Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Last night's meeting was an interesting one and perhaps can help us in figuring out ways to be as effective as possible in influencing the future of bike travel in this area.
Endorsement of "International Walk to School" day was neat.
I liked the ending the best (like a movie, eh?)... at first it looked as if Gary Cziko (there were what? 3 or 4 Gary's there, so need to clarify) was going to be the lone "Paths?!? Why are you trying to make me get on a path?? What part of Paths are more dangerous don't you understand?" voice in the room, with echoes from myself... but then other voices joined the chorus, including words to the effect of "go to _____ and _____ [anywhere that *has* bike lanes and complete streets] - it's better for motorists too. You know where the bikes are and they're predictable. It is the way to go for the future." Rick said it a whole lot better than that - but reminded everybody that yes, the future can and should look different for transportation in Urbana!
However, conspicuously missing was any mention of the main reason we cited for not delaying meetings 'til the fall: current and imminent road projects.
And, for a stretch, it was a lovely venue for slide shows telling us selected parts of projects so that we could offer our suggestions for whether the chosen signs telling us not to ride our bikes should be white on black or black on white.
The other conspicuously missing aspect - except when somebody from our peanut gallery pointed it out - was that utterly novel idea that cyclists ride on roads. At first I was assuming that well, of course, road cyclists shouldn't hog the agenda... but now, having assimilated the evening and the utter emphasis on sidepaths and "walk the bikes" wiht zilch, zero, zip nada about riding on the street instead, I'd like to see the video 'cause the emphasis really struck me at one point when Bill Gray essentially said "no bikes downtown" without modifiers... not "no bikes on the sidewalk," just "No bikes." That and a few dozen other references have me thinking that yes, cyclists are still perceived as a splinter interest group - much like the disdained people who called in a frenzy about the "ugliness" of the "walk your bike" emblazonings.
I wish they'd turn around and see the moms out there in the audience - but I know these perceptions are *hard* to change.
I think Gary's question "where *is* anything, *anything*, done to make things better for cyclists using the roads?" is one that bears repeating (it effectively challenged my "maybe we'll get our turn" feelings).
Also - da man said that "share the road" signs weren't a liability problem.
How 'bout we take him up on that? Unless he said that because his ace in his hole was "we can always say we can't afford it," or "that would be sign pollution," so he wouldn't have to do it anyway, we could at least ask that if there's a "walk the bike" sign, there should also be a "share the road" sign.
But... more importantly... how do we get the actual road *stuff* on the agenda?
And, if and when we do... how can we present a unified voice (Gary, maybe we can work out some harmonies - bring the Jazz cycle :-)) ?
Oh, and Brandon Bowersox did add "comments from the public" to the agenda ( so that if there are issues people want to talk about they could and they don't have to be on the advisory commission.
If we're really assertive we can even jump in and participate in some of the education stuff - but that was also treated somewhat dismissively ("it all takes funding"). Seemed the schools don't want to add things to their curricula - but are much more open to somebody coming in and doing a show (makes sense to this former classroom teacher :-)). So, how do we organize a show? How do we get it to include that radical notion of "driving your bke" on the street? I don't think we need the expensive props Bill Gray described because we have more open parking lot space. Track stand contests would even be sort of safe :-)
The other big item on the agenda was the presentation of what the Greenways and Trails folks do. My thinking was that okay, that's nice and it needs to be enthusiastically endorsed. Now I'm agreeing with Gary, though, that the unspoken assumption was "okay, see what we are doing for you cyclists? Everybody's happy now, right?" and that they do NOT see the people who are going more than 10 mph.
Brandon Bowersox made the excellent poing (I think it's excellent 'cause I was going to make it ;-)) that signage could make a big difference and that clarifying that faster travelers *should* be on the street should be part of the project.
I was wonderign to myself whether we should press the points about defining paths or not. If htey're not defined for a while, and we get a whole lot of things that could then be defined as "sidewalks" (I'm thinknig the pavement that used to be bike path along Green, near Wright as an example), then we have an argument for not designating the fragments of "bike paths" as for bikes since obviously they're such fragments that cyclists going mroe than a block or two should be on the street.
On the other hand, there might already be enough of those walks, and it's time to say "stop pretending this is where bikes belong, and let the drivers *and* the cyclists know it's better driving the bike as a vehicle." I have watched so many bike riders imitate me, and I remember going on my first forays and watching, looking for signs, and basically trying to figure out where I was expected to go. However, I'm a little more determined than most; lots of folks I've talked to have "tried to ride but there was too much confusion."
Which means we need those maps, which means I need to be able to get out and do more asphalt sniffing, which means I need to get other things done :-))