Thursday, November 19, 2009

An open letter to the City of Manor

I have, this evening, sent another email inquiry to the stewards of the city of Manor Texas. I am making the email public because I am perceiving a certain amount of unresponsiveness from the city Fathers about this. I have asked some old questions that have gone unanswered, and I have added some new ones that are a bit more pointed.

The statements attributed to the city manager are alarming, and there is an unseemly odor to these proceedings. I hope that these questions will be answered to everyones satisfaction quickly and completely. Perhaps a little sunshine will help us all to see more clearly.

Dear Judge Haisler, the Austin American-Statesman has published an article about the bicycle ban in Manor. In it, the reporter quotes Phil Tate as saying:

"Enforcement will begin at the end of the month at the earliest, Manor City Manager Phil Tate said. Violating the ordinance will be a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $200, according to the ordinance.
The two-lane road is narrow, has heavy traffic and is in bad shape with huge cracks, Tate said.
The "City Council has found that prohibiting the use of bicycles on Brenham Street east of FM 973 to the City limits is necessary to protect the public from harm," the ordinance says.
"It's a poor place to be riding bicycles," Tate said. There are several other roads where bicyclists can ride, he said.
Tate said there are no immediate plans to repave or rebuild the road."


Naturally this is alarming to to those who are fond of the "public" part of public road.

1) Did this reporter correctly quote the good city manager?

2) If not, would you please clarify the situation for me? What he is reported to have said is at odds with our previous correspondence.

3) Is it the city's position that some roads are "too narrow and have too much traffic" on them to safely accommodate all legal vehicles?

4) Because pedestrians are not prohibited from this section of the road, do you anticipate that the shoulder-less road will accommodate cyclists walking through that section?

5) If the road surface conditions are as bad as some eyewitnesses have reported, why has the city seen fit to continue to allow motorcycles and other two wheeled vehicles access to this section of the road?

6) Is it the city's opinion that this road beyond their jurisdiction is also dangerous for cyclists, and have they alerted any other jurisdictions of such existing conditions?

7) What is causing the road outside your jurisdiction to be constituted a dangerous condition? (Is it a surface hazard as well or are cyclists simply annoying the local motorists by impeding their progress?)

An anonymous commenter left this message on my blog:

"I have some insight as to the condition of this stretch of road. On Aug 30 while riding with friends, I hit a large crack in the road about a yard long, 4 inches wide and about a foot deep. No shoulder. There were lots of these cracks or crevices. I suffered many injuries -- broken hand, torn hamstring, ripped face and mouth, etc.... (I was wearing a helmet, which got cracked.) It is extremely unsafe for bikes."

This new information has spawned a more questions.

8) To your knowledge, is the described road condition by Anonymous the reason for restricting bicycle use on that road?

9) Is Anonymous the only person who has been injured by this road hazard?

10) Is his description of the hazard accurate?

11) Is this particular road condition also a hazard for motorcyclists?

12) What steps are being planned or implemented to fix the problem.

13) What is the tentative time-line for those repairs and the estimated time of completion?

14) If road conditions present such a clear and present public danger to warrant the banishment of an entire class of vehicle, why are you waiting seven weeks from passing the ordinance to enforce it?

There my dear reader, we await a response. Are there any questions you have that have not been addressed in light of the information we have?

8 comments:

  1. EdW from CycleDog
    http://cycledog.blogspot.com/
    Who is a great blog (I love them Dr. Wally posts!) has had trouble posting- I think I was loading this story at the time. Here is his comment:

    The statesman story says the ban is to take effect at the end of November. But I have to wonder how long this 'temporary' ban will last as the city has no plans to repair or repave the road. It really sounds as if they're trying to avoid potential liability rather than fix the problem.

    I'm writing a piece for the Examiner. Any first hand information is welcome.

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  2. I don't want to seem an apologist for Manor. However, even imputing the worst possible motives for their action, is there any way at all in which it is worse than what the Village of Hunter's Creek Village did in banning bikes from all of its roads without even any road condition pretext?

    Reference:
    http://www.bikehouston.org/content/view/133/42/
    and still in effect nine years later.

    Maybe we need better bicycle advocates, as ChipSeal has noted on many occasions...

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  3. I forgot to "tip my hat" to SteveA for pointing out the Austin American-Statesman article.

    I am worried it is a typical "windshield" decision, as the motorcycle questions (Again a thank you to Steve!) and alerting neighboring jurisdictions are meant to ferret out.

    If it turns out that it more about getting the annoying cyclists out of the way of automobiles, (Traffic flow not safety) I would suggest that Austin bicycle clubs do some rides and walk their bikes at the edge of the lane across this section in protest. They haven't thought to ban pedestrians yet.

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  4. Time to read up on "Bicycle "Right to the Road" Cases", actually it more about the cyclist's right to the road.

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  5. Again, all manor is doing is passing the ultimate "Safe Passing" law. The City of Allen began this slowly growing trend, and the State's Attorney General handed down a favorable reading, to "protect" cyclists from traffic.

    The demand for "special" treatment is guaranteed to result in "special" treatment. Be careful what you ask for.

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  6. Saith Judge Haisle this morning:

    "The difficulty in answering your questions is that City Staff is not aways privy to the reasons individual council members vote nor the information they take into account for their decision. The decision to restrict bicycles on East Brenham Street was a City Council decision and due to State of Texas Open Meetings Laws, I cannot poll the council for their reasons outside of a public meeting. As for the delayed enforcement question, state law requires we publish notice of newly adopted ordinances containing the penalties 30 days prior to enforcement can be taken (that notice was published October 29th)."

    More soon dear reader...

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  7. If you follow danc's link, Hunter Creek is one case discussed as "Houston Sidepath..."

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  8. I have posted an update to this story: http://goo.gl/3XKC3

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