Bob's Links and Rants

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Local Stuff!!!

I just got back from the local Sierra Club meeting, where all sorts of cool things were going on. Before the meeting started I met up with an old high-school classmate of mine, Sonia Schmerl, who is one of the organizers of the Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway, the project I mentioned in my previous post. Sonia said they'd love to come out and talk to our neighborhood group about the Greenway, and since we're just getting started HAVING a neighborhood group, that sounded really cool.

I also got a brochure from the Ann Arbor Community Car Coop, a group trying to bring car-sharing to Ann Arbor. As an anti-consumerist scheme, car-sharing is a great idea for people who only need cars occasionally for shopping and such. Rather than each person having his own car, they just share a few cars between a group. I'm not sure if I want to get involved (I confess I've already grown attached to my biodiesel VW, even though I only drive it about three times a week), but maybe I'll contact them to find out more.

The main speaker at the Sierra Club meeting was Norm Cox of The Greenway Collaborative (not to be confused with Sonia's group), who talked about the various exciting things happening now and in the next two years or so which will make Ann Arbor a MUCH friendlier town for bicyclists and pedestrians. Bike lanes have already sprouted on many roads that never had them before in just the last year, and apparently this trend is about to really take off. Some roads with four very-narrow bike-killer traffic lanes will be converted to three car lanes plus bike lanes, and more and better crosswalks with pedestrian islands will be placed on some of the busiest streets. While Ann Arbor has a pretty progressive reputation, its treatment of cyclists and pedestrians has generally been abysmal. That's about to change.

Finally, after the meeting, I talked with the local club president Doug Cowherd about instant runoff voting and getting the Sierra Club to endorse it. He was quite encouraging. Hopefully we'll get the endorsement and some SC members to help us gather petitions. I also talked briefly with Suzanne, webmaster of the local SC web site, who said she reads this blog. Hi, Suzanne!