The Madison Common Council debated and voted on a plan to light the Southwest Bike Path... which is actually called the Southwest Commuter Path, which should tip you off about which side won. The path will be lit. The faction that conceives of a grand plan for upping the percentage of commuters who travel by bike beat the property owners whose land abuts the path that was once a rail line.
The property owners did a fine job of marshaling arguments that would appeal to those who don't live right there. Maybe environmentalists will take their side if they call it "Owlpath" and stress nocturnal wildlife. Experts can explain how pools of light along a dark path make it harder to see and but easier to be seen. There you are lit up as if on stage to be sized up by the robber or rapist hiding in a dark spot.
Over the hours, many citizens spoke, and one phrase jumped out: "commuter corridor." You may think it's your backyard, but it's a commuter corridor. It's not a place to be but a place to move through, and there are so many more people moving through than staying in place. Of course, many more people drive to work, but even those who do are entranced by the fantasy of all those other people biking. Biking year round, despite the cold. It's during the cold times when the lights are most needed. Who knows why winter stops commuters from biking? Maybe it's the darkness.
And there should be gender equity. Why so many more men than women biking in the dark? If there were lights, people would feel safe, and feeling safe is so especially important to women. And making women feel safe is the central function of government, is it not? Making women feel safe coincided with spending tax money to buy a new amenity that will be noticed and will speak continually — to all who pass through the corridor — saying: Government has improved life for everyone. Experts and owls notwithstanding — those property owners are going to lose.