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Minneapolis bikers getting increased attention, new safety measures

Minneapolis bike riders are about to achieve a new status -- official members of "traffic."
MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Minneapolis bike riders are about to achieve a new status — official members of “traffic.”

Minneapolis bike riders are about to achieve the same status as herded animals and people who drive cars. This new development is not designed to humiliate bikers but to elevate them to official members of “traffic.”

Traffic is currently defined by a city ordinance as “pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles and other conveyances either singly or together while using any street or highway for the purposes of travel.”

The words “including bicycles” were added to the ordinance Monday by the Regulatory, Energy & Environmental Committee of the Minneapolis City Council.

The change in wording would allow ticketing of drivers who park in bike lanes or fail to yield the right of way to a bike rider. Under current city law, a motorist can’t be ticketed for obstructing traffic if the obstructed bike or rider is not officially traffic. Got that?

“Our city was built for streetcars and modified for automobiles,” says Council Member Gary Schiff, himself a long-distance biker and a force behind the new definition for those who pedal. “Bikes were not planned as part of the infrastructure of our streets or parks.”

Not so anymore.

City doubles on-street bike lanes
This year, Minneapolis has nearly doubled the miles of bike lanes on city streets from 45 miles at the start of the year to 70 or 80 miles expected by year’s end. The 2010 U.S. Census reports 7,500 Minneapolis residents who say they bike to and from work year-round. That’s about 3.5 percent of the city’s daily commuters.

(St. Paul, meanwhile, doesn’t have as many people who bike to work year round — only 1.3 percent, according to the American Community Survey — but those riders have just as many miles of on-street bike lanes. So far, St. Paul has 77 miles of on-street bike lanes, with more in the works, according to Emily Erickson, a sustainable-transportation planner for the city.)

“Our city was built for streetcars and modified for automobiles,” says Council Member Gary Schiff, himself a long-distance biker.
MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
“Our city was built for streetcars and modified for automobiles,” says Council Member Gary Schiff, himself a long-distance biker.

Minneapolis’ proposed re-definition of traffic also changes the status of bike lanes. They no longer would be just green paths but would become official lanes of traffic: Park your car or delivery truck in a bike lane, and it would be just the same as parking in the middle of the street.

“This is a step toward getting more responsibility for bike lanes,” says Shaun Murphy, the city’s Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Project coordinator, a position partially funded by a federal grant.

The biggest problem area where cars and trucks are most likely to block bike lanes are downtown or at the University of Minnesota, he said.

A random check of First Avenue North last summer showed 2 percent of parked vehicles obstructing the bike lane.

Minneapolis bicyclists Bob Hain and Hokan, who goes by only one name, think the change is unnecessary and will probably not make their bike travels safer.

“We’re bound [now] by the same rules as any other traffic on the road,” says Hain, adding, “We have the same rights as any traffic.”

Both Hain and Hokan say the views of John Forester, who wrote the book “Effective Cycling,” guide them. Forester says, “Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.”

Language change will make ticketing easier
Schiff’s view is that the language change will make it easier to issue a ticket to someone parked in a bike lane, a step that will make it safer for riders on city streets.

The bike lanes themselves are becoming easier to spot. On Bryant Avenue South and along Hennepin, for example, the bike lanes are being painted pea green with a prominent symbol of a biker several times each block. Where curbside parking is allowed, the lanes run between parked cars and moving traffic — the look of the future, according to Schiff.

(St. Paul is currently working on plans to make four miles of Jefferson Avenue into a major bike artery that may — or may not – end up similar to Bryant Avenue in Minneapolis. The St. Paul plan, however, has run into strong community opposition. Erickson says officials are working with the community and hope to approve plans in time for street work to be done next spring.)

In Minneapolis, “We need to switch to a system that encourages and accommodates bikes as transportation” says Schiff.

City streets in the ’50s and ’60s were designed for cars, Schiff notes, but now when streets are rebuilt, they will need to accommodate cars, bikes and pedestrians. They also will need parking to serve the needs of small businesses.

Bikers must follow rules, too
The possibility of increased policing of the bike lanes apparently would not translate into more tickets for bike riders. Schiff says any biker who runs a red light can now get a ticket, just like any driver. And more tickets for bikers are not the purpose; rather, the language change is designed to put more muscle into keeping the bike lanes open and safe.

“It’s a tool in the tool box,” says Murphy about the possibility of increased tickets for bikers but notes that decision is up to the Minneapolis Police Department. Murphy says bikers must follow the traffic laws that apply to vehicles — and a few more that apply to bikers only.

Bikers are not allowed to ride on sidewalks in business districts and cannot ride three abreast on the street. To make it even more confusing, Park Board trails are covered by Park Board rules that set a speed limit in some areas.

The policing aspect of bike transportation has Schiff’s attention because of the increase in crimes against bikers. In the last two years, the number of violent crimes committed against someone riding a bike has increased dramatically. Recently, a biker was beaten with a baseball bat near the Lake Street light rail station. A suspect in that case is now in jail.

Aggravated robbery of bikers, which tends to involve assault, rose from one case in 2009 to four in 2010. Before 2009, crimes against bikers were lumped in with other reported crimes against citizens. Now, crimes against bikers are a separate category, making it possible to track time of day and location of the incidents. (St. Paul does not keep separate statistics for crimes against bike riders.)

This spring, Minneapolis will have three years of data on crimes against bikers that will help focus a new bike safety imitative.

Aggravated robbery of bikers, which tends to involve assault, rose from one case in 2009 to four in 2010.
Information courtesy of Minneapolis Police Department
Aggravated robbery of bikers, which tends to involve assault, rose from one case in 2009 to four in 2010.

The goal, Schiff says, is to make Minneapolis “a city that recognizes bikes as a source of transportation, not as recreation.”

So soon, we may have bikers and herded animals and drivers all officially considered part of traffic in Minneapolis. We could probably drop the “herded animals” language in the big city, but if we did, we would be in conflict with the state statute that defines traffic. And you never know when you might encounter some herded animals.

Comments (34)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/26/2011 - 10:59 am.

    It’s a step in the right direction. Next we need a law that allows bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs like Idaho does.

  2. Submitted by Melissa Hansen on 10/26/2011 - 11:09 am.

    FWIW, as a novice street biker (I have a Nice Ride pass and do not own a bike yet), I do feel more safe and empowered in these green lanes. I bike around the University of Minnesota with so many cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians and they added a lot of these new, clearly marked bike lanes; the green paint makes all the difference.

  3. Submitted by craig furguson on 10/26/2011 - 11:19 am.

    Crimes against bikers, from one to four? As a part time commuter, I hope that we are not spending a bunch of public dollars to study this. I generally follow the lug nut rule, the vehicle with the most lug nuts wins. There is no upside with pulling out in front of a car, even if you’re right.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/26/2011 - 12:01 pm.

    A daily pedestrian, I agree with Todd (#1) that a change in the statute/ordinance that allows bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs is a good idea. Mostly, I agree because the cyclists I see generally ignore stop signs anyway. A law that’s not enforced is worse than no law at all.

    As a pedestrian, I like the idea of paying more attention to cyclists because my experience with them, both in Minnesota and Colorado, is that they typically treat pedestrians with about the same amount of respect and caution that many motorists treat cyclists.

    That’s not intended as a compliment.

    In hundreds of encounters in Minneapolis, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been given any sort of warning at all by a cyclist approaching me from the rear, and on two of those already-rare occasions, the “warning” was a single ring of a tiny little bell. In constricted space, I’ve had similar experiences with cyclists who yielded to a pedestrian (usually, but not always, me) when there was room for only one or the other. It’s happened a literal handful of times over hundreds of encounters.

    I’m all for drivers paying better attention to cyclists, and I’m in favor of bike lanes and making cycling a more common and accepted means of transportation, especially in a city that, like Minneapolis, is basically flat. In doing so, however, I’d also like to see some of that attention devoted to making a reality the statement by Bob Hain that “We’re bound [now] by the same rules as any other traffic on the road… We have the same rights as any traffic.” Right now, the part about being “…bound by the same rules as any other traffic” is mostly lip service in my experience.

  5. Submitted by Jeremy Brezovan on 10/26/2011 - 12:39 pm.

    Craig, as I’m sure many other bikers will tell you, playing cautious doesn’t always work when the vehicle with more lug nuts is also significantly faster and/or its driver is not paying attention.

    Anything that helps drivers understand that cyclists are also traffic, and not an obstruction between them and their destination, is of help.

  6. Submitted by Christine Mlodzik on 10/26/2011 - 12:48 pm.

    I know I’ll get heat for this, but I’m going to speak up anyway. Bikers do need to be safe, but they need to be smart, too, such as no more blowing through stop signs at two- and four-way intersections, and no more weaving in traffic. I’m seeing more of these risky, and just plain stupid, behaviors.

  7. Submitted by jim kline on 10/26/2011 - 01:42 pm.

    It would be nice if the new designation would include bike license plates and cyclists having to pass a driving test.
    Personally I’m sick of being run off joint-use paths by over-zealous wannabe Lance Armstrongs.

  8. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 10/26/2011 - 02:02 pm.

    I sympathize with complaints about law-breaking cyclists. I’m not fond of them either. But it’s a red herring.

    I can assure you that, when I’m riding my bike, obeying the law is hardly a guarantee I won’t be threatened or harassed by a motorist.

    And that dangerous behavior — by car drivers — discourages people from choosing to ride a bike. I once met a St. Paul cop who admitted he’s afraid to ride a bike in the street.

    But no one has ever said, “gosh, I’d like to drive more, but I’m afraid of getting hit by a bicycle.”

    I own a car, I pay the same taxes as everyone else, yet when I choose to leave the car in the garage and use the least impactful mode of transportation to get to work, I’m treated as a second-class citizen. That’s messed up.

    This decision by Minneapolis is intended to help to change that. Hopefully, other cities will take notice.

    • Submitted by Scott Alan on 11/18/2012 - 10:09 am.

      You pay what?

      You pay taxes for bike lanes? Thought not. Drivers pay for them. The bikes ride free and allow others to pay. Like half the country does not pay income taxes. Nice world to live in.

  9. Submitted by Paul Linnee on 10/26/2011 - 02:05 pm.

    At my age, I am not a very frequent biker, so please bear with me on this question: I regularly drive my car on Minnehaha Parkway and on many occasions, despite the Park Board spending millions of dollars on what appear to be very nice bike paths, I encounter the “serious bikers” (the ones in Spandex adorned with all sorts of logos)driving in the traffic lane barely leaving enough space for a car to pass. The same thing occurs around Lake Harriet and the River Road. Why is this? Is there something wrong with the bike lanes that keeps these serious bikers from using them? When I do ride my bike there, I use the bike paths and they seem to be just fine to me.

  10. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 10/26/2011 - 02:06 pm.

    Bikers still do exist in a middle ground with traffic laws that were designed for cars. For me, smart, safe, and considerate riding is always giving up the right of way when it’s not mine. It doesn’t mean stopping and waiting for lights when nobody’s around.

  11. Submitted by David Greene on 10/26/2011 - 02:33 pm.

    @Todd (#1)

    I’m open to the idea, but what’s the meaning of a four-way stop for a bicyclist? If there are vehicles waiting at all entrances to the intersection, does the bicyclist get the right-of-way or must the rider yield and proceed in the usual order for any vehicle?

  12. Submitted by David Greene on 10/26/2011 - 03:24 pm.

    @Jeff (#10)

    That’s all well and good but take Hennepin Avenue. There’s ALWAYS “someone around.” Yet daily I see bikers blow through red lights, often forcing cross traffic to yield.

    I am offended by this as a biker because it just increases the anger of drivers. It makes MY ride less safe.

  13. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 10/26/2011 - 03:52 pm.

    Re respond to #11’s question: The so-called “Boise Stop” essentially turns a stop sign into a yield sign for bikes. (Not all that different than many auto drivers treat them . . . .) SoO if a biker comes to a four-way stop intersection and there is no one there, the biker can go through just as if the stop sign said “Yield.” But if there’s one or more automobiles already there, the bike has to yield to them in turn just as he or she would if the sign said “Yield.” A very sensible reform.

  14. Submitted by David Peterson on 10/26/2011 - 04:17 pm.

    @Paul – This is a common complaint for drivers on any Parkway. The paths adjacent to the road have a 10MPH speed limit, which is the reason some cyclists choose to ride in the road. Personally, I choose the path.

    @David – My assumption at a 4-way stop w/Idaho law would be that you still follow proper ROW procedures in traffic, but if it were not heavy traffic you could yield instead of a complete stop.

    Regarding the bikers who blow reds, I also see a this daily, riding to work on UMN campus. I don’t anticipate this changing without either more law enforcement, more bike specific infrastructure or just plain more bikers in the street, leading by example.

  15. Submitted by Eric Johnson on 10/26/2011 - 08:30 pm.

    @Paul Linnee (#9)

    The bike paths that the Mpls Park Board has along the parkways have a speed limit of 10 mph as they are designed for casual riders (think families and slow riders). The “serious bikers'” average speed is easily 15-18 mph and they often hit 25 mph. The bike paths are not designed for that speed and they could be ticketed on the bike path.

    They belong on the parkway.

  16. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 10/26/2011 - 09:08 pm.

    @Paul (#9):

    The bike lanes around the lakes and parkways have a 10MPH speed limit. They’re also often used by joggers and pedestrians, even though there is usually a pedestrian track. If you wish to bike faster than 10 MPH (which isn’t hard for a serious biker), the road is a better choice. Until recently, the road along west river parkway was also smoother than the bike path.

  17. Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 10/26/2011 - 09:26 pm.

    @Paul, #9, you ask why some cyclists do not use the trails in the Minneapolis parks. The short answer: it’s illegal for them to ride on the trails and it’s legal for them to ride on the roads.

    Illegal: The trails have a 10 mph speed limit, and those cyclists are typically riding 20+ mph. (I’m not as fast as they are, and I often average 17mph.) Given that the speed limit on parkways is 25mph, they shouldn’t be slowing anyone down much.

    Legal: Bicycles are legally considered vehicles by state law, and are permitted to ride on any road except where expressly prohibited. That law also requires them to ride as far to the right as is SAFE – and example of things that are not safe include the gutter, through potholes, or over broken glass. They are also allowed 3 feet of space when passing. In some situations (i.e. under one-lane bridges), I ride a little closer to the middle of the lane than necessary to communicate to cars that there isn’t room to pass safely.

    Basic safety: Those trails have many blind corners and tend to be full of unpredictable children or very inexperienced riders who do not ride in a straight line, stay to their side of the path, or allow space to pass. I’m afraid of hitting a child riding unpredictably or someone on the other side of a blind corner riding in the oncoming lane of traffic. In many cases, it is safer for me to ride in the street – legally – than on the trails – illegally.

  18. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 10/26/2011 - 10:21 pm.

    @Paul: Speed limit on the bike paths is 8 mph, so a cyclist traveling 20-30 mph shouldn’t be riding on them (see comment #7).

  19. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 10/27/2011 - 07:16 am.

    Not 8 mph, 10 mph. My mistake.

  20. Submitted by Jane Pattinson on 10/27/2011 - 09:34 am.

    I live in downtown Minneapolis and have noticed some very alarming behavior on the part of people who ride bikes down here and along the parkways in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    1. Riding after dark in dark-colored clothing–Motorists can’t see the bike rider until the last minute.

    2. May be using lights on bike, but because there is no law requiring standardization, again, seconds lost until motorist first sees the lights and then tries to judge distance.

    3. Pulling children in soft-sided carts behind bikes on city streets in heavy traffic. The kids’ heads are at the level of exhausts on motor vehicles so that they are breathing carbon monoxide and other neurotoxins—Especially dangerous for very young children, but adversely affects all children.

    4. Pulling children in carts without having helmets on the kids. Also, adults riding bikes without wearing helmets themselves while pulling children in carts—If you strike your head and are unresponsive who is going to be available to protect your children at the scene of an accident? Do you carry IDs and emergency contact numbers when you are out, especially with your kids?

    5. Riding too fast in traffic for the fraction of the size of other vehicular traffic that you represent. A car travelling 20-25 MPH in traffic is going to register in the consciousness of a motor vehicle driver much more rapidly that a bike will.

    6. Blasting through stop signs and red lights without consideration of your personal safety or that of anyone else on the street around you.

    7. Riding directly in the center of a traffic lane, especially if you have kids on a tandem bike riding behind you. I have seen kids who appeared to be only 4-5 y/o who were barely hanging on because they appeared to be so sleepy. Whether it was nap time for them or whether they were sleepy from the carbon monoxide in traffic, if the child had fallen off it would have, in all likelihood, been a fatal event for them. Kid on the back or not, there seem to be quite a few bike riders who are appearing to be deliberately attempting to antagonize those driving motor vehicles by riding in the middle of lanes so that the cars can’t pass safely.

    8. Using Critical Mass techniques for upsetting motor vehicle drivers—I saw a group of four bike riders harassing an elderly man on West River Parkway. The four posted themselves at the four corners of his car so that he was boxed in. The elderly male was obviously frightened. One of the women in the group of bike riders thought this was so funny that she was laughing hysterically. The same for the Critical Mass disruption of rush hour traffic on Fridays. This betrays a sense of entitlement and lack of consideration for others that bike riders are always accusatory of toward motor vehicle drivers.

    Last —Millions have been spent to accommodate the bike rider population at the expense of all taxpayers. People who commute on bikes represent a tiny fraction of the population. The focus seems to be on the primarily male population of bike commuters. It is unrealistic in MN, a state where typically there are five months of winter/cold weather annually, to expect that the quoted 3.5% routine bike commuters will increase by much. It is not realistic to expect parents to endanger their children by biking them around in cold weather and does not take into consideration that parents must be able to P/U sick kids at school, etc. Also, how do you expect those green traffic lanes to be visible on the, notoriously, poorly plowed streets of the City of Minneapolis? I don’t think that the biking community realizes what a public relations problem that they have in the Twin Cities—Or, more likely, they just don’t care, which is reflected in the way that they conduct themselves.

  21. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 10/27/2011 - 10:22 am.

    @Jane: You just simultaneously complained about the health impact of car exhaust and that public money is spent on bicycle infrastructure.

    Do you not see the irony?

  22. Submitted by Matty Lang on 10/27/2011 - 10:36 am.

    In response to efforts to suppress the number of people riding bicycles for transportation by spreading unfounded and misleading safety concerns (see comment #20 by Jane Pattinson) if invite readers to view a very informative presentation by Mikael Colville-Andersen that outlines this bicycle suppression phenomena and reveals the truly dangerous mode of transportation: the supposedly safe automobile:

  23. Submitted by andrew stephens on 10/27/2011 - 10:58 am.

    @20- 1. Agreed. Idiotic behavior.

    2. Lights on all vehicles are different. An attentive motorist will see fuctioning bike lights.

    3. Non-sense on the exhaust. Also, how is polution somehow a cyclists fault.

    4. People should wear helmets. Agreed.

    5. Non-sense. Being part of traffic is much safer than riding slowly, hugging parked cars and riding in the gutter. Inattentive driving is the by-product of our attitude towards driving and distractions.

    6. People shouldn’t run red lights period. Stand at a busy intersection in the Twin Cities and you’ll see drivers are the biggest red light offereders.

    7. The center of the lane is much safer than hugging parked cars. Car drivers need to be more patient.

    8. Did you see the whole thing play out? From personal experience I can tell you old folks are the absolute worst drivers. I was nearly hit twice in the space of a half a mile by two elderly motorists on Lake of the Isles Parkway last Friday. People should have their selfish inattentive behavior pointed out.

    Last – The old “mom and five kids” strawman is non-sense. Because biking doesn’t work for some segments of the population doesn’t mean it can’t work for more people.

    Minneapolis has spent an absolutely tiny fraction of its transportation budget on cycling. More small investements will pay additional dividends.

  24. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/27/2011 - 12:28 pm.

    Jane makes some very good points. Lots of cyclists are not very conscientious. I can name many examples where the threat to a cyclist’s life is their own actions. For example, a couple of months ago, my boyfriend comes home livid. He proceeds to tell me that he had been following a cyclist and when the road cleared enough, he proceeded to try to pass the bicyclist who was going significantly under the speed limit. The cyclist, seeing the car approaching behind him, swerved out in front of my boyfriend’s car, nearly causing him to get hit. The reason? One can only guess, but it wasn’t because he was making a left turn. My boyfriend was upset and angry that he nearly severely injured or killed someone.

    Now, does this mean that I think there should be fewer cyclists? No. But if people think that drivers are going to want to share the streets with a vehicle that is not only smaller, and slower than their own, but also inherently possessing less protection for the driver, I think it would be wise to enforce BOTH sides of the traffic laws.

    Bicyclists can be reckless drivers, too. Besides the swerving and complete disregard for obeying traffic signals or providing any indication as to which direction they will be heading (very few cyclists seem to know how to use hand signals), it’s questionable as to whether the streets are suited for cyclists during the winter. I admit that I hyperventilate if I’m following a cyclist trying to bike through slush and ice. I can imagine those wheels slipping out from underneath them and throwing them under my own tires. I’d feel awful. But does that mean that it is *I* who should be avoiding the streets in the winter time? I don’t think so.

    I have the same beef with motorcyclists. If you want people in cars to “see” you, stop driving like jerks.

  25. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 10/27/2011 - 01:25 pm.

    #20 Jane, I agree with most of your points, but I have disagreement with this one:
    “Millions have been spent to accommodate the bike rider population at the expense of all taxpayers. People who commute on bikes represent a tiny fraction of the population. The focus seems to be on the primarily male population of bike commuters. It is unrealistic in MN, a state where typically there are five months of winter/cold weather annually, to expect that the quoted 3.5% routine bike commuters will increase by much.”

    Maybe by now millions have been spent on bicycle infrastructure, but trillions have been spent on cars at the expense of all taxpayers. We’ve built our infrastructure in such a way that driving is often compulsory. I have no idea what you mean by the focus is on the male bicyclists. Bicycles work the same regardless of gender.

    I don’t know if the 3.5% of commuters who use bicycles is an average or for a specific season, but cold weather doesn’t explain the the commuting in warm weather. The limiter is the way the US has been built. We spread out jobs wider and wider, making driving the only way for almost all of us to get to work. We keep sprawling beyond where we have a density of population that makes bicycles or mass transit feasible. The reason more Minneapolitans don’t commute by bike is they have to go a long way into the suburbs for jobs. If we stop encouraging sprawl, start developing infill in developed areas, and make more roads safe to ride on, commuting will increase. Even if your commute is to a near suburb, the roads are often dangerous outside the city.

  26. Submitted by Susan Albright on 10/27/2011 - 01:31 pm.

    @Paul, Another reason cyclists ride in roadways next to bike paths is that some bike paths are one-way, for example those around Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.

  27. Submitted by marc caruso on 10/27/2011 - 04:24 pm.

    At #20 Next time your behind a bicyclist in the center of the lane ask your self a few questions, Is there debris or sewer grates along the shoulder or parked cars sporadicadly which would make operating in the shoulder a bad idea for the bicyclist. Then ask yourself if the bicyclists rides a foot away from the outer edge of sewer grates or sporadicaly parked cars on the shoulder, Would I be able to legally pass the cyclist and remain in the same lane as the cyclist. Legally pass as in give the cyclist 3 feet or more of clearance. If You find that under all these circumstances you can not legally pass the cyclists. Then you need to thank the cyclist. For riding in the center. The cyclist is preventing you from having the option of doing something that is illegal for you and dangerous for the cyclists which is passing the cyclist to closely. You can still pass the cyclist but you will have to shift lanes like you would if you were passing a slow moving tractor trailer, car or other large vehicle. As far as the pollution argument goes there is so much open air you are exposed to when you are on a bike or walking that it the small amount of fumes from cars Doesn’t really cause that much damage to peoples body. It is actually worse if your sitting in your car which is enclosed and the fumes from other traffic enter your car as there isn’t as much airflow to get rid of the fumes.

  28. Submitted by Paul Linnee on 10/27/2011 - 05:10 pm.

    Thanks to all those who enlightened me on the speed limit and one-way nature of the bike paths around the lakes and parkways in Minneapolis. I was not aware of those facts and knowing this info will help me better understand and react to the bikers I share the road with.

    This represents the good side of posted comments on this site.

  29. Submitted by Jane Pattinson on 10/27/2011 - 09:22 pm.

    Well, I seem to have yanked some chains.

    1. I was expressing concern about children being pulled through downtown, in little carts behind bikes, specifically because of a child’s sensitivity to the effects of carbon monoxide. It doesn’t make any difference how the carbon monoxide came to be there—I’m speaking to this in the here and now. There are alternative routes for transporting the kids other than on Hennepin Ave. and the cross streets in downtown. The other aspect of this is the temperature component. Kids’ core body temps can change pretty rapidly whether they are over-heating or getting too cold. Also, when adults pull up on the right side of a car with a little kid in a trailer and no flag on the trailer, the driver can see the adult on the bike, but the kid in the trailer is in the blind spot. It is dangerous to have no standardization of equipment as they do with car seats. The flagrant bike safety violations that I see down here bother me, because I don’t want to see the county coroner’s staff out here having to pick up a Ghost Bike rider with a shovel and a mop, especially someone who is young and will never have a chance at life. But, when innocent little kids are jeopardized that’s what bothers me most and it breaks my heart.

    2. There is an amazing lack of courtesy displayed by the typical bike rider. When I am a pedestrian in downtown it is pretty unusual for for auto drivers to not stop for me at a crosswalk. I cannot think of one time when a bike rider ever stopped to allow me or other peds to pass. The City of Minneapolis has been very lax, as has the state, in not having implemented bike traffic rules that reflect the times and then insisted on rigorous enforcement. Bikes are built to go as fast as the current set speed limits in Minneapolis and both individual riders and those who like to ride in packs on city streets can typically hit 20-25 MPH or more. If they strike a ped there will probably be serious injury or loss of life. When the bike teams are running on the parkways, as though they are doing time trials, it is like having a school of great whites appear out of nowhere. I, for one, am tired of this usurpation of public streets.

  30. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 10/28/2011 - 08:02 am.

    @Jane – I completely understand your concerns, I’m just trying to understand what they have to do with anything.

    I am not a bicycle. I am a person who uses a bicycle to get places sometimes.

    I could regale you for hours with tales of stupid, inconsiderate and downright dangerous behavior I see every day from people driving cars. Yet, when I get in the car to drive somewhere, I’m not held accountable for it. There is no “PR problem” for the “driving community.”

    But when I get on the bike to go to work, the behavior of other people riding bicycles suddenly becomes my problem. Why?

  31. Submitted by Steve Rose on 10/28/2011 - 08:02 am.

    Jan (#29):

    One of your comments yanked my bike chain, “2. There is an amazing lack of courtesy displayed by the typical bike rider.”

    Does the person make the mode of transportation or does the mode of transportation make the person? In my experience, the person that is rude and selfish on the sidewalk, will be so in the bike lane and on the freeway too. Same for the person who is kind and gracious. Broad statements and stereotypes rarely portray an accurate story.

    Lots of other comments for consideration.

    I choose to wear a helmet, but I do not put that “should” on others who ride bikes, motorcycles, and cars.

    As Susan noted in #26, some of the lake trails are one-way, and those of us that commute can find ourselves needing to go the other way. For recreational riders direction may not matter. Part of my route takes me on the single lane one-way road that goes from Lake Harriet South Beach to the Rose Gardens. Some motorists don’t agree that there is a bike lane on that road. Thankfully, the white line was repainted this summer.

    Red lights, I’ve rolled a few, including one this morning at about 6:00. When another person or vehicle is not in sight, I take that liberty. To be honest, I’ve done it in a car too.

    Commuting over 2000 miles per year in Minneapolis, for many years, I thought I had seen it all. However, this summer I was T-boned by a motorcycle (turning across my right-of-way)at Lake Calhoun. That’s different. I wondered if he has one of those “Start Seeing …” bumper stickers on his car. I will never know, as he did not stick around for the Q&A session. That vanishing motorcycle license plate was made even smaller the displacement of my eyeglasses.

    However, I am quick to identify that experience as atypical.

    Lastly, I am skeptical of the green lanes. I won’t be sticking my body and bike out in the middle of the lane to educate motorists.

  32. Submitted by andrew stephens on 10/28/2011 - 12:59 pm.


    Your “won’t someone think of the children” shrieking is unconvincing. People without an arguement frame the discussion around “the children.” There are bad parents out there. Parents who yell at their kids to “shut up” or smoke and talk on their cell phone while their children in the car bother me too. I’m not going to pretend their behavior warrents stopping low cost, common sense changes to our transportation system.

    “Bikes are built to go as fast as the current set speed limits in Minneapolis and both individual riders and those who like to ride in packs on city streets can typically hit 20-25 MPH or more. If they strike a ped there will probably be serious injury or loss of life. When the bike teams are running on the parkways, as though they are doing time trials, it is like having a school of great whites appear out of nowhere. I, for one, am tired of this usurpation of public streets.”

    I don’t know if you and I live in the same universe. Car drivers never yield to pedestrians at uncontrolled intersections as they are required to by state law. Cyclists aren’t the best at this either but it isn’t unique to them.

  33. Submitted by Nicole Waxmonsky on 11/01/2011 - 11:11 pm.

    I imagine we should be equally concerned for the child sitting in a car on 94 in rush hour traffic (for x time every day). A car is not a hermetically sealed box.

    Many people do not take the privilege of driving their car seriously so I cannot imagine why they would be even more careful on their bicycles. We have an uphill education battle with 50 years of a ‘bicycle is a toy’ mentality to overcome.

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