Did You Know?

About one-third of all work trips in Chicago are comprised of people biking, walking, or riding public transit.

Speaking up at public meetings

I live in the suburbs.  I'm in my 20s.  I'm excited about bikes.  Though I'm not apologetic about each of these things individually, I feel like an unlikely person to be a player in grown-up decision making whenever I show up at a village hall meeting.  

This weekend I went to a townhall meeting on infrastructure improvements.  Sewer and roads commanded a lot of attention.  Bicycle and pedestrian facilities were not even included in the proposed outlays.   When I went up to speak my share, I identified myself as a fan of a comprehensive plan but pointed out that I was troubled by what was not included in this plan.  To my surprise, the next woman to speak stood up and agreed with me and even made a joke about me running for office.

While running for office is not what I had in mind, the woman was right about my intention to build a constituency.  In discussion about what should be on the menu, I am unashamedly for bicycles.  I suspect that you are too.  If you are anything like me though, going to public meetings is scary.  I go because I feel that I might be effective, and sometimes, like this week, I get some support.  Other times, the results are not immediate.

Recently, I heard a rebroadcast of an interview of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Studs Terkel.  In the conversation, King pointed out that everyone is a fanatic for something in his life–the question is not are you a fanatic but are you a fanatic for something positive?  King identified Jesus as a fanatic for love, Ghandi as a fanatic for justice, etc.  In the context of municipal infrastructure discussions, bicycle facilities are small potatoes compared to sewers.  At the same time, I draw strength from my conviction that speaking up for bicycling improvements is in its own small way being a fanatic for something positive.  I hope that other Active Trans members will find themselves surprised by the unlikely support they get when they speak up.