Featured Post

Part 1: Mark Baumer Reflection: Impounding Vehicles & Immigrant Rights

This is part of a multi-part reflection I've been doing following the death of my friend, Mark Baumer . There's nothing graphic i...

Bike Lanes Help Emergency Access

Can protected bike lanes give us emergency access, traffic-free? 
According to GoLocalProv:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Mayor Jorge Elorza has ordered a restructuring of the city’s fire department as part of his plan to address a stubborn structural deficit now projected to reach $19.1 million by the 2020-21 fiscal year. 
The mayor said Thursday he plans to shift the department from four platoons to three, a change he says could save $5 million annually through a reduction in overtime and callback pay. Although he ordered the change to take effect immediately, he said he hopes to negotiate terms with the city’s fire union over the next month.
Fire-fighters fall into one of those apolitical categories of near-universal approval. If you're liberal, you may not like the local police union, and if you're conservative, you may rail against teachers' strikes. But everybody likes a fire-fighter. And we should: they risk their lives for us. Nobody has bad memories of a fire-fighter "stop and frisking" them, or of getting hit with a ruler in a Catholic School by the visiting firehouse Dalmatian. 

But I support the mayor's plan to cut down on fire services, with a major caveat: Mayor Elorza needs to aggressively explore how fire safety in the city could be improved by wide protected bike lanes and bike boulevards that allow through-access only to buses, bikes, and emergency vehicles.

From an interview with David Hembrow of the Netherlands, last year:
What I can tell you is that Assen has just one fire station which is now positioned on the western edge of the city (I think there's one fire engine stationed at the opposite side of the city) and one two* hospital which is where all the ambulances come from. 
We had study tour participants from a similarly sized US city last year who were amazed by this. They apparently need a dozen small fire stations to ensure that fire engine call out times are sufficiently low.
A key thing to remember: we cannot expect these benefits from mere painted bike lanes. Proposals for better fire and ambulance response times have to turn on bike infrastructure that is wide enough for a vehicle to come down. Building the next generation of bike infrastructure will help us reduce our costs for services like fire safety, and deliver better response times.

At the end of the day, I'm not necessarily happy to suggest making our fire department smaller. But the city should look carefully to see if this would save us money, while maintaining the same level of service. 

Just one more reason to upgrade our bike facilities.


No comments:

Post a Comment