At last month’s all-morning City Council Planning Session at the Oasis Center, Councilman Ed Selich mentioned discussions he had initiated with Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa to share the services of a bicycle coordinator among the three cities.
Since then I’ve learned that Huntington Beach is quite keen on sharing, but I don’t know of any Bicycle Master Plan initiatives within Costa Mesa, so let’s assume no one returns his call and we’re just talking HB and NB.
Sharing the services of a BikePed Coordinator among 2 large cities brings pros and cons to mind. Since HB is ahead of NB, by almost a year, in terms of finalizing a Bicycle Master Plan, it seems to me that HB will soon have a wish-list as long as your arm as it relates to bike infrastructure projects. Assuming NB will start by writing an RFP, reviewing bids, interviewing design firms and then hiring one, our requirements for a bike coordinator might be less in the short-term.
But sooner or later we’d catch up to HB and have our own extensive wish-list.
How well would the two cities collaborate on setting priorities for the single bike coordinator?
Skeptics of this approach have suggested it will work just fine, so long as each city hires their own project manager to supervise their half of the bike coordinator. Of course, that would defeat the cost-savings motivations behind this plan.
Having had some little while to consider this approach I must confess that at first I interpreted this as a head-fake at cost effective government. Then I learned of 200 staff reductions HB had to work through; they’re not hiring a new staff person for any project, according to my sources.
But should HB’s needs be a factor in NB’s staffing decisions?
Even on its merits, is it a good idea?
Sharing a single staff person to perform all the duties in the attached job description for two cities could be doomed from the start. There’s just too much work to be done. But on the other hand, I sense that a good Traffic Engineer (slash) Bike Coordinator could generate so many plans and designs, enough to keep either Public Works departments busy for a long time. We got a whiff of this during our monthly Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee meetings. Maybe that’s the best way to consider this plan to share a bike coordinator.
Read the League of American Bicyclists’ sample job description here.
I’d like to hear your ideas on sharing. Is it smart and cost-effective, or naive to think that as these two cities begin to take their first steps at building comprehensive bicycle infrastructure, that half of one person can only guarantee a half-baked outcome?