The 200-300 Block of Tioga Street


Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak about vehicular usage of the 200-300 block of Tioga Street.

The road usage discussions have mostly been framed as the car drivers vs. the bike lobby – as if bikers are a more nefarious version of Mad Max and we want to rule the roads. What this does is it stops any real conversation, and problem delineation and problem-solving from happening … because we aren’t having an open and honest conversation.

Having accurate facts at hand is an essential  component of an honest and open conversation.  I understand and I get it that some people are scared about losing their parking spaces in front of the post office, at their lawyer’s offices, and in front of the Court House.  But bicycling is a legitimate form of transportation and bicyclers need to have safe routes through cities.  Just like cars – safe routes through cities.  When the weather is not dangerous, I bike – ebike — 100 miles a week, to and from work.  There are others who do the same.  Ebikes are coming to Ithaca because biking is the most efficient form –and did I hear the word sustainable?—and environmentally sensible form of transportation for a singular person.  Have you ever stood at the corner of State Street and Rt 13 and counted how many cars have a single occupant?  Probably 90 to 95%.  Thank you Judy S. for that fact.  And with an e-bike, the hills are conquerable. How prepared is the city going to be for e-bikers?

What if the city had a continuous bike lane through town?  From  Boynton Middle School to the Lehman Alternative School which connected other city schools?  What kind of message would that send the younger generation?  Because it’s the younger generation who will suffer or celebrate the consequences of our decisions. And what about the older generations – those in the fifties, sixties and so on? Those who may lose their convenient parking spaces?  To them, and I am part of that generation, I say, “The brain is a muscle.  The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.  If you don’t exercise it, it atrophies, you grow old under the weight of habit. How else can I get to that post office?  Problem-solving is a good way to exercise the brain. “

Finally, many people – of a certain age — when you mention the date, April 13, 1970 remember the plight of Apollo 13.  The whole world was watching this event.  Even, so it turns out, people in Iran.  Everyone wanted to see the astronauts come home safely.  When the explosion rocked the spaceship Odyssey, and an astronaut reported seeing the venting of a gas, oxygen, it turned out, the engineers and scientists at mission control started shouting “This can’t happen ….   it must be instrumentation.”  See no one knew what had happened, and no one would know until the LEM and Odyssey separated a few days later.  The director of Mission Control, Gene Krantz said to these engineers and scientists,  “Don’t give me your gessimtates.  Let’s work the problem, people.”

Can we work the problem?

Thank you.

Pat Dutt, Town of Ithaca


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