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Is bicycling partisan?

citibikes
New York City is quickly becoming one of the top cycling cities in the nation largely thanks to Republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and DemRepublIndy, Michael Bloomberg.

I thought Bill Lindeke’s recent post on TCSidewalks would be another in a long line of his great posts. ‘7 Reasons Conservatives Should Embrace Bikes’, sounded promising. Instead he seemingly wants to pick a partisan fight with allies. He has a notion that conservatives just about have anti-cycling cornered and cycling supporters must likely be liberals.

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On first thought it would seem that way. Almost universally it’s more liberal cities, with Democrats running things, that top the lists of most bike friendly. Reality though isn’t so cut and dried nor is the future we’re hoping to accomplish.

In the beginning there was indeed a Republican — Robert Moses. However, it was a Democrat, Al Smith, who provided the power to get Moses’ pro-auto, anti-everything-else projects going. Republican mayor Fiorello La Guardia provided a bit more support and from then on it was pretty much Democrats who supported Moses’ massive leveling of neighborhoods and freeway building. It took a Republican, pro-transit Nelson Rockefeller, to end his reign of destruction with Democrats fighting tooth and nail to keep Moses in power.

Today, New York City is quickly becoming one of the top cycling cities in the nation and may soon be ahead of the Twin Cities. This is largely thanks to Republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and DemRepublIndy, Michael Bloomberg, and to Bloomberg’s replacing Iris Wienshall with Janette Sadik-Khan. To be honest, Giuliani was a luke-warm supporter of cycling, though at the time this was quite warmer than the vast majority of politicians of either party throughout the U.S.

Interestingly, the loudest and strongest anti-cycling folks fighting Sadik-Khan are led by Democrats Charles Schumer and Iris Wienshall.

On a national level, the Transportation Secretary who has likely done far more for cycling than any other in history, and possibly all of them put together, is Republican Ray Lahood. And, if “Right-wing politics is deeply tied to the politics of the automobile” as Bill says, then why were Democrats the key supporters of the auto industry bail-out while Republicans opposed it?

Democrat R. T. Rybak is one of the heroes of our local cycling infrastructure and I’d nominate Republican Sen. David “what’s a bike lane” Hann for the dumbest cycling comment made by a MN politician (I think Republican Ed Orcutt retains honors for the dumbest cycling comment by any pol in the nation).

We recently gave Democrats 100% control of MN state government and yet they failed to produce an equitable gas tax. As I wrote in the Star-Tribune on May 12, our auto-culture, and each and every decision we make to drive somewhere, is subsidized by taxpayers. (And, some of these are walking/biking taxpayers.) Any time we are protected from the costs of a decision, we are not likely to make a good one. Thanks to our subsidizing of road users, they are completely out of touch with the true costs of their decisions and that’s not serving us well.

BTW, these same Democrats also failed to fix funding for public transit.

Of Twin Cities folk who ride a bike for transportation I know equally as many liberals and conservatives. And a few libertarians. If you have the stomach to listen to talk radio the most pro-cycling person you’ll likely hear is conservative radio pundit Mitch Berg who rides a bike to work every day. Likely the most anti-bike on national radio is also a conservative — Michael Gallahger.

Three of the worst incidents I’ve encountered with drivers were those with ‘Obama’ stickers on their 4,000-pound motorized weapons and the one time I’ve been hit was by a conservative. Interestingly, one of those three had union stickers on their bumper.

I know people on both sides who drive gas-guzzling SUV’s and folks on both who drive electric cars. My escapist exurban neighborhood is comprised primarily of liberals who consistently elect Democrats, and that includes the precinct of elderly white people.

Each side, Democrat and Republican, Conservative and Liberal, have their fair share of flunkies, heroes, and greedy folk lacking normal morality. Each includes numerous pro-bike and anti-bike folks. Neither even remotely holds a corner on good or bad, or altruism or greed, and the stink of hypocrisy can make some of both a bit unpleasant to sit by.

While progressives are quick to embrace change, conservatives are often infuriatingly slow to do so. The latter can be frustrating, but also good because not every idea for change, from either side, turns out to be good.

Do ‘most conservatives see bicycles as a vast left-wing conspiracy’? A few certainly, but from what I’ve seen, not even close to most. Bill is right about one thing: conservatives do seem to have disdain for bicycles. But, so do liberals and others. They all appear to dislike cyclists for pretty much the same reason — they don’t like being delayed an extra 15 seconds getting where they’re going.

None of this is to say that we can’t market specifically to conservatives (or liberals or libertarians or whomever). There are general differences in these groups that we should openly discuss and take advantage of in promoting cycling (and walking, transit, better urban environments, architecture, and aesthetics).

Best of all, we have the advantage because we have solid, logical, winning arguments, and Bill listed six of them. (The seventh, Freedom From Rules, won’t fly in most conservative and libertarian circles that I’m familiar with because it confuses libertarianism with anarchism — a small and mostly un-welcomed minority.)

Sadly, not enough of any group support these reasons yet and Bill ruined his otherwise clever and well-written piece sandwiching the good between slices of hyperbole (Rob Ford comments excepted). Yes, we should talk about immigrants and gun control and many other issues, but within discussions promoting bicycling isn’t the place — if we want to gain support for cycling.

Bicycling is not a partisan issue. It only becomes one when we make it one. And it serves no purpose, for the benefit of bicycling anyway, to do so.

If road users were to pay for what they use (or what we currently spend on them) we’d need to raise the fuel excise tax by about $1.36 per gallon. However, that current spending is not adequate. It is not maintaining our road system at it’s current level, much less improving it. Just to maintain our system at it’s current level, prevent it from falling in to greater disrepair, we need another $0.40 per gallon. If we want to make reasonable improvements we’d need even more. All total, if each road user is to pay for just their share of what they use we’d need to raise the fuel excise tax by about $2.10 per gallon. Sen Scott Dibble proposed raising the current gas tax by 7.5 cents per gallon, less than 3% of what’s needed, and couldn’t get it passed.

This post was written by Walker Angell and originally published on streets.mn. Follow streets.mn on Twitter: @streetsmn.

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Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Doug Gray on 06/06/2013 - 10:36 am.

    Here’s what I’d like to hear from a cyclist

    Just one, just once. Pull up next to me at a red light, tap on my window and say, “thank you. Thank you for giving up one traffic lane in each direction so that I and my chums may ride our bicycles to and from downtown Minneapolis.” I don’t need to hear about my carbon footprint or my suburban lifestyle or how much gas and/or wheelage tax I should be paying. Just one word of thanks, and we’ll call it square.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/06/2013 - 02:44 pm.

      Thank you for giving up one traffic lane?

      Sure, I’ll say that. I’ll say it as soon as you explain why automobile drivers are assumed to be entitled to monopolize the public streets. I would also like an explanation as to why the non-driving population should consider it a favor to be granted access to the streets that we are also paying for.

      Let me know, and I’ll thank you.

      • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 06/09/2013 - 03:18 pm.

        Street monopoly?

        Please let me know when bicyclists are universally going to follow the same rules that cars do — you know, stopping at stop signs or before turning on red lights; moving to the right to let faster traffic pass; signaling turns and lane changes. Bicyclists who act like five-year-olds aren’t entitled to adult respect.

        • Submitted by Walker Angell on 06/10/2013 - 08:18 am.

          Steve, I don’t disagree with you on how poorly some people on bicycles do at following the rules. Comparing them to the average driver in MN though is like comparing, well, apples to apples. MN drivers are among the worst when it comes to keeping right to allow others to pass, not stopping (and often not even slowing) before turning on red, using blinkers, or stopping at stop signs. There’s considerable room for improvement of all. At least those riding bicycles aren’t endangering others when they do these things.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/11/2013 - 12:26 pm.

          Universally?

          You sound like Joe Soucheray. Motorists are SO put upon these days.

          I would be interested to know when following the traffic laws became “universal” among motorists (it’s been since 8:00 last night, when some genius decided the “Do Not Enter–No Left Turn” signs on Fifth Street in downtown Minneapolis were just suggestions). Signalling lane changes? Moving to the right to let faster traffic pass? Stopping before turning at a red light? Just to clarify: We’re talking about Minnesota motor vehicle operators, not unicorn jockeys.

          “Bicyclists who act like five-year-olds aren’t entitled to adult respect.” How about the motorists who whine like cranky toddlers because there is a bike lane and they can’t have the whole street? How about the drivers who think they are entitled to some gratitude because there is a bike lane (something of which they probably disapproved) and they don’t actively try to run down cyclists? Do we have to respect them?

  2. Submitted by mark wallek on 06/06/2013 - 11:12 am.

    The real issue

    Partisan? Who cares who rides. It’s following the rules of the road. It’s adequate illumination. It’s signaling turns. In it’s infancy, the biking community needs to mature as road participants. It’s not enough to have the right logoed outfit. Riding intelligently and respectfully is the goal.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/06/2013 - 01:36 pm.

      Rules!

      I agree! It just irks me no end when people don’t stop at lights or signs, don’t yield, don’t signal their turns, and drive with headlights and tailights burned out.

      Oh wait, you weren’t talking about cars?

  3. Submitted by Dan Lind on 06/06/2013 - 11:37 am.

    Doug, Although I completely

    Doug,

    Although I completely understand the intent of your post, it once again underscores the problem with the driver vs. cyclist debate. By asking a cyclist to say “Thank you. Thank you for giving up one traffic lane in each direction so that I and my chums may ride our bicycles to and from downtown Minneapolis” you are (unintentional or not) labeling said cyclist as a second class citizen.

    Drivers are not entitled to 100% of the road. Drivers are not “giving up” anything to cyclists so that they may ride their bikes. Cyclists do not owe drivers anything to use the road.

    That said, let me be the first cyclist to offer you a genuine thank you. “Thank you for being considerate of my right to share the road with you. Thank you for being patient, as there are times you may need to take a few extra seconds to accommodate my rightful use of our roads. Thank you for taking my safety into consideration and allowing adequate space as you pass by.”

    I’m more than happy to offer my thank you as stated above to any and all drivers who ask, just so long as I’m not asked to play the role of a subordinate in doing so.

  4. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 06/06/2013 - 12:32 pm.

    Not Partisan?

    That may depend on whom you ask.

    Former Rep. Jim Oberstar was a huge proponent of bike path funding and would express amazement at the opposition he received from his conservative colleagues.

    Some have even gone so far as to proclaim cycling a U.N conspiracy.
    http://www.denverpost.com/election2010/ci_15673894

  5. Submitted by William Lindeke on 06/06/2013 - 01:07 pm.

    The non-partisan nature of the automobile

    So on the one hand, I think the politics of the automobile transcends partisan divides. As the awesome Stillwater groundbreaking photo illustrates, both parties mainstream candidates will stampede to support expensive and wasteful highway infrastructure. (Sadly, transit is another story, e.g. Chris Christie and Scott Walker.) It’s similar to the way that policies supporting Wall Street deregulation and the financialization of the economy have broad bi-partisan support. At the same time, there are voices on the right and the left calling for fiscally smarter transportation investments, from supporting bicycling to requiring highways to ‘pay for themselves’ through user fees.

    On the other hand, you cannot deny that urban / rural-exurban landscapes are distinctly partisan. Most core cities, the places where the vast majority of bicycling takes place, are overwhelmingly left-leaning. (E.g. Ellison’s district has a PVI of +22D, Oakland is +36D, Portland OR is +22D). Extreme Republican areas are overwhelmingly rural, places like the Texas panhandle at +32R. These drastically different built environments shape the politics of each party. When you live in a place like Isanti County, you’re economically tied to your car.

    Don’t get me wrong, Democrats still support sprawl. I have a colleague who’s a lobbyist for a construction union, and he’s never seen a big infrastructure project he didn’t like. These kinds of growth coalitions, on both sides of the aisle, lead to bad decisions like the Stillwater bridge and the Vikings stadium.

    That said, see the NYC bike-lash-lash going on in New York right now, people like Dorothy Rabinowitz at the far-right Wall Street Journal editorial page (http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2013/06/extra-extra-wall-street-journal-wins-at.html). Whether its people like her or people like Senator Schumer, there’s a bicycle sea change afoot. People who don’t get it, no matter what party they belong to, will end up looking like idiots.

  6. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 06/06/2013 - 01:34 pm.

    Wishful thinking

    It’s not partisan if you substitute the opinion of a fictional sensible conservative, which is awfully kind of the author. However, compared to the average conservative, let’s not pretend it’s not a partisan issue.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2013 - 09:25 am.

      A digital world of black and white

      I wonder if those that are so adept at placing others in their very low resolution set of pigeon holes find a perfect place for themselves in one of those cavernous holes.

      In my fifth decade as both a conservative and a bicycle commuter, I find myself in agreement with some, but not all, cycling infrastructure projects.

      MinnPost reported in the linked column below that Minneapolis was painting some streets, like Bryant Avenue South, green and instructing cyclists to ride down the center of the road:

      http://www.minnpost.com/two-cities/2011/10/minneapolis-bikers-getting-increased-attention-new-safety-measures

      Though I use that route, I do not place myself and bicycle in the center of the green lane. Those that think they can re-educate motorist are free to do so. Just last week, I saw two people on Nice Ride bikes traveling down the center of the “green mile”, sans helmets.

  7. Submitted by Doug Gray on 06/06/2013 - 02:29 pm.

    You’re welcome

    Dan, we’re square. And for the record I always leave adequate space between myself and any bicyclist I happen to overtake on the public roads; most of my problems are with some of my fellow drivers who either seem to feel that “adequate space” means “at least half the width of a car lane, so never overtake a bicycle if there is any oncoming motorized vehicle in the next dozen blocks” or that the bike lane is meant as their personal passing lane. I’ve seen enough of both.

    But this doesn’t have to be about who’s “superior” or “subordinate” to whom. It’s just common sense. The reality is that in any accident involving a human-powered and a motorized vehicle the former is going to come out worse. That should inform behavior on both sides of the equation.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/06/2013 - 04:22 pm.

    Yeah, it’s partisan… today.

    Republicans by and large oppose almost any transit option other than roads. Everything else is a liberal fad or as some posters here have demonstrated, an outrageous intrusion on their SUV lane for which we should all apologize. The democrats didn’t bail out the auto industry because they hate bikes, the did it because the wanted to save jobs, that’s kind of obvious. The problem with this high school debate dissection of bicycle partisanship is it ignores the last two decades and pretends we’ve been building bike lanes since the end of WWII.

  9. Submitted by Michele Olson on 06/06/2013 - 06:09 pm.

    Vehicle or pedestrian?

    Somewhat off-topic, I wish we’d come to a decision as to whether bicyclists are vehicles or pedestrians. On the one hand, a collision with an automobile isn’t going to be called a fender-bender at any speed. On the other hand, a speeding bicyclist could do serious damage to a pedestrian. And I HAVE seen them not yield to pedestrians. (Well, same with cars.)

    I don’t have a problem with making them a third thing, with their own lanes and conveniences and regulations. That bicyclist is one less tailgater or lane-changer, and that makes my day just a little less stressful.

    As to the bike culture being a new thing, this is not quite true in Minnesota. There has been a strong biking culture here since the 1800’s, and a large part of the influence for developing park paths.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/08/2013 - 10:05 am.

      It’s been long decided…

      Bicycle are non-motorized vehicles. The one exception is the electric bikes, which by law are allowed on the bike paths. The whole reason we’re tying to make a safe place for bikes (safe for everyone, not just bikers) is because they are neither motorized vehicles or pedestrians.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2013 - 08:30 am.

        Actually, no.

        Check the state law, there are exceptions besides electric bikes.

        For convenience, I have provided one example from the 2012 law, which was passed by a Republican controlled legislature and signed by a Democratic Governor.

        169.222 OPERATION OF BICYCLE, Subdivision 4 (Riding Rules)

        (f) A person lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk, or across a roadway or shoulder on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

        There are numerous locations in Minneapolis where the bike trails are controlled by pedestrian signals. For example, crossing Lyndale Avenue on the Minnehaha Creek Bike Trail. If you are headed East, the only signal is the pedestrian signal, due to the road adjacent to the trail being one-way westbound.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2013 - 12:39 pm.

          Actually… yes

          Thanks for bringing yet another incoherent Republican-passed law to our attention. Since pedestrians don’t don’t have a separate bill of rights, someone may want to tell some Republicans that we ALL have the same rights and responsibilities, even if we’re just sitting our couch.

          Beyond that, I must say I don’t see your point? Bicycles are non-motorized vehicles, regardless of what “rights” cyclist may have, they are neither pedestrians, or automobiles. You cannot drive or ride a motorized vehicle on bike paths, or bike/pedestrian paths. The one exception (aside from trail maintenance and public utility vehicles) is bikes with electric motors. You can’t ride a mo.ped on the bike paths for instance.

          None of this means everyone behaves the way they’re supposed to but the nature and differences between bikes and autos and pedestrians has long since been settled.

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2013 - 01:41 pm.

            Signed by Governor Dayton

            Without his signature, it would not be the law of the land. A bipartisan law, if you will.

            Our responses are indented under a commenters question, “vehicle or pedestrian?”, with respect to the law. To answer your question, the point is to provide a correct answer. In some settings the pedestrian rules and signals apply to bicycles.

            If your couch analogy were valid, we would say that we all have the same rights and responsibilities on a public sidewalk whether we are traveling along a as a pedestrian, a cyclist, or a motorist. One of these things is not like the other two.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2013 - 02:26 pm.

              Still “yes”

              OK, this is getting silly, but the comment we’re discussing asked this question:

              “Somewhat off-topic, I wish we’d come to a decision as to whether bicyclists are vehicles or pedestrians.”

              Didn’t say anything about being in respect to the law. But if you want to look at the law:

              “Driving Your Bike

              By Minnesota law, bicycles are defined as vehicles, so bicyclists must follow the same laws as motorists. To bike safely you need to know Minnesota laws for operating your bicycle. There are other state laws that pertain to bicycling, check the Minnesota Legislature website for all the state laws.” http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/roadrules.html

              Like I said, bikes are vehicles. This is settled law. If you want to know what rules bikers must follow, you need to look at the rules for bikers: http://www.biketcbc.org/tips/bt-mn_bike_laws.html

              These decisions have been made, it’s not a big mystery.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2013 - 04:28 pm.

                “I wish we’d come to a decision”

                The commenter stated “I wish we’d come to a decision as to whether bicyclists are vehicles or pedestrians.”

                How do decisions become policy? Do you envision some sort of mind-meld or the community coming into a Durkheim collective conscience, which will unify us all without exception? You go with that one and I will suggest these type of decisions be codified with laws. It seems Minnesota has chosen the latter.

                That fact remains that some pedestrian traffic signals are used to control bicycles; some pedestrian ways permit bicycles, but not motor vehicles. That is all I have to say about that, as I need to get on my bike and head home.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2013 - 05:48 pm.

                  Sheesh

                  It has been codified in law Steve, I provided the links. What more do you want? The law isn’t the issue here, it’s people’s behavior on the roads and trails that’s the issue.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/11/2013 - 11:55 am.

                  Aaaah, I see what you getting at, but actually no.

                  You’re thinking that bikers are regulated by some pedestrian signals, like walk and don’t walk signs etc. Actualy you’re mistaken. Bikes are not required to use crosswalks, nor are they required to obey walk and don’t walk signs. Bicyclists are simply required to obey the lights, stop for red (although bikes are alowed to proceed in some cases even if the light is still red, as long as they’ve stopped). You confusion probably comes from some of the bike trail designs. For instance between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet the bike/pedestrian trail is on only on one side of the intersection, so in practical terms, you can’t really proceed until the “Walk” sign lights up. Technically however, if you had a green light and no one is turning, you could go whether you have the “walk” sing or not. It just so happens that the way that intersection (and some others) is designed you never have a green light with a “don’t walk” sign, but if you did, on a bike you would ignore the “don’t walk” sign.

                  Another area of confusion might be sidewalks. Bikes riding is allowed on sidewalks in residential areas, but not business districts as a general rule. This is largely to accommodate children on bikes, you don’t necessarily want them out in the street, nor would you want to prohibit them from the sidewalk. Most adults will choose the street because it’s faster and safer for faster speeds.

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/11/2013 - 07:01 pm.

                    Did you read what you wrote?

                    “Technically however, if you had a green light and no one is turning, you could go whether you have the “walk” sing [sic] or not.”

                    The intersection to which you refer, at Lake Calhoun, is a fine example, but not one that supports your argument. So you have a green light, but you cannot go straight because someone is turning? Find me the Minnesota statute for that one. If your vehicle were controlled by the green light, you would have the right of way to go straight, . As you described, you have to look to see if someone is turning, because somehow the green turn arrow is overriding your green light to go straight. Actually, the bicycle trail is controlled by the pedestrian signals, as most of the bikers that use that intersection understand. Those that don’t understand, and use the green light in the presence of the “don’t walk” signal, are commonly greeted with horns, rude gestures, and unparliamentary vocabulary.

                    Regarding your previous post, such language on MinnPost!

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2013 - 11:25 am.

                      I’ll clarify.

                      Hey, if you want to put you and your bike in front of a turning car go right ahead.

                      The cars that are turning in that intersection get a green arrow. Traffic law dictates that only cars that are turning can go when they get a green arrow. This prevents collisions with oncoming traffic. In some intersections, a green arrow becomes a red arrow and cars cannot make a turn. In other cases the green arrow simply goes dark, and turning cars have to yield to those coming straight through the intersection, and they must also yield to pedestrians and bikers. If you were turning across traffic in that intersection on a bike, you would turn with green arrow even though the “Don’t Walk” sign is on.

                      The law is no different in our Calhoun-Harriet intersection than any other. Again, the bike path, is only located on one side of the intersection, where the crosswalk is, this is a design feature, not a legal vacuum. You will not have a situation where you get a green light at the same time you have a “don’t” walk at that intersection, the green light and “walk” are synchronized. Technically on a bike, you’re not crossing because you have a “walk” sign, you’re crossing because you have a green light. You’re not crossing in that location because you’re a quasi-pedestrian, your crossing there because that’s where the bike path your on is located. There are number of intersections like this all along the Minnehaha Creek bike path. I think there are some intersections where you may have a green light, but the “Don’t Walk” is still on for some reason, In that case, on a bike, you would cross the intersection, but as a pedestrian you’d have to wait. A turning car would be required to yield.

                      Now having said all that I can see another place where you might be confused. They used say bikers had to walk their bikes across intersections, I don’t know if that was the law, or when it changed, but it’s no longer the case (if it ever really was). When that was the case, it may well be that a biker walking the the bike had to obey the “walk” sign regardless of the green light. But that’s no longer the case.

                      But really Steve, if your riding, and your confused by this stuff, all you have to do is read the biking rules, I provided the link previously. The law and the rules are pretty clear.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/12/2013 - 12:26 pm.

                      I thought you were offering to clarify

                      “Hey, if you want to put you and your bike in front of a turning car go right ahead.”

                      You didn’t get that idea from what I wrote. At the intersection and direction in question, the turn arrow is never illuminated when the walk symbol is illuminated. Since I understand that the pedestrian signals control the bike path, I am safe.

                      “You will not have a situation where you get a green light at the same time you have a “don’t” walk at that intersection, the green light and “walk” are synchronized.”

                      Have you been to this intersection?

                      I crossed this intersection just last night. When I arrived, there were simultaneously a green light, a green arrow (left turn), and a “don’t walk” sign illuminated. Go see it for yourself; it is a marvel to behold.

                      Upstream in this thread I mentioned the Minnehaha Creek bike trail junction with the new Lyndale Avenue bridge, which opened in October 2012. There is little pedestrian traffic at this intersection, as the pedestrian trail is routed under the bridge. If you are biking eastward, the only signal is the pedestrian signal, due to the road adjacent to the trail being one-way westbound. There is no green/amber/red/ lights on the pole, only the walk and don’t walk symbols, which control bicycle traffic quite ably.

                      While the mere presence of green/amber/red lights at Calhoun allow your misinterpretation to be argued, the absence of these lights at the Lyndale Avenue crossing leave you without a lumen. However, I look forward to your response about how the pedestrian signals at this intersection do not control bike traffic; I know it will be entertaining.

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2013 - 01:54 pm.

                      Ha ha

                      “I crossed this intersection just last night. When I arrived, there were simultaneously a green light, a green arrow (left turn), and a “don’t walk” sign illuminated. Go see it for yourself; it is a marvel to behold.”

                      I go through that intersection several times a week as a general rule, I rode through there last Friday. I’ll defer to your observation. It doesn’t however change my point, in the case you’re describing, if you’ve got that green light you can go if you’re riding a bike, the “don’t walk” doesn’t apply to you… because you’re not walking. I’m just sayin, look out for turning cars because if you get hit the fact that you had the legal right of way will be small consolation.

                      As for the other sign, you can ignore that sign as well on a bike, just don’t ride out into traffic, it’s like an uncontrolled intersection on a bike.

                      Interestingly, MN law actually allows bicyclist to even go through red lights on occasion, as long as they come to a complete stop first, and don’t ride out into traffic. We adopted an affirmative defense something or another, it’s in the statute. I think it allows for situations like zero traffic at read light, you don’t have to sit and wait for the light when there’s not a car in sight.

                      There is some confusion surrounding the notion of riding a bike in a crosswalk, some say you’re supposed to walk the bike if you’re actually in the crosswalk, but that’s not in the MN law. It’s kind of silly, I would just “ride” on outside the crosswalk if you tried to make me dismount and walk.

                      These problems are not due to confusion as to whether or not we’re pedestrians, and the laws are pretty clear. The problem is that our bike lane and path designs are way behind in terms of engineering. Check out this blog on Streets by Ruben Collins, it appeared here on the blog cabin a week or so ago: http://www.streets.mn/2013/05/29/all-the-best-us-cycle-tracks-are-street-level/ He compares our lanes to the ones they have in Amsterdam and Belgium.

  10. Submitted by Walker Angell on 06/08/2013 - 08:51 am.

    Interesting column from David Brooks. In particular:

    “Given this underlying structure, there are a number of reasons city governments are likely to be more dynamic than the federal government. In the first place, regional identity trumps partisan identity. In Washington, your primary affiliation is to your party. But, in Denver, your primary affiliation is to the health of the Denver area. That common consciousness makes it easier for politicians in different parties to cooperate.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/opinion/brooks-the-power-inversion.html?_r=0

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/08/2013 - 10:07 am.

    Speaking of Bloomberg and NY

    The Wall Street Journal (not a big repository of Democrats) has been raging about the outrage of the new NYC bike share program, like our Nice Ride program. John Stewart did a funny segment on it: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/07/2120671/watch-daily-show-on-overreaction-to-new-yorks-bike-share-program-plus-why-conservatives-hate-it/

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