Letter: Ideas for the Bike and Walk Task Force

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Ride with front and rear lights.  Day or night.  My motto is it’s better to look like an ambulance than ride in one.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Kevin Kane



11 responses to “Letter: Ideas for the Bike and Walk Task Force”

  1. Excellent letter! Especially love #13 – New tag line “don’t Duff it up” for city hall!!

    Love it!!

  2. One and Done

    Here is an idea. If you want to change how the city works, run for council or mayor. Then get on some committees and make the changes. Then oversee the department heads execute on the change orders.
    Or to get nothing done, simply form task forces that look good but do zero. Oh and don’t forget to load up the task forces with as many dupes as you have kooks on them.
    One and Done.

  3. EastNorwalkChick

    Amen! Someone who gets it!

  4. LWitherspoon

    Great ideas, although I’m not so sure about publicly shaming violators. I am especially in favor of fining cyclists for egregious traffic violations. There should also be a campaign to educate cyclists to follow traffic laws.
    The Strawberry Hill bike lanes appear to be an example of an attempt to please everybody – apparently some property owners on Strawberry Hill wanted the option of parking on the street, which is why the lanes are more towards the center of the road than the shoulder at some points. I rarely see cars parked on the street on Strawberry Hill except for when somebody is having a party, so perhaps it would be better for the bike lane to hug the shoulder and just let people park on top of the bike lane on the rare occasions that it’s necessary.
    Re-striping Strawberry Hill might be helpful but it will not fulfill the promises made by Mayor Rilling during the last campaign, which I believe were to follow the bike lane recommendations made by consultants. That means dedicated bike lanes on Beach Road, and new bike lanes on a number of other Norwalk streets.

  5. Strawberry Hill bike lanes really look more like someone was peeved off and “gave what the public wanted” in a hostile and asinine way – just to peeve off the public even more.

  6. jlightfield

    @Kevin Kane, idea 5 is interesting. But I’m curious about whether it is building code that needs to change. Building code doesn’t dictate what is built, but how it is built. A tax incentive to add showers in existing offices might be worth looking into. It sounds like you may have looked at other cities who’ve adopted policies that created such incentives. I’d love to hear about them.

  7. Peter Parker

    All good and valid points, which appear to stem from one undisputable issue?

    DPW managements incompetence and totalitarian mentality, implemented by its Director Hal Alvord. Until this cancer is removed it will continue to grow and destroy our City.

  8. One and Done.

    Harry is too smart to be listening to the kook fringe on this one.
    DPW is over performing for the shoestring budget we have them on.
    The unions hate him and that is pretty much what Watts / Spiderman are all about.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @One and Done

      FYI, “Spiderman” is not Watts. As you are aware, we know who some, but not all, our commenters are. In this case, I can assure you they are not one in the same.

  9. Jerry Silber

    I loved your article and style. I am leading a group to support building a trail in the right of way along the Merritt Parkway. If you would like to join the effort please contact me: [email protected]

  10. Norwalk19

    @jlightfield. Thanks for the reply. I don’t have any examples of #5 being done but seriously believe it would be a good approach. And fast. It probably is not a building code issue of sorts but something tells me in the 134 chapter code, there is something about how large the shower has to be and I think there might be some ADA requirements. But our locker room simply had 1 of the 3 (yes, 3) that was ADA compatible and it was often used by non-ADA needs when our locker room got busy.
    Bicyclists are NOT going to win the battle alone so that is why I think we/the Town needs to think bigger/broader picture. Basketball, walkers, runners, etc. running during lunch is a great thing and probably prefer showers afterwards. Frankly, if I was a business wanting put in a shower the walls would be already up and water flowing; credit or no credit, permit or no permit but then again, that would be the private sector moving to quick. Thanks again! Kevin

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