So tonight was the “Committee of the whole” meeting concerning 15 items, number 11 of which was the traffic plan for Main Street.
Carolyn Baxley spoke first, before the agenda ensued, expressing her regrets that she couldn’t stay. She talked for a while about all the unfair things people were saying abotu her and the disinformation going around, and then read her letter stating her reasons for not wanting bike lanes because of her incredible concern for our safety. SHe made some good points — unfortunately for her argument, several of which were later simply corrected by people who knew better. She stated that while the emergency folks had taken issue with angle parking, they shouldn’t because getting in and out of angle parking is so much faster than parallel parking. Well, the concern is acctually that with the angle parking there’s no place for drivers to pull over when an emergency vehicle has to come through – has absolutely nothing to do with speed of parking. Another person in a “bike to work day” T-shirt said she just wanted the council to know that she didn’t want to be treated as a second class citizen ’cause she was on a bike (and more that resounded so perfectly with me that I can’t even tell you what it was). Then when things came up on the agenda, I was second to go. The first man explained that he’d shopped in Urbana at the Montgomery Ward ’cause he’s been here that long… but that no, what with all this nonsense he went to Champaign or online or any of the other zillion options and that merchants might do well to remember that law about the customer coming first.
(Oh, and the fellow from Channel 15 was there but he also just hung around long enough to hear what Carolyn Baxley had to say. It’s Channel 15, ‘nuf said.)
Then it was my turn, and thankfully I’d been delegated to read the letter from Ed Barsotti of the LEague of ILlinois Bicyclists so I could just read. (Boy, was it a ****long**** wait — I remember that funny burning sensation around my elbows that I used to have waiting outside the principal’s office. ) It was much easier than I anticipated to add “My bit” at the end – telling them that I hoped they picked a plan that they’d be proud of when people came on whatever mode of transportation to visit, instead of painted lines that would have visitor’s saying “and what’s that about?” and then p0inting out that yes, every single last reason expressed not to have bike *lanes* on Main street was actually a reason not to have *bicycles* traveling down Main Street, and that I didn’t think that wa smy vision for the future of Urbana. The applause was appreciated 🙂
Cynthia HOyle’s presentation was fabulous — lots of statistics — tho’ it drew a really funny comment from one council person — so many of those stats were from California and the West Coast, where people rode 365 days a year and you couldn’t do that here. Well, of course, the dozen or so of us out in the Peanut Gallery begged to differ… and it does go to show the simple misperceptions cagers have — that idea that biking is for leisure. Cynthia pointed out that University towns in Germany, FInland, and St. Paul also had great bike infrastructure and lots of riding, but that she *had* tried to shorten things up and said she’d be *glad* to put together something longer. Gary Cziko also presented names and numbers with that focus that I’d considered (had I not had the reading task) of explaining how fundamentally counterintuitive much abotu cycling is… that it’s *not* safer on sidewalks, or hugging the side of the road… and gobs of in your face statistics about how more cyclists mean fewer crashes. You know, MORE PEOPLE ALIVE AND NOT DEAD. HOw in New York, the RAW number of crashes went down as the raw number of cyclists went up. (Yea, lots of people got applause.
Most of us hung out ’til the motion was carried, and I suspect that our faces out there watching meant that the car-centric folks couldn’t retreat to “well gosh, now that the weird people are out of here…” mode. As one of them said, it seemed that either cyclists would be less safe because we’d have to go around and make all those extra turns… or we’d never know if it were safe because we woudln’t do it anyway. Several people spoke of the fact that cyclists were not bloody likely to follow the bike lane if it turned, if they were destined to straight ahead.So he was game for number five.
Matt Childress also injected the “let’s really look at the future” angle, and talked about electric vehicles that would be going 20 mph and that the bike lanes would be a logical place for those vehicles, as well as folks in electric wheelchairs or fast skateboarders, tho’ cyclists might be annoyed. (Not Miss Inclusive here ;))
Ok… now I’m afraid that I posted that there were three Merchants represented, when now I’m recalling the fourth, who was such a shadow of Carolyn that I forgot her. She’s a tenant of Carolyn’s … and that place was a stop on the Art Gallery tour and I won two really cool plates and I bought two more and I’ve thought about going back… I’m sorry, I don’t think so now. She has chosen her loyalties; I’ll choose mine.
But now ’tis after midnight… oh, but we were thanked for our participation and civility 🙂 … hey, after reading _Radical Equations_ it isn’t nothin’ to sit at a meeting for a while. And the meeting *had* to go late ’cause I’m pretty sure we got out just after it stopped you know RAINING. 😛