Representatives of the Bike Michiana Coalition met with South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke for the first time (formally) on Sept. 22d. The goal of the hour-long meeting was threefold: to share past concerns about communication and follow-up on promised actions (e.g. bike lanes); to describe the organization and current projects of the Coalition, and to seek opportunities to collaborate on mutual goals. The Coalition recommended that Luecke appoint a City bicycle coordinator on his staff to better facilitate communication between departments and advocate for bike-projects from the “inside” of City government. Also joining the mayor were Gary Gilot (public works); Chris Dressel and Michael Divita (city planning); Tom Price (assistant to the Mayor) and Mikki Dobski (communications and special projects).
Judy Lee read a statement outlining the evolution of the Coalition and challenges to date in working with the City. Bill Lee described bike lanes planning in St. Joseph County beyond the South Bend city limits. J.V. Peacock summarized successes as co-chair (with Paul Taylor) of Bike to Work Week 2008 and his plans to more than double the corporate teams participating in 2009. JV also spoke of organizing the two memorial rides for cyclists Patrick Sawyer and Peter Kaczor. Henry Scott explained the workings and increased usage of the BikeMichiana.org website: at peak periods the site has received 600 ‘hits’ per day. Danny Graber (for Paul Taylor) described his own work with the Bicycle Friendly Community team, and his current class on bicycle safety at the Michiana YMCA. Jeff Nixa described the bike station and planning team, as well as the need for expanding the City’s successful bike rack program beyond the current downtown South Bend perimeter.
In addition to the Coalition’s recommendation for a City bicycle coordinator, Nixa asked that Mayor Luecke commit to South Bend achieving recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community (bronze) by 2010. Luecke said he would be considering the bike coordinator position and suggested a follow up meeting to further the discussions. Nixa affirmed the research and vision behind Price’s draft Bike Strategic Plan for South Bend.
Though not intended to be a “bike lanes” meeting attendees did share reactions to the Sept. 22d public meeting at Adams High School, and opinions on whether the City needs to seek neighborhood consensus before going ahead with striping (versus mere signing) of planned bike lanes.