How much effort should Haines put into becoming a bicycle friendly community? That question has caused a lot of contention in recent months. But on Tuesday, the Haines Assembly unanimously decided to move forward an application for official bike-friendly status.
The idea originated with the parks and recreation advisory committee. Committee member Burl Sheldon was one of several people who spoke in support of it at Tuesday’s assembly meeting.
“The bicycle-friendly community idea is straight up an economic develop opportunity and I hope you will pass that item,” Sheldon said.
The program comes from The League of American Bicyclists. They review applications from municipalities and judge whether a town qualifies as a ‘Bicycle Friendly Community.’
The league may also give recommendations for a community to become more bike friendly.
Some Haines residents said focusing on bike friendliness would disenfranchise other user groups. Other said it would obligate the borough to expensive infrastructure improvements.
The assembly countered those perceptions as they voiced support for the program.
Margaret Friedenauer said it was surprising this became a contentious issue.
“My support for this doesn’t stem from support of one user group over the other,’ Friedenauer said. “I don’t see how this does that.”
Tom Morphet said even if the program recommends Haines build more bike paths or make other changes, the borough is not obligated to do that.
“I want to reassure people it’s not my intention at this point to spend anything on this,” Morphet said.
The assembly voted unanimously to allow volunteers to fill out the bike friendly application. According to the League of American Bicyclists’ website, the application deadline is in August.