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Archive for March 21st, 2009|Daily archive page

Bike racks are turning up on city buses here: Are Cedar Rapids bicyclists and local bus riders the same people?

In City Hall on March 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

It seems so Seattle or Madison or Ann Arbor or Iowa City.

By May 1, the city of Cedar Rapids will have installed bicycle racks on the front ends of 27 of the city’s new and newer buses.

Some of the racks are in place now, though Brad DeBrower, the city’s transit manager, reports that no bicycle enthusiast or bus regular has yet inquired about them. He is planning a public service announcement once most of the racks are in place.

Almost to a person on the city’s nine-member City Council is a desire to make the city more welcoming to bicyclists, both those who are out for a ride and those who want to use a bicycle to commute to work.

Even now, the city is attempting to become the state’s only bicycle-friendly community, a status bestowed on a city by the League of American Bicyclists. Bike racks on buses are part of trying to get there. Places like Madison, Wis., and Eugene, Ore., and Ann Arbor, Mich., are bicycle-friendly places.

The City Council also has been insisting that major street projects in the city take into consideration bicyclists and pedestrians, which can mean wider-than-normal sidewalks along major streets.

As for the bicycle racks on city buses, the idea is a captivating one. For instance, the rack-on-bus amenity would allow someone to ride a bike to the bus stop, place the bicycle on the bus bike rack and ride the bus to work. Once the work day is over, the bicyclist then could peddle home.

It remains to be seen, though, if the marriage of the bicycle and the city bus actually works in Cedar Rapids. Are the people who ride bicycles here the same people who ride the bus?

Look for council member Tom Podzimek — a proponent of public transit and bicycles — to have a bicycle hanging off a bus some time soon.

Mayoral prospect Hinzman nudges toward a decision to take on Corbett and, perhaps, others

In Gary Hinzman, Ron Corbett on March 21, 2009 at 11:55 am

Gary Hinzman, the director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services and a former Cedar Rapids police chief, first surfaced publicly as a possible mayoral candidate, thanks to Ron Corbett, who now has announced his candidacy for the job.

In January, Corbett or Corbett backers conducted a phone survey to see which possible candidates might best him in a run for mayor. The five names in the survey were those of Corbett, Scott Olson, a local Realtor who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005, council members Brian Fagan and Monica Vernon, and Hinzman.

Last week, Hinzman took a step closer to showing his cards when his new Web site appeared — “Gary Hinzman for Mayor, A Voice for All People, A Force for Positive Change.” He said the Web site is “under construction.”

By week’s end, Hinzman had issued a statement on “ethics” to his 250 employees, alerting them to his possible mayoral run and to his commitment, should he run, to following state rules required of a public employee running for public elective office.

In short, such a run for mayor, he tells his employees, will require him to separate any political activities from the official business of correctional services department.

The rule, he tells them, is “simple:” “Government time, resources or equipment cannot be used for political purposes. This includes our e-mail system.”

He adds that no employee is expected to do anything in the way of offering support or mouthing political comments to him.

And he notes that he has not made any final decision to run for mayor.

“This is becoming more likely,” he says of a run for mayor. “But I have not yet made an announcement and I am still considering some key factors.”

Incumbent Mayor Kay Halloran has said she will make a decision about seeking reelection later this spring.