Bikes or Boats?

Without any real value analysis (just like the way the giant fountains were pushed down our throats) Dr. Mike Ervin and Five Rivers Metroparks are about to raise and spend $4 million on a pet project of making Dayton a kayaking destination.

Were any other studies done to see what could have maximum bang for the buck? How big is this kayaking community? And, besides being good for one local business, White Water Warehouse on Valley Street, who else really benefits?

From the Dayton Daily News:

Officials have set a goal to complete fundraising by September for the $3 million needed for the $4 million river project that would remove one low dam from the Great Miami River and install two rock formations suitable for kayaking and canoeing in downtown Dayton….

Removal of the dam likely will cause the river to be more narrow, but the rock formations will continue to give it the depth necessary for water recreation, Scarff said. The rock formations, known as “drop points” will be installed at RiverScape and behind the YMCA on Monument, essentially extending RiverScape to that point.

Openings in the rocks will allow an easy passage for kayaks and canoes and another more adventurous whitewater-style passage.

River access points will be improved at RiverScape and behind the Y, and at Wolf Creek and in the Carillon Park area. Scarff said the project will create a flowing river, improve aquatic diversity, maintain flood control, improve safety and help create a sense of vibrancy that should attract people to the community and retain young professionals.

“We have the opportunity to create a real kayaking scene,” Scarff said.

via Organizers seek $3M more for river by September.

For less than half of what they plan to spend on creating that “real kayaking scene” for the couple of thousand kayakers in the region (and I’m rounding up to be nice)- we could have a world-class bike-sharing program in Dayton. Bike sharing- the thing that other than a feeble mention by Nan Whaley during the “Bike Summit” and the failed “Yellow Bike” experiment (I’ve looked for Yellow Bikes downtown every day- and the only one I’ve seen was being ridden by a junkie in front of my office- like it was his).

A bike-sharing program can help spur business downtown by making it easy for the 20,000 Sinclair students to get off campus without having to risk losing their valuable parking spaces, it can help Miami Valley Hospital employees move from their new building at 2nd and Main to the hospital campus (where parking is a huge problem) – it can help UD eliminate some of its parking issues, as well as give a healthy option for getting from point A to point B.

Nice Ride MN is a hit. The Twin Cities bike share recently celebrated its one year anniversary in June. And in July they started an expansion by adding more stations and bicycles to the network.

We talked with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak who told us about how they got Nice Ride MN off the ground:

“We were gonna have to build a really big system. So I went to Blue Cross and I said we wanna do this. It’s gonna be a major health initiative it’s gonna cost $3 million dollars, we need you to put up a million dollars. And they looked at it, and looked at it, and they said ‘yes’….I was totally blown away. And then we leveraged another million and a half from a federal grant – and again, this was Oberstar – so we got that $2.5 million.”

via Minnesota expands bike share after 1 year

Bike sharing is practical, useful, energy efficient, forward thinking and most importantly- impacts a hell of a lot more people. Almost everyone has ridden a bike- I’m guessing that fewer than one in a thousand has kayaked.

While boondoggles on the river should be nothing new to Daytonians (The fountains no longer have a laser show, there was a very long expensive lawsuit over the fact that the 5 fountains couldn’t converge – forcing the addition of the central spire fountain- never mind the $8.6 million the county was extorted out of by a group of local businesspeople including the direct family of the county administrator) have we really looked at what would have the most positive impact on the community?

Given a choice between bikes for all or kayaks for a few- bikes should win.

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