Some of you may recall that I announced I had a private meeting with the local city councillor who serves as Chair of the Toronto Bike Committee in the first week of June. Prior to that meeting being scheduled, I had respectfully requested a meeting three times by e-mail over a seven week period and each request went unanswered. Finally, after sending an e-mail expressing my discouragement and disappointment that a city councillor could not find five seconds to reply, but other provincical, federal and foreign government officials all responded promptly to my e-mails regarding similar and identical issues, I was granted a twenty minute meeting. In preparation for the meeting with Councillor Adam Giambrone, I had drawn up detailed proposals regarding studying the Velo-city (elevated, tubular bikeway) concept, signage reminding drivers that cyclists are entitled to the entire right lane, centre-positioned bike-lanes, the Millenium (now McDonald's) Bike Station concept in Chicago and, last but not least, the negative, ambivalent and even hostile attitude of police toward cyclists.
Councilor Giambrone was not in favour of the velo-city concept, but seemed intrigued by the bike-lane, bike station and signage ideas, asking me to forward expanded information. He even mentioned that he reads his e-mail at night and would get back to me promptly. Within four days, after considerable time and effort, I sent him a five page analysis and implementation proposal for each idea. Six weeks have passed without a reply to the proposals or the follow-up asking for acknowledgement that the e-mail was received successfully or a subsequent note sent to his staff asking to be advised if the e-mail had been received.
Discouraged, once again, I felt compelled to send an e-mail this morning once again expressing my disappointment that common courtesy of acknowledging receipt of the documents could not be observed. The letter was not angry or unprofessional in tone, but was succinct. While I didn't expect the ideas to be implemented or anything like that, it would have satisfied me to know that my efforts were not in vain or unappreciated. That's all I wanted. I even mentioned that perhaps I wasn't patient enough or too naive to recognize the councillor was merely tolerating me before brushing me off, once again reiterating that I didn't expect the ideas to be acted upon immediately, simply the standard courtesy of note of thanks. My e-mail stated, in conclusion, that I firmly believed that city council was ineffective and, as a result of self-serving, elitist politicians, the bicycle committee was impotent to effect any meaningful improvement at any time in the forseeable future. I stated that I intended to use what little power I had---the media and my vote in the upcoming November election---to promote positive change for the city and the committee.
Just like back in May, I received an immediate response asking me to call the councilor's chief assistant. I repied back that I doubted it would be productive, that I was not begging for attention nor in need of mollification, and that I was convinced that any more time expended on working with the committee would be futile. The assistant has responded again, imploring me to call her.
So, I ask you: what should I do? Should I call and listen patiently as she attempts to placate me, thinking that is what I want? Is there a chance she may have some positive news or encouraging progress to report other than just an obligatory apology? I'm sitting on the fence with this one. On one hand I want to wash my hands of them and see if I can work with the next committee, provided that a new government is installed, but on the other hand I want to give them yet another chance to redeem themselves. I don't want to waste my time.
We are the bicycling committee here and serious about advocacy. Your views will be gratefully considered and valued. Thanks.