bike lane

Why Do We Need Laws To Prevent Parking in Bike Lanes?

bike laneSeriously, why?

Today’s Star-Tribune features an article about current legislative activity at the state Capitol oriented to banning parking in bicycle lanes. Really?

Why is this even an issue? It’s already legal to park there? Why?

Is it legal to park in traffic lanes? No.
Is it legal to park blocking alleyways? Don’t think it is, but I could be wrong.
Is it legal to park completely randomly? Of course it’s not.

Now, sure. In some of Minneapolis’ creatively designed bike lanes for which the bike lane is along the curb, and the parking is near the traffic through lane, if you are driving a giant SUV in hopes of finding a dirt road and mountain in downtown Minneapolis, you may be wider than the parking lane. A delivery truck may also be wider than the lane. But there are generally parking zones for deliveries.

Legislator comments are hilarious:

Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, said the parking ban would interfere with delivery drivers.

“I’m not sure this body wants to stand in front of somebody’s hot pizza,” he told the Senate.

Really? First, most deliverators I see are not driving giant vehicles that use a ton of gas. The economics of that are prohibitive. Second, someone delivering a pizza should be in and gone within mere minutes, or the pie gets cold. Heck, where I work in Minneapolis, our pizza is delivered by bicycle when we order, unless we order mass quantities that challenge the delivery riders’ balance.

“I bet most people in the state don’t even realize what a bike lane is,” said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, during a recent legislative session. He called a proposal to ban motor vehicle parking in bike lanes “ridiculous” and “a way to collect fines.”

Don't read the comments. Ever.

Don’t read the comments. Ever.

Well, gosh. We believe drivers can’t figure these things out, but we’re licensing them to drive vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds? What a grand idea! And insofar as fines go… so? It’s a nice form of local government funds collection that isn’t property tax or LGA. Embrace that. It’s like a user feee, for goodness sakes! Maybe this is simply a reflection of the Senator’s constituency in Eden Prairie?

Needless to say, the user comments on the Strib story… well, needless to say. Don’t read them. It seems that many users of that site believe that since “bicyclists don’t stop at stop signs!” this means that everyone should park in the bike lanes. The logic is difficult to grasp.

This legislation seems so common sense it is amazing that this is apparently a hole in legal code. Parking is not allowed in traffic lanes, right? A bike lane is a traffic lane. How hard is that?

Really, really hard, apparently.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!