The Licking County Planning Commission headquartered about 45 minutes east of Columbus, Ohio in the city of Newark is coordinating efforts to build bike paths in Licking County. While the attempt by LCPC is supposedly to just make sure the various political entities in Licking County that wish to build bike paths coordinate their plans in such a way as to create paths that connect with each other and are safe, the effort also makes it more likely that the political entities feel that building bike paths is a good idea.
There is a survey that is available to allow citizens to input to the process. Unfortunately, the survey is set up, intentionally or unintentionally, to get back results that will support the bike path. Here are some of the writer’s concerns about the survey.
The survey does not attempt to determine where the person filling out the survey lives-only if they live in Licking County. The survey should be able to determine from which community the surveyor resides, so that LCPC can see which specific communities desire bike paths.
Many of the comments lack a “none of these” response, so the person filling out the survey must choose the response that is the least undesirable while giving an appearance that they like the choice they selected. They may leave it blank, but then their opinion does not receive any weight. This could be somewhat mitigated if there was at least a “comment section”, which there is not.
However, the biggest flaw of all in the survey is the assumption that bike paths are at the top of the taxpayers’ list of priorities. The very first questions on the survey should have included, but not been limited to, questions similar to these…
1. Rank the following from 1-3; with one being the most important and 3 being least important.
_____Building and/or Repairing Roads
_____Building and/Repairing Bridges
_____Building and Repairing Bike Paths
2. Yes or No Would you support the building of bike paths that are funded through grants that contribute to our federal deficit?
3. Yes or No Would you support the building of a bike path if ultimately said bike path required the use of taxpayer dollars or would cause an increase in a tax levy?
4. Yes or No Do you believe it is acceptable to take private property against the wishes of the owner in order to build a bike path?
5. Would you be willing to pay a user fee in order to help fund costs associated with the bike path?
If the truth is the goal, this survey will not get the whole truth. It will get the desired answer that everyone wants a bike path, but not necessarily the true feelings of the community-that they may prefer their government to focus on roads and bridges, or they only want a bike path if it is built and maintained with private money and no land is taken through eminent domain.
Because the bike path survey will be used to both drive and direct the program, the taxpayer deserves the survey to be redone-even if it costs a little money. The money spent will be nothing compared to the total amount of money spent on even one bike path-assuming the communities really even want the bike paths. Everyone knows a faulty foundation creates a flawed structure. The survey is the foundation. The taxpayers deserve a strong foundation through the use of a valid survey.
Finally the writer of this article asks each of you to consider going to the meetings of your local government and watchdog policies such as these to see that your tax dollars are being thoughtfully and wisely spent.
To read the Newark Advocate article about the proposed bike path program click on this link.