Parking, Parking, Parking

The city of Minneapolis is going to chip seal Bloomington Avenue between Minnehaha Parkway and 54th Street this summer. In conjunction with that project, which already requires re-painting the lines on the street, the city plans to execute its Bike Master Plan to expand our bike facility network by adding buffered bike lanes. As a resident of this neighborhood, that’s great news. This new set of lanes will connect the busy Minnehaha Creek paths with the existing advisory bike lanes on 54th Street. Personally I’m looking forward to using them to get my daughter to school at Hale Elementary in a few years (among many other uses).

The route

The route

But not everyone is happy and you’ll never guess why (actually, you’ll totally guess why if you ever pay attention to bike issues). Someone’s gone so far as to put up flyers and make a Facebook Group:

Won't you think of the parking?

Won’t you think of the parking?

That’s right, the evil bikes are out for our parking again. Dastardly.

As I mentioned, the plan here is for buffered bike lanes on both sides. That means in addition to six feet for bikes to ride in, there will be another two feet of painted space that’s meant to keep the cars at least that far away. It doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, when you’re riding next to traffic, every little bit counts.

The planned layout

The planned layout

The buffers and appropriately sized bike lanes mean there’s not enough room to continue to provide on-street parking (for free, of course) on both sides of the street. (Actually, the proposal is to eliminate parking entirely between the Parkway and 50th, but no one seems to care about that and I’ve never actually seen anyone park there.)

All of the usual anti-bike lane arguments have come up (biking is seasonal, there are other routes, why can’t they take the back streets, nobody bikes there anyway, don’t we have better uses for this money, etc.), but I want to put those aside. Both because I want to take the creator of this Facebook group at their word when they say they want both parking and bike lanes and because arguments have been beaten to death.

So, let’s talk about parking. Or, more specifically, let’s talk about the parking situation on this street. Just how many cars park here anyway? I went out Thursday night about 5pm and Friday morning around 8am. Here’s what I found:

Block # of Parked Cars
5pm 8am
4900 0 0
5000 10 8
5100 17 12
5200 13 24
5300 3 7
Total 43 51

I’m not sure exactly what the parking capacity is for a typical city block, or even for these particular blocks, but I’m confident that it’s more than 10 cars per block. Even the busiest block here (see picture below), was not at capacity.

I’ll spare most of the pictures I took, but this is the busiest block. Does this look like a street with a parking shortage?

5200 block of Bloomington Avenue at 8:11am on January 20, 2017

5200 block of Bloomington Avenue at 8:11am on January 20, 2017

At this particular moment in time, there’s an open spot immediately in front of the businesses (maybe two if you could squeeze in behind the red car). There’s at least two more five car lengths down the street. You can’t really see in the photo, but you’ll have to take my word for it that there’s more on the same block farther down. And just as importantly, below is the block on the other side of the intersection.

The 5100 block of Bloomington Avenue at 8:09am on January 20, 2017.

The 5100 block of Bloomington Avenue at 8:09am on January 20, 2017.

That’s a whole block of street parking that’s almost entirely open. These two observations alone should make it abundantly clear that we’re not talking about a parking capacity issue. Residents and patrons of these businesses won’t have any trouble finding parking. There’s lots of it.

What we have here is a parking convenience issue. That is, residents living on one side of Bloomington will have to give up their God-given right to park directly in front of their house. It’s an outrage.

Except, of course, that there is no such right. I mean, it’s a nice luxury, but why is providing that free luxury something the city should value? Each of these homes has alley access, and thus the ability to provide for residents’ own, super-convenient off-street parking. Some of them don’t take advantage of that opportunity (although, as these numbers show, not a very large number of them), but that’s not really the city’s problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why those who will have to park across the street or around the corner aren’t happy. They’re being asked to give up something they were getting for free (in order to use something else that’s slightly less convenient, also for free).

But the rest of the neighborhood is getting something more valuable: a safer street. The proposed plan provides safer and more comfortable biking, shorter crossings for pedestrians and overall safety improvements that will come from narrower traffic lanes and greater side friction to slow drivers. On one side of the ledger there are something like 25 people who will have to park slightly farther away. On other side of the ledger is everyone who drives, bikes or walks on this street, or patronizes its businesses. I don’t see how the latter doesn’t win easily.

So I said I’d put those other arguments aside, but let’s run through a few in rapid-fire bullet points:

  • Why not a narrower bike lane? Wider lanes with buffers protect riders from cars on both sides. Moving cars are dangerous, obviously, but so are parked cars with doors that can open suddenly into a bikers path. Ouch. Given that we have more parking than we need, let’s do a better bike lane.
  • Why not a different route? This one crosses the creek and connects to other facilities, while the neighboring streets do not. It also connects to business and schools that people who use bikes for transportation will want to go to.
  • What about the elderly and infirm? Again, each property has alley access and the ability to provide private off street parking. Those with mobility challenges that are too great to safely cross the street or walk around the corner most likely would be best off taking advantage of that option. But if there’s a reason they can’t, let’s find solutions for specific problems instead of using abstract concerns as a reason to stop a project that will make our neighborhood better.
  • What about parking for these businesses? There’s only one business here that draws any significant volume of people, Hot Plate. It does get busy and there can be long waits for a table. But lots of those people walk from the surrounding neighborhood (my preference) and even when I’ve driven during weekend brunches (their busiest time), I’ve never had to park more than a half block away. Moreover my wife was a regular during her pregnancy (they knew her order when she walked in) and she tells me she’s never parked more than a block away. Hot Plate will do fine.
  • What about conflict between businesses and residents? Hot Plate closes at 2pm. Peak parking demand may be in the morning. There will be open spaces when residents get home from work (assuming they aren’t working nights).
  • Is there really enough demand/I don’t see many bikes? You can’t judge the demand for a bike lane by observing how many people ride on a dangerous street without any type of bike facility. Just like you can’t judge how many people want to drive through a cornfield before there’s a road. These lanes connect to other facilities and stuff people want to get to. They will get plenty of use.

I find this sort of thing incredibly frustrating. If we can’t accommodate decent bike facilities on a relatively lightly used arterial street that ends a few blocks away and that has way more on-street parking than actually gets used, where can we?

Adam Miller

About Adam Miller

Adam Miller works downtown and lives in South Minneapolis. He's an avid user of the city's bike paths, sidewalks and skyways. He's not entirely certain he knows what the word "urbanist" means.

60 thoughts on “Parking, Parking, Parking

  1. Adam FroehligAdam Froehlig

    Average Minneapolis north-south city block is 600ft. If you subtract 50ft to account for the corners and occasional bus stop (not sure if the 14 has any along here, or if the 14 even runs along Bloomington anymore), then you have roughly 500ft of usable length for on-street parking. Assuming an average 18ft vehicle length (which accounts for the occasional longer pickup…the Ford Explorer is 16.5ft long, but a double-cab F150 hits 21ft) and a 4ft gap between each vehicle, you can fit roughly 22 vehicles per block, and more than that if the vehicles are smaller like a Jeep Cherokee (16ft) or Toyota Corolla (15.25ft).

    I sent an email to the city worker cited on that anti-bike-lane poster. I suggest Adam and whomever among his neighbors that support the project to do so as well.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

      The 14 does run and stop here (there are bus stops on the left in the pictures). There are northbound stops at 53rd, 50th and the Parkway and southbound stops at the Parkway, 51st, 52nd and 54th according to Google. Although that’s wrong as I get off at 50th on the way home.

      Thanks for the math. That’s 22 per side, right?

      I’ve already written to Mr. Wayne and CM Quincy. I’d appreciate it if others do as well.

      1. Joseph TottenJoseph Totten

        There are 2 measures depending on how you want to do this, 25′ is your drivers-test length, 22′ is the meter space length in Minneapolis and St. Paul (and is supported also by Adam F.’s math above). Between 51st and 52nd there’s 20-23 spaces on the west side, depending on your measurement length.

  2. Nick Minderman

    You can win these battles. Just last week the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood board adopted a resolution to support bike lanes on 8th St SE that will remove one side of parking. But it took a lot of work to reach out to renters, remind folks that it was part of the neighborhood’s master plan, stress that the #1 purpose of the city right of way is to move people (i.e. parking if there is still space left over after all modes have been accommodated), and get past the neighbors (mostly homeowners, who make up only 10% of the population) who were afraid of losing parking and willing to say some pretty mean things and question the judgment of the people leading the effort.

    Parking brings out the worst in everyone.

  3. Matt Brillhart

    If I’m reading the street layout correctly, parking will be retained on the west side of the street (the side that Hot Plate is on). The east side of the street already has a “No Parking” zone for the bus stop at 52nd:,-93.252444,3a,75y,188.37h,70.73t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s1KTTJ4AoR3DoV7u5bEP25w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    This proposed change will effectively not reduce parking capacity for those businesses at 52nd, as parking will remain available on their side of the street. But what do I know, I park on 52nd before reaching Bloomington like a smart person.

  4. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    Crossing the street and walking 12′ to park your car is not the worst thing in the world. We need to graciously ask people to do this small thing to create safe spaces for people to lead healthy lives. Thanks in advance to the parking folks for your small sacrifice.

  5. Serafina ScheelSerafina

    It’s helpful to see the relatively low numbers of cars parked along that stretch. When people have other parking options, even though they may not be their preferred options, it makes even more sense to make the change.

    As a city, we need to back up our words that we want “complete streets” with the actions to actually make them.

    i lived in Muenster last year, a city that truly made it possible to navigate the area by bicycle. It is city with streets much narrower than ours that used alleyways, raised cycle tracks, and roadways in a variety of ways to create an effective network for many different transportation modes.

  6. NiMo

    1. Your back and forth with the Facebook group creator is awesome.

    2. The parking counts can be confirmed to be incredibly low if you go a google street view tour of the area. There appears to be no significant change in parking demand from July 2007 to August 2016.

  7. Sam NewbergSam Newberg

    Adam, great post. It is always good to have a neighbor in the immediate area discuss something from a personal perspective.

    I absolutely agree that an improved bicycle facility would be great for the area, especially given that I have biked to Hot Plate myself.

    What bothers me is the huge width of Bloomington and relatively low traffic counts. 44 feet is really a lot. I can’t help but think about 54th Street at the end of Bloomington and it’s advisory bike lanes and centerline removal.

    I’m most bothered that the choice seems to be between cyclists and parked cars when the thing that would make the street safer and benefit cyclists and pedestrians is narrower travel lanes and slower car traffic. Thoughts?

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

      The proposal is for a 10 foot travel lane in each direction, which I think is a key that makes this design appealing. Do you think we could go narrower?

      1. Sam NewbergSam Newberg

        Well yes, but realistically? Not sure. Worth checking on total width of the combined travel lanes on 54th. Maybe they are 20 feet wide total (10 in each direction).

        1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

          There really aren’t any contemporary 9′ lanes out there. The outside lane on NE Broadway is 9′ I think, which is why it’s completely terrifying for everyone involved.

          1. Ethan FawleyEthan Fawley

            Yep, 9′ aint happening. 10′ is the best urban recommendation for a street like this.

            The bike lane + parking preservation they are looking at certainly wouldn’t be ideal. It would mean 7′ parking lanes, 5′ bike lanes, and 10′ driving lanes. That would leave the bike lane mostly in the door zone. I bike home on 3 blocks of such a configuration (the only such configuration in the city, in fact) and it certainly isn’t as comfortable as the buffered bike lanes would be. Not family-friendly for sure. That’s the case you have to make with neighbors and the Council Member.

            Thanks for the piece!

  8. Jackie Williams

    I like these proposed changes. Anything that could slow traffic and make streets safer for people. It seems that whenever any changes to an area has the words “bike lane” some peole get super hostile.

  9. Holly Weik

    When the street is safe for pedestrians and bikes, then parking across the street from your destination shouldn’t be a big deal. If anyone claims they don’t feel comfortable parking across the street and having to walk to their home or business, that simply highlights the need to make the street safer. *irony*

  10. kathy

    i’m a cyclist and recent transplant from the caribbean. i’ve not lived in the USA for 12 years. back home we had only one road and it went north or south but all vehicles would move over an entire lane to pass us (cycling). i have been cycling to works (SLP and STP) from home, about 10 miles each way, since we moved here and until winter I LOVED the cycling. We didn’t buy a car for months as public transportation is amazing here. with winter i’ve been cycling when it isn’t icy (and still managed to cycle on 2-3 incredibly frightening icy days unintentionally (“how bad could it be?” and learned…)) or deep snow. When I first read of this proposal I figured it wasn’t really all that necessary due to the plethora of other options and roads, etc., but after reading this I’ve changed my mind and will strongly support the lanes.

  11. Cullen Lorsung

    Honestly I’d prefer not to have bike lanes. I’ve been riding for almost two decades and feel that separating bike traffic from automobiles promotes the idea that as a cyclist, I’m not part of traffic. I’d much prefer we add boulevards to these streets, remove a parking lane if necessary, and simply add signage and invest in educating drivers. Cyclists are part of traffic. Bike lanes are a bad compromise for drivers unwilling to accept that. I feel much safer using a lane than sitting off to the side and hoping the cars around me notice when I inevitably need to get into automobile traffic again.
    For cyclists that say they feel safer, I’d say that’s unfortunate, because you are entitled to use the roads just as a car does, without the need for special treatment. We need to deal with the issue of drivers treating cyclists as something other than vehicles, not work around that with expensive policies that confirm the attitudes of bad drivers. I belong in the road regardless of whether a bike lane exists. If I can’t feel safe without one, we need to work on why that is, the addition of these lanes (especially lanes with pylons in the buffer) is a step backwards, in my opinion.

    1. Cullen Lorsung

      Sorry, was on mobile and may not have gotten my point across.

      If the goal is to slow traffic, then add boulevards and remove a parking lane.If you want to connect the creek paths with 54th, then the obvious solution is to use 12th, not Bloomington. There’s a massive hill off the creek up Bloomington that simply doesn’t exist at 12th, which also crosses the creek, and also goes right by Hale and OLP. I lived on 52nd/Bloomington (same block as Hot Plate, same side, etc). I dont think parking is an issue, but I can maybe see why you’d want to slow traffic down. Again, using a bike lane to do so isn’t the most appropriate way, in my opinion. Narrow the road with boulevards, paint “share the road” on the pavement and add signage to with the same message along the road. Don’t segregate traffic just because you can’t get cars to obey the laws that already exist. That should not be cyclists’ burden.

      As an anecdote, which I admit is pretty meaningless to most peoiple, I’ve been nearly hit *far* more times by drivers ignoring me while I’m in a bike lane and turning into me or pulling out in front of me than anything else. It’s common for drivers at intersections turning parallel towards a bike lane to just sit in the bike lane until there’s room for them. It might make you feel good while you ride 3 blocks to take your kid to school, it does not work when you need to use it on a daily basis for anything longer. It gets worse in the winter when people shovel their snow into the lane and it gets so awful I end up in the street anyway – the only response from drivers then is ultra-aggressive and borderline violent, since they assume I should just use my entitlement lane to stay out of their way. Pretty soon, we will have a ton of new drivers that have never driven with cyclists in traffic, where they belong. That should *not* become something strange or foreign to people – the obvious next step is to remove the right for cyclists to use a road without bike lanes. Sorry, but you can’t justify this lane to me, and I’ll be calling the guy on the poster to explain my position. This has all the right intentions but i really don’t agree with how it’s coming about.

      1. Jackie Williams

        I am a cyclist and I completely agree with you. I use the 3rd ave bike lane in downtown minneapolis. I am almost hit daily by angry drivers. they will swerve into bike lane and park to drop off their passenger, or buzz you real close. most of the time the bike lanes are filled with snow or ice. I quit using this bike lane and now use another street where i am part of traffic. the drivers react much differently and much safer. it is a day & night difference in driver behavior.

          1. Jackie Williams

            Do you ride during evening rush hour? When I ride home at the 5pm rush the traffic near the government center is super dangerous. They treat the bike as a merging/turn lane and often do not look before they take over the bikelane. Its really crazy. You are very lucky to not encounter this.

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

              I ride south from 6th and 3rd, but it sounds like maybe you’re going north, with the cars heading to Washington and 35W, which is probably a bit crazier.

      2. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

        First of all, boulevards are poor bike facilities (especially when we leave them with no priority crossing busy streets). The one one 12th here is especially meaningless as it’s just a street that doesn’t get much traffic, because there’s little more than houses on it.

        Second, there absolutely no reason that bike traffic should have only one route through a neighborhood, especially if that route bypasses nearly all of that neighborhood’s destinations.

        Third, removing parking isn’t going to slow graffic, and changing the curb line is a much bigger and more expensive project than is currently on the table.

        1. Cullen Lorsung

          Not sure what to say. Bicycles have a right to use the road the same way a car does. The fact that you think a buffered bike lane, which is a clear privilege beyond what is necessary, is required for passage through a neighborhood shows exactly where the issue lies. I have a right to be on Bloomington regardless of the bike lane. The lane changes nothing, it only makes it harder for me when I need to use a road without one.

          Not sure what you mean about boulevards being bad for bicycles. I never said they were. I said they’d slow down traffic,if that’s the goal. Yeah, it’s expensive, I was simply offering a better solution to that goal.
          12th is ideal for increasing bike traffic. It has all the things you said were good about Bloomington, except width, which is fine because it has far less automobile traffic. Bloomington isn’t even the fastest way through the neighborhood, as it T’s at 54th. 12th goes all the way. I think it’s even marked for this, although I could be wrong.

          So don’t change the curb line. Put share the road signs up and invest in billboards or something. Lobby for specific education for all renewing licenses.

          1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

            Of course bikes have the right to use the road. If you’re comfortable doing that, then great. But we know that if that’s the only option, only a tiny fraction of people will bike.

            Heck, I bike all the time and I rarely take the lane, and do it reluctantly only when I have to. It’s my right, but that doesn’t mean that drivers are going to respect it. They don’t. And no amount of training or enforcement is going to change that.

            Denmark and the Netherlands didn’t get to their level of mode share by training drivers to tolerate bikes. They did it by building safe bike facilities that all types of people are comfortable using. That’s what we should be doing (and are, in a half-measure sort of way).

            12th is not ideal for increasing bike traffic. 12th is a residential street that goes to almost nothing. It’s perfectly fine to bike on, but it’s not actually meaningfully different from any of the neighboring avenues. (Although there’s a nice new bridge over 494 quite a ways farther south). And 12th Ts at 47th too after going up a pretty big hill. But why are we debating the route? The plan’s already in place.

            Share the road signs are beyond worthless. In the extremely rare instance where that’s how we want to accomodate bikes, “Bikes May Use Full Lane” are shown to be more effective. Drivers interpret “share the road” to mean “bikes get out of the way of cars.”

            1. Cullen Lorsung

              You don’t jump into traffic and gain immediate confidence. It will take time. Giving people a massive bike lane will never, ever help that, and, as my dentist said today, cars have almost no idea what to do with a bike in the bike lane. A bike in the street sends a clear message; there is no ambiguity about it. They’re there, and you need to avoid them. Instead, by building a huge buffer around yourself, you are telling drivers that yeah, they’re right – bikes *don’t* belong in the road. They *need* this extra thing; they’re not made for roads, but we can adapt roads to MAKE them work. Bicycle and automobile traffic should not be segregated in a city like that unless there’s some seriously compelling reason to do so (the Greenway is a great example of where segregating it makes sense).

              Honestly, whoever has handled bike lane creation in the past 10 years in Minneapolis has screwed some fairly basic stuff up. The whole “bicycle boulevard” thing is a joke. There are literally curbs in the middle of it. Park/Portland is good, and I applaud that; the road was more than wide enough and well-used to warrant a bike lane. I lived on 40th and Park, and 52nd and Bloomington. These are two completely, completely different places. Bloomington does not need a bike lane, plain and simple.

              12th is absolutely ideal for this. I lived in the area for years, went to school there, etc. I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about – it’s the best way to get over the creek in the area. Everyone I know that’s lived there agrees. If you actually want a safe, bike-friendly street path, that is the place to do it. Giving in to bad drivers, or doing this out of some weird righteousness is not the answer.

              1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

                You have some seriously interesting views, man.

                But weren’t you just saying that you like bicycle boulevards like 12th? Now you think bicycle boulevards are a joke?

                Park and Portland are fine (the car lanes are still too wide and speeds too fast), but weren’t you just saying people should ride in traffic? Why are these good bike lanes but the bike lanes going in on Bloomington bad? Why aren’t Park and Portland “giving in to bad drivers?”

                I ride on 12th sometimes going to points south, but I don’t use it commuting to and from downtown because it doesn’t connect to things to the north.

                1. Cullen Lorsung

                  > But weren’t you just saying that you like bicycle boulevards like 12th? Now you think bicycle boulevards are a joke?

                  What are you talking about? No idea what you’re saying – I think 12th would be a good street to slap a bike lane on to connect the creek and 54th. I think a better way to slow traffic on Bloomington would be to add boulevards. You are seriously confused.

                  Park and Portland are entirely different streets. Prior to the bike lanes, they were 3+ lane highways, where you needed to go 38mph to time the lights, and everyone did at least that. Post-bike lane, it’s a different place. You’re comparing apples and oranges. Trying to remove the parking lane on Bloomington does not equate to the change in attitude that took place when Park changed.

                  This is sounding more and more like a project that you would personally like to have completed, rather than what makes the most actual sense.

                  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

                    12th is, right now, a “bicycle boulevard.” You’re saying it should get a lane instead? And you prefer to ride on it, but not because of it’s existing bike facility designation?

                    Also, 12th is something like 30 feet across. Two 10 foot lanes for cars leave 10 feet for bike lanes and parking. Are you suggesting that parking be eliminated on both sides of 12th so that we can get a pair of 5 foot bike lanes?

                    As to Bloomington, do you have money to “add boulevards” (actually not sure what you mean by that) on Bloomington? Because what’s proposed is going to cost almost nothing amidst the scheduled street maintenance. And how does your proposal make Bloomington a place where more people can bike?

                    I get that Park and Portland are different (i.e., wider), but you said “building a huge buffer around yourself, you are telling drivers that yeah, they’re right – bikes *don’t* belong in the road.” Park and Portland are the biggest buffers I’ve seen around a bike lane. Why aren’t they telling drivers that bikes don’t belong? What about a bike lane on Bloomington is “giving in to bad drivers?”

                    1. Cullen Lorsung

                      Whatever you want to call it – it’s just fine for cyclists. No lane changes need to happen. IIRC it has bike stuff painted on it. It’s done. I just saved the city thousands and Bloomington Ave folks a headache.

                      A boulevard is a leafy green thing between the street and the sidewalk. For instance, what Lyndale did made the street tons more pleasant to be on, and it’s still completely bike-able. No lane needed. Bloomington has the most anemic, awful boulevards in the area, and expanding (or adding) them would drastically slow traffic.

                      Park and Portland are one-way, they run basically the entire length of the city, and can’t be used to justify a bike lane on a somewhat sleepy two lane, bi-directional street. Maybe you want to make the argument that Bloomington should be made a one-way street; in that case I can understand adding a lane.

                    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

                      The stretch of Bloomington has boulevards. We could make them wider, but now you’re talking a big dollar project, as it’s really expensive to move the curb line. (Btw, Cedar is way worse on boulevards) I’d be all for wider boulevards, but it isn’t in the near-term budget.

                      Lyndale south of 31st is great to drive on, but in hindsight it was a pretty big miss to not include a bike lane. I bike on it only very relucantly. It certainly isn’t a place where you’d encourage new bikers to ride. The goal should be streets that nearly everyone can bike on.

                      I’m still struggling with why some places are okay to have bike lanes but in others it’s giving in to bad drivers. I guess maybe you mean where streets are sufficiently terrible – too wide, too fast, one way – then you’re fine with a bike lane. But if you’re personally okay with riding in traffic on a given street, then you not only don’t personally want a bike lane, but think it’s bad.

                      I not only don’t think it’s bad to have a bike lane even where you personally don’t think it’s need, but think that bike facilities that feel safe to people who are less intrepid than you are a good idea.

      3. brad

        Motorists are aggressive and borderline violent because the cycling community as a whole seems intent on imposing rules on them. Which would be fine, but cyclists generally disregard rules of the road themselves.

        It is extremely rare that I see cyclists come to complete stops at red lights or stop signs. Motorists despise the hypocrisy more than anything IMHO

        1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

          I once saw a driver speed. And five or so years so I saw someone accelerate instead of slow down when the light turned yellow. I still remember it like it was yesterday.

        2. Cullen Lorsung

          I wear bright colored clothes, I have lights on front and back, I stop for all lights and so long as there’s traffic, all stop signs. I give pedestrians the right of way. My safety isn’t conditional, the law doesn’t say “stay 3′ away unless you’ve seen a cyclist do something you don’t like”. No one is imposing anything on you – the law exists and has been there long enough that you should be familiar with it.

        3. GlowBoy

          The hypocrisy I despise is from self-righteous motorists who fail to see the log in their own eye:
          – Almost all motorists exceed the speed limit by at least a little bit on a regular basis.
          – Almost all motorists “run” stop signs too, also failing to come to a *complete* stop if they think it will be their “turn” when they get there.
          – Almost all motorists stop beyond the stop sign, rather than behind it (and then creeping forward as needed) as prescribed by law.
          – The above two statements about stop signs are almost universally true of red lights when the driver is preparing to turn right on the red.

          Near as I can tell, the above are universal across the USA. As a recent transplant from the Northwest I’ll add one more that is specific to Minnesota:
          – Almost all Minnesota drivers fail to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks – both marked and implied.

          Also, criticisms of cyclists as being bigger scofflaws than drivers somehow pretend that bikes and cars are equal. Cyclists have just as much right to travel safely and expediently as drivers, but you cannot pretend we are equal. There are two staggering differences:
          1.The average car weighs over 4000 pounds. The average cyclist on a bike weighs less than 200. A car traveling 5 mph over the speed limit is several times more dangerous than one that isn’t speeding, and certainly poses FAR greater danger to others than a cyclist rolling a stop sign, which is the primary violation that’s cited. We have as many stop signs as we do to limit the mayhem caused by 4000 pound, 6-foot-wide vehicles with limited maneuverability and whose operators are disconnected from their surroundings by sound-blocking glass enclosures with large blind spots.

          2. The road system had been carefully constructed to benefit drivers, often at the severe expense of cyclists and pedestrians. You (clearly) cannot even imagine what it’s like to navigate this system that seems bent on making it as difficult as possible to simply get where you’re going. Here are just a few dimensions of this:
          — We have to choose between major roads – most of which are dangerous to us – and minor streets, most of which aren’t continuous and force us to stop much more often than the major streets.
          — As a result we often spend huge amounts of extra time before we even got on our bikes, planning out “safe” routes and avoiding the most dangerous obstacles to our travel, something drivers don’t have to do.
          — Bike lanes often disappear at intersections, forcing us to mix with heavy traffic at the most dangerous parts of the road.
          — Fast traffic often prevents us from being able to make proper left turns, forcing us to wait extra cycles or make circuitous path to execute the turn.
          — If there’s a sidepath or sidewalk and we use that, we often must dismount, walk several yards over out of our path, push a button to *beg* for permission to cross intersections (often even at driveways!) and wait an extra light cycle. Imagine how outraged drivers would be if they had to get out of their cars and push a button at every intersection!
          — If we keep to the street, vehicle detectors often fail to detect us (even though by law they are required to), costing us extra inconvenience that drivers rarely have to deal with.
          — Meanwhile. not only do drivers always get the light, they get an *extra* benefit of vehicle detectors that sense not only their presence but their impending arrival, often giving them the green or extending an existing green as they approach.

          Often when cyclists “break the law” or behave “unpredictably” we’re actually just doing what we have to do to navigate a system that’s openly hostile to us and doesn’t prescribe a safe route through an area like it does for drivers. Overall, I think we’re amazingly law-abiding considering what we have to deal with (and as I said above, I’m not convinced we’re less law abiding as a whole than drivers are anyway). Hey I see how drivers often freak out and pull dangerous, unpredictable moves when they encounter unexpected delays: believe me, if drivers had to deal with even a fraction of what we do, there would be total mayhem (as if killing 40,000 people a year doesn’t already constitute mayhem).

    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

      I’m sorry, but we have a lot of experience trying it your way and it hasn’t worked. We’re trying to get people out of cars and into more active transportation. The evidence is overwhelming that the way to do that is good bike infrastructure.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

          I don’t know what language you’re objecting to.

          You’re advocating that bikes ride in traffic. We tried that for a long time and almost no one biked. Then we started adding bike facilities, even bad ones like door zone bike lanes, and numbers have increased.

          Good European-style facilities can and will generate a lot more.

          1. Cullen Lorsung

            Plenty of people biked. I grew up with my dad commuting to work on bike or bus. It wasn’t uncommon at all. The fact that more do now doesn’t give anyone a mandate to change how we handle bad drivers.

            Europe has more than just bike lanes. Cities are structured entirely differently. You’re square-pegging a round hole.

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

                  So you agree that bike facilities encourage more biking, but we shouldn’t add them because that would be changing how we handle bad drivers?

                  I’m struggling to figure out what your point is. The best I can do is you don’t think we should add bike lanes just for traffic calming.

                  If that’s what you’re saying, I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.

                  1. Cullen Lorsung

                    I’m saying bike lanes have changed how drivers react to cyclists. I’m saying the issue is drivers not obeying simple, clear traffic laws. I’m saying that appeasing drivers by segregating traffic might feel really good in the short term, but you’re screwing yourself in the long run. Seriously, I’m done reiterating myself.

                    Everywhere I’ve been, there are share the road signs plastered everywhere. They do TONS more good than an arbitrary lane that isn’t plowed in the winter and not respected by drivers anyway. You’ve romanticized the idea of this magical bike lane that brought people out of their houses and got them riding, and completely neglected the impact it has on anyone else.

                    I think my opinion on it is valid and reasonable, and all you’ve done is try picking apart my responses for inconsistencies. There is no need for a bike lane on Bloomington. I’ve heard nothing from you that would even begin to convince me otherwise. I’m done discussing it with you.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller Post author

                      I’m sorry your frustrated, but you’ve said inconsistent things, so it’s been difficult to figure out your meaning.

                      Obviously, we disagree about the value of bike facilities. I think there’s are research and numbers on my side, but the “vehicular cylcing” viewpoint you seem to be expressing is not uncommon either.

                      I just think it’s very strange to view providing a safe place for people to bike as primarily appeasement to drivers.

        2. GlowBoy

          Well, from what I can tell “your way” is what’s commonly known as the “Vehicular Cycling” perspective, that cyclists should just blend with traffic and not have dedicated facilities, because cyclist-facilities on the roads create a false sense of security and generate resentment among drivers. The VC-versus-dedicated-facilities argument has going on within the cycling community for all the decades I’ve been riding – the VC side being a small but exceedingly vocal part of the community – but real-world evidence is finally turning the tide in favor of dedicated facilities. They work.

          There may be a moral purity to the VC perspective (and it certainly has a macho appeal to the few willing to practice it), but in practical terms it’s not very effective in encouraging people to get out on their bikes. In some ways you do have a point that cycling isn’t as dangerous as people think it is (just as driving isn’t as safe as people think it is), but that also negates the false-sense-of-security argument.

          If you build the facilities – and make them decent – people will ride them. I lived in Portland through most of the period when they were building their bikeway network. During this period I went from being one of the few oddball weirdos who biked to work to being one of several on every block. In many neighborhoods 15-20% of people now commute by bike, and biking now accounts for 8-10% of all trips in the city. Unlike in most cities, that’s enough to make a real difference.

          But Portland has mostly built its core bikeway network using conventional bike lanes. In the mostly-mild climate there that’s drawn a lot of cyclists out of cars, but as improvements to the bikeway network have stagnated there, so has the rate of bike riding. It was level for several years, but the city has finally started to build a network of protected bikeways and … whaddaya know? Cycling is on the rise once again.

          As for having regular conflicts on 3rd Avenue, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I now ride this street all the time, and am thrilled to finally have a safe north-south route across downtown. It’s great (and usually plowed quickly after snowstorms) except for the city vehicles constantly blocking it next to City Hall. Most of the other bike lanes downtown are sucktastic – many of them too narrow or on the wrong side of the street (left=bad idea) or all too often blocked by improperly mitigated construction projects. And no I’m not going to “take the lane” on downtown streets with Minnesota’s excessive 30mph speed limits and barbarian Minnesota drivers who don’t even have the sense to avoid getting trapped in the middle of an intersection by red lights. Can’t wait for the bike lanes on Washington to open too.

          And having now spent a couple of winters in Minnesota I’m doubly seeing the need for more protected and buffered bike lanes. Standard 5 to 7 foot wide bike lanes just don’t work here, at least in the winter, and that means’ Portland’s historical approach won’t either. Plowing is never curb-to-curb, especially on streets that allow parking, and most of the standard bike lanes are unusable in the winter. I guess I expected better when I moved here, after hearing about all the progress the city has made. It is only the protected bike lanes and off-street paths that have made things tolerable in the winter, and we need a much better-connected network of these.

  12. Steve C

    I’m 55 and ride my bike around a lot. If they’re expecting me to ride out in speeding traffic, I’m sticking to the sidewalk. I also don’t see myself investing in reflective clothing. I can drive around in my car in my pjs and bathrobe if I so choose. I’m not buying a special suit to ride around on my bike.

    1. Cullen Lorsung

      If traffic is speeding, that’s a problem. The law is clear about what rights and responsibilities cyclists have. if you aren’t confident cycling in traffic, there are miles and miles of wonderful bike paths and existing bike lanes to use. In this instance, take the bike path along the creek to 12th avenue, and use the existing bike lane to get to 54th, where you can continue down 12th or use 54th as you would.

      It’s a shame you’re not willing to use reflective clothing. I dont understand the reasoning, but I hope you stay safe. Cycling is not driving. That comparison is so badly incorrect I can’t even respond. If you honestly don’t understand the differences, or why it may help to have activity-specific clothing, then perhaps you shouldn’t be driving or cycling.

      1. Steve C

        Hey pal. I just wanna get around. If cycling now is some kind of elite pursuit, I’ll just ride on the sidewalk wearing whatever I put on that day, like when I was a kid.

        I don’t feel the new to prove something challenging cars on roads designed for them, not me.

        I’m not riding for fun. I ride when I gotta get someplace. Trails are nice but I don’t have much use for them.

        1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

          Steve, you’re in good company — like about 95% of the population.

          The reason that the U.S. has the lowest modal share of bicycling of all developed countries (and a continually declining bicycle industry) is because we have focused on vehicular cycling, bicycle driving, cycling savvy, right-to-the-road, wearing hi-viz clothes, and other things that really only work for about 1% of the population. This is why an increasing number of us are working to get safe and comfortable protected bikeways on main roads and junctions along with lower speed limits and traffic calming on low traffic roads like residential streets.

      2. GlowBoy

        I think Steve C’s reference to “speeding” traffic may not necessarily refer to drivers breaking the numeric speed limit. When we use the phrase “traffic speeding by”, that may refer to cars going legally 30 mph. When you’re not in a car (and especially if you’re on the street yourself), even “normal” traffic speeds seem pretty threatening.

        (And personally, I find it outrageous that Minnesota allows 30 mph in business districts, which are rarely more than a mile across – 30 mph provides *very* little time savings to motorists vs 20 mph, but drastically compromises the safety and experience of everyone else).

        Also, although I agree with Cullen that wearing visible clothing is a good idea, I will vigorously defend Steve C’s premise that he does not *HAVE* to. As long as he meets Minnesota’s minimum conspicuity standards (front headlight, rear reflector at night), it is perfectly *lawful* for him to ride in PJs and a bathrobe. Although, unlike in Oregon, he does have to wear *something*.

  13. Matt C

    Horribly ageist of the people in the FB group to assume seniors need a convenient place to park but seniors don’t need a safe place to ride.


    Cambridge MA did a study on a road with what looks like similar layout and traffic volume. Preserved parking on both sides but used “advisory bike lanes” to make riding safer and more comfortable.

    It might be a workable compromise. Forcing cars to approach head-on will definitely slow them down…

  14. Matt C

    Also a parking ban on one side of the road would be extremely easy to ‘pilot’.

    One good test is worth 1000 ‘expert’ opinions.

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