years of work for that area seem to be a natural extension of the efforts of the late Jim and Joan Fleury, the Plattsburgh couple who turned the heart-wrenching death of their daughter - hit and killed by a drunk driver as she rode her bike on North Margaret — into a fitting and forever memorial: an off-road bike path from Scomotion Creek out to the City Beach. The Fleurys pushed for the bike path and also spoke for decades at victims impact panels, their tears searing lessons into the minds of people convicted of DWI.

At the south end of North Margaret is the Saranac River Trail, a bike path that winds through city streets, providing a safe conduit for cyclists.

The 1.2-mile space between those two bike paths is what PASS is addressing. The city must act quickly to close that gap — and the idea seems to have strong support from councilors and the mayor.

Narrowing streets through bike paths — what PASS refers to as a “road diet” — is proven to slow traffic, improve access and reduce accidents.

It also fits in well with modern urban design, which aims to create cities that move people safely and comfortably by multiple modes of transportation.

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