Proposals to get St. Paul up to a higher standard of multi-modal joy abound. One key proposal is the City of St. Paul Bike Plan. It is a comprehensive approach to closing gaps in city bikeways and bikeability to allow more people to choose a bicycle over other modes of transport.
As I’ve ranted, raved and otherwise covered in heavy detail on my blog at Ride Boldly!, over half of all daily vehicle trips are under 10 miles. (See page 28 of this FHWA PDF for details.) A significant number of these are actually under 5 miles.
Which brings us to noted bike-hater, Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray, co-opting and mansplaining the experience of being a mom. Specifically, he is hand-wringing that mini-van driving moms of 3 will have fewer places to park on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul — a neighborhood I know well, having once lived near St. Kate’s, and having graduated from St. Thomas. He cites the Ford Little League fields and schools. He claims that all these moms will be “harrowed” by new bump-outs and roundabouts, or new narrowed lanes that reduce traffic flow.
Hogwash, says this mother of two. The biggest danger to kids? Bad urban design! And if you really want to inconvenience a mom, injury to one of her kids is pretty damned inconvenient, traumatic and generally no-good.
Traffic calming is better for families. Bicycles are a key element of traffic calming. Bicycles and pedestrians are the canaries in the city’s coal mines. Calmed traffic means that children and seniors can more easily cross streets, rather than leaving their mothers and daughters praying for their safety crossing high-speed stroads. Calmed traffic means that the family can walk several blocks on a fine evening. This mom approves.
We are all well-served by bike lanes, bump-outs and roundabouts that enable pedestrian and bicycle traffic — not just moms, not just parents. We are all well-served by having fewer vehicles on the road, moving more slowly through our neighborhoods. A study from Copenhagen, factoring in all time and societal costs, found the cost of driving to be 57 cents/km, and the cost of biking to be 9 cents/km. Considerations included time lost or gained by mode choice, the societal cost of road crashes and injury, the health impacts of car emissions and the societal cost of carbon emissions.
And, for heavens’ sakes, parking near Ford Little League fields? Has this man ever been to a suburban soccer tournament? You park in a concrete sea, and march across multiple fields, hunting for the field where your kid is scheduled to play. Heaven help you on your first trip to a tourney at the National Sports Center. You’re walking more than a “few blocks” there, believe me. (I would be delighted if it were more possible to bike into that NSC, but that’s another rant for a different day.)
This isn’t a matter of bikes or cars. This is a matter of building multi-modal streets, for people. The following Tweet by the former chief planner of Vancouver really sums it up:
“Bikelanes are not a fad. They’re part of a multi-modal city, a key part of the city working well in the future.” http://t.co/4HirB2ve6p
— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) June 11, 2015
Count this soccer mom in for bike lanes. Because it’s not about bikes, or cars, or parking. It’s about better cities. Multi-modal cities make it easier and more pleasant to get around–including for drivers.
(This post also published on Ride Boldly!)