In the spirit of full disclosure, I am employed by one of the largest bicycle companies in the world which is headquartered in iPark in Norwalk. Independent of my work relationship, I support the plan to create a bike/walk task force in Norwalk. I enjoy bicycling, running and many outdoor activities and am writing to provide some suggestions for the task force.
- Buy some black paint. Who on earth created the white strip bike lane disaster on Strawberry Hill? Was the directive to do the worst job possible so citizens say “don’t ever try painting bike lanes again”? Paint over the white bike lane lines.
- Consult. Not consultants. According to the mayor, “more than $1 million has been spent on studies that outlined plans to improve Norwalk for pedestrians and bicyclists, but, “As far as I know, nothing has been done.” Enough. Enough. We don’t need to consult with consultants to study if the study should be studied again. Consult with people who actually walk, run or ride bikes. And pay taxes.
- Start riding and walking. People: Don’t wait for the task force! Bike lanes are well intended, but this town is hemorrhaging money. Besides, the only bad exercise is the exercise you are not doing.
- Ride with front and rear lights. Day or night. My motto is it’s better to look like an ambulance than ride in one.
- Change the building code. With respect to commuting on bike to work, all the lanes, paths, signs, education blah, blah, blah are somewhat pointless if one can’t shower at their destination. Showers would also allow clean up after recreation activities during work hours. Norwalk’s “Municipal Code / City of Norwalk Codebook” is 134 chapters but needs 1 more sentence: “Click here to submit receipts of up to $10,000 as a tax credit to your Norwalk property tax bill for adding a shower and locker room space greater than 100 square feet to any commercial building project for which you pulled a permit for.” By the way, Chapter 66 of the Code regulates milk.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends is a book, not good public policy. Why is Norwalk full of sidewalks and crosswalks that end senselessly? For example, Deerwood Manor and Newtown Avenue or the fresh new sidewalks that end in the dirt, start again on the 95 overpass bridge, then end such as the new CVS off Scribner Ave/Route 1. And enough with telephone/light poles and mailboxes in the middle of the sidewalks. Dry Hill is in month 9 of resurfacing and sprouts new signs of illogical sidewalk thinking daily.
- Buy some green paint. If you are going to paint, position green painted areas at intersections that encourage bicyclists to position them selves accurately and also, provides greater awareness to motorists that bicyclists may be present.
- Start fining bicyclists. Some people ride bicycles like idiots. If they are violating the law, pull them over and give them a ticket. When bicyclists start crying in their water bottles about tickets they got, idiotic bike riding behavior will probably be reduced. Fines should include those under the age of 16 who break the CT law by riding without a helmet. Idiotic parents should be fined triple.
- Technology is cool. People are busy. People have a hard time getting to meetings at Norwalk town hall. If the task force is having meetings, skip the face-to-face meetings. Get with the ’90’s and fire up gotomeeting.com or freeconferencecall.com, which can handle 1,000 callers. Free.
- Wanted: Wall of Shame Members. Idiotic bike riders? Take a photo and post it to the task force website. Show how not to ride a bike. Dumb town planners and contractors who screw up sidewalks and bike lanes? Photograph the senseless use of taxpayer dollars and upload the photos. Shame them into submission. Or resignation. I have 8 photos ready to upload.
- Put gas in the street cleaner. It was about 365 days ago that I last saw the street cleaner machine/tractor thing that Norwalk owns. It was being driven in the Memorial Day parade. Sweeping up — well, it was following the horses. I ride on or to the right of the white line — many shoulders I ride in are quite wide which is cool (even the ones I enjoy on Route 7) but have a lot of sand, sticks and debris. I run it all over. But hey, maybe gas up the street cleaner more than once a year and clean up the road shoulder. East Rocks would be a good 1st start. West Rocks, too — there are two schools there.
- Buy some white paint. After cleaning up the shoulders, spay some fresh white paint to clarify road shoulders. The kind used at Daytona and airports sounds pretty burly and costs $279 for 5 gallons and covers 4″ x 320′. You have my permission to spend a portion of my $9,200 in property taxes I pay annually to buy some black, green and white paint.
- Don’t Duff it up. Keep Bob Duff out of the task force. His track record is worse than the bike lane paint job done on Strawberry Hill. No more ribbon cuttings. No more photo ops. Bob Duff needs to go back to Hartford and stop the $560 million, 9-mile busway that is being built under his watch. And figure out how to not vote on another $1.4 billion tax increase — the largest in CT history. Or fixing next years projected $1.3 billion deficit. Or stop working to ban chocolate milk in schools.
Thanks for forming the task force. I hope you will use my advice. And a huge thanks to all the drivers for not running me over during any of my 190 or so bike trips the past 6 months. I tend to ride my bike like a car — within the limits of the law, but if you see me acting like a idiot on my 2-wheeled-looking ambulance (see #4 above), pull me over and tell me what the issue is. Anyway, please drive, ride, run, walk, whatever — safely.