Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bikes ’67 #1, January: Clamor Club Clamors About Bikes (207)

January 6-1 (continues to p. 3)
In 1966, the City Council directed staff to prepare a plan for a “pilot” program of bike lanes on Davis streets. This put the topic on the back burner while the plan was being prepared. That period did not end until the Council meeting of February 14, when the pilot project was presented and adopted.

This did not of course stop discussion of the “bike problem.” One forum for such discussion was a wonderful “organization” that functioned over a number of years in the 1960s called “The Clamor Club.” Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, it was a weekly or so noontime gathering of anyone who cared to show up in the back room of Quessenbery’s Drug store.

The “officers” were only informal and shifting, there was no formal membership, and no agenda. There was, though, a head “clamorer” who kept order by shaking a metal cowbell to quell excess clamor.*

The official purpose of the gathering was to air “gripes!” Just show up and complain about whatever you please.

To me, the most amazing aspect of the Clamor Club is that it consistently attracted many “heavy hitters” in Davis public life. These often included the City Manager, the Chief of Police, the school district superintendent, and the great gadfly of the time, Harry Whitcombe (who had served on the City Council in the mid-1950s).

January 6-2
Such a turnout might in part be explained by the fact that Davis had two more-or-less daily papers in that period (the Woodland Daily Democrat did a Davis edition) and both tended to cover Clamor meetings. That is, the meetings were places to get your views before the public in the all-important local papers.

It is indicative that all the bike news appearing in the DE in January was in the context of discussions at two Clamor Club meetings. I have marked the relevant portions in red.

Two aspects of this “bike talk” might be mentioned. One, there was considerable uncertainty about the status of the bike lane project. Two, the bike path idea has far from universal support.


* I was in the Chamber of Commerce offices some months ago and was shown a metal cowbell that was described to me a mystery item. Why was such a thing among Chamber holdings? I was pleased to be able to both explain the bell and to demonstrate how it worked. (I can testify it is quite effectively loud and obnoxious and therefore attention-getting.)

January 13-1 (continues to p. 3)

January 13-2