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Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission discusses future of cycling

Windsor bike blvd

Members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission are recharging this morning after tensions rose during a conversation on electric bikes at last night’s meeting in Columbia. During their monthly meeting, members of the commission spent a majority of their time discussing the future of bicycles: electric bikes.

Dan Harder presented a PowerPoint dedicated entirely to E-Bikes. Harder said E-Bikes are the bicycles of the future, and their popularity is not only growing in the U.S., but also worldwide with the highest sales of the electric bike in Germany.

Harder said E-Bikes are useful because it provides older, obese and physically inept individuals an easier way to bike, as the electric aspect gives the rider a boost to ride up hills, for example. The electric bikes also prevent people commuting to work from breaking a sweat.

Harder suspects the E-Bikes’ popularity to only grow in the coming years, and proposed an ordinance change in Columbia. Currently the city does not include E-Bikes in its definition of a bike, so certain rules for the electric bikes on trails and bike lanes are unclear. Harder offered a new definition which would include low-speed electric bicycles.

Some members, like David Heise, didn’t quite approve of the guidelines of the possible new ordinance. After some discussion, the members chose to table the proposition, and take some time to examine other states’ various laws on E-Bikes.

The commission kicked off the meeting with a presentation from Public Works Department engineer Rick Kaufmann. Kaufmann spoke on the measures the city takes to prevent potholes and cracks in Columbia roads.

Kaufmann specifically mentioned the lack of funds his department is experiencing. In the last year he said the city spent approximately $1.3 million, when the Public Works Department really needed around $5.6 million. Due to these insufficient funds, Kaufmann said they only provide the most cost effective measures on city streets.

One measure in particular is called Chip Seal. Chip Seal is a combination of asphalt and fine aggregate, which together act as a pavement surface treatment. The treatment is cheaper than resurfacing a road completely, costing the city around $28 thousand for a mile of seal.

Some members of the commission voiced concerns about excess chips of chip seal that builds up on the pavement after treatments. These clumps should be swept away but commercial sweepers, but members said often no sweeper ever comes. Kaufmann suggested the members file a complaint with the city to take care of this problem.

Kaufmann apologized to the bicyclists and pedestrians. He said he knows the street treatments prove inconvenient, but his department members are taking more action to notify the public before any chip seal treatments take place. 

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