Last Night’s Meeting

I attended last night’s meeting about bike lanes on Madison Avenue re-imagining the Madison Avenue corridor and surrounding areas and was very pleased and impressed with how it turned out. The meeting began with some introductory comments by a member of some the architecture firm Looney Ricks Kiss. But unlike the first meeting, back in February, the introduction set a generally positive tone for the meeting and even elicited a few laughs. The speaker made a few points I really appreciated, among them that:

  1. Regardless of what happens to Madison Avenue, not everyone is going to get everything that they want.  Hopefully though, 80% of us will get most of what we want.
  2. Everyone has a stake in the future of Madison Avenue, even people who use it only as a commuting corridor.
  3. The issue of the evening is not bike lanes per se – that one has been talked about enough already – but how to improve Madison Avenue.

At one point in his introductory comments, the gentleman from LRK asked how many people lived or worked within 1/2 mile of Madison Avenue.  About half the crowd raised their hands.  Then he increased that distance to one mile, then two.  By that point, almost the entire crowd had its hands in the air.  He then pointed out that 1/2 mile is a reasonable walking distance, one mile is an easy bike ride, and two miles is a short car trip.  I really appreciated how he asked us to self-identify based on how close we lived to Madison, not whether we were business owners, cyclists, residents, and/or commuters.

He then asked how often and fast we drove down Madison.  Again, the idea appeared to be to recognize that we all had a stake in the future of Madison, regardless of what brought us to the meeting.

After talking a bit about the history of recent developments on Madison – turns out the bike lanes have been in the works since last summer, but whatever – and reviewing the four basic sections of Madison, the LRK representative presented some options for what could be done with the street surface itself.  The first option presented was to do nothing, but every option after that included bike lanes.  The number of lanes and amount of on-street parking varied across the several options, but it was good to see options presented other than bike-lanes-or-no-bike-lanes.

After the initial comments, we split up into focus groups and began to discuss our answers to three questions the architects had posed.  Paraphrased slightly, they were:

  1. What changes would you like to see on Madison?
  2. How will you know when those changes are complete and successful?
  3. What is your greatest concern?

I was really happy with the answers my group (GROUP 3 RULEZ!!) came up with.  They covered everything from crime and safety to accessibility to appearance and identity.  Everyone agreed that we wanted more businesses on Madison and an end to the vacant lots.  Several great ideas were tossed out about bike lanes, but those were by no means the only matters we discussed.

I was particularly happy that a Madison Avenue business owner was in our group.  I really wanted to hear his concerns and thoughts on how to better Madison.  It turns out that everyone agreed on the main points about how to do this, with no acrimony.  Such a nice change.

I’ll blog more about this later – busy week you know – but here’s a few pictures I took at the event.  Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Also, check out this website for more information and to voice your opinion.

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Arriving at the meeting, my little caravan found a number of bikes already there.  Awesome!

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The crowd awaits.

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Our break-out group.  I was very happy with the number of voices we heard and the ideas we discussed.

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One of the other groups.  I think there were five total.

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Leaving the meeting, I saw even more bikes.  Minglewood Hall – where’s your bike rack?

4 comments

  1. scout

    I agree! The meeting started off well, and the break-out sessions were handled very well. Everyone in group 1 got to have their say. Everyone was amicable and had thoughtful things to contribute. I was pleased with the way everything went and felt like most everyone got to say what they wanted to say.

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