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Old 07-25-06, 11:27 AM   #1
EnigManiac
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Need Your Input

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.

Last edited by EnigManiac; 07-25-06 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 07-25-06, 12:10 PM   #2
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"Patience is a virtue" is a tremendous understatement when dealing with anyone involved in government. The normal rules do not apply.

Stay focused on your goals, and ignore everything else, including apparently being brushed off. Don't take it personally. Press on. Call the assistant back. Be the squeaky wheel.

Having said that, for the sake of cyclists and cycling, do not promote anything that treats cyclists as unequal users of the road from vehicle drivers. Sooner or later, doing so will work against cyclists.
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Old 07-25-06, 12:16 PM   #3
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Hmmm?? Guess Adam doesn't want to talk to you because he is too busy on "important matters" (read matters that have a better chance of getting him re-elected). He has already sluffed you off to his 'ass'istant whose duty it is to smile and nod approvingly while he/she takes a nap. If the 'ass'istant really wants to talk to you, provide her with your phone number and the hours/days you will be available to speak with her. Put the burden on them to make the contact. Explain that you have put in a great deal of time and effort to date and desire not to waste even another minute unless they have something positive to offer. If she doesn't call you have your answer and it will be time to move on to the media.
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Old 07-25-06, 12:50 PM   #4
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Elected officials often get bombarded with requests and suggestions from their constituents. Some of these constituents are extremely verbose in their communication. Rightly or wrongly, some elected officials tend to try to tune out or avoid some of the communication regarding issues or people that they consider less critical, especially when the noise level is high.

Here are a couple of ways to get around this:

1) Keep communication very short and sweet, especially if it is unsolicited advice.

2) Use paper letters (instead of email) when writing longer or more important works. It makes your words seem more worth reading and less likely to be discarded as activist-spam. And CC somebody they respect so the recipient will know that they might be held accountable to have read it.

3) Develop buy-in from other committee members or constituents. I have found that if I can't convince a chairperson/official that my idea is worthwhile, convincing the rest of a committee/constituency will force the chair or official to take action. My best successes have resulted when other committe members have made motions in favor of ideas that I sold them on one way or another.
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Old 07-25-06, 01:17 PM   #5
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Increase the size of your lobbying group and find allies. You need to answer 2 questions:
1. how will proposal help the city
2. how will proposal help me in election cycle

Remember timing is related to political process. Some months are times when nothing is heard, and other months officials will try to appear more receptive. You need to rifle your ideas and use shotgun approach for gathering support in your group. One targeted issue is much more likely to be heard that many issues. Choose one: bike lane, bike station, or signage. If official supports your idea, do you have an easy method for him to contract your group when he wants assistance? What will you offer in return for bike friendly action.
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Old 07-25-06, 01:46 PM   #6
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Wow! I just knew it was a god idea soliciting your advice. So far, all the suggestions are terrific! Since the assistant has asked me for my number, I just may take OH306's advice and provide it with hours that I can be reached and put the ball in her court, so to speak. I also like the ideas of gathering support of the other committee members and targeting one issue at a time.

And HH, knowing full well your position on bike lanes and equal access to the road for both types of vehicles, I can assure you that while I quite like bike lanes and often choose my routes because they incorporate bike lanes, I also have been promoting signage to be posted every block reminding motorists that cyclists are entitled to the full right lane and passing must be done in the other lane. I think the idea of having a temperature-controlled, enclosed bikeway (Velo-city) adjacent to our downtown freeways as well as elevated above certain major avenues (like an expressway for cyclists) is a tremendous idea and in no way dimishes the cyclists access to all other roadways. After all, if cars can have an expressway, why can't cyclists, if we can prove there will be enough traffic to make them viable? It would be unfair to cyclists to not have a restricted access freeway if cars enjoy that same privege.
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Old 07-25-06, 07:34 PM   #7
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Can you get minutes of the cycling committee's meetings, so you can focus on the issues that already have their attention, and so you can identify the members who can present their ideas effectively.
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Old 07-26-06, 06:24 AM   #8
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You won't know unless you call. Do you want to spend months wondering "What if"?
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Old 08-02-06, 09:23 AM   #9
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Just as a follow-up, I replied to the executive assistant's request for my phone number with my number and the time that I can be reached. That was a week ago. No call.

Guess we all know now of the integrity, professionalism and sincerity of our official Bike Plan committee chair.

For Torontonians, make your vote count in November and get rid of this ineffectual and stifled government. 12km of bike lanes in three years and a few bike lockers is NOT progress.
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Old 08-02-06, 10:41 AM   #10
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Question what the heck is a tubular bike way? Any pics on the idea or the like just curious.

As for getting them to listen like has been said keep the emails pouring in get others to do the same (id email them my self but i don't think mine would matter as im not from there). Id say the people you want emailing them will be those from the area (your specific city or province) And surrounding cities/province as a start.

Often its not that they don't want to respond they have simply forgotten. Ive emailed a few people in the past and had a good first response then nothing for a month. Emailed again and had another response with in a day. The first time around it just got buried under a 100 other issues. In my case on one ocasion i remember some of those other issues were ones even i seen as more important than getting a few more bike route signs put up. One issue was related to child protective services. They and i both thought that the couple 1000 dollars would be better spent on a computer server upgrade/replacement.

So just because your message seems to fall on death ears doe s not mean that it is they may have other matters to deal with that if you knew them would also be more important to you. And of corse some times they simply do not care. Id say in the case of where you email them write them or call them and get a few fast back and fourths with them they are paying attention even if theres days weeks months after words.

When you take on things like this expect it to take a long time.
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Old 08-02-06, 11:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by nova
Question what the heck is a tubular bike way? Any pics on the idea or the like just curious.

As for getting them to listen like has been said keep the emails pouring in get others to do the same (id email them my self but i don't think mine would matter as im not from there). Id say the people you want emailing them will be those from the area (your specific city or province) And surrounding cities/province as a start.

Often its not that they don't want to respond they have simply forgotten. Ive emailed a few people in the past and had a good first response then nothing for a month. Emailed again and had another response with in a day. The first time around it just got buried under a 100 other issues. In my case on one ocasion i remember some of those other issues were ones even i seen as more important than getting a few more bike route signs put up. One issue was related to child protective services. They and i both thought that the couple 1000 dollars would be better spent on a computer server upgrade/replacement.

So just because your message seems to fall on death ears doe s not mean that it is they may have other matters to deal with that if you knew them would also be more important to you. And of corse some times they simply do not care. Id say in the case of where you email them write them or call them and get a few fast back and fourths with them they are paying attention even if theres days weeks months after words.

When you take on things like this expect it to take a long time.
I appreciate your observations; they're very astute. As I mentioned before, however, I did not expect the ideas to be implemented right away. I understand the wheels of government grind slowly. But if they can respond instantly when I send a disgruntled e-mail, can they not respond just as quickly or within 2 months to simply say 'thanks for the info?' That's all I requested. Any professional in any industry after requesting specific information would acknowledge receiving it, particularly after two or three acknowledment requests.
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Old 08-02-06, 11:30 AM   #12
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I appreciate your observations; they're very astute. As I mentioned before, however, I did not expect the ideas to be implemented right away. I understand the wheels of government grind slowly. But if they can respond instantly when I send a disgruntled e-mail, can they not respond just as quickly or within 2 months to simply say 'thanks for the info?' That's all I requested. Any professional in any industry after requesting specific information would acknowledge receiving it, particularly after two or three acknowledment requests.

Yeh i know is damn annoying sometimes. I find the triple play to work wonders email, typed letter and phone call.It helps you to stick out in their mind better and less likely to get your message buried under other messages etc.

Any how still unclear on this whole elevated, tubular bikeway idea. I keep getting this picture of bikes riding through a tube.
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Old 08-02-06, 11:52 AM   #13
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I think the idea of having a temperature-controlled, enclosed bikeway (Velo-city) adjacent to our downtown freeways as well as elevated above certain major avenues (like an expressway for cyclists) is a tremendous idea and in no way dimishes the cyclists access to all other roadways.
Try proposing something that isn't prohibitively expensive for the benefit of a handful of people. I would be ignoring your letters too.
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Old 08-02-06, 01:01 PM   #14
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Try proposing something that isn't prohibitively expensive for the benefit of a handful of people. I would be ignoring your letters too.
You may not have read the OP. The city councillor expressed interest in my ideas when we met in his office and specifically requested additional information. The ideas that he liked in particular were not prohibitively expensive ones: signage, central bike station and centralized bike-lanes. With approx 950,000 cyclists in Toronto out of a population of 3.5 million, I'd hardly call that 'a handful of people.' Once again, I repeat: HE ASKED FOR THE INFORMATION. After considerable time and effort on my part, I supplied the information and simply asked for acknowledgement that he received the information. That's it. A simple 'thanks' is both appropriate and not unreasonable.
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Old 08-02-06, 01:04 PM   #15
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Yeh i know is damn annoying sometimes. I find the triple play to work wonders email, typed letter and phone call.It helps you to stick out in their mind better and less likely to get your message buried under other messages etc.

Any how still unclear on this whole elevated, tubular bikeway idea. I keep getting this picture of bikes riding through a tube.
Here is one of the links:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006...ty_cycle_1.php
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Old 08-02-06, 01:23 PM   #16
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Yikes it is tubes. Interesting idea just wonder how possible it would be to do.
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Old 08-02-06, 02:43 PM   #17
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Yikes it is tubes. Interesting idea just wonder how possible it would be to do.
I took the idea and adpated to what I thought would be a workable and functioning system wherein corporations would invest in the project, sponsor the construction of certain sections, retain the naming and advertising rights, but would cede ownership of the system itself to the city. The system could be installed to run adjacent or above the two primary north-south arteries (Don Valley Parkway & Highway 27 / 427) and joining an inner-city east-west route across Bloor St as it is the most logical downtown avenue that connects with both freeways. I believe that if corporate Canada were involved, there would be a greater chance of success. It's a bold vision; one that transforms the city rather dramatically if performed either small or large scale (large scale being additional routes out to the suburbs). The tubes could be solar-powered and would generate both its own power but also the power needed for traffic signals and street lights on the routes it is installed on.

Note, that the idea was proposed to the councilor but he quickly rejected it, without learning of the adaptations I proposed. His response was expected and I wan't surprised nor offended. The other ideas I suggested were readily accepted, however: signage over the right lane of all major routes that reads 'Bicycles entitled to full right lane. Pass in left lane only;' centralized bike lanes (down the centre of certain routes) and a Millenium Bike Station facility to be located downtown.
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Old 08-02-06, 03:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by EnigManiac
I took the idea and adpated to what I thought would be a workable and functioning system wherein corporations would invest in the project, sponsor the construction of certain sections, retain the naming and advertising rights, but would cede ownership of the system itself to the city. The system could be installed to run adjacent or above the two primary north-south arteries (Don Valley Parkway & Highway 27 / 427) and joining an inner-city east-west route across Bloor St as it is the most logical downtown avenue that connects with both freeways. I believe that if corporate Canada were involved, there would be a greater chance of success. It's a bold vision; one that transforms the city rather dramatically if performed either small or large scale (large scale being additional routes out to the suburbs). The tubes could be solar-powered and would generate both its own power but also the power needed for traffic signals and street lights on the routes it is installed on.

Note, that the idea was proposed to the councilor but he quickly rejected it, without learning of the adaptations I proposed. His response was expected and I wan't surprised nor offended. The other ideas I suggested were readily accepted, however: signage over the right lane of all major routes that reads 'Bicycles entitled to full right lane. Pass in left lane only;' centralized bike lanes (down the centre of certain routes) and a Millenium Bike Station facility to be located downtown.
Well i know if they do build it ill be heading up that way for a visit. Even if for some reason i cant get ahold of a bike up there or bring mine id want to at least see it
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Old 08-02-06, 04:00 PM   #19
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Well i know if they do build it ill be heading up that way for a visit. Even if for some reason i cant get ahold of a bike up there or bring mine id want to at least see it
That's exactly what I pointed out in my written presentation: that Toronto would have another entirely unique tourist attraction and that cyclists would come from around the world to see it and ride it. Unfortunately, our politicians have neither bold visions nor the political will to make positive and profound changes.
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Old 08-02-06, 04:07 PM   #20
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That's exactly what I pointed out in my written presentation: that Toronto would have another entirely unique tourist attraction and that cyclists would come from around the world to see it and ride it. Unfortunately, our politicians have neither bold visions nor the political will to make positive and profound changes.
I personally love the idea. Esp if the road way in it is as wide as a normal car lane. The tow path here is almost as wide as a single lane for cars but 2 ways travel. In fact a park truck can fit in side the path and have about 1 foot per side left over. I can limp around a park truck with out dismounting most of the time. so say 2x 4 foot lanes if 2 way or 1x 5 foot if one way. Personally i think 2x 4 would be better. More room to pass easily and less expensive to build and maintain. For comfortable passing youd need at least 5 foot with a single lane and only 3 foot more for 2 lane. Thats a huge savings.
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Old 08-02-06, 04:17 PM   #21
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That's exactly what I pointed out in my written presentation: that Toronto would have another entirely unique tourist attraction and that cyclists would come from around the world to see it and ride it.
It looks like an interesting idea, but can forsee some issues with the "Gerbil Tube" feel. I am a bit of a claustrophobe and am not sure I would enjoy riding in a tube. I can also see a serious potential for injury in a bike/bike crash and absolutely nowhere to go to escape if someone tangles up in frnt of me. I'm not discounting the idea mind you, but pointing out the potential drawbacks the idea of "Tube riding" could be percieved as having.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enigmaniac
Unfortunately, our politicians have neither bold visions nor the political will to make positive and profound changes.
This is NOT a rare occurence, believe me! Make your suggestions and proposals in such a way that he or she decidedly sees a benefit to getting involved rather than no benefit, or even worse for an elected official, the perception that they are on the fringe.....
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Old 08-02-06, 04:53 PM   #22
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My idea was to have the tube-way the width of two lanes in each direction (4 lanes total) They would be separate tubes, but with occasional crossing areas in case someone has to turn around. In addition, there would be escape shoulders in the event of a spill up ahead of you and access points for emergency personnel spaced throughout the tube. To combat claustrophobia, the tubes would be mostly transparent (not the floor!) and could, perhaps, have automated sections that slide open for fresh air during appropriate times of the year, but would have temperature controlled during the winter months.

The idea is to encourage cyclists from the suburbs to use their bike to get downtown instead of driving alone in their SUV's. Right now, it is primarily downtown cyclists who bicycle the most in the city, not folks from midtown, the north, the east or the south.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:37 PM   #23
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My idea was to have the tube-way the width of two lanes in each direction (4 lanes total) They would be separate tubes, but with occasional crossing areas in case someone has to turn around. In addition, there would be escape shoulders in the event of a spill up ahead of you and access points for emergency personnel spaced throughout the tube. To combat claustrophobia, the tubes would be mostly transparent (not the floor!) and could, perhaps, have automated sections that slide open for fresh air during appropriate times of the year, but would have temperature controlled during the winter months.

The idea is to encourage cyclists from the suburbs to use their bike to get downtown instead of driving alone in their SUV's. Right now, it is primarily downtown cyclists who bicycle the most in the city, not folks from midtown, the north, the east or the south.

Ahh man i want transparent floors

Hmm a commute that doubles as a thrill ride i like it

Seriously though i think such a system would be allot of fun. I think that for costs reasns 1 tube with 2 lanes would be better as a start. Traffic would not be very heavy at first maybe not for many years to come. Few years down the road if needed another tube again 2 way traffic could be added and slowly over the next couple years after the cross tubes could be added and traffic made one way in each tube.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:40 PM   #24
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All i can say is the view from such a system could be incredible.

You know where this would work great here in the states? In big cities. You could hang the tubes off the side of buildings.
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Old 08-02-06, 08:46 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nova
All i can say is the view from such a system could be incredible.

You know where this would work great here in the states? In big cities. You could hang the tubes off the side of buildings.
The Don Valley Parkway is a twisting, winding freeway separated by a river and surrounded by parkland, so riding above the trees would be quite nice. There is a path adjacent to the river for bicycles at present, but it doesn't completely follow the freeway system as the rver angles across the city to the north. It's a nice ride in the summer.

I doubt the building owners would go for the defacement of their facades with the tubes, but my thought was to construct columns down the middle of wide avenues and suspend streetlights and traffic lights from the tube system.
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