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Old 07-21-07, 08:31 PM   #1
LittleBigMan
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Autocentricity

Given that we live in a motorized culture, and that as cyclists, we are in the extreme minority, how do we gather our strength to "twist the arm" of government to provide adequate facilities?

(Keep in mind that "facilities" includes all roadways.)
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Old 07-22-07, 11:46 AM   #2
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I have found simply attending public consultations does a lot. So few people bother to show up at all, your voice counts for a great deal. You can introduce yourself to key staff people, and sometimes to elected officials too. If you make your case well and present yourself professionally, these people may even remember you, if you later call or write about an issue.

This is particularly effective at the municipal level, so check your city's web site, find out what consultations are planned for the next while, and add them to your calender. If there are no consultations as such, find out if you can attend committee meetings, and if those committees will hear form the public.
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Old 07-22-07, 12:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by patc View Post
I have found simply attending public consultations does a lot. So few people bother to show up at all, your voice counts for a great deal. You can introduce yourself to key staff people, and sometimes to elected officials too. If you make your case well and present yourself professionally, these people may even remember you, if you later call or write about an issue.

This is particularly effective at the municipal level, so check your city's web site, find out what consultations are planned for the next while, and add them to your calender. If there are no consultations as such, find out if you can attend committee meetings, and if those committees will hear form the public.
+1

the CTC and LCC use this to great effect because, as Patc said, very few people turn up.

Not sure if you have to advertise council planning meetings in advance in the States but, as far as I know, they are advertised in the UK.

I have heard of meetings in one borrough being advertised in a local paper half way across the country to try and minimise objections. I don't know if there's any truth in that though. Anyway, as long as you don't antagonise everyone in the room, a few phone calls to the local planning officers usually gets answers on up-coming meetings.
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Old 07-22-07, 01:12 PM   #4
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I have found simply attending public consultations does a lot. So few people bother to show up at all, your voice counts for a great deal. You can introduce yourself to key staff people, and sometimes to elected officials too. If you make your case well and present yourself professionally, these people may even remember you, if you later call or write about an issue.

This is particularly effective at the municipal level, so check your city's web site, find out what consultations are planned for the next while, and add them to your calender. If there are no consultations as such, find out if you can attend committee meetings, and if those committees will hear form the public.
The difficulty with attending meetings and committees concerning American bicycle transportation (I have attended an enormous number of these, right up to the highest in the nation) is that the official foundation on which the meeting is based is wrong, in that it is based on the principle of the governmental bikeway program. Any person who intends to bring up the actual welfare of cyclists as properly operating as drivers of vehicles will have great difficulty in carrying on a reasonable discussion with the other attendees.
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Old 07-22-07, 01:48 PM   #5
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It is interesting that living in Norway, I have no grey-area/middle ground for riding. The roads are narrow and have no shoulders-- so I am forced to ride vehicularly. Conversely, there is a huge movement of building completely separate bike "paths" that link cities, neighborhoods, etc. This creates all the obvious problems.

I believe drivers' attitudes have more to do with peaceful coexistence on the roads than re-engineering the infrastructure. Here in Norway, drivers in general are MUCH more courteous towards cyclists on the road, but that largely has more to do with driving culture than affinity for cyclists- although certainly a higher percentage of people bike than in the US. Driving is treated as a privilege, not a right. Obtaining a regular driver license probably takes more time and money than getting a CDL in the US. Unfortunately in the US-- where things like road rage and chronic speeding (and drinking and driving) are the norm (and rather acceptable), I doubt drivers' attitudes will reasonably shift anytime in the foreseeable future.
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Old 07-22-07, 03:26 PM   #6
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I have found simply attending public consultations does a lot. So few people bother to show up at all, your voice counts for a great deal. You can introduce yourself to key staff people, and sometimes to elected officials too. If you make your case well and present yourself professionally, these people may even remember you, if you later call or write about an issue.

This is particularly effective at the municipal level, so check your city's web site, find out what consultations are planned for the next while, and add them to your calender. If there are no consultations as such, find out if you can attend committee meetings, and if those committees will hear form the public.
Exactly - show up, and get involved. Better yet, get a couple of like-minded cyclists to join you and to (1) share the workload of monitoring what the government is up to, and (2) provide multiple voices with the same pro-cyclist message.

Public input/participation from cyclists in my city has altered plans for many roadway projects here, typically resulting in the provision of wide outside lanes where the city had planned to provide a narrow lane until they heard from cyclists. It has also resulted in many improvements in off-road bike path designs, bike parking requirements, local traffic laws, etc.
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Old 07-22-07, 04:03 PM   #7
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Public input/participation from cyclists in my city has altered plans for many roadway projects here, typically resulting in the provision of wide outside lanes where the city had planned to provide a narrow lane until they heard from cyclists. It has also resulted in many improvements in off-road bike path designs, bike parking requirements, local traffic laws, etc.
And often it clues city officials - even well meaning ones - into potential cycling impacts they have not been aware of. For example, it is policy here that you may lock your bike to a parking meter, providing you don't block the sidewalk. The city recently decided that, it some areas, they would remove meters and have a "pay and display" system - you walk up to a machine, put your change in, and get a printed ticket you stick on your windshield. Well, that effectively removed bike parking from the street, an unintentional impact on cycling. By attending meetings, cyclist can provide input on these things before they are done.

And, sometimes, we also get to just nod and say, "good job."
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Old 07-23-07, 07:12 AM   #8
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The difficulty with attending meetings and committees concerning American bicycle transportation (I have attended an enormous number of these, right up to the highest in the nation) is that the official foundation on which the meeting is based is wrong, in that it is based on the principle of the governmental bikeway program. Any person who intends to bring up the actual welfare of cyclists as properly operating as drivers of vehicles will have great difficulty in carrying on a reasonable discussion with the other attendees.
John apparently you have not attended any public meetings in San Diego county... when the county is asking for public opinion regarding the building of new roads or the modification of existing roads. In those discussions there is nothing wrong with the "foundation of the meeting," and cycling advocates attend to simply ask for more roadway width, which certainly meets the need of cyclists "properly operating as drivers of vehicles."
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Old 07-23-07, 07:18 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by filtersweep View Post

I believe drivers' attitudes have more to do with peaceful coexistence on the roads than re-engineering the infrastructure. Here in Norway, drivers in general are MUCH more courteous towards cyclists on the road, but that largely has more to do with driving culture than affinity for cyclists- although certainly a higher percentage of people bike than in the US. Driving is treated as a privilege, not a right. Obtaining a regular driver license probably takes more time and money than getting a CDL in the US. Unfortunately in the US-- where things like road rage and chronic speeding (and drinking and driving) are the norm (and rather acceptable), I doubt drivers' attitudes will reasonably shift anytime in the foreseeable future.
I think you have hit the nail on the head. In the US the auto is king, and thus the driver of the auto feels they have the keys to the kingdom. It certainly doesn't help when auto centric organizations that promote highspeed roadways are supported by "cycling advocates."
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Old 07-23-07, 08:35 AM   #10
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John attended a meeting with our own pubic officials and he was invited (expenses paid) to promote the agenda of the American Dream Coalition. I don't think John has attended a public meeting since the 70s unless he was invited to provide his canned spiel.

I have been attending some public meetings on another subject matter and can say that most definitely the public officials are interested in hearing from the various stakeholders. They have laws they must uphold in regards to public safety, the environment (air/water quality etc) and other things (such as property owner issues or issues of the law in general). However, without your input they don't get your point of view and may miss some details.

So, you want autocentricity, do nothing, let industry make all the decisions, let private donations based on special interests decide, let John come to your town and speak for the American Dream Coalition. You want something else, go to the meetings and speak with an intelligent, respectful voice. Bring facts, documentation, a good powerpoint if they'll let you.
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Old 07-23-07, 08:41 AM   #11
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You can run for public office. I was a city councilman here, and made some useful contributions. Just don't expect to change the world as a small town councilman.
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Old 07-23-07, 06:59 PM   #12
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John attended a meeting with our own pubic officials and he was invited (expenses paid) to promote the agenda of the American Dream Coalition. I don't think John has attended a public meeting since the 70s unless he was invited to provide his canned spiel.

I have been attending some public meetings on another subject matter and can say that most definitely the public officials are interested in hearing from the various stakeholders. They have laws they must uphold in regards to public safety, the environment (air/water quality etc) and other things (such as property owner issues or issues of the law in general). However, without your input they don't get your point of view and may miss some details.

So, you want autocentricity, do nothing, let industry make all the decisions, let private donations based on special interests decide, let John come to your town and speak for the American Dream Coalition. You want something else, go to the meetings and speak with an intelligent, respectful voice. Bring facts, documentation, a good powerpoint if they'll let you.
So, as you listened to Johnís speech, what did he say that set you off and was so autocentric?
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