After ride, Parkites ask for trails money
Bo Andreini and about 20 other bicycle riders gathered at the western edge of the Rail Trail on Thursday afternoon for a ride.
But their destination was not Echo, 28 miles to the east, where the Rail Trail ends. Instead they headed to City Hall, where they asked Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council for money for trails.
They testified during a rollicking budget hearing in which they cheered each other on, listened to children talk to the elected officials and won accolades from the government.
The supporters say that making Park City safer for walkers and people riding bicycles is smart and would encourage people to not drive their cars as frequently.
"I don’t like my car. My bike is fun. My car is a necessary evil," Andreini said as the group gathered at the Rail Trail, comparing his Specialized bicycle and his Isuzu SUV.
Anyway, he said, people who ride bikes are healthy, are not overweight and are not as susceptible to diabetes.
"You’re not getting fat," Andreini, who lives on Monarch Drive, said, adding that his kids could walk to the health club instead of him driving them if Park City were safer.
Thursday’s hearing was unusual for the budget season, which normally draws sparse crowds. Hearings are usually dry.
The group has mobilized into what is being called the Coalition for Safe Streets and organizers have said that up to 100 people are involved. They want City Hall to earmark $100,000 for a study that would update a trails plan. The City Council is expected to approve the $100,000 when the budget is adopted in June.
"We think we can make our corner of the world a safer and healthier place," Holiday Ranch Loop Road resident Carolyn Frankenburg, one of the coalition’s organizers, said during the hearing.
After the hearing, Williams commended Frankenburg and predicted that the $100,000 would be approved. Both Williams and Frankenburg, who wore a T-shirt with the phrase ‘Share the Road’ and a logo depicting a bicyclist, a hiker and a car, were cheered.
"We’re committed. We’ll see where it goes," Williams said.
People who spoke covered a range of topics and declared that the Kearns Boulevard-Bonanza Drive intersection is the worst for walkers and bicycle riders.
Kids told the elected officials that the city lacks safe bike paths and that it is not safe to ride bikes to McPolin Elementary School. Another person said perhaps more police officers are needed to patrol streets where kids and drivers are common.
The testimony came a week after the coalition leaders publicized their plans to press for the study. The details of the study are unclear but it seems that the $100,000 will broadly research how to make Park City easier to navigate for people walking or riding their bikes.
The $100,000, though, would not fund improvements that may be recommended through the study. The City Council would have to allocate that money afterward.
The rise of the coalition as a political force was not widely known until the budget talks started and its clout is difficult to measure.
Park City officials have for years touted the community as a good place for bicyclists and walkers. Miles of trails have been constructed and bicycle lanes are marked on some streets. Leaders tend to agree with the arguments made by the coalition that Park City is better off is people can walk or bicycle instead of driving.
Joe Maslowski, who lives in Prospector, joined the other bicyclists on the ride to City Hall, saying that improvements would allow his children to ride bikes more often.
"The charm of this town is not in its parking spaces, black top," Maslowski said.
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