September-October 2007 Newsletter
by , VP Advocacy
Bridge to Bicycle-Friendly Louisville
What a wonderful turnout on such a hot Sunday afternoon! I want to
thank you all for your attendance and participation in what I believe
is a very important event.
Just six weeks ago, a lone cyclist was returning home from his job
in Southern Indiana during the middle of the afternoon on a bright
sun-shiny day. It was a trip he’s made many times being a regular
bicycle commuter. He always followed the fundamental practices of
bicycle safety; he always wore his helmet, and brightly-colored
clothing, most of the time a reflective vest, even during the day. He
was aware of the rights and responsibilities of cyclists and motorists
and respected both. He was a stickler for following the laws that
guide and regulate cyclists and motorists alike.
Unfortunately, a non-attentive driver made a critical error in
judgment, about 2,000 yards up the bridge here in the south-bound
lanes — and took this experienced cyclist's life. That cyclist was
my brother-in-law, Chips Cronen. Good afternoon, my name is Ed Tonini.
I am the Vice President of Advocacy with the Louisville Bicycle Club.
I have held a long standing belief in the extreme importance of
bicycle safety. In fact, I had been working with the city
administration on several bike safety issues prior to the tragic
accident here on the bridge.
We have a wonderfully supportive city administration, with Mayor
Abramson at the point position — that has been leading the nation in
terms of the overall pace of progress toward bicycle-friendliness. Of
course, bicycle-friendliness always has as its top issue — bike
Louisville’s problem is that we got our start so much later than
the real bike-friendly model communities around the nation. These
communities enjoy decades of conditioning in what I call the culture of
cycling. The result is a mindset within its citizens that just doesn’t
exist here in Louisville. Yet!
We are gathered here today because of a “window of opportunity”
made possible by the vast media attention and the subsequent public
awareness and concern the Chip Cronen accident has generated.
Immediately after the fatal collision, speaking to the many people who
attended the funeral activity, it occurred to me that Chips would have
wanted something good — something positive to come of his death.
We gather today to launch what I hope will be a new era in bicycle
safety in the Louisville area.
It starts with a dedicated political infrastructure that recognizes
the long list of benefits cycling provides. Let’s go through some of
them: Cycling is good for the environment. It is a great form of
exercise that definitely is terrific for your cardiovascular system. It
is easily the best kind of energy consumption you can have — no fossil
fuels, just a positive consumption of calories which helps to develop a
“healthy hometown.” Finally, it can provide a fantastic release valve
for traffic-clogged highways and overcrowded urban parking.
In Louisville, we have enlightened political leadership. Our leading
corporations are beginning to get the faith, too.
Bicycle-friendliness requires infrastructure changes and investments.
Louisville has very aggressive plans for bike lanes, the circle of parks,
a multitude of multi-use paths. We’re dedicated to the Complete Streets
Policy. We’re looking at more creative use of watersheds, utility and
limited access highway rights-of-way and more. We’re starting to see a
more comprehensive signage plan for instructing motorist and cyclist
alike as to what their responsibility under the law actually is.
Today, we dedicate the new experimental “Sharrows” program on this
bridge. We were able to get this done in just over 30 days. This took
the cooperation and commitment of not only the city but the Kentucky
Transportation Cabinet as well.
I think Andy Clarke, the Executive Director of the League of
American Bicyclists to my left here, who will speak to you a little
later, would tell you that this has to be a national record for
getting something like this accomplished.
While the Second Street bridge is the first place you will see the
sharrow markings, you will soon begin to see the marking across
Jefferson County on roads where they make the most sense. The city has
asked for the input of the cycling community as to which roads to be
considered for these sharrow markings.
When these kind of things start happening in a community, bicycle
usage grows dramatically. We’ve seen that begin to happen here in
Louisville. I would venture to say that there are more bicycles in use
today than at any period in my lifetime.
All these thing have our community headed in the right direction. I
believe what Chips Cronen’s tragic death has provided is an opportunity
to go that extra mile with the people of our community... on both sides
of the Ohio River.
We have the attention of the people, the activity in the media has
greatly increased the awareness of the problem. What we need to do is
change the basic culture of this community.
What we’re trying to accomplish with the assistance of the city, the
Louisville Bicycle Club, the Louisville bicycle retailers and area
cyclists in general is changing the mindset of motorists and cyclists
alike. We have to courteously and respectfully share the road with one
another. Motorists and cyclists alike need to understand the rules of
the road and the Kentucky statutes.
This event is billed as “A Bridge to Bike-Friendly Louisville.” That
Bridge isn’t just the sharrow program — it represents a bridge between
motorists and cyclists that need to be joined.
Louisville radio and television stations have made major commitments
to aid in the education effort. Soon well-known media personalities
like Barry Bernson, John Belski, Terry Meiners, John Boel and Kirby
Adams will be on the air reinforcing the bike safety message. If we’re
successful, motorists will begin to expect to see cyclists on
the road and when they see them they will be knowledgeable as to the
proper and legal way to react to the particular situation.
I spent a couple of hours last week with the editorial board of the
Courier-Journal. They increased my already high level of awareness
that there is a deep divide in opinions about cyclists in our community.
The only way we’ll begin to get converts is to minimize the
confrontational nature of the relationship that exists today. As
cyclists we need to make a commitment to significantly increase our
adherence to the laws, our patience and our civility and respect to
motorists. I ask you to go beyond the letter of the law by going single
file when traffic is being held up and space is tight — instead of
insistence on your legal “right” to be two abreast. Always use common
sense, but do your part to minimize confrontations.
I told the editorial board that there will always be “bone-headed
motorists” and that there also will always be “bone-headed cyclists”
but our job is to make every attempt to minimize their numbers by
converting them one person at a time.
I ask all of you today to do your part, individually and
collectively. If we are successful Louisville will become a community
where cyclists and motorists truly share the road. It won’t happen
overnight, but if we work at it — and maintain the momentum that Chips
Cronen has provided us — we can greatly accelerate the change of
mindset — and the culture — to accept and enjoy the enhanced quality
of life that cycling — safe, healthy cycling — brings to a
community. That is our ultimate goal.
Now I’d like to invite to the microphone America’s most
bicycle-friendly Mayor. The absolute best partner any bicycle community
could ever have. Cyclists and cycling supporters — my friend and
fellow cyclist, Jerry Abramson.
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web posted: 21 Sep 2007
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