Thursday, June 02, 2011

City Council Bike Lane Ordinance Held In Committee--It's A Win!

So as you may have noticed, our various social media organs have been verily thrumming with news about City Councilman Bill Greenlee's proposed legislation requiring a City Council ordinance for new bike lanes.  We were opposed to it for reasons even we are getting a little tired of repeating.  Today, Mr. Greenlee proposed that the ordinance be held, delaying its consideration and dramatically decreasing the chances that it will appear again (at least in its current form).

A recap:

The Streets and Services Committee hearing was held this afternoon.  Approximately 70 of the 90 people in attendance were there because of the bike lane ordinance.  There was a smattering of helmets and lycra.  The only members of the City Council present were Councilmen DiCicco, Greenlee, and Green, and Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez (none wearing helmets or lycra).  Mr. Greenlee honored tradition by prefacing the bill by saying, "he wasn't against bike lanes."  For him, the bill was about transparency and creating consistency with the other aspects of traffic control that City Council already approves.  Mr. DiCicco said most of the comments he had received on bike lanes were negative, and while he was not anti-bike lane, he was interested in creating transparency and procedure.  Ms. Sanchez said she had a positive experience with the Berks Street bike lane, and she was supportive of the Streets Department's current procedures for installing bike lanes.

Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler's testimony was the bulk of the deliberation.  Mr. Green and Ms. Cutler had the most impassioned back-and-forth.  Mr. Green tried to assert that installing bike lanes had nothing to do with traffic engineering or public safety.  Ms. Cutler politely but forcefully disagreed.  Mr. Green questioned the Streets Department's process and legal authority to install bike lanes.  Ms. Cutler defended the City's current procedures as a resplendent process inundated with outside input (our phrasing).

Mr. Green also dismissed the attending crowd as "sixty members of the Bicycle Coalition and ten members of the public."

In the end, Ms. Culter proposed that a Streets Department regulation could facilitate notification and transparency about when bike lanes were proposed for installation.  She said that she would work with Council staff to draft a regulation which would notify the public about forthcoming bike lanes and invite comment, avoiding the need for ordinances for every lane.  Mr. Greenlee seemed satisfied with that and proposed that the the bill be held for further deliberation. 

The takeaway:

The Bicycle Coalition is very pleased with this outcome and thinks it is an appropriate solution.  We look forward to having input on the proposed regulation.  We thank Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler for working out an alternative to the bike lane ordinance bill and thank all Councilmembers for holding the bill and being willing to work on this alternative.

Many thanks to everyone who wrote letters, made phone calls, retweeted our posts, and came to the hearing.  Your actions made all the difference.


Jon Cornibe said...

"sixty members of the Bicycle Coalition and ten members of the public."

How dismissive! I guess cyclist are not considered "members of the public" to Mr. Greenlee?

Kelvyn said...

Great job keeping us informed on the hearing. As usual, some council members claim to want transparency, then turn around and insult those who bother to show up as zealots. The idea that the current Bike lane approval process is somehow hidden and inaccessible was blown to bits by Deputy Mayor Cutler, who came armed with the number of calls they've received, for & agin. There's some video excerpts here: