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A principle in the Boulder County Transportation Master Plan is the incremental widening of bike-able shoulders on lower volume and lower speed county roads.  This is a way to balance improved safety for cyclists, though it’s not ideal, with the taxpayer’s tolerance for funding maintenance and improvements on miles and miles of roads managed by Boulder County government.

A section of Hygiene Road on December 7, 2023.  The project was not able to widen the shoulder despite being called for in the TMP.

C4C is in favor of this tenant in the TMP.  It’s a fair balance between safety and affordability.  With or without a widened and bike-able shoulder, roads like this are where improved policy and culture should come into play in the form of education, awareness, civil regard for others, enforcement, and laws.

In a brief communication with Boulder County government, the reason the shoulders did not get widened is because the necessary right-of-way (width along the road) was not fully available.  There are also some interfering infrastructure problems.  To widen the shoulders would have increased the cost of the project significantly and with the repairs needing be done, the county decided to do the repairs but not the improvements.

A response is that that decision compromises safety for cyclists.  This is true.  But if this project costs more then that takes money away from other projects.  As a rule, the county’s projects are carefully planned, funded, and prioritized.  The overall budget is weighed with the intention of funding outcomes that serve the greatest good.

This situation is representative of the choices and trade-offs that are made.  We know how to improve safety.  The maximal expression of the network multi-modal elements of the TMP would drastically improve safety outcomes towards zero traffic fatalities.

It’s a matter of funding.

C4C’s staff person was included in meetings with the county to write the 2022 County Ballot Measure 1C which funds transportation improvements through a county sales tax.  The precautionary principle governed those conversations since, if the measure were to have failed, road maintenance would have reverted to a very basic level with virtually no improvements.

Out of caution, the measure maintained the current tax rate of one penny on ten dollars.  It passed by 81%, a large margin for any such measure.  Part of the ongoing deliberations within C4C is how to speed up the pace of funding.  As critics point out, our country’s worst in class rate of traffic related serious injuries and fatalities continues while our rate of funding solutions lags.

The cost does not go away.  It manifests in killed and seriously injured.

The solution is more funding for the multi-modal elements of the TMP paired with policy changes.