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Friday, April 27, 2012

Zoners Share Broad Street With Bicycling Advocate

CAT member Barrett Ladd
Bethlehem zoners voted unanimously, at their April 25 hearing, to allow the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) to open a satellite office at 1935 W Broad Street for the City's West side. This decision followed nearly two hours of neighbor complaints that it would make it more difficult for them to find a place to park. Ironically, CAT is an educational charity that actually encourages car-free activities, from walking to biking to using mass transit.

Barrett Ladd, a member of CAT and the building's owner since 2003, told zoners that the building has always housed a business. Recently, it was the home of Jackie's Ceramics. But she has since retired. Converting it into a residence would be too costly, Ladd explained, so he'd like to lease it to CAT as an office, for light bicycle maintenance as well as some small classes on bicycle repair and safety.

Steve Schmitt, CAT's director, testified that a West end location would be a convenience to people in that area, who might have trouble making it to his main facility. He described it as a "support facility" for people who bicycle. He explained that, in addition to learning how to fix a flat, CAT staffers would help members find appropriate routes to use a bicycle as a mode of transportation.

He explained membership costs $75, but there is a "barter" program in which someone could join after performing a community service like picking up garbage in the neighborhood.

Ladd was represented by Center Street Attorney Sarah Andrew, who argued that the building's use for light bicycle repairs would be "no more intensive" than its use as a ceramic shop.

But six neighbors disagreed.

"Where are we supposed to park?" asked Debbie Peipher. "We are taxpaying citizens!"

Ben Bartolett, who referred to himself as a "blockheaded Dutchman," warned, "Kids are going to stand there and smoke and cause trouble."

Schmitt and Ladd both tried to allay these concerns, noting that most people visiting the facility will be on bicycles, not driving cars. Attorney Andrew, for that reason, described CAT as an "ideal tenant." "Even its solvents are soy-based," she added.

Peipher and Rosanne Minarovic, another neighbor, described some of the businesses that have operated at the location. In addition to the ceramic shop, there has been a lunch counter, shoe repair shop, hair salon and even a motorcycle repair business.

They added there might have been one or two shootings during its motorcycle era.

After this testimony, zoners bought Attorney Andrew's argument that a bicycle repair shop using soy-based solvents is probably a little less intrusive.
Ladd and Director Steve Schmitt promote car-free lifestyle.


Anonymous said...

Ah well I think riding my bike from Moore twp to Bethlehem and bringing 6 bags of grocies home the same way might not work.That is even more true in ihospitable weather. I guess I can take the bus from Moore townsip to Bethlehem. Wait! There is none. Get serious. You just cannot replace cars that easily. Some folks need a dose of reality.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, I know people who commute regularly from Bushkill Tp to Bethlehem by bicycle, even in the worst weather. I can't ride if it's under 70 degrees.

But I didn't get these neighbors. How can they complain about parking with an organization that promotes cycling.

Anonymous said...

"Kids are going to stand there and smoke and cause trouble."

How ironic that someone who's so quick to stereotype, IS a stereotype.

Anonymous said...

maybe it will keep the dangerous freaks off of the bridges

Anonymous said...

I used to ride my bike to work (11 miles) every day and on certain days I would beat my driving co-workers because they where stuck in traffic while I was riding down quiet country roads (the back way as they say around here) in the fresh air and getting exercise at the same time. So Anon 3:08, don't knock it until you try it

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:10

You better be referring to the Auto Drivers in that remark... We had 1 fatality and one near, due to ignorant stupid auto drivers who think because they have a CAR they have the right of way.

Anonymous said...

CAT will be a real asset to the neighborhood.

They encourage cycling for transportation. That could reduce the need for parking on the street. And, generally people who are into exercise are not also into smoking, so I think that the smoking comment is out of line.

Anonymous said...

I found you bike

underneath my car