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Bike Lane Change-Up Shocking

The news coverage of Item 12 on the agenda at the City Council Meeting, September 17, at first blush, is very incomplete at best. This is very understandable because no one, other than the Mayor and Mr. Vandertie, knew it was coming before the Council. Everyone was prepared for another recommendation discussion which was noticed and part of the council information packet.

News capsule summaries have sounded pretty desirable until you read deeper into the proposal. Here are some questions I immediately have, and tried to ask at the council meeting:

  • Why was this proposal allowed to be brought forward previous to the recommendation of staff that was advertised?
  • Was the taxpayer expense of removing or changing every current line on the street looked at?
  • What happens in the approximate seven-month (or more) waiting period to safety with fading lines and an entirely new upcoming learning curve?
  • Were the increased pressure and time involved in police enforcement issues considered?
  • How about the 15-25 mile speed limit, with a dashed centerline and parking on both sides, allowing passing in both directions near our busiest school zone?
  • How about a fatigued cyclist like me, riding home from church, uphill and east bound on Michigan St. – without a bike lane holding up traffic?
  • How about an experienced biker or organized group of bikers riding on the sharrows in one or both lanes at 8-12 miles per hour holding up traffic?
  • How about the bicyclist encouraged or forced onto the sidewalks which are supposed to be for wheelchairs, mothers with strollers, the elderly and youth to walk and ride on?

These and many other questions will now have to be addressed. All of these issues and more were discussed by staff when they made their Plan A recommendation. None were discussed with the passed recommendation.

Finally, I was so shocked and surprised at the Council Meeting. I could not, and would not, talk to the press for fear of what I might say. How could a councilman ignore 83 pages of council packet information and an excellent staff recommendation, to bring forward a proposal with no supporting information or drawings to be voted on with no advance notice to the public, media or the council members? How could the Mayor allow such a plan to come forward first? How could the Council pass such a proposed plan? The staff recommendation should have been discussed first out of respect to them.

Nobody knows better than me that majority rules, and I accept this proposal passage. I probably would have voted for this myself had it come through the proper channels and all the questions could have been addressed. We have bigger issues to deal with in the immediate future, but I hope the Council and Mayor learned something from this and will do a better job with the agenda in the future.

 

Bob Schlicht Jr. – Alderman District 7

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