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Pilch and Maass: Strolling and Rolling Over Albany!

Strollers and Rollers? Allegedly involved community members unmasked!

This election cycle has finally ripped the mask off Albany Strollers and Rollers, revealing their subversive and destructive nature. The name alone should have been a clue: Who is doing the rolling and who is getting rolled over?

I'm as outraged as you are that some would consider them involved community members or advocates for bike-and-pedestrian-friendly development, and I am proud to be one of the first in the community to recognise the danger.

Since both have been endorsed by Commandante Lieber and the Sierra Club, we can only fear they plan to continue down the garden path that has gotten us where we are now: bike-able, walkable, not facing bankruptcy.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Heather Cunningham October 17, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I'm not sure what actions or events you are referring to when you describe Strollers and Rollers as subversive and destructive in nature. As a member of Strollers and Rollers, I have participated in many, many events, including teaching school kids how to ride bikes at school events and community bike rodeos, distributing free bike lights to Albany school kids and community members, hosted bike safety classes, made hundreds of smoothies on a pedal powered bike blender and parked hundreds of bikes in secure valet parking. All of this was free and open to the community. And I volunteered all of my time because I am passionate about making Albany a safe and pleasant place for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Can you clarify what you mean when you wrote, "Who is doing the rolling and who is getting rolled over?" From my experiences, Albany Strollers & Rollers has been, and continues to be made up of involved community members and advocates.
Jake Stayman October 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM
they seem like a nice enough group, but they sure don't have much sense of humor. thanks for helping out in that regard.
Jim Beller October 18, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Heather, I'm a fan of Strollers and Rollers. Some Patch comments were very hostile toward A,S&R after Whole Foods pulled out of the UC project on San Pablo Ave. The question selected by the editors for the candidates about Affiliations and Endorsements groups Strollers and Rollers in with other organizations that the questioner finds objectionable. I find humor in the fact that an organization with such a bucolic name would be suspect.
Emilie Raguso October 18, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Here's the question: "13. What is your affiliation to the Save the Bay/ CESP/CAS/SIerra Club consortium? If you are answerable to them in any way it is important for you to disclose this well before election day. Please disclose any affiliations and/or endorsements by any group (i.e., Sierra Club, Keep Albany Local, Occupy the Farm, Strollers & Rollers, etc.), whether it they are local or national branches, and state whether you are a member of such group or in agreement to their beliefs/agendas. What boards and committees have you served on? How many meetings of (the City Council / the Board of Education) have you attended?" It was a combination of multiple questions from readers that, to me, simply asked people to disclose endorsements, affiliations, experience with city bodies, etc.
Jim Beller October 18, 2012 at 07:56 AM
Emilie, it isn't just a figment of my imagination. Brian Parker wrote a letter to the editor expressing a similar opinion and Pete Maass begins his answer with "Am I now or have I ever been..." Maybe it's a generational thing. The part of the question about if the candidates are "answerable to them in any way" seems insulting to the candidates. I'm not aware of A,S & R enforcing party discipline upon its members.
Tony Caine October 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Jim, we don't even have parties at AS&R, only interminable meetings ;-)
Tatter Salad October 21, 2012 at 12:44 AM
The Rollers contributed positively with the observation that the City of Albany had failed in their proposed (and U.C.-blessed) design of the Marin/San Pablo Street intersection. And the error was acknowledged by the City, who said they would take the matter-up with U.C. (whose property would need sacrificing for both the right turn lane, and the bike island). But they pursued a lawsuit anyway, suing for their concern that too much carbon-based traffic would ensue (from a retirement home?) and the Grocery Store. Since no new cars would be manufactured for this site, and those in the neighborhood NOW have to drive much further; -what generates more of a carbon foot-print: driving ½ a mile, or 3 miles? Suing the City was not in our best interest, nor is electing Pilch or Maass IMHO. Another endeavor the Albany Rollers & Smokers brag about is that they pushed for a much wider asphalt Ohlone trail under the BART tracks.  They successfully diminished the potential expanse of grass for more asphalt! Now there's a real 'Carbon Foot print' issue!  What were they thinking? The trail was wide enough. They fail to grasp that to facilitate the 'sharing' of COMMUTER bicycling with: pedestrians, joggers, preschoolers and dogs, is nuts. Bike speeds there need be below 12 MPH!  The Ohlone path they 'widened' cannot be used by serious bikers without inviting accidents in which the bikers will be invariably at fault, and present a hazard to those using the area as a park.
Robert Smith October 22, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Tot: There is a big difference between 'serious bikers' and 'reckless bikers'.
Bob Outis October 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM
I agree with those who view the Patch question as having been written in an unfortunate way. But I see no McCarthyite intent. Council elections are nonpartisan, or at least they should be, yet candidates tout their affiliations with and endorsements by partisan organizations and officials. Thoughtful voters will ask: Is the affiliation or endorsement a positive or negative? Any Albany voter who has paid any attention knows the answer because rank partisanship, rather than the exercise of considered individual judgments, has been on regular display in Council chambers in recent years. So the Patch question remains an important one.
Tatter Salad October 25, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Bob is correct: "Council elections are nonpartisan, or at least they should be, yet candidates tout their affiliations with and endorsements by partisan organizations and officials. Thoughtful voters will ask: Is the affiliation or endorsement a positive or negative?" And it becomes more complex. There are DIFFERENT branches of the Sierra Club here: some are fine, but the LOCAL one is radical. LaForce & Co. is an example. Little interest in developement OF ANY TYPE. You will find that historically, any phone cell towers have been stymied by Council Members with Sierra Club affiliation. The Sierra Club promises to "SPEND MONEY" on election support literature, etc. for their candidates, BUT there is a reciprocity expectation. I believe there is already two Sierra Club 'blessed' individuals on the Council; just one more makes a iron-clad majority. I also believe, according to the Park Department, you will find LaForce and their Albany Council membership to be responsible for the 'Burrowing Owl' preserve. No zoologist, or 'study' lends support to Burrowing Owl ever nesting in so cool an environment. The food for their young includes lizards and Microtus; this area has precious little of both. But hey: Berkeley got their Soccer Fields in exchange.
SteveWu October 25, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@Tatter Salad: Here is photographic proof of "extremely cute" burrowing owls nesting here. http://www.berkeleyside.com/2012/02/16/burrowing-owls-and-docents-return-to-berkeley-park/ Could you provide some photo proof that you nest here? GIven your picture, perhaps you and Albany Kids First are standing up for the right of dogs to eat the snowy plover. Albany Kids First is attempting to walk back a mitigation for the Gilman fields. Will Barnes, Thomsen & Abbott treat future mitigations with contempt?
Amy Smolens October 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM
@Tatter Salad, we understand your safety concerns very clearly, which is why we advocated for the improved Greenway path to be separated into two one-way cycling lanes (4 1/2 ft wide each) and a five-foot wide ped lane. The narrow lanes will tend to facilitate slower speeds, as they do for motorists (hopefully.) There will also be a decomposed granite shoulder on each side for runners and walkers to use. Some segments of the Bay Trail have this configuration as do the Crissy Field multi-use path, the path leading to Golden Gate Bridge and the Minneapolis Midtown Greenway. The compliance rate of people using their designated lanes is very high. AS&R created a petition (both electronic and paper) to show that this configuration was the preference of users. I personally got all the signatures on the Ohlone Greenway itself and all users (walkers, runners, dog-walkers, wheelchair users, cyclists, stroller pushers) overwhelmingly believed that this configuration would enhance safety. The electronic petition is closed but you and anyone else can read the wide variety of comments from different types of users here http://tinyurl.com/9qwqa2c . If you scroll down the comments, you will see that all types of users voiced support for this configuration and explained why it would make the Ohlone Greenway safer for them and their families. City Staff agreed with our assessment and last month the Traffic & Safety Commission voted unanimously to implement the three-lane configuration.
Tatter Salad October 27, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Regarding Burrowing Owls, as quoted by Steve Wu's article: "They take over abandoned ground squirrel burrows, and spend much of the day sitting on the ground near their burrow. They take flight when frightened by humans or dogs who come too close." There are NO abandon ground squirrel burrows at Albany's Burrowing Owl Preserve. There is precious little Mircrous (field mice) activity. There is marked nocturnal skunk activity there, and it sees a marked Horned Owl predation, as they inhabit the Eucalyptus Grove on Albany Hill. The Horned Owls not only keep the Microtus population depleted, but also are nocturnal predictors of Burrowing Owls, as are the skunks and abundent gopher snakes. But as stated above, Burrowing Owls really don't 'burrow.' The occupy the left over burrows of ground squirrels. There is no evidence of Burrowing Owl's taking over abandon sewer pipes. Further, Wu's article implies that the Burrowing Owl (0ne) was in a 'Nature Area'; Berkeley has a 40,000 fenced nature area; but that is NOT the case. The 'photo Op' area is just east of a completey UNIMPROVED area east of the Off-leash dog area. If Berkeley were practical, It would FENCE OFF that area, and turn their fenced area back into a dog park. Note the ephasis on unimporved; not mown, not fertilized... not near predatory zones from neighboring trees (nocturnal owls). While I've observed abundant skunks in the area , they work the 'improved' areas nearer the streets and shoreline.

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