We Read the Speed Limit Comments So You Don’t Have To

Kitten Reading Internet Comments

Emergency kitten

When controversy happens…when tempers flare…we read the comments, so you don’t have to.

Perhaps it’s a slow news cycle, but the news has hit that the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota plans to seek a change in the state law that sets a “floor” of 30 MPH on city streets. (Yes, city speed limits are set by state law. This seems like a weird case of state control, no?)

And, if it’s a slow news cycle and the word “bicycle” is involved, you can bet there’s comments. If the word “bicycle” is married to the word “lobby,” we can easily assume that bad things will happen.

We decided to read the comments and rate each media outlet on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization and our heart is melting a little, even at -4 degrees outside.”

WCCO/CBS: Bike Lobby Seeks 25 MPH Speed Limit for MN City Streets


  • Brady drags out the cost of bike trail argument, because it somehow applies? “Millions of miles of bike trails and lanes paid by tax dollars and demanded by bicyclists. Millions of dollars in yearly upkeep and even repaving! Bicyclist only use a few miles. Sit outside any bike path in Minnesota for a day in the summer. Nothing. No one. Bicyclists need to shut the fuqqq up and stay off the roads and stop making stupid demands.”
  • Luke says: “Enough of the giveaways to the blasted bike riders!!”(Changing the speed limit law is a subsidy?)
  • The delightful Winston Smith suggests vehicular manslaughter (homicide? Not a lawyer here!): “I will go for the 25mph speed limit, if they mean that is how fast I have to go (No Slower) as I drag them down the road for blocking traffic.”

SCORE: 0 ?. There were the equivalent of upvotes on the vehicular injury to bicycles comments. Sigh.

KSTP: Bike Lobby Seeks Lower City Speed Limit in Minnesota

No comments!

This one includes an Associated Press byline, so maybe KSTP don’t allow comments on wire service stories? The AP distribution also explains why every single instance of this article refers to the “bicycle lobby,” which seemed odd!

SCORE: Not scoring this one, although the lack of comments is quite a relief after the CBS comments, given the usual quality of KSTP comments.

MPR: Do you support a speed limit of 25 miles per hour on city streets?


  • Curmudgeon says: “You know what really makes me upset is anyone thinking that it is a hipster agenda to want drivers to slow down on residential neighborhood streets. There is no reason to drive down residential streets (NOT arterials) faster than 25, and even should arguably be 20 on residential neighborhood streets.”
  • sgigs suggests that laws cannot be enforced, sort of, in saying “No amount of speed limit regulation is going to make people slow down.”

SCORE: 3 ?. Low amount of engagement (5 comments) brings it down.

Reddit: Bike lobbies proposed 25 mph limit on city streets.

23 comments…JUST LIKE WCCO. Could it be…aliens?

  • “This is a stupid proposal. I hope this doesn’t pass.” Okay.
  • Multi-approach suggested! “I think reducing speed limits and better coordinating the traffic lights to allow better flow of traffic would be ideal.”
  • “30 is slow enough,” says another user.

SCORE: I’ll go for a full 2? here, for completely arbitrary reasons. It saddens me to see the number of people claiming that changing the law won’t matter because it won’t be enforced, balanced by the ones who say it will be enforced solely to take away the weed they have in the car, and etc.

Star Tribune: Bicycle lobby to seek lower speed limit for cities in Minnesota

752 comments. I’m not sure I have sufficient cleansing fire for this one, let alone cleansing vodka. (My liver has limits, even with a strong Swedish background.)

  • In this comment, a user assigns responsibility for behavior on bikes to “cyclists” but says “cars” must stop. Where’s the motorist in this? “cyclists as a general rule seem to think they are god’s gift to the roads and cars are supposed to just stop on a dime because they decide to ride into your path at 5 miles an hour. they don’t obey crosswalks, stop signs, stop lights, right turn rights of motor vehicles, which side to ride on, block lanes with no regard for larger faster moving vehicles. wearing headsets that block sounds around them etc.”
  • tyouel uses a phrase I love “super pedestrians.” (But let’s all avoid wearing capes on bikes, okay?)“It helps to think of bicyclists as Super Pedestrians. They can ride in the bike lanes, on the bike paths, across public fields, on the road and on sidewalks. It’s their choice.”
  • The double-standard is cited by a reasonable soul: “Sounds like many motorists are okay with the idea of entertaining the idea of a slower speed limit AFTER all bicyclists wear high-visibility clothing, obey all laws and cede 95% of the road to motor vehicles. It’s a good thing we don’t take the same approach to road projects that primarily benefit motor vehicles!”
  • 300+ comments about spandex, bikes ignoring traffic laws, the injustice of bike lanes, and equating the “bike lobby” to Black Lives Matter, and suggesting death to all North Minneapolis cyclists. The usual.
  • iliketobike (which probably shows bias as a handle right there) reasonably suggests: “As an avid urban biker, I don’t see this making a difference. It isn’t really the speed limit that’s dangerous, its the mindset of drivers and cyclists.” The former is definitely represented in this comment section.

Score: 2.5 ?. The people being reasonable are very reasonable. I’m being charitable and having them balance out the people suggesting running over cyclists. For those of you who think I’m getting to be a softy, this may be the case. Read sufficient comment sections, lower your standards…

Additional observation!

Not sure if it’s how the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota publicized this, or how it got picked up, but there seems to be a low emphasis on the fact that the 30 MPH limit is set by state law. The Star Tribune mentions that Minneapolis has been interested in this law for a while, but it just doesn’t stick out that this is a state mandate. It could very easily be presented as state overreach in local affairs (plays well with a conservative base). As stated above, it seems “bicycle lobby” is showing up hard because it’s how the AP distribution of the story headlines the article. The very phrase is like a dog whistle for the “bikers are spandex hipsters who leech on society’s goodwill!” crowd, and the comments absolutely reflected that on the sites you’d expect it to do so (WCCO and Strib); that MPR had lower engagement and more coherence is no surprise.

And that the Pioneer Press hasn’t picked up the story yet? My liver is pretty grateful right now, and gives that 5 ? and hopes it stays that way.

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!