The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Update: Treks vs. Tractors in Dane County, WI

I went to a meeting to discuss the ongoing controversy between the residents of several small towns in western Dane County, Wisconsin, and cyclists that ride on the county highways that run through these towns. The meeting took place at the town hall in Vermont, WI. Vermont's town hall is roughly the same size as my townhouse. Its actually an old one-room school. It took me a while to find the town hall. I've biked in this area before and never even noticed a town. But sure enough, there it was. I new I was at the right place when I saw a parking lot containing two types of vehicles: big ugly pickups and Subarus with bike racks.

The meeting was packed, standing room only. I wore a tie. I wanted to look good if I decided to say a few words. The (unofficial) dress code at this type of thing is always different so I wasn't quite sure if the suit was necessary. I had gone to county board meetings and the like in other cities, including Eau Claire, WI (where I went to college and prior to Monday night was the smallest town in the world to me) and many people, certainly the board members, wore suits or at least "business casual" attire. Not so in Vermont! The atmosphere made me question my "better to be overdressed than underdressed" aphorism.

The meeting seemed rather unproductive. I expected it would. It consisted mostly of the locals exchanging anecdotes about what motherfuckers cyclists are. "Ya know I was driving down the road thother day and there was three bikers racin around and they was taken up the whole darn road and I couldn't get round 'em," or "they had some big darn race thother weekend and closed down the road and my mail didn't come and I had to wait a whole darn day for my fishing magazine."

I was amazed that politicians, even at this level discussing an issue that is this ridiculous (only slightly less ridiculous than the FMA), can be such ideologues. They couldn't even comprehend that drivers can be motherfuckers too. Or that if a cyclist flipped them off there is at least a fair chance that they passed too close or did something else deserving of "the bird." Basically, they were completely unsympathetic. A representative from the Sheriff's department attended the meeting and made it pretty clear that most of their ideas, which included banning races, having cyclists wear license plates so that residents can report them, and completely closing the roads to bicycles, were impossible or illegal or just dumb.


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