Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Shakespeare’s guide to bicycling


Meanwhile, over at the MacIver Institute where they teach us how to make a state budget out of a rubber band, some talcum powder and a paper clip, I had a couple of fun op-ed pieces recently.

Last week my column took a ride over the Hoan Bridge. In a car, the way God intended it.

Connecting a bicycle trail from Chicago to Sheboygan, and possibly as far as Door County, over one of the most iconic landmarks in Wisconsin, is a long time dream of bicycling fanatics. You thought Cubs fans were obnoxious before, wait until we’re spending tax money just to allow them to slow down traffic.

That’s exactly what the two less expensive plans would do – slow down traffic. According to the Wisconsin DOT, using their growth models they anticipate traffic flow would deteriorate to an “F” rating by 2035. Just like in high school, an “F” rating isn’t very good.

Bicycle path proponents like to point out that the average speed would be reduced to 50 mph, the current speed limit on the bridge. While this may be correct, they act as if the times when the traffic does not achieve the average is not a big deal. As the Wisconsin DOT points out, the drop in average speed is because of the increased density of the traffic, creating more unsafe conditions for motorists and decreasing the reliability of the Hoan Bridge as a connection for commuters to the larger interstate traffic system.

The commuter that finds the traffic route unreliable may have to make more drastic considerations than the recreational bicyclist who enjoys bicycling the Hoan for the view. A person who depends on the Hoan to connect to I-94 for a job in Wauwatosa or Menomonee Falls is not going to feel good about watching bicyclists occupy an entire traffic lane if their daily commute may be severely curtailed randomly, or if they themselves are the subject of the morning accident reports.

Commuters placed in such a situation may have to consider whether living in Bay View and points south is worth it, or if there is a preferable alternative that promises an easier commute.

The Milwaukee County Board has “found” $65,000 and decided to spend it on Shakespeare for juvenile delinquents. The county is laying off deputies, but has the money to teach a few rhyming couplets to cut throats.

The program is modeled after a Shakespeare in the courts program in Massachusetts. It was the idea of now-retired Judge Paul Perachi. Claims of the program’s success may be much ado about nothing. When Perachi was asked about the program’s success rate by Voice of America news, Perachi said, “Even if we only have a few, it is worth it.”

That might not live up to the public’s expectation of success for dealing with juvenile offenders. Far from the comic exploits of Jack Falstaff as a thief, the prospective participants will have committed such crimes as assault, breaking and entering, and even assault with a deadly weapon. These stories are less about unfortunate thieves named Pistol than they are about thieves with pistols.

Taxpayers might wonder, along with Sheriff David Clarke, just what the youthful offenders might learn from Shakespeare? Jealousy and spousal murder from Othello? The proper way to organize a gang stabbing from Julius Caesar? Suicide and mass slaughter in Hamlet? Gang loyalty and violence from Romeo and Juliet? Rape and mayhem from Titus Andronicus? Lord, what fools these mortals be!

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