I exercised one of my civic
rights duties tonight and went to a community meeting (you’ll have to check a Capital Region events calendar to figure out which one) as a resident. My goals were to listen to the presentation and not have to put on my planner hat.
The room had about 40 people including several area elected officials. The Big Shot of a company (for simplicity and to be completely accurate, we’ll aptly refer to him as B-S) stood in front of the room with his entourage of consultants and fumbled through a power point presentation in which it was mentioned that traffic including cyclists and pedestrians was the focus (after the expansion of the company, of course). B-S actually used the term ‘those people’ when referring to low-income and the large population that does not have access to private transportation. After several public groans, he opened up the room for questions. Questions focused on everything from neighborhood impact, parking, transit, and noise. Some asked about bicycle access and parking. B-S made a comment that no matter what happens, cycling on this particular roadway would be difficult. He answered more questions about noise and B-S noticed my hand up in the back row. As he is about to call on me, someone else interrupts and says something positive about cyclists. B-S laughs and says “they’re taking their life in their hands” and in the same breath he motioned that it was my turn to ask my question.
I opened with “I’m one of those cyclists that will be risking my life on this roadway on my way home tonight (I rode to the meeting)”. B-S dropped his head as he realized he had put his foot in his mouth. All I could do was silently chuckle as the only thought that came to mind with B-S’ message was “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” I asked my question and strongly encouraged them to consider covered bike parking. B-S jumped in and said they would have a covered area for bikes. Whoa! It was getting dark and I did have to ride home on a fairly busy roadway so I got up, proudly donned my red helmet and made sure my the bottom of my padded spandex shorts could be seen under my ‘regular’ shorts and made my way to the door.
The ride home was uneventful except that the battery in my bike head light went out about 3/4 a mile from home….reflectors and strobes still fully functioning.
It felt great to have a voice in the community and be able to speak intelligently on a subject of personal interest. I encourage everyone to attend these types of meetings to be engaged, have a voice, and ensure that people like B-S know that their decisions do have an impact on the community.