Posted by: fullandbye | March 12, 2008

bicycles

This video is hilarious and drives home a great point about focus.

I went to a meeting yesterday about the SLUT and cyclists.

It was supposed to be a moderated discussion between Portland Department of Transportation, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle City Council, and the design firm that designed the streetcar line, with the discussion moderated by Cascade Bicycle Club. The discussion was supposed to lay out what went wrong with the construction of the SLUT (almost everything!) and what could be done to avoid such a catastrophe (lots!)

PDOT was under political pressure to not show up (something to do with animosity between them and the design firm).
SDOT did not show up.
The design firm did not show up.
City Council did not show up because they were meeting with the moped army (I swear I am not making this up).

So it ended up being a room with 20 or so cyclists (choir) and some representatives from Cascade (preachers). It was the biggest waste of time ever. I left feeling misled and frustrated.

Apparently the city did not show because they were worried that the meeting would be an “ambush”. I am not convinced this would have been a bad thing though. By allowing the SLUT to be built the way it was, the city really fucked up. What was a nice coast out of downtown is now one of the most stressful stretches of arterial for cyclists in the entire city, and this problem was imminently avoidable. By being negligent in their responsibility to provide for the safety of users of the road, the city enabled this colossal cock-up to happen and they are accountable to their constituents.

This is a political hot potato to be sure, but what can the city possibly know of how we feel if they are not willing to meet with us? And the necessity for them to hear from individuals is especially critical because there are plans in the works to expand this network of trolleys to other neighborhoods. As it is, the topographic requirements of rail are essentially identical to the grades favored by cyclists (especially older cyclists who are new to bicycle commuting and not conditioned by recreational riding). If the mistakes of this project are repeated in the future it will systematically make current routes favored by cyclists much more dangerous, and the citizens of this city will pay for these mistakes for decades.

In any event. I have been offended. But rather than fume on LJ I have decided to become more active in the process of putting pressure on city hall to learn from this mistake and legislate policy that will prevent this from ever happening again.

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