We Read the Bike Lane Article Comments So You Don’t Have To

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

Kitten Reading Internet Comments

Emergency kitten

Well, actually, I was on vacation. I was hugging trees and canoeing and stuff, so I missed out on this weekend’s comment-bait Star Tribune article, “Spread of bike lanes in Minneapolis and St. Paul prompts both excitement and ire” until I came home and was trying to wash river mud out of child socks. So, clearly, I am now in the exact frame of mind needed for comment-reading, and here we are.

In previous posts I gave comments sections a rating of 1 to 5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization even if the Ford Site plan lacks unicorns and kombucha.” Since this is a single-outlet article, we’ll rate the comments section as a whole, and call out some of the most delightful comments.

Overall Comments Section Rating: 1

Maybe the trees and sunshine made me a little generous here. There are more than 400 comments, and even the article itself had its moments of “hell is public meeting comments.” (Seriously, “It’s pitting the 2 percent against the 98 percent?”)

Key Theme 1: Suburban Life is the Life for Meeeee
As ever, many commenters don’t even live in the city but cite bike lanes as why they’d never move back, along with crime, crime, traffic, lack of free parking, and bikers.

  • cas002 suggests rural life for some, actually: “Most people I know have bicycles AND cars. It is not an either/or proposition. But, for those who are rabidly anti-bicycle, I think the best thing for you to do is to move to impoverished Hubbard county, get a minimum wage job if you can and watch Fox all day.”
  • thefalcon says: “Have driven once in downtown Minneapolis in the last year. Once was enough.” So, clearly, someone with skin in this, hah.

Key Theme 2: Biker Scofflaws!
Did you know: Bikers blow stop signs, use traffic lanes, and are otherwise an insult to people who own cars, like God intended and as written in prophesy. It’s true! (Or not, really.)

  • kivirl complains: “heres is what I what I find annoying:  When there are bike lanes, and the cyclists insist on using the regular care lanes anyway.” A couple people point out that some side paths are jogger/ped heavy, and some are intended for recreational use – not commuting. Another observes that broken glass, parking lanes with frequent door opens, potholes, and sometimes awkward design also drive bikers into “car traffic” lanes. Never stay in a bike lane to the right of a right-turn-only lane if you’re not right turning, my biker friends! That is how you get run over, which sucks!
  • deplorable goes down the path we all knew was going to happen: “Bicycle riders who opt to ride on the city streets should have to be required to pass a written drivers test and pay a registration fee to help defray the cost of all the dedicated bike lane construction and added traffic problems in Minneapolis. Most bicyclist disobey the rules of the road and still dart through red lights and ignore stop signs completely. Lets have more enforcement by the police as well.” Several commenters reply humorously and on point.
  • uptowngrrl posts: “For all the holier-than-thou bikers.  Do you remember your vigilante groups intentionally riding slowly through the city, blocking all lanes of traffic?” Oh, honey. Don’t you realize: They are traffic? She later rants on social engineering (bikers “steal lanes” from cars).
  • bluedevil101 also focuses on the scofflaw biker: “I don’t really care either way on this, provided bikers stop at stop lights and wait no matter the traffic. Otherwise, they need to be ticketed as drivers would be who run the red light.” They are, actually, when it is witnessed by police. You know, just like cars running the light. Those tickets do not write themselves!
  • rhv1965: “We don’t need more bike lanes, we DO need bicyclists who know, and obey, the rules of the road. That means bicyclists must come to a complete stop at a stop sign, and stop for a red light.”
  • About 90000 more comments on theme.

Key Theme 3: Social Engineering!
Eh, we knew it was going to be in these comments.

  • fairplay2277 says: “How is it even possible that a very small minority gets to decide to drop car lanes for bike lanes which causes ridiculous traffic jams?  Oh yeah, Republicans haven’t held a seat in either city for decades.” Uh, that means that the majority have voted in non-Republicans to make these decisions. It’s called representative democracy!
  • jedd: “Congratulations to the elected geniuses in Mpls, You have served 3 to 5% of the.population,WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US??” Representative democracy?
  • jdlellis1: “This movement is a clear indication of euphoric governance by the ‘Kum By Ya’ crowd.” Yeah, but where is my unicorn park?!
  • dv1958: “Bike lanes are another result of the climate change hoax.” Sigh. It was in the high 60s on the North Shore this past weekend.
  • A whole ton of arguments about gas tax paying for the roads, and people pointing out that it mostly comes from the general fund, property taxes, and other taxes that bikers actually pay, even beyond the fact that many also own cars too.
  • loud noisy: “We need to charge all bike riders fees for using and destroying Minneapolis,  They want special treatment they need to fork out the money,  Each bike should be charged over 500 dollars a year for usage.  When will the sense come into play with these crazy programs.” Okay, maybe this is tangential on the social engineering front, and it’s related to the funding debates. But, nonetheless.

Key Theme 4: But It’s Too Cold!
There is no bad weather for cycling, just poorly chosen clothing (or tires).

  • YolandoSmith: “I’m all for people using their bikes, but bike lanes in Minnesota is a bad idea.” I’m assuming this is about climate, as when challenged the user never explains self.
  • jdlellis1 again: “It shows ignorance to the reality that Minneapolis is the coldest major city in the U.S. and bike riding is viable but for a small portion of citizens during normal months and a small portion of citizens during the winter months.” Sorry! Duluth and Fairbanks, while smaller, both qualify as “major,” and are colder, but here is some Rice A Roni as a consolation gift.
  • the lone stranger thinks Minnesota winter is 4 months long: “More bike lanes *might* make sense in California, but to give up car lanes for the four winter months when no one can bicycle is just plain stupid.” (Winter is longer than 4 months by the standards of the too-cold crowd.)

Non-Theme, But Refreshing: People Being Sane About Lanes & Comments!
Some of these people, unsurprisingly, are bikers.

  • icicle, a bicyclist, says: “It’s important to remember that the appearance of bike lanes on many streets is really not just about serving the needs of cyclists. The other chief aim is to provide traffic calming by reducing traffic volume and speeds. Residents on such streets are often supportive of such initiatives.” This is true! When I ran a bike rodeo for the opening of the RiverLake Greenway ages and ages ago, there were residents who were delighted that the speedway through their neighborhood was done for.
  • CountChocula calls it like it is: “Avid year-round bike commuter here and even I get tired of the constant bike lane/commuting stories. The comments are as predictable as the day is long.”
  • aarghmebucko also calls it like it is: “Half the comments are really just bike hate comments – they aren’t trying to suggest how to improve the situation.  Useless tripe.”

Not a coincidence, this article is published on a weekend, and is authored by the same person who wrote about parking disappearing in Minneapolis.

I had a nice vacation and highly recommend vacation to most of the commenters. They need a nice tree and a canoe and beer and fire. If those aren’t options for you, check out all the nice posts we have about bicycling here at streets.mn.

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!