Examining The Makeup Of Lafayette's Bike Safety Committee

Jun 1, 2017

Of the seven members on the committee, local bike and running groups get to suggest only two -- and even those must receive mayoral approval.
Credit cycleluxembourg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cycleluxembourg/

The Lafayette City Council Tuesday night is expected to conduct a second reading of an ordinance creating an advisory committee which would be charged with making the city’s streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The so-called Lafayette Bicycle and Pedestrian (and) Citizen Advisory Committee (the ordinance writes the name two different ways) would be a seven-member board, with five members appointed by the city, and one each from what the legislation calls a “local bicycle club” and a “local running club.”

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski says that 5-2 split doesn’t necessarily mean critics will be silenced.

“I’m not sure you’d outvote anybody, because it’s an advisory committee," the mayor says. "I mean, the committee can make recommendations, individuals on the committee can make recommendations. They don’t have to agree with what the majority of the committee feels to make a recommendation.”

And even the appointees from the local clubs are subject to approval by Roswarski, who’ll be given a slate of candidates from each organization and allowed to choose from among them.

But, speaking Thursday on WBAA’s “Ask The Mayor,” Lafayette's leader insisted the setup isn’t a way to silence some critics who’ve been very vocal in recent years.

“This is not some phony façade to placate people," Roswarski says. "We want their input -- in fact, we’re going to give them a bigger platform to actually be louder.”

Some of the criticism reached a fever pitch in 2015 when a cyclist was hit and seriously injured by a distracted driver on the Harrison Bridge connecting Lafayette and West Lafayette.

Since then, local groups have staged several public displays urging leaders to carve out more bike lanes, and reminding drivers to observe regulations requiring a three-foot buffer between cars and bicycles.