What Else Can They Ban?
After a very long winter, Madison has been blessed with beautiful spring weather the past two weekends. While I spent last weekend engaging in rite of spring #1 (drinking beer on the Union Terrace), today I accomplished rite #2, taking my kayak out on Lake Monona. The lake is placid and almost deserted this time of the year, even on a beautiful weekend afternoon. This is also the time of year when concerned citizens comment on how "nice" it is without any boat traffic and how Madison should consider banning speed boats and tool-of-the-devil Jet Skis.
I won't be surprised if it happens someday. Madison, although it bills itself as a liberal city of tolerance and diversity, is fond of banning its citizens from doing lots of things. For example, The University of Wisconsin has 1,260 acre Arboretum in the middle of Madison. A road runs through the Arboretum and is frequented by walkers, joggers and bikers. The road has smooth pavement, little traffic, no stop signs and lots of little hills. It'd be perfect for in-line skaters, particularly beginning ones. However, in-line skating is banned in the Arboretum. Why? Too many concerned citizens were afraid of hitting, or being hit by, one of these roller blading hooligans.
The latest target of the banning brigade are bikers on Picnic Point. Time out for a geography lesson: downtown Madison is set on an Isthmus between two lakes, Mendota to the north and Monona to the south. The University of Wisconsin campus is situated on the south shore of Lake Mendota. The mile(?)-long Lakeshore Path winds from the famed Union Terrace out to Picnic Point, which you can see pictured here.
So why this ban? It seems that some pedestrians are fed up with having to watch their children:
Many present said they agreed with Westerman [member of the member of the Restore Picnic Point for Pedestrians Committee] that bicycles pose safety concerns that pedestrians should not have to worry about while walking on Picnic Point, especially young children.
Madison resident John Bishop shared his own experience of taking a nature walk with his son.
"When you go out on a natural experience, you don't want to teach your son how to heel," he said.
Wow, ignore for a moment how obnoxious the phrase "when you go out on a natural experience" is, and instead concentrate on the rest of the quote. From what Mr. Bishop said, you'd think the Picnic Point section of Lakeshore Path is some rustic hiking trail, not a part of this wide, smooth path used daily by thousands of people.
I think what it comes down to is that many people are willing to give away the rights of others in order to abdicate their own personal responsibility:
- "I don't want to watch my kid, so the government should ban bikers."
- "I don't want to pay attention to where I'm paddling, so the city should ban speed boats."
- "I don't want to have to look out for roller bladers, they shouldn't be allowed on this road."
And so, nanny states like the city of Madison are born to insulate these people from the big bad world around them. Unfortunately, in the rush to protect the stupid and lazy from themselves, the rest of us get to have less and less freedom and less and less fun.
Posted by at April 17, 2005 04:21 PM
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|# April 17th, 2005 4:58 PM kris|
|The campus photo library has scores and scores of wonderful shots of the UW-Madison campus and city of Madison like the ones above. It'll help answer the inevitable questions about why people choose to live here even though the city government is so looney. |
|# April 17th, 2005 11:36 PM TheUnabrewer|
|Mmmm, beer gardens. |