Archive for the 'City government' Category

No ghost bike for me, thank you. But…

Ghost bikes.

Ghostcycle: this makeshift monument appeared b...
Image via Wikipedia

Someone suggested them again this weekend as a way to mark the spots where cyclists have died on the roads. The thinking seems to be that these eerie memorials will raise the awareness of those who pass by and maybe prompt them to drive more carefully.

For the record: I understand the impulse and the sentiment, but if I should fall victim to a careless motorist I do not want a ghost bike.

I don’t want people to be afraid to ride their bicycles. I don’t want anyone to waste their time putting a ghost bike by the side of the road when it almost certainly will be removed as junk before very long.

What I want instead, and what I suggest that you do for other victims rather than mark the spot with a bicycle painted white:

  • Call and write to your city council representatives, your law enforcement people, your state legislators and your federal elected officials.
  • Go to meetings where decisions are made and make your case.
  • Say out loud what you think and what you want done to make the roads safer.
  • Hold officials accountable until they make and laws that will make a difference. Those people work for you.
  • Demand action.
  • Don’t stop.

Put up ghost bikes for other people if you like, but do these other things, too.

They will be more effective.

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Deadly driver charged with “improper turn, no insurance”

From thegazette.com

Update 11/5/2010: The driver charged with traffic violations that resulted in the death of Susan DeSotel turned himself in to police last night.

Update 11/4/2010: It says here that the arrest warrant for Robert Fleming was issued today.

Based on comments from a number of Eastern Iowa cyclists in various forums, they are unimpressed with the performance of law enforcement authorities in this case. That is what you might call an understatement.

If the driver is still around somewhere nearby, “we’ll run into him again sooner or later.”

That’s the best you can do when someone is killed? Seriously?

Shame on you.

Update 10/25/2010: CRPD Lt. Cory McGarvey says the traffic charges against Robert H. Fleming are simple misdemeanors.

He added: “We cannot find the driver. We feel he left town.”

CRPD asked the county attorney to issue a warrant for Fleming’s arrest.

Posted earlier today:

The driver who turned in front of cyclist Susan DeSotel, resulting in the collision that took her life, has been charged with “improper turn and no insurance.”

That information came in an email from Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham to Monica Vernon, a council member who followed up on my request for information. No other details about the charges – when they were filed or what the penalties are, for example – were provided at the time. Look for more details this week.

Improper turn and no insurance.

It says a lot about the limitations of state law in Iowa and, of course, about the driver, Robert H. Fleming.



Let officials know you want action when cyclists are injured or killed

Some phone numbers you might consider calling to ask what is being done in the wake of Susan DeSotel’s death (see previous post):

  • Cedar Rapids Police Department: (319) 286-5491
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, City Hall: (319) 286-5051
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, Home: (319) 365-8187

Those numbers are all from the city’s website. You can find your council representatives there, too.

Let the police and the mayor and the others know you care about this.

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Want to be bike-friendly? Take cyclist deaths seriously

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – This town has made some progress in recent years toward becoming a more “friendly” place to move around by bicycle rather than car or truck.

There are a few bike lanes. There is a city Bicycle Advisory Committee. There are Bicycle Ambassadors, and now and then people make an effort to accommodate and encourage the bicycling public by providing special parking areas, generally staffed by a few volunteers and city employees.

Although most people didn’t know it, largely because of a lack of timely promotion by city officials and lack of interest from the local media, there was even a Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month back in September.

All well and good.

How “bike friendly” is it, though, when a local cyclist can be killed in a collision with a motor vehicle and it takes months (nearly three in this case so far) to decide about charging the driver?

A lack of charges in a timely fashion says the death is no big deal to the city. (The toxicology tests cited as a reason for delay certainly could have been completed by now if this were a priority.)

That there is no serious penalty for careless driving that causes serious injury or death says such injuries and deaths are not very important to the state.

A community that accepts this is not “bike friendly,” no matter how hard it tries to pretend that it is.

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CEMAR trail work a positive, if a bit late for some

As some Eastern Iowans just learned, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what’s going on in your neighborhood.

You won’t be surprised like they were the other day, as explained in this story about a Cedar Rapids recreational trail being built behind their back yards.

And no one will have to spend their time putting on yet another informational meeting.

The initial reaction of some to this “news” that has been around for years was like so many others that people have when something changes: This is a bad thing.

They couldn’t be more wrong. In a November 2008 post that has gotten a lot of attention over the past few days, I pointed out some of the benefits:

More people who live in the NE neighborhoods will pedal, walk or skate to those connecting trails rather than drive to them, as many do now. They’ll spend time and money downtown. When CEMAR is completed all the way to Marion, it will be an even more valuable and attractive link in our trails network.

Since Mrs. Smith and I decided to set our sights on Colorado a few months ago, I see as I re-read that post that something else I said has some new meaning:

The trail can’t get done soon enough.

Still, it’s a good thing, people. Enjoy it when it’s done. Maybe we’ll come to visit.

Pedal on.

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Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month

Woman with a step-through frame bicycle in the...

Image via Wikipedia

You may have trouble finding this anywhere else, as the local media so far have largely ignored the idea, but here is the actual text of the proclamation that Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett made on Labor Day during the Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride:

Whereas, the bicycle is a practical and environmentally sound form of transportation that is used daily by thousands of Iowa citizens for both recreation and commuting; and

Whereas, residents will experience the joys of bicycling through educational programs, races, trail riding, charity events, commuting to work or simply venturing out to enjoy the weather; and

Whereas, rising concerns about health, fitness, increased energy costs and the environment have increased the number of cyclists on our roads in recent years.  Motor vehicles and cyclists are obligated to share the state’s roadways; and

Whereas, Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month asks cyclists to share the road, safely accommodate motorists, wear the proper safety equipment and riding gear, strictly follow all laws of the road, operate with extreme caution and learn expert techniques that provide for a heightened level of safety while riding; and

Whereas, it is a privilege to recognize Cedar Rapids’ appreciation for the outdoors, and remind all citizens of their responsibility to be safe and alert so that everyone may equally exercise their right to enjoy our wonderful community.

Now therefore, I, Ron J. Corbett, Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa do hereby declare September, 2010 as:

“Bicycle Safety & Driver Alertness Month”

in Cedar Rapids and encourage all citizens to identify and learn the various aspects of bicycle and motor vehicle safety as it relates to sharing our public roads in an effort to make Cedar Rapids’ streets some of the safest in the state.

Thanks, Mayor Corbett.

A quibble, if I may:

I probably would have asked the motorists to share the road in that fourth paragraph. They’re the ones piloting the big, heavy machinery after all.

Anyway, here’s hoping a lot of motorists get the message about being alert – maybe even some that weren’t there to hear Corbett read it aloud. Most of those folks were on bicycles, right?

Spread the word.

Pedal on.

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September to be Bicycle Safety Month in C.R.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett plans to declare September “Bicycle Safety Month,” says an email posted Friday afternoon on Dave Glandon’s blog.

It also says Corbett plans to participate in the Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride on Sept. 6.

That’s good news for a couple of reasons:

  • The proclamation – depending, of course, on what it says – will help spread the word that people need to be more concerned than they have been for the safety of others, specifically for the safety of citizens who ride bicycles on our streets.
  • His participation in the ride means at least two of the 17 Linn County mayors plan to participate in the ride named for them.

Two?

That’s how many had said “yes” as of Friday.

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