John Roussos is a Madison original and he makes a mean gumbo. So, when John banned Ald. Marsha Rummel from his establishment on Fordem Avenue, I had two reactions. First, that seems like something John would do. And second, he was banning the wrong alder. It was Satya Rhodes-Conway who deserved the blame.
Roussos, the owner of New Orleans Take Out, was upset because Rummel had supported a plan backed by Rhodes-Conway to turn the four-lane Sherman Avenue (not the street his store is on) into one lane in each direction with a center turn lane, bike lanes at the curb, and some added features to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street.
Actually, all of this is a good idea. The concerns of businesspeople that it might result in less traffic and less business probably won't come to fruition. In a recent book by planner Jeff Speck titled Walkable City (a good read), he looked at 16 of these kinds of conversions around the country and concluded that all but two had no impact on traffic volume.
What's more, because traffic will probably move slower. that's good for business. Anytime drivers slow down they have time to consider stopping in somewhere. And, of course, the changes should increase the volume of bikers and walkers in the commercial district. I'm willing to bet that most places will see an increase in their business.
Still, John was just being John, as hot as his food. And, it should be noted, he quickly apologized to Marsha. One of these days I'll bike on over there and have a nice bowl of gumbo.