Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The City Gets it Right

The rootbeer folder
In an effort to engage the public about plans to build more biking infrastructure, the city has gone to a lot of trouble and expense.  Recently one meeting was held on the south side of the river and two meetings were planned for the north side.

The meeting I attended was only a few blocks from my work so after scarfing down a quick supper, I rode the Raleigh 20 over there.  With only fifteen minutes remaining before the start of the meeting, the bike racks were full and it was all I could do to find a sturdy fence to lock up my ride.
Another folding bike on the fence

The city had gone all out by renting a large gymnasium and filling it with enough tables and seating for two hundred guests.  Colourful balloons added a cheery note to the sterile gym. However the music playing on large speakers was odd.  "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" which starts off with the lines "Get Your Motors Running..." seemed out of place for a meeting of cyclists.
Party atmosphere
In a short speech, the organizer explained that the city had made a mistake last year when they presented already completed plans for bike lanes to the public.  Motorists in the crowd were vocal in their anger and cyclists were eager to point out flaws in the plans.  This time, the city wanted  input before making any decisions.
Plenty of maps
We sat at tables with a facilitator and talked about what we thought a bike lane should look like.  An engineer had shown examples of what cities like Winnipeg, Toronto, and Vancouver had done.  As well there were examples from the U.S. of A. and Europe.  In the middle of our table was a pie shaped diagram that looked like something from Trivial Pursuit.  In each pie section were elements that had to be considered when designing bike lanes.  The impact on property owners.  Will this affect businesses along the route?  The cost to the taxpayers.
Trivial Pursuit
As the evening wore on, I became convinced that the city was sincere in wanting to know what we as cyclists in this car centric city wanted.  We switched tables after half an hour and studied what other participants had written on their wheel shaped diagram.  We added to their remarks and when we got back to our table, we studied what other cyclists had written on our sheet,
Edmonton's poet laureate
The evening was capped off with a poem written by Edmonton's poet laureate Mary Pinkoski.  This artist had spent the evening wandering from table to table listening to the varied discussions.  Her poem which sounded more like a story was involved and lengthy.  My ears perked up when she mentioned something I had said to our table and I'm sure others felt gratified that she had listened to them. I'd like to get a copy of her poem since I felt moved by her words.

Except for a error on the maps which placed Christ Church, a 1920's era Anglican place of worship a block away from where it actually stands, the city's effort to reach out to the cycling public was an encouraging step in the right direction.  Just ask Nancy Sinatra - her boots are walking...
Christ Church in situ

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, Adrian. Now a resident of Victoria (previous Edmontonian) I am in STRONG support of Edmonton building their biking infrastructure. We're fortunate here ...