Council-member wants control of Traffic Calming & Greenways: Ordinance 23-08

What’s this all about? The Bloomington City Council is considering an ordinance that would give it control of the Bloomington Traffic Calming and Greenways Program.

What is the Bloomington Traffic Calming and Greenways Program?The title is fairly self-explanatory, but there are several pieces to it. A staff-led process where Bloomington Planning and Transportation and the Engineering Departments identify and implement traffic calming projects and support pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit safety and connectivity.

There is also a Resident-Led Process where residents work with the City to manage traffic on residential streets with traffic calming devices such as speed cushions and speed humps. 

Neighborhood Greenways is a project to create a connected network for safe walking and bicycling on “low-speed, low-volume, shared-space streets.” The City prioritizes Neighborhood Greenways recommended in the Priority Bicycle Facilities Network.

Reference: City of Bloomington Traffic Calming and Greenways Program website

Why do we have Bloomington Traffic Calming and Greenways Program? When biking and walking is dangerous, only the desperate or brave bike and walk. Multi-modal infrastructure gives more and safer sustainable transportation options. An impetus for this program is outlined in the 2019 City of Bloomington Transportation Plan, which supports a multi-modal transportation system to reduce dependence on automobiles and directly impact Bloomington’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What is Ordinance 23-08? This ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Dave Rollo, amends that program. Councilmember Rollo’s synopsis argues that the program requires a consistent procedure for resident-led and staff-led processes.” His amendment requires all “resident-led and staff-led processes” (i.e. greenway projects and traffic-calming) to go before the City Council for review and approval. 

Reference: Legislative Packet, Bloomington City Council, May 3, 2023

Why does B-TOP think Councilmember Rollo suggested the change? Councilmember Rollo’s stated reason to create a more consistent procedure, but Rollo objected to a greenway going through his district, which just happens to be in the middle of the city.
According to a January IDS article, Rollo said most residents in the neighborhood were opposed to the greenway. He said residents saw it as an expensive, overengineered project for a street that was already safe. “It’s a solution looking for a problem,” Rollo said.  

The fact that the greenway is in a location that makes sense for cross-city connectivity and is meant to serve the needs and safety of a broader population than the people who lived adjacent to it while serving Bloomington long-term climate change objectives was lost on or ignored by Rollo and his constituents. The Greenways project is in line with the 2019 City of Bloomington Transportation Plan (safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, the building of a connected multi-modal network, long-term sustainability). We at B-TOP think Rollo wants veto power to please a small segment of the population that has little sincere interest in those goals.

Reference: “Cyclists wish Bloomington was safer, but opposition says proposed plan is not so simple,” Indiana Daily Student, January 25, 2023

What happened at the last City Council meeting? The decision on the ordinance was delayed, so that the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission could be invited to provide the Council with a formal recommendation on the ordinance. That commission meets May 8.

Reference: City Council’s 5-3-2023 minutes.

As Dave Askins of the B Square Bulletin reported in his May 5 email under the bullet point Greenway program revision: Botched public comment process: “At the end of the meeting, during public commentary time, a member of the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission took the mic to talk about the ordinance.”

But, that person was not allowed to speak.

Why? According to Council rules, “Members of the public may speak on matters of community concern not listed on the agenda at one of the two public comment opportunities.” The issue was on the agenda, so it was not eligible for one of these general public comment periods. Yet in this Kafkaesque situation, there was no agenda-related comment period.

When will the issue be decided? The ordinance is on the agenda for the May 10 City Council Meeting.