My name is Carol Becker and I drive an automobile. I feel like I am coming out of the closet by saying this. I don’t drive a car because I especially like driving. I drive because I don’t have a choice.
The proposed Comprehensive Plan does not support a balanced transportation system where the needs of all travelers are considered. It doesn’t talk about the need to help people move quickly and easily around the City. It doesn’t talk about helping people get to jobs or parents getting their kids to school. Instead, it diminishes the ability of many people to live in the City. It supports narrowing streets, reducing lanes and slowing traffic. It reduces parking lots. It allows buildings to be built without parking. It proposes jacking up parking meter rates to discourage people from driving. It proposes replacing single family homes with fourplexes, substantially increasing street parking. It makes it less likely you can park next to your house or park at your destination. It literally says the needs of drivers come last.
Who is harmed by this? Me. And people like me.
I don’t have the privilege of taking a lesser paying job I can bike or walk to it. I have known what it is to be hungry and not know where you will sleep. My dad entered retirement with no savings and my mom works at Kmart at age 78. I have a child. I have a partner whose company has been on shaky ground. Finding the best paying job that I can means being able to drive. I often work 12-hour days, 8 hours at one job and 4 hours at another. Two-thirds of Minneapolis residents are like me, having to rely on a car to get to work.
I have an eleven-year-old daughter. 20% of Minneapolis residents are children under the age of 18. Another 10%-15% of residents are parents. It is almost impossible to survive as a parent without a car. Not only do you have to get a cranky six-year-old to school in the middle of winter, you have to get them to their grandparents, to soccer, to camps, to their friends, to the doctor. And being a parent, I don’t have the luxury of extra time to walk or bike. This plan makes it harder to be a parent and harder to be a child in our city.
I am 54 years old. I have arthritis and will probably have to have my left knee replaced. Depending on whether I have a flare-up, I often limp. I have other medical issues. About 10% of the folks under age 65 have disabilities that affect their mobility. And about a third of the City is over the age of 45, that point when waking up in the morning starts to hurt. Most of these people need a car to live.
I have three sets of grandparents to take care of, two in the suburbs. One moved out to Richfield after a giant tower was built in her neighborhood with no parking. My mother-in-law died in January and before that, my partner was visiting her almost every day. She could only do that with a car. About 10% of population in Minneapolis is over the age of 65 and most need a car to live independently.
I am also female. I am judged by my clothes, how my hair looks, how clean I am and what my shoes look like. I don’t have the privilege of many young men who can walk in to work wet, dirty, smelly and with bad hair. About half of the City is women. And about a third of the City is persons of color, who are also judged by their appearance. Most of these people need cars.
Minneapolis was built primarily in three eras. First, roughly from 1895 to 1905. These parts of town, primarily clustered around downtown, have large Victorians on larger lots. They were designed to be walkable because at the time, there wasn’t mechanized transportation available to them. The second era, in the 1920’s, was the era of bungalows on smaller lots with Model T garages in the back. These neighborhoods were not built to be particularly walkable and have few walkable jobs or businesses. The third era was the 1950’s and after. Like the 1920’s bungalow housing, it also has little in the way of walkable jobs or businesses. I, like the majority of Minneapolis residents, have little in the way of jobs or businesses within a walkable or even winter bikable distance.
Don’t we need to do something about climate change? Ford and GM announced in October that they will be converting most of their fleet over to electric cars in the next five years. Car emissions are going to drop, not because we declare war on driving in Minneapolis, but because the marketplace is changing.
We need to stop pretending that everyone is young, childless, physically able, male, white and privileged enough to give up job opportunities. We need to work to reduce travel time so people can be with their families. We need to ensure that people can park near their homes and at the end of their trips. We need policies that make people’s lives easier, not harder. We need a balanced transportation system that works for everyone.
How presumptuous to think that men somehow get a pass from having personal hygiene. More broadly, I see the city’s efforts to narrow lanes, reduce parking, etc., is a response to at least a half a century of infrastructure and housing decisions dominated by car concerns. And planning communities and cities around only car travel is a totally unsustainable way to plan a city.
Not presumptive. I work/volunteer in many areas where it is okay for a guy to show up in a t-shirt and jeans but not for women. This regularly happens. This is not just my perception.
I’m genuinely curious what areas you’re talking about. Can you give an example?
I can see places where women might have been seen approaching work, or locking up, etc. and men are not judged on their appearance until they are clocked in and actually present themselves are ready (post change, or at their desk). I have not seen what Allysen Hoberg mentions, but it could occur in work I’m less familiar with.
I find that the expectations are higher for women. Men aren’t expected to wear make-up, but I have been told I would “look brighter” if I wore lipstick. Men aren’t expected to wear heels and nylons, but I have been told to “make sure and wear grown-up clothes, get some heels and pantyhose.” Women’s clothing is generally harder to bike in (pencil skirts, for example). Many women’s shoes, aside from heels, are not made for walking, but rather to make the line from hip to toe look a certain way.
I’m saying these things as a woman, who works in a female-dominated field, who also bikes and walks to work in a wardrobe primarily from the 1940s and 1950s, so not your typical athletic wear.
Agreed on the general; I think the confusion rises from “wet, dirty, smelly and with bad hair.” Is it common for men to get a free pass on B.O.? On being clearly unwashed? I will admit to seeing lower standards, but I haven’t witnessed what I see described in the post. This blindness is certainly a point of privilege, but I just cannot remember a point where a man smelled of B.O. and it was accepted in the workplace, bad hair-to a point, unwashed-no.
I have not had many work experiences, and certainly am not attuned to this, so I need my eyes focused on the issue, but the post seems to make a hygiene point above a grooming point.
Could I ask for a few answers? Did I interpret this differently than you did? Are there common exceptions for men being unhygenic? Is this more an issue of the needed toiletries and routine society places on women making it impossible to bike and shower at work? (credit on the final point, pending comment by Polly and link : https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2018/04/02/aviva-stephens-bikes-are-for-boys-cycling-while-woman/)
So I was sitting in a meeting earlier this week with one of the strong walk/bike advocates. He is a able-bodied white male. I was sitting in front of him and noticed his shoes. He had on these big, ugly, dirty, beat up hiking boots. And I thought, no one will judge him for wearing those. In fact, he has probably never had anyone judge him as less intelligent, less able because of those shoes. But that happens to women every day. Every day. Women in society start out with the presumption that they are less able then men so they have to dress in a way that conveys authority – an authority that men just get for being men. Part of why women drive is so they can look decent and presentable at their destination because they need the power and authority it conveys.
And yes, there are some women who can get away with it but the vast majority of women cannot.
Thank you for the response. Your example is helpful and illustrative of the depth of sexism in our culture and why it must be destroyed.
As my elected representative I’d want Carol Becker to work on changing these stereotypes and double standards for women, rather than cave into them.
Sexism in clothing, personal appearance, and hygiene (especially sweat-related) is extremely common one very recent overview of common challenges for women: https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2018/04/02/aviva-stephens-bikes-are-for-boys-cycling-while-woman/
As a woman, I emphatically echo Allysen’s observations. I work in a laboratory environment where many men (and it’s mostly men) wear T-shirts and jeans, along with tennis shoes. Women exclusively wear button up blouses/cardigans/similar, trousers/khakis, and shiny leather shoes.
Men very very often get “a pass,” as you say, in nearly everything… especially things like dress and professionalism
Anyway, google some combination of women/bikes/double standard/sexist dress codes/perceptions of professionialsm/etc and you are sure to find many other examples. I did. The link I included above was just the most recent intro-type example
One of the low-cycling cities I was cycling was Charlotte, where I saw two different women wearing “Gym Hair, Don’t Care” t-shirts. I thought that was interesting. Obviously, you care at least a little bit, or you wouldn’t be wearing that t-shirt. It would be a little absurd to wear the same shirt in Berkeley, or in many areas of Minneapolis (but less so, St. Paul). It speaks to an expectation of personal grooming that is different for women than for men, and thus is more of a barrier to active transportation for women than for men. (And also more of a barrier in Charlotte, where the major industry is banking).
I am not saying sexism doesn’t exist in terms of societal expectations toward dress. It clearly and obviously does. However, many of the people who choose to dress differently, men and women, are doing so because they don’t give a fuck about societal expectations. Also, perhaps if you feel that you can’t find a way to keep your appaearances up, while excersizing before work, I suggest you consider what you are saying more closely. Many, many, many people, even those whom conform the closest to societies expectations, work out before going to work. I would suggest you are drumming up excuses, to try and cloak this whole argument in lefty language by implying that it’s a sexist issue. It isn’t. At all. Not even Remotely.
Just an observation that it’s (mostly) men saying this isn’t a problem, when the women are saying yes, it is a problem. Just try listening for once, especially when it’s an experience you don’t have.
I teach bike to work seminars at my place of employment and in 10 years of doing this the number one reason women give, more than safety or other responsibilities like carting kids around, is having no place to do hair and make-up. My old employer had a locker room so that was helpful, but where I work now there is only the bathroom and no plug in for curling irons or hair dryers.
It can be hard enough to be taken seriously as a professional woman and for many women dressing to expectations is one battle it’s just not worth fighting against.
Jeff, I am sorry but you are the problem, arrogant, the use of the word unsustainable, it’s a disguise to say I am going to decide for you how you going to live and how you going to spend your time.
Amen. “I know better than you, what’s best for you.”
I’m not sure I’m entirely on board with the whole “privledged” concept… It has a real flavor of assigning blame to individuals based on some social identity… Seems like something we should all think is improper and disgusting, like cat calling, or telling a woman what she should wear outside of: casual, business casual, and business attire.
It really seems like we all just want more freedom to be ourselves, especially on our own time…. I digress…
The city’s imposition on all citizens based on some nationwide agenda (it’s a fad) is authoritarian and discounts the majority of people. It’s gross and needs to be stopped.
Your “freedom” ends at our collective pocketbook (among other places). We don’t have to keep paying for your desire to drive a car at high speeds our neighborhoods.
If your problem is the cars’ speed, then deal with that. You don’t. Banning cars isn’t dealing with that issue unless throwing out the baby deals with the bath water.
No one is banning cars, but we are narrowing streets and calming traffic, which is dealing with speed.
But there is no free lunch in government. Narrowing streets and “traffic calming” are really just keeping people from their families, keeping them from jobs and generally just consuming more of their lives in non-productive time. Is that really our goal for society? To make people’s lives harder? Or should it be about getting people to their loved ones more easily?
This is the argument for building homes nearest to their jobs. Preventing this land use makes life harder and keeps them from their loved ones…
Someone driving fast where it isn’t safe has a higher likelihood of keeping people from their family for eternity.
So I guess we should build a bunch of housing next to Amazon and Shutterfly in Shakopee and Northern Metals in Becker. No sarcasm intended. I imagine most of the office workers in suits downtown, having the privilege of being able to afford college to be able to work downtown, now have the privilege of being able to pay what it takes to get a house in a safe neighborhood on a transit line or bicycle lane.
It’s worth noting that Valleyfair, which attracts a lot of younger and foreign workers for menial jobs that pay peanuts, has company provided housing because otherwise there’d be no way they could get enough workers for what they pay. Last year demand was such they had to turn down a few people that had cars and lived in the metro but wanted to live in the housing.
Yes we should. The City of Shakopee is not so keen on this plan, however.
A little separation between industrial and residential is nice, Separating industrial from people is still the excuse to keep modern offices separate from homes and from retail today. But “near” doesn’t mean “adjacent”.
Exurbs should try to building housing for their jobs. It would help the workers and the companies. And reduce the financial burden on the neighboring metro to pay for getting the workforce to where they aren’t allowed to live.
A major reason to increase density is to shorten trips.
I’ll agree to that when all bicyclists are required to have bike licenses earned through a test under an evaluator, have insurance, be subject to excessive fines, pay to park at bike racks at specified areas (and no where else), and pay taxes to help fund bike Lanes and paths in the same proportion as drivers pay through fuel taxs, permits, etc.
By the way, you chose to live in a neighborhood that had roads, for cars, when you made that choice, you agreed to live with it… (Not sure whose advocating for your red herring that is speeding???)
Bottomline, you don’t get to move in, buy a bike, and with your entitled attitude, tell everyone they can’t drive anymore.
It is nice to believe drivers are subject to excessive fines, if they were we would see a drop in bad behaviors. Driving drunk, texting while driving, speeding, rolling through stop signs, gunning a stoplight that just turned, stopping directly on crosswalks, blocking the box. Drivers don’t get excessive fines, unless you are so financially strapped skipping paying a fine just creates a spiral of poverty from ramped up penalties.
Are you serious about forbidding 5-year-old children from cycling around their neighborhood unless state licensed and tested first? Fascinating. I can’t imagine that would be a valuable use of police resources to enforce.
You should know that cyclists aren’t exactly pleased to arrive at a destination and notice the city public works failed to proved enough bike parking, or even any, nor did the property owner. Dockless cars are strewn all around the pavement freely. Most cyclists aren’t pleased they need to lock their bike up to a public sign post, if businesses and public works departments offered bike parking as freely as free car storage cyclists wouldn’t need to lock up where ever they can.
As it turns out, fuel taxes don’t pay for local streets. Mind. Blown. Property taxes do. And cyclists pay property taxes equal to drivers. The fuel taxes never come close to paying the cost of arterials, did you know? Arterials are fully funded by sources that cyclists contribute to, and roads are needing maintenance because of the weight of motor vehicle use (plus our climate). Bikes don’t cause the wear you may think.
Can you mark the date of immaculate inception when roads were only for cars? Was it under the Romans? Before or after the Civil War? WWI maybe?
On your residential street, do you have sidewalks? To cross the street to see a neighbor would you have police arrest your neighbor because they did not want walk down to a crosswalk to come over to visit? Do you think 30 mph down your street, while you are out front playing with your kids, is acceptable? Would you like to test what 30 mph feel like? Do you believe asking and expecting 20 mph for motor vehicle down a residential side street is War On Cars?
First off, $100+ is a lot to many, many people.
Here’s a bit of a list of Hennepin County Traffic fines
-Brake light not working – total due $127
-Expired Tabs – total due $117
Expired Driver’s license – total due $187
Speeding (12 mph over) – total due $137
Failure to stop – total due $137
Its disgusting that you would marginalize how expensive that is to lower income families, especially considering it is particularly a lot of money to especially vulnerable demographics. Gross Eric.
Yes, I would be for forbidding anyone (I’m not here to discriminate on age or anything at all, clearly from your past comments, you are) from riding bike on public transport ways without liability insurance, bike registration, and basic proven understanding of traffic/ bicycling laws. How else to can assure the public that these bike thoroughfares are safely regulated, and that responsible riders aren’t at risk from costs (both property and medical) related to accidents that they didn’t cause.
I can understand bicyclists aren’t happy when they can’t find an open bike rack spot. That’s why I believe there must be an increase in bike registration and pay to park bike racks/ spots. Just locking your bike up in a random public space should be illegal, and those bikes should be impounded at the risk and cost of the owner. Just like cars, there shouldn’t be free parking, that is revenue that must be collected to pay for services, not just general public services, but also specifically related to bike roads, bike law enforcement, impounding services, maintenance, studies, signage, education, etc. It doesn’t make sense the notion that cars can be reduced or done away with and that revenue not be replaced, not to mention this mode of transportation must be regulated.
Sounds like we agree that local residential roads aren’t just for cars, and that Highways, by far and away, are. Fuel tax, vehicle registration, and vehicle sales tax provide most of the funding for MN State roads. So we should agree that funding for bike lanes and bike paths should be funding entirely by bike registration, and bike (and bike parts) sales tax. Mind. Blown. Still?
I do have a sidewalk on my street… I guess I’m a little lost, but maybe you’re right… heck, maybe there’s people who’ve never seen a street before who at their first time seeing a residential street say, “Hmm is this for swimming?”
If you have a problem with residential speed limits, then make your case for lowering it. Not for make the jump to changing how the rest of us live.
Moderator’s Warning: Please focus conversation on the policy and not disgust at one another’s thoughts and opinions. It’s entirely possible to have a conversation about fees, fines, and how to pay for infrastructure without bringing personal statements into the conversation.
Thanks for the Moderator’s warning. I don’t want this to forum to become a Star Tribune-like comments forum which I rarely read or a City Pages comments forum which appears to be overrun by bots. As of this morning, there were 341 comments between the Star Tribune and Streets.mn postings of the Becker piece. Some of these comments will be useful to scholars, advocates and others interested in this subject nationwide and I plan to distribute nationwide next week when the comments peter out. Should be over 400 by then.
Also: here’s a link to the point about who pays for roads.
Share of Road Spending Covered by Fuel Taxes, Tolls, and Other User Taxes and Fees: 23.6%
Share of All Transportation Spending Covered by User Taxes and Fees: 29.9%
If you are poor, fines are punishing out of proportion to their effect. I agree. If you say they are that hurtful to the vulnerable, why are you excited to add further fines on the poor?
Hyper regulation of cycling doesn’t make it “safer” to cycle. You can reference the bike thoroughfares in Denmark, Netherlands, Davis California. If bikes caused the amount of carnage, injury, death, property damage, infrastructure wear, individual health degradation, air and water pollution, climate damage, then equating regulation needed for cars and driving with bike and cycling would be a good rhetorical point.
Fuel tax, registration fees, diverted sales taxes won’t cover the current underfunded maintenance costs, nor can they cover the expected coming deferred maintenance. Motor vehicle usage fees, like increasing fuel taxes enough to fund all road future maintenance as well as a mileage taxe for electric vehicles needs to be a minimum. Congestion pricing must be considered for highways and downtown gridlock. Freedom isn’t free. The illusion that driving has no costs creates problems with emergency response, congestion pricing can help drivers make better decisions that don’t create problems for city responders.
Case for slower residential motor vehicle speeds is already in the crash data collected across the country and world. Pedestrians hit by drivers going 20 mph survive the crash 90% of the time, when drivers are going 30 mph survival is 50%. Insisting residential street speeds be the same as commercial arterial speeds is saying unnecessary deaths are okay as long as driver lifestyle is not inconvenienced to much.
There’s a simple way to avoid traffic fines: don’t commit traffic offenses. But I could get behind the Finnish idea of pegging traffic fines to a percentage of a persons income.
That’s fair. But enforcement is not uniform geographically and open to whim/discretion/mood of law enforcement/prosecutors/judges. And imagined driving-grade regulation on cycling behavior will be equally non-uniform.
Reliance on human judgement to enforce “regulations” comes down to the impossibility of hiring enough regulators to be everywhere at all times.
Monte has a point, as does Eric.
Where is Adam saying you can’t drive or that he’s banning cars? All he’s saying (from what I’m seeing, anyways) is that cars should not be able to drive through our neighborhoods at high speeds. There’s no call for eliminating cars entirely, or even changing the speed limits dramatically.
Also, I’ll be fine with requiring bikes to have insurance and require a test to drive when they can cause enough damage and risk to society that insurance is needed. Car operators require licensing and insurance because they’re driving a heavy vehicle that has the capability of causing serious damage and loss of life if used incorrectly. Bikes, even being used incorrectly, can’t cause that much damage, and most of the injury risk is placed on the biker (no matter who hits who in a bike/car collision, the car and the car driver will almost always fare better than the bike and biker.)
(By the way, I don’t even currently own a bike. I do own a car and drive to work every day. Even so, I still don’t see the need for bikes to pay insurance or licensing; I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with a biker causing issues but I’ve had plenty of issues with other vehicles causing dangerous situations.)
We have streets for transportation. They are most definitely not “for cars.”
If you want to make an argument for the status quo and against the comprehensive plan – which seeks greater balance in transportation options – you’re going to need more than “freedom” to do it because it’s a question of priorities and allocation of resources. We spent decades tilting our resources heavily in favor of cars. Now we’re trying to tile a little back toward walking, biking and transit. In no way is that a violation of your freedom.
I would argue that the fad is the illusory dream of car ownership for everyone. Our world isn’t set up to handle that shite, so here we see the bounce back (albeit quite small) from the fad of widespread car ownership
Moderator’s note: Let’s avoid cursing, even if it’s done in a british accent.
And if physical limitations prevent cycling, there are buses and light rail.
There seems to be a mode that’s missing in this discussion: public transportation. I’d actually agree that it’s difficult, especially without radically redeveloping our cities, to expect people to bike and walk everywhere. However, our public transportation infrastructure can, and should, help bridge that gap.
Furthermore, car ownership isn’t feasible for a lot of our population, and by trying to continue orienting our infrastructure around car ownership, we continue to privilege those that can afford and are physically capable of driving a vehicle. Public transportation infrastructure has a much lower barrier to entry, and it’s usable by those who can’t drive or can’t drive safely.
The roads will generally be there and cars will be able to drive on the vast majority of them, though perhaps at a bit slower pace. As far as I can tell, nothing in the comprehensive plan proposes significantly removing car access on streets. I find it hard to come to the conclusion that cars will somehow become unusable or even significantly burdened under the proposed comprehensive plan.
It’s not an added five minutes. Most of the time, it’s an added number of seconds.
I’ll second what Jeb said! It is important to recognize that there are many, many Minneapolis and metro-area residents who are not able to bike or to walk longer distances, to be sure. Yet I am unsure why the author did not much discuss public transit in Minneapolis as being a part of the mobility picture (or the comp plan, for that matter).
Improved public transit–in concert with current first/last mile rideshare and future autonomous vehicle services–could make mobility without traditional car ownership easier than ever before. I think it is key that more effective transit in Mpls is emphasized to every extent possible in the plan as well. It’s great to have commitments to new bike infrastructure–which are also much easier for the city alone to make–but, for example: I don’t think there should be bike lanes on Hennepin through downtown. There should be full TSP and dedicated bus lanes to serve the many thousands of residents every day who crawl through horrendous traffic!
Given that both directions of proposed bike lane combined on Hennepin through downtown are not quite as wide as a single bus lane, the lack of TSP and bus lanes is entirely a failure of political vision and will. They could happen any time public works wants to do it, they’re not being blocked by bike lanes.
Public transit is not on her radar. We need a paradigm shift.
Thomas – I worked at the Met Council for ten years in transportation planning. I literally wrote the study that our light rail system is based on. But I also understand that transit will forever be limited in its reach. I could elaborate but the short answer is that our land use (excluding areas around the downtowns basically with Victorian development) was built on cars and we can’t magic that away. Now, the vast majority of the region’s jobs are not on high frequency transit. Most of our city’s schools are not on high frequency transit. And most people will walk only four blocks at most to transit. As we make it harder to drive in the City, we also make it harder for transit, as bus transit is, by definition, slower than cars. So I appreciate how limited transit will be for our city and our region.
We could have dedicated transit lanes and/or signal priority that would make buses faster than cars. If we made every eighth block a transitway with bus-only lanes and signal priority that’d put at least an east/west and north/south bus route within a four-block walk of almost every location in Minneapolis. By not getting caught in traffic or stuck at traffic lights it’d almost certainly be faster traveling on the bus than it would be driving a vehicle, while still keeping a vast majority of the infrastructure open to car traffic. (Granted, headway time and walk time would cut into the speed advantage, but it’d still be overall faster than the bus today and much more competitive with the private automobile.)
There’s nothing that makes buses, by definition, slower than cars. What makes it slower than cars is that we’re generally unwilling to inconvenience cars even slightly with signal priority or bus-only lanes on selected roads in order to make bus service faster and more reliable.
My apologies, this goes to far, especially in light of what you wrote below.
Car ownership is priveldge? WoW crazy stuff! I have never used even a taxi. I drive because it is freedom. You stop when you want, and stay as long as you want. Bikes are for kids. Walking is for exercise or enjoyment.Why isn’t car ownership feasible? I would think not owning a car is not feasible. So traveling on road trips are not a weekend enjoyment? Just live in a little bubble? Not having a car to all I know is unheard of. Cars are part of ability to spend leisure time visiting places and enjoying different scenery. Cars mean more than homes often.
You drive because you can afford to. That is a privilege.
“Cars mean more than homes.” Yikes. That’s demented.
I would disagree that cars mean more than homes for most people but for those who make that choice, it is a matter of personal choice. I learned the car importance lesson early on as a young boy growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s where men, who did not have a place to live, were making payments on a Cadillac car and living in said Cadillac car. It did not make much sense to me as a young boy, but the men seemed satisfied and where I grew up that was all you could ask.
Today I learned saying that driving is a privilege is one step away from fascist purges. Car culture is a hell of a drug.
Assigning “privileged” as a designation based on an assumed social group, economic or not, in order dismiss the opinion or voice of an individual is wrong.
We believe this group did “X,” we think you look like you are part of, associated with, descended or benefited from that group, so you deserve to be punished. Its assigning blame and punishment to individuals perceived to just have even the vaguest perceived association with some group.
I don’t how that is complicated. Unless he said that driving alone is a privileged, which it is. But he said being able to afford to drive is a privilege. Are you going to take away someone’s ability to afford things?
I said being able to afford to drive is a form of privilege. Of course it is. The person who can afford to drive is relatively better off than the person who cannot. To the extent that we’re considering where to direct public resources, that’s something to keep in mind.
Ms. Becker, on the other hand, argues that anyone who isn’t in a car must have some other form of privilege, by assuming they must all be young, fit and affluent. That assumption is grossly ridiculous, ignoring that lots of people are not outside of a car by choice.
That you’re triggered by discussion of privilege does not render the concept unfair.
Moderator’s Note: I deleted this thread. The comment was way over the line of personal attacks, and even included some Godwin’s Law.
While you’re moderating, there’s a pending comment that looks like it got auto-moderated for including a link.
Should be fixed.
It would be nice if drivers could drive safely even when it really is kids on bikes. Why would you demand kids bike in the street? Protected bike lanes will protect our kids from average normal distracted driving.
Why are you against protecting kids from drivers?
I think this perspective is important and it shows that the messaging of the pro urbanization crowd needs tweaking.
This is not a preference war. Walking isn’t being encouraged because walking is cool. It’s because we, as a society, can not afford to have everyone drive. We haven’t been paying the true cost of that habit since the first highways were built.
Reducing driving speeds and encouraging walking must also be done alongside allowing more housing to be built so that people can truly choose to live closer to their needs. Maybe not walk or bike close, but every step in densification allows transit to work better.
Lastly- I think the biggest issue that should be highlighted is what the trade off is. What is the travel time impact of narrowing streets so people can safely cross them on foot? The numbers matter and most traffic assessments show limited impact. Trading someone’s safety for an added 5 minutes to a trip across town should not be interpreted as trading one harm for another. One is harm, one is inconvenience.
Carol Becker isn’t some person forced to work two jobs to make ends meet.
Carol Becker has a PhD in Public Administration as well as a Masters degree in Public Affairs. She’s a finance professional with 30 years of experience, and currently works for the state. She has two other jobs that I’m aware of, one is teaching public policy at Hamline University, and the other is that she is an elected member of the city’s Board of Estimate and Taxation.
Do you feel that the specifics of the writer’s jobs matter? This is a broadly shared perspective that should be engaged with on the merits. I disagree with the assumptions about both the motives of urban reformers and the consequences of urban reform but I wouldn’t disagree with them any less if the writer had a different set of credentials or held a different job.
I do think it’s relevant when Carol tries to portray herself as something she’s not. I also find it especially relevant since she’s not just some random civilian, she is an elected government official.
I didn’t do some deep web private eye sleuthing expedition to find any of this out either, this is the stuff Carol is so proud of, she puts it on her campaign website http://carolbecker.net/
Moderator here. Please refrain from personal attacks and focus on the ideas presented. There is a lot to be said for Ms. Becker’s perspective that is valid and is lost when comments are directed at her perceived personal situation.
With all due respect I strenuously disagree. Carol is offering this view in incredibly bad faith, and I think it’s important that that be called out.
Agreed. An Op-Ed from an elected official should be labeled as such. There is no introductory or closing paragraph from the site’s editors saying who she is in the community.
100% agree with you Peter, the entire article was disingenuous.
And the fact that the moderators choose to single you out for stating facts that shine a light on that is pathetic.
Mod here: We’ve tried to be transparent about why we make decisions and how we direct the comments. The point of having a policy is to not “single” anyone out, but instead treat everyone with a similar set of guidelines.
How is this at all a personal attack?
I never portrayed myself as someone who was “forced” to work two jobs. But I do think it is relevant because there are a lot of people like me who have two jobs who have to get from one job to another and don’t have the luxury of time to walk or bike or take transit.
By the way, I work for government and I also teach. Neither pay particularly well.
I presume you mentioned my doctorate to imply that I have some privilege because of it. I got my doctorate mid-career going to school in the evenings and on weekends. I wrote my dissertation at the same time I adopted my daughter. Mostly writing from 10 pm to 2 am where I would also take the early shift of feeding and taking care of the baby. I paid for it, in part, by using an employer’s reimbursement program, a program they then changed because of my extensive use of it.
And as to the economic benefits of being an elected official, the Board of Estimate pays $35 a meeting. We haven’t had a raise since 1975. We are your best deal in government.
Agreed with Dana on this. Knowledge of the individual’s personal financial, family, etc situation should not be a factor in a thread like this — even when they are elected. I don’t think Carol made any false statements about her situation. People should be able to share their perspective without having their personal life scrutinized.
And yet it is not at all her personal life or family under discussion. It is her public life and qualifications as a public, elected official.
At least one set of comments here specifically comment on her jobs outside the scope of her elected role, and make assertions about her finances, and argue that her opinion is less valid because she’s not sufficiently destitute. That’s not OK.
Her opinion isn’t less valid because she’s not sufficiently destitute, but her “privilege” argument is very deceptive. And I’d argue she’s a public figure who the audience of streets.mn is likely to know. And she publicly lists her work experience, this isn’t a private citizen whose LinkedIn we’re digging into.
If RT Rybak wrote something about how hard it is to drive to his various post-mayoral obligations and how he doesn’t have the privilege to take a lower paying job that he can bike to, he’d rightly be pilloried for the same reasons. I know he has a lot higher of a profile than Carol Becker but it’s the same idea.
Don’t you get it, it is a privilege to call out the privileged. If two people claim the other is privileged, whoever gets there first wins and has a Monopoly on all debate, facts or not, anyone who doesn’t agree is privileged so they don’t matter.
Considering the title of this post, this remark seems a bit ironic.
That’s not an accurate description of Peter’s original comment, which was directly aimed at the personal financial situation of the writer.
Carol made it about her personal financial situation. Carol is the one trying to misrepresent herself in order to gain sympathy for her views.
The truth in this case is absolutely relevant.
Please do not assign intent that the author may or may not have intended. As evidenced by the comments below there are plenty of things about the ideas. As Sean said: “At least one set of comments here specifically comment on her jobs outside the scope of her elected role, and make assertions about her finances, and argue that her opinion is less valid because she’s not sufficiently destitute. That’s not OK.”
This section of the thread is done. Streets.mn has one of the best, productive, and respectful comments sections of nearly any website I’ve been on. Let’s keep it that way.
I would like to register that I respectfully disagree with you and Sean on this, Dana, but as you have requested I won’t go on and on about it. Moderating is a thankless job, and you are not obligated to agree with me, but I think you and Sean are off the mark here.
Carol Becker repeatedly makes arguments in her op-ed that are grounded in her position – as someone aged, with mobility limitations, and as a woman.
She also appears to be staking a claim as someone of limited financial privilege.
It’s engagement on her terms, not an attack, to contest her claims to be speaking on behalf of the economically underprivileged.
Like I said, this section of the thread is done. Moderators have made our expectations regarding this topic clear and I’m not going to engage in an argument about it.
Comments here have been removed due to violating our comment policy.
You mean like her personal attack on me for being a white privileged male?
If she had said, “white privileged male, and I’m talking about you Brian…” then yes.
“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Hold on, let me modify that quote for this post:
“When you’re a driver accustomed to streets just for cars, streets for everyone feel like oppression.”
This is right on and I think this piece reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what people want the future of transportation to look like. For better or worse cars are an important tool to get us places we cannot go by transit or with human-powered transportation. That will be true before and after your choice of urban reforms. But the goal of reform is correcting a century of mistakes to reduce or eliminate the advantages of cars for most daily trips. That means permitting people to work, eat and shop close to home and building reliable and rapid transit systems. Many trips will still involve cars and some people will still use cars for everything, but by making it safe and convenient to walk and bike the comparative advantage of driving will be much lower, and diversifying trips should reduce overall congestion and demand for parking.
I don’t know a really nice way to say this: these kind of opinion pieces are junk. They’re junk when they’re about the rights of homeowners and they’re junk when they’re about the rights of car owners too.
This is a woman of privilege complaining that she may have to spend slightly more time in the car sometime in the next few decades (something that would happen anyway if our region continues to grow as it’s doing right now) so that a large portion of the population of this city can get around more safely. That’s just a knee-jerk reaction to having unchecked privilege challenged, and the attempt to frame people who drive as “less privileged” is rediculous.
Have people like Carol ever ridden a Metro Transit bus in the city? Say the #5 or the #21 or either light rail line? They’re full of largely much lower income people (who are disproportionally P.O.C. and women) who have to spend 2-3x as much time getting anywhere and put up with unsafe bus stops, substandard sidewalks, and very few marked crosswalks because this city has completely prioritized moving cars over the past seventy years. Yes, there are white bike jocks on their Surlys who are sometimes jerks and show up more for planning meetings, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only people who don’t drive in this city, and it takes a whole lot of sheltering or willful ignorance to actually believe that to be the case.
Every once in a while I encounter someone acting like a “jerk” while driving a car as well…
I never portrayed myself as someone who was “forced” to work two jobs. But I do think it is relevant because there are a lot of people like me who have two jobs who have to get from one job to another and don’t have the luxury of time to walk or bike or take transit.
By the way, I work for government and I also teach. Neither pay particularly well.
I presume you mentioned my doctorate to imply that I have some privilege because of it. I got my doctorate mid-career going to school in the evenings and on weekends. I wrote my dissertation at the same time I adopted my daughter. Mostly writing from 10 pm to 2 am where I would also take the early shift of feeding and taking care of the baby. I paid for it, in part, by using an employer’s reimbursement program, a program they then changed because of my extensive use of it.
And as to the economic benefits of being an elected official, the Board of Estimate pays $35 a meeting. We haven’t had a raise since 1975. We are your best deal in government.
Yes, yes I have ridden a Metro Transit bus.
Yes, we do need to make bus stops better, bad sidewalks better, etc. But we also have to have a Comp Plan that speaks for everyone, not just the few.
I personally know people with disabilities who can walk or use assistive devices but who cannot drive a car, as I’m guessing many of us do. There are even people who can drive a bicycle for independent transportation but cannot drive a car, and there are even amazing organizations that exist to enable people to experience this independence.
People with different abilities that allow them to walk or even drive a bicycle, but who cannot drive a car, should not be invisible and dehumanized by anyone let alone our elected officials.
Oh, and I gifted Carol Becker a membership to Our Streets Minneapolis a few months ago. So she should be receiving updates about how their advocacy, and walkable/bikeable/transitable streets are a benefit for people with different abilities.
Not sure if it was this organization, but my brother did a similar program and now he is off the back of the tandem on most all rides and cycles on his own 3 wheeler.
(Side note, should we use cycle instead of bike? Is bicycling ever limited to 2 wheels, and could it be better focused on all persons using cycling instead?)
Thanks Matt. I am looking forward to going to a meeting. I haven’t had time yet but it is on my list of things to do.
In some ways, I relate to Carol’s perspective here. Although I previously biked and bused a lot for transportation (I lived in Richfield nearly car-free for a year and a half), I have had to cut back significantly since a back injury made it painful to bike. For the last two years, the vast majority of my transportation has been behind the wheel of a personal vehicle.
But I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding here: although there is a high rate of change, we have not reached an anti-car result in the design of our streets. And I don’t think we are anywhere close to that.
One example that comes to mind: the newly reconstructed portion of Hennepin Avenue, which will include a total of 28 feet for the movement and storage of motor vehicles, and 26 feet for bicycles and pedestrians. At least 6 of those feet (the southbound bike lane) will almost certainly do double-duty as a shoulder and “short-term parking lane” for cars. Is that an unbalanced result?
Minneapolis — and the region in general — is an incredibly convenient and comfortable place to drive a car. For basically 148 to 168 hours of the week, I can drive from my home in Richfield to downtown Minneapolis in about 12 minutes. Even with really “bad” congestion, that might be 25 minutes. Parking has gotten more expensive, but is still very cheap compared to many central city downtowns. And that seems largely driven by there being more development and more demand, not any city edict to drive up the price. By comparison, when my boyfriend drives from Sausalito, CA to the financial district of San Francisco — only slightly farther — it takes 45 minutes at rush hour, and parking costs $35 a day.
A transportation system that focuses only on cars – as ours did for decades and as we’ve only made slight deviations from – is not “a balanced transportation system that works for everyone.”
It takes a truly warped sense to look at a city that’s spent decades prioritizing cars and view yourself as a victim because there are now some bike lanes too. Lots of people can’t afford or are not physically able to drive a car. What about them, Carol? All of them walk or roll with an assistance device. Some of them can ride a bike. All of them can take transit. Why should you be prioritized over them?
The idea that everyone in the 1920s drove everywhere in their Model Ts is laughable. The 1920s development was guided by the streetcar system and those bungalows were typically no more than a few blocks walk from a streetcar stop. You can still see the streetcar’s influence in the small commercial nodes that dot the city and the increase in density – lots of duplexes, some triplexes, a few quadplexes and some small apartment buildings – on the larger streets that used to have streetcars.
In truth little of the city that’s not a modern tower was actually built in the car-first age. The people who first inhabited your bungalow walked, biked (bikes were a common form of transportation in the early 20th century) and took the street car. They didn’t have urban freeways (or cars capable of modern freeway speeds) to whisk them out to suburban big box stores and shopped in their neighborhoods. Gradually increasing density is a way to allow more of that again. Healthy neighborhoods with enough residents to support neighborhood businesses, with enough density to support transit ridership and housing options in which not every single trip as to be done in a car.
Anyway, if we’re going to have this re-posted from the e-democracy forum, we might as well share a link so everyone can see the full discussion from over there: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls/messages/topic/656O34TTyNxqofibImNF4f/
Thanks Adam. I had a similar problem with this version of history. (posted below)
Also, I would not touch e-democracy with a ten-foot keyboard.
As Adam (and, below, Bill Lindeke) point out, Mpls is mostly a streetcar city. 70-80 years ago, most people got around by streetcar and then walking for the “last mile”.
Then they tore up the streetcar system and replaced it with far less efficient buses. This was an inflection point, much as today’s comp plan is, except it was the inverse of today: although Mpls was not designed for cars, without the streetcar system it had to then be reconfigured (and suburbs & highways built) to accommodate cars, thus pretty much forcing people to buy cars to get around.
Today, Mpls, St. Paul, and most of the suburbs are starting to reverse that course of action. By making it less convenient to drive, and by reconfiguration transportation infrastructure like car lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes, and transit, we are encouraging households to have fewer cars.
The comprehensive plan is not telling people to instantly give up their cars. Rather, through policy, it is—over a period of time—encouraging people to use non-car methods of transportation, and thus encouraging households to be “car light”: instead of owning 2 or 3 cars, a household would have one.
By planning for more & better transit, walking, & biking infrastructure, the comp plan makes it easier, more convenient, safer, and more enjoyable to walk, bike, or take transit, thus allowing more people to live in the city (more density), while preventing congestion/gridlock (since there won’t be 1 car per person).
The comp plan is a plan to make the city safer, cleaner, healthier, more pleasant, and more equitable for all.
It’s not even a last “mile” though (not that you were implying it was). If you live in the city, you’re almost certainly less than a mile from the nearest bus, much less the old streetcars.
Yes, more like last quarter-mile (worst-case scenario) for the cities, half-mile for inner ring suburbs, and mile for outer suburbs.
And by encouraging less driving and more transit, then housing, offices, retail, & entertainment thus naturally get built at transportation nexus, meaning that Carol Becker and her relatives and friends will, over time, buy or rent housing that is more convenient to get to, and go to destinations that get built at or move to these dense transportation corridors.
The comprehensive plan, being comprehensive, coordinates transportation & urban planning so that the city becomes an even more attractive place to live, work, & play.
It does take time to undo this mess we’ve created, so there will be some of the pain points she describes in the meantime, just as the advent of a car-focused society created inconveniences like the lack of parking, bridges, and highways.
This point makes a lot of sense to me. But how ought we respond to those who say it’s not worth undoing the mess because of the short-term “pain points?”
“a mile for outer suburbs.” … No, 4.7 miles my family. There are no buses in Eden Prairie.
There’s a whole bus system designed to serve Eden Prairie. It’s Southwest Transit. Most service doesn’t run mid-day or weekend but its rush hour service covers most of Eden Prairie.
I’m aware of SW Transit – but there is not any kind of standard bus route that covers anywhere near where I live.
Here’s the SW Transit website with “All Routes” selected. I live down by the red star.
The nearest stop is 1.6 miles, not 4.7 miles. Not right next door but plenty of people in the city walk a mile for transit. It’s rarely a mile to the nearest stop but not infrequently a mile to get to the bus line that goes where you want to go.
People shouldn’t have to walk a mile — if they physically can — to reach a bus line. Any “comprehensive” plan should include more bus routes where people live and more frequent buses during more of every day of the week.
This sounds like an issue for the Eden Prairie comprehensive plan.
The standard for the last 100 years for transit planning is that people will walk four blocks. Yes, some people may walk a mile, but they are not your typical person. It is part of why we have so many hide and rides, where people drive to the bus. Usually express buses.
False, unfortuantely. There is no slotted stop for the 690 where you think it is (Anderson Lakes & Homeward Hills Blvd).
Also, I think I’m spoiled. I was 1 block off an Express line when I lived in Minneapolis. That’s the kind of plan I want to see if we’re all going to magically switch to an egalitarian plan that disincentives personally-operated automobiles.
I was lied to through Google Maps. I hate when that happens.
For Minneapolitans? Yes. For Eden Prairie? Maybe. If that was your point, would you mind writing a post about regionalism and if/how Minneapolis should consider and weight non-residents, and discuss how suburbs might consider city dwellers as well?
I believe he was referring to the historic distances, back when we had street cars
There was no Eden Prairie beyond a little farming town of a couple hundred people back when we had streetcars so it wouldn’t have mattered.
Well put, Lou.
It is true that there will likely always be people who need to drive. Let’s do them a favor. Let’s design a city that enables people, for whom driving is a choice, to live near stuff and get around without driving. You’d think that those who need to drive would want less car traffic getting in their way.
Carol’s perspective is not unique and she’s right about some of the negative, isolated impacts on individuals. But this is happening because for half a century our society actively reversed natural development patterns that have existed since civilization began. It accomplished this by shifting costs in a colossal shell game to the exclusive benefit of automobile drivers. We know better now and are slowly adjusting investments so automobile drivers get “only” the vast majority of public investment instead of nearly all of it. We are going to refocus public spending and attention on areas that need the most help so the whole system can work better for everyone. That’s the point of planning. In short, this commentary is the planning equivalent of saying “All Lives Matter”. It’s not wrong, but it also completely misses the point and paints the truly privileged as victims.
The author writes: “I drive because I don’t have a choice.” She then proceeds to explain many reasons for this that pertain to her personally.
But the problem isn’t her, the problem is the city. There are people all over the world with multiple jobs, young children, bad knees, and other constraints on their mobility. In cities like New York, Stockholm, Bogotá, Shanghai, and others, there are millions of such people do not rely upon cars to get around, because their cities have been built to allow for easy transportation with all kinds of modes.
In fact, these cities are even better for people with mobility constraints, because they offer more choices and at lower costs, so someone can take the mode of transportation best suited for any given trip or their own physical situation.
Minneapolis-St. Paul is not yet a city where the same can be said. But the comprehensive plan is a promising step in that direction. It will allow for a denser city that will allow more people (including those with mobility constraints) to live closer to their work, their shopping, their activities and their social networks. It will also allow for densities that will economically justify the costs to the taxpayer of public transportation expansion. The author writes that “I, like the majority of Minneapolis residents, have little in the way of jobs or businesses within a walkable or even winter bikable distance.” But this not an inevitability, but a function of the built environment that we have chosen to construct. Nor is that the built environment that best supports all citizens, including those with mobility constraints, as evidenced by cities around the world.
This is the heart of the misconceptions that drive this piece. The author seems to accept the current state of Minneapolis not just as inevitable but also proper. She writes, “The proposed Comprehensive Plan does not support a balanced transportation system where the needs of all travelers are considered.” But in reality, it is the current transportation system that is imbalanced. There are not enough destinations within walking distance for many people, and sidewalks are often obstructed, especially during winter. The city’s bike infrastructure is impressive in the American context, but in the global context it is inadequate. The city’s high frequency, high capacity, congestion free public transit system is only just now being built.
Meanwhile, driving is exceptionally easy, compared to every other mode. The comprehensive plan envisions a future in which the other modes of transit are more viable. At times, progress on that front may mean slight inconveniences for drivers, but will pale in scale to the inconveniences that pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users put up with daily in the present day.
The comprehensive plan can be improved in many respects, but on the whole, it is excellent in large part because it recognizes that a denser Minneapolis will be more equitable, connected, and healthy for all citizens, those that are currently forced to drive a car included.
I don’t disagree with much of what you said. The problem comes down when we have to operationalize things. No matter how much we wish, most people will not be able to live their lives walking or biking or taking transit. I work at a place with 35,000 employees. We all cannot live next to work. I have two jobs. I will never have time to walk or bike or take transit from one to another. I have a child. She will not be able to walk or bike or take transit to either her K-5 or 6-8 school. Maybe her high school (there is one) but probably not. Most schools are not on a high frequency bus route or on light rail. Most of us will still go to Cub and Target to shop and will not want to try to drag stuff home on bike or walking, especially those who have kids. (Kids take a lot of stuff…) Amazon is disrupting retail anyway so talking traditional retail coming back seems a bit premature.
I agree with all of this in theory but the nut of this question isn’t theory – it is how you are going to operationalize it. Making driving harder will not force people out of their cars because they can’t live without them. What will happen is that people will leave the City. Businesses whose customers cannot get to them, will go out of business. We need to think about all modes equally – all modes need to improve to have a vibrant, thriving city.
I think it is easier to put a better, multi-modal transportation system into practice than you describe. Options are expanding for high capacity, high frequency, congestion-free public transit and safe, 8-80 bicycling. The reach of infrastructure that supports these modes is increasing yearly, and the effect is to multiply the number of possible trips that can be made easily via these modes.
I sense that you do not, strictly speaking, object to any of that, so much as it does not interfere with your ability to drive. But you wrote again in your comment about a “balanced” transportation system, and I’d argue that our current system is nowhere near balanced. As you yourself point out, using public transit, bicycling, or walking, is all too often extremely inconvenient, impractical, or unsafe. Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities, driving is virtually always the convenient, practical, and safest-feeling option.
The reasons why this is the case often have nothing to do with the qualities inherent to that mode of transit, and everything to do with the infrastructure we have built to support it! How safe bicycling feels, for instance, is a variable that is completely within our control. If bicycling does not feel as safe as driving, then our bicycle infrastructure is not up to scratch. Public transit commuting in cities with good public transit is often about as fast, door to door, as driving. If our public transit is not as fast as driving at peak hours, then we need to build better public transit.
A balanced transportation system would offer each user a menu of compelling modes for completing each trip. The user could then make the decision based on factors that are personal to them (“It’s a beautiful day, I think I’ll bike,” “I’m going to drinks after work, I’ll take the train,” “I need to pick up my parents at the airport after work, I’ll take the car today”). But again, the Twin Cities is currently designed so that the car is the only mode that always makes sense. That’s an imbalanced system, and to get on a balanced footing, the bulk of improvements have to come for transit and biking.
Two final short points:
– The fact that the car is the dominant mode of transit in MSP is obviously a disaster for the environment, for public safety, and for the beauty of the built form of cities. We generally add these costs into the cost of driving, which, I’d argue and hope you’d agree, is not great policy.
– In fact, there is significant empirical evidence that imposing costs on drivers (especially removing parking subsidies, or charging congestion or pollution fees) can convince people to change modes. It is true, as you say, that some people are more or less locked into a specific mode, whether by the specifics of their schedule, or by their poverty, or whatever. But there are also lots of marginal trips that could go either way, and pursuing policies that might be a disincentive towards driving, like charging for parking, has been shown to reduce driving. https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/01/the-strongest-case-yet-that-excessive-parking-causes-more-driving/423663/
One more thing: the car as the dominant mode of transit is death for local businesses. If a few miles distance is no obstacle, as in a car, there’s no reason not to drive out to the suburbs for perceived lower prices (especially when you ignore the actual costs of doing so, some of which are externalities).
If you want your local coffee shop or hardware store or whatever to have a chance to thrive, you need to allow it to have more neighbors for whom it is a convenient option. Facilitating cars to go past it is no help.
Incredible how Carol can pretend that she doesn’t have the privilage she does!
Driving her late model vehicle and voluntarily working 12+ hours. Lets not forget about those Moms and Dads who work 12+ hours for low wages and crummy tips and are forced to ride our slow public transit, walk on our substandard sidewalks and endure terrible overall conditions especially during winter.
I’ve routinely taken 4 buses to get my 3 year old from home, to daycare and then myself to work. An hour and a half of commuting for 6 miles. Her car commute of 6 miles will be lenghened by what now? Give me a break!!
Carol should be absolutely ashamed of herself for pretending she knows how it is out there. Who has the “luxury” of taking a lower paying job to be on a transit or bike route? Walking? I don’t know anyone who takes the lowest paying job.
Oof. The sentiment that cars can protect POC is a completely off-the-rails sentiment in the metro that killed Philando Castile on the side of the road. In the metro with statistically proven racist traffic enforcement. In the metro where the highway was used to obliterate black neighborhoods.
I find this to be an intellectually insulting read. Most of Minneapolis is the most car-friendly metropolis I’ve ever been in, and making changes to improve mobility for bicyclists, walking, and public transit is necessary. Yes, much of the city is currently car-dependent. This should change. Continuing to embrace car dependency is just logically backward.
I also feel that Dr. Becker, or certainly streets.mn should have mentioned that she is an elected official in this op-ed.
Typically this is in the author bio, which seems to have gone blank. We will need to follow up on this.
It does now and it did in the Star Tribune printing of it.
I’m a white male, full of privilege that i freely acknowledge. I turn 64 next month. I have a chronic illness that tries to get in the way of my commitment to active transportation. I work downtown Minneapolis about 9 miles from my home in St. Paul. I drop off the dog to doggy day care twice a week (kids are grown). I do all of this by bike. I didn’t have the privilege of locating my workplace close to home but I manage to bike commute anyway. Having worked with bike share equity programming, I learned only too well that car dependence can be more of a burden than its worth. A necessary care repair can result in the loss of a job. The expense of insurance, payments, repairs, and lost time can be crippling.
I don’t “hurt” (yet) in the morning when I wake up and while sometimes I struggle to get ready for the long ride to work, I’m forced to do so. I don’t have access to a daily car. Besides, parking is prohibitively expensive downtown.
I believe the earlier comments are correct. We spent many decades designing our cities for cars and not people. I spend a good part of my life these day advocating for cities that are now designed for people and not cars. Livable cities.
Get a bike, and ride it. First for a block, then further, then further still. In no time you’ll be riding where ever you go. And you’ll enjoy it. I promise
There’s lots to disagree with here, so I’ll just choose one bit of it.
“Minneapolis was built primarily in three eras. First, roughly from 1895 to 1905. These parts of town, primarily clustered around downtown, have large Victorians on larger lots. They were designed to be walkable because at the time, there wasn’t mechanized transportation available to them. The second era, in the 1920’s, was the era of bungalows on smaller lots with Model T garages in the back. These neighborhoods were not built to be particularly walkable and have few walkable jobs or businesses. The third era was the 1950’s and after. Like the 1920’s bungalow housing, it also has little in the way of walkable jobs or businesses. I, like the majority of Minneapolis residents, have little in the way of jobs or businesses within a walkable or even winter bikable distance.”
The historical analysis here is just plain wrong. The majority of Minneapolis’ existing building stock dates to the streetcar era (or even before!), when of course people did not drive cars on a daily basis and the vast majority of people did not own a car. While wealthy neighborhoods might have had “large Victorians on larger lots,” the majority of the people who lived in Minneapolis for well over a century did not live in homes like that. There were lots of areas with small homes close together, a huge number of apartment buildings and multi-unit homes (many of which have been torn down), and almost every neighborhood had a streetcar node nearby with businesses, shops, and jobs. The neighborhoods WERE built to be walkable, and people rode streetcars, walked, and (yes) even rode bicycles to the places they needed to go, which were close by. The car-centric parts of Minneapolis are so limited as to be exceptions that prove the rule, and you can see this quite obviously by looking out for Minneapolis homes with attached garages. There aren’t any, other than maaaaaaybe the far south or far north reaches of the city, like along the borders with suburban communities, or places where existing neighborhoods were torn down in the name of “progress” (e.g. the 335 corridor in NE).
So yeah, that bit of the argument here is not accurate, though I suppose it’s a perspective one could myopically take.
You are correct that most of the housing was built before 1954. And streetcars were killed off in 1954. But pretty much every house built after WWI was built with a garage. Was everything built before WWII built within four blocks of a transit line? Mostly yes. Are they auto oriented or transit oriented? You say potato, I say potato. We are both right.
Were people actually using transit? No. Transit ridership was about 250M rides in 1915. After WWI, that plummeted down to about 125M rides. Clearly the introduction of the automobile had a huge impact on travel. (It should be noted that the City was also gaining substantial population during this time also, making the transit numbers even more stark. So on a transit grid, yes. But people were using transit at radically declining numbers. So I respect your perception that these houses were built on a transit grid but stand by my perception of these houses with alleys and garages primarily focused on automobile travel.
The point is that before the WWII, when 99% of Minneapolis was built, it was built to be walkable. Trips were closer to home, and people walked. There were sidewalks and streets built to be walkable and people walked and the city was a walking city.
In sum, the so-called “third era” of post-50s Minneapolis housing you describe didn’t actually exist in a meaningful way.
You say: “These neighborhoods were not built to be particularly walkable and have few walkable jobs or businesses.” I say those post-20s “second era” were absolutely built to walkable and designed intentionally to be that way. That’s not potato potato, that’s opposite opinions, only one of which is correct.
Ms. Becker starts her opinion piece saying she drives a car because she does not have a choice. Of course she has a choice, perhaps a difficult one that ultimately is one where she decides driving is best for her. But she has a choice and to attempt a criticism of the proposed comprehensive plan this way is disingenuous.
Her next claim is that the Comp Plan does not support the needs of all travelers. I’d say it does the opposite, correcting prior plans that prioritized those that drove over those that walked, biked, or take transit. The goal should not be to move people “quickly and easily” around the city. That is a pipe dream. The goat is to move the safely and efficiently.
Ms. Becker takes a fair amount of time about how it would apparently in her mind be harder to get workers to jobs, parents to get their kids to schools, to get to relatives that live far away to help care for them, and to get to medical appointments under the Comp Plan. She misses a central point of the Comp Plan — get more people closer to the things they need.
Instead of having to drive to 3 suburbs to care for relatives that are isolated, move them into a multigenerational household (or closer in blocks away), near the doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and other places they need to go. That is what great density allows. The Comp Plan is a first step is allowing people like Ms. Becker to be able to work multiple jobs, participate in her child’s school, provide the impressive and laudable support for elderly relatives with health problems. Moving people closer together (or, more realistically, not banning them from living closer together) will allow the so-called “extra time” to walk/bike. Instead of being isolated driving to and from each location, at least half the time alone, she could be engaged in her community walking, biking, taking a bus and actively interacting with her surroundings instead of “quickly and easily” passing through them.
Ms. Becker is an impressive individual that provides a lot of laudable support for family and others. Under the Comp Plan, she would be able to do so more easily, albeit not necessarily in a car every time.
Peter – my ability to force my elders to do anything is severely limited. They don’t all really like each other and we can sometimes barely make it through a school concert much less forcing them to all live together.
Plenty of people in this city have cranky kids, elderly relatives, multiple jobs, and arthritis or other conditions that make mobility difficult. And a lot of them do it all without a car. We need options for people that don’t involve driving, especially not driving alone everywhere.
To harp away once again, on a point I consider fundamental, we need a skeletal metropolitan transit system that really is RAPID transit.
Lacking such a system it’s no wonder that many individuals (including Carol Becker) resort to driving a car. Perfectly understandable when one sees the prospect of spending as much as two hours getting to where you need to go by means of our present public transit grid.
People “resort to driving a car” because we have spent a ridiculous amount of money making that – by far – the easiest option for most people that have the privilege of doing so. People like this author can live in Minneapolis and work in St. Paul by driving down an interstate at 60+ miles an hour, a drive made possible by displacing thousands of residents and businesses, gutting a community of color, and spending billions of 2018 dollars to build, maintain and expand a freeway.
And not having a first-rate transit system promotes congestion on those metropolitan interstates. Ultimately, a choking effect on both commerce and personal life.
Carol, thanks for bringing your perspective here.
So many of us are concerned about how our transportation systems both open up and constrain options for how we live our lives. I like the comprehensive plan’s more balanced emphasis on opening up options for people instead of limiting movement to those who have cars or who have the ability to order a ride share.
Like you, I’m a mother, and I care for aging and disabled relatives. Narrowing streets, reducing lanes, and slowing traffic frees me from driving family around by allowing them to move freely on their own even though they cannot drive. Safer streets means that my 10-year-old can go to school, piano lessons, the park, to visit friends without me driving. His autonomy is important to me, which is why could ride a bike before he was out of diapers. Pedestrian-accessible transit means that my mother doesn’t have to check my schedule before making medical appointments. Reducing parking lots means more homes and businesses in my neighborhood. Higher parking meter rates ensure that people have a place to park when they are visiting high-traffic areas, and puts a nominal fee on those who are using excess space for their car. Higher density means that at long last my neighborhood can support a grocery store. My bike is becoming my mobility device. With suddenly deteriorating knees, I can no longer walk distances that were once easy for me. But I can bike them, and with improving infrastructure it takes me less time to bike to work than to take the train, plus I get my workout in simultaneously. (And I bike to work in my work clothes without showering on arrival. I don’t feel judged for it.)
Our city infrastructure and our personal preferences push us to make many choices and solve logistical problems in different ways. I look forward to a city that gives us more choices rather than limiting them like the decades-long emphasis on personal automobile ownership has done. Driving is not going away, but I’d like to see it not have to be the default for everyone.
I also appreciate the general perspective, but I wish the author could respond to one point I had.
My brother will never be able to drive a vehicle, but he can walk a few blocks, he can cycle a few miles, and he can take simple transit (and occasionally paratransit). Widening streets, not including HIGH quality cycling facilities and walking facilities actively limits his freedoms and ability to leave the house. Did you consider these persons while determining your opinion on the comp plan, and if so, why did you choose that your mobility was more important than his?
I am fighting for the future of someone I know who has these capabilities too, but may never drive.
“We should make it an option for more people to live in X way” != “Everyone should live in X way.” Drivers shouldn’t feel attacked by the suggestion that we should make it possible to live comfortably in Minneapolis without owning a car. It’s not about them; it’s just that that currently isn’t possible in most neighborhoods. Homeowners shouldn’t feel attacked by the suggestion that there should be more apartments in the city. It’s not about them; it’s that the apartment vacancy rate is hovering near an insanely low 2%, driving up rents and thus displacing people.
Accommodating those who live differently than you is not a referendum on your own lifestyle. This is not a culture war. This is about good options for a diverse range of people, at a cost we can collectively afford. We can disagree with each other on how to provide that, but both sides need to resist the temptation to embrace the culture-war framing. Especially urbanists, because at least in Minnesota, it’s not a war we can win.
The problem is, car-dependency is collectively unaffordable in multiple ways: driving everywhere may work for individuals, but it doesn’t work when we all do it. There is the climate-change contribution, but even if that goes away because of electric vehicles and renewable energy, there are other problems.
Car infrastructure itself is a barrier to non-car modes of transportation. Wide roads are moats that divide neighborhoods and are dangerous and unpleasant to cross on foot. Ample parking means buildings farther apart from each other means fewer things you can walk or bike to. And, of course, any car going faster than 25 or 30 miles per hour, anywhere, is liable to kill someone if it hits them.
Parking takes up VAST amounts of urban land, often more than the actual buildings the parking lots are there to serve. This map illustrates how much space the parking in LA would take up if it were one giant circle: http://www.betterinstitutions.com/blog/2016/1/2/map-a-parking-lot-with-all-of-la-countys-186-million-parking-spaces
There’s a huge opportunity cost to that in lost activity, and thus tax revenue. Strong Towns and Urban3 have compellingly demonstrated that auto-oriented development is usually a money loser for local governments—it literally doesn’t generate enough revenue to maintain its own infrastructure: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/1/9/the-real-reason-your-city-has-no-money
There’s also a huge opportunity cost in access to the city. Minneapolis is in high demand. Home prices are rising, and there’s a very real danger of pricing people out, resulting in a city that is more exclusionary, less diverse, and less economically and culturally dynamic. Parking requirements are often the single biggest obstacle to adding more homes to the city—developers who’ve done the math will tell you that.
There’s a virtuous cycle we can achieve in which as Minneapolis adds residents, it also adds businesses and amenities in walking distance of those residents, and improves multimodal transportation options. The streets don’t end up gridlocked, because there are more people but everyone, on average, drives less than they used to.
Key words in the preceding sentence: “on average.” Nobody has to be pitted against anybody. Carol Becker will still be able to hop in her car and go pick up her daughter on non-gridlocked streets. Because other people who would have been driving, say, to the grocery store will be walking or biking or taking the bus there instead, because those options will be more attractive or because there’ll be a new grocery store closer to home.
This piece, like most everything I’ve ever read of its ilk, offers a lot of vague scaremongering, but zero evidence that the comp plan’s vision for streets and neighborhood density, if fully realized, would actually result in any hardship for current car owners in Minneapolis. It makes the strange claim that the comp plan “doesn’t talk about the need to help people move quickly and easily around the City.” And despite that bold claim, the author is conspicuously silent on what she thinks *would* help people move quickly and easily around the city.
If Ms. Becker would like to respond to the trade-offs I cited—ways in which accommodating near-universal car ownership makes the city worse and imposes high costs—then maybe we can have a productive conversation. Playing culture-war with claims of “privilege” is an unfortunate, unproductive way to grapple with this issue.
I wish this opinion piece had some citations and some fact checking. The author states the comp plan “proposes jacking up parking meter rates to discourage people from driving.”, which as far as I can tell, is completely inaccurate. There is no mention of parking meter rates in the comp plan, according to one of the authors of the Comp Plan I asked.
this is correct. searching “meter” on minneapolis2040.com brings up one result, which does not address rates at all.
“Incorporate the Complete Streets Policy into all elements of the public right-of-way, including landscaping, transit shelters, lighting, signs, traffic lights, parking meters, bicycle parking, and furniture.”
I think the idea that parking should be priced is in the comp plan? Or at least it should be…
don’t get me wrong, it absolutely should be. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m looking.
ah, here’s something.
a) Require travel demand management strategies in new development such as … market-priced parking.
e) Explore the implementation of fees and incentives that encourage the use of public transportation and zero-emissions vehicles.
Those are much less strong than “jacking up parking meter rates” but i guess if you want to make a mountain out of a molehill go for it
Yes, that’s the bit that I saw…
While I don’t agree with many points made by the author in this piece, I do appreciate that Streets.MN includes content like this at least occasionally (that said, writing that balances research/facts with personal anecdote is also appreciated).
Although many of Streets’ readers and other authors may not share the viewpoints expressed herein, including differing perspectives ultimately fosters discussion and engagement by a wide range of community members, which I believe is ultimately Streets’ goal.
streets.mn : Vision
A public better informed and engaged on transportation and land use issues.
To expand and enhance the conversation about transportation and land use through research and informed commentary.
This type of content is exactly why we are all reading streets.mn, we have to be careful to avoid an echo chamber effect.
Please note that we are re-writing the mission and vision very soon.
I love coming here for the researched and informed commentary. This is an ill-informed diatribe. I can get that from the Star Tribune opinion section.
That’s where it is now!
Privilege is the state of believing that your personal values are average, ideal, and morally neutral.
The author here is expressing a set of values, commonly held in America, that the purpose of the street network is efficient movement of cars, the purpose of the city is economic development, and the best environment to raise a family is detached single-family homes with yards. Those values have been prevalent in the U.S. for almost a century, and they built most of the Midwestern suburbs.
Today, the Complete Streets, Vision Zero, YIMBY and New Urbanist movements express a different set of values, newly ascendent in America, that the purposes of the street network is to provide a place for the life of the city, facilitating interactions between people (possibly including economic transactions, depending on who you ask), and reducing resource consumption, especially consumption in the form of automobile trips.
It is important to note that this new value set, well-represented amongst streets.mn contributors, are no more average, ideal, nor morally neutral than the value set it is attempting to replace. I personally happen to agree with most of it, but that doesn’t make it correct. Most specifically, changes in spatial practice have winners and losers, and those with the power to remake spatial hierarchies should* be aware of how they impact social hierarchies.
A conflict over values cannot be resolved by a discussion over interests. When we** get focused on a proximate concern, such as loss of a parking space, and argue that there is still “plenty” of parking (by our values), the conflict is magnified rather than reduced. Resolving a value conflict begins with affirming, rather than negating the values of the other side. We would do well to spend more time listening, and less time trying to prove that our value system is better.
* “Should” is itself a value word. I am expressing a personal value that those with power in the city have a moral responsibility to consider how their actions affect those with less power.
** Watch the pronouns. Here I am using “we” to loosely mean “the disciples of Jane Jacobs who hang out on streets.mn all the time”. But not everyone in that group would consider themselves part of my “we,” and problematically, a “we” implies a “they,” an outsider group which is implicitly in conflict with “our” values.
I think “ascendant” is an exaggeration. Certainly in specific places urbanism (for want of a better term) is mainstream. In others is it absolutely not. The Minnesota state legislature, for example, is one place where “urbanist” policies are not nearly as popular or supported as they were in the 1970s, in some ways at least.
I’m a female and a person of color. I’m low-income, transit-dependent, a renter on a street with noise and air toxic from private vehicle traffic, and a car-free caretaker of nearly a decade for an elderly parent with limited mobility. I don’t have kids yet (I’m an older millennial) and I also don’t have a partner to share all this with or whose income can supplement mine.
I could tell Becker about being purposely hit by a white woman driving while walking this fall with my father in a crosswalk with a walk sign. I could explain how many people can’t drive, or shouldn’t, and how this shouldn’t keep them from living full lives. I could talk about the threats of (sexual) violence I’ve received from angry drivers, the vulnerability I have as a soft 100 pounds going 3MPH crossing street after street of full of impatient and entitled drivers like Becker tapping the gas pedal while checking their phones in 2,000 pound metal boxes going 30MPH. I could give countless reasons why the comp plan as proposed is a great, if small, start to rectifying actual injustice, actual structural racism, actual accessibility. But I don’t see much point in engaging with someone so out of touch with actual reality, from a climate crisis rapidly surpassing scientists’ worst predictions (despite the empty promises of Ford) to what so many of us face being carfree in a city as car-centric as Minneapolis.
Ironically, I’d suggest a good cure for Becker’s self-focus is ditching the car for transit and walking. It’s a great way to deal with the kind of poor-me whining that all of us fall into from time to time. Being part of our real communities–the ones formed by strangers and friends alike–is vital to being connected to one another. Despite the very real and pervasive barriers that come with being carfree in Minneapolis, I wouldn’t trade it for driving ever. I’ve gained so much by being part of the city around me, by being part of a give-and-take of our street life, where often the best part of my day is the brief conversations I have with strangers, or where my assumptions and worldviews are challenged by someone I never would’ve met (or eavesdropped on!) if I were sitting in a steel bubble by myself.
Carol Becker needs to lose the privileged windshield perspective that apparently makes her unable to see or empathize with people without the structural power and access she has. I’m disheartened to know that we have elected officials in our supposedly progressive city who rail so vehemently against the common good in favor of their own personal interests. Leadership is the opposite of personal entitlement.
I never realized how disconnected I was from my community when I was driving, walking and transit (and biking to a lesser extent) helped me actively see the people and diversity in my community.
Thank you for your contribution. The issues you endure are exactly why I feel so strongly about rebuilding our pedestrian and transit system to serve those who depend so much on non-automobile transportation.
Yes to all of this.
You keep talking about privilege but you fail to mention the privilege that you already have that you want to deny to other people by militant the housing supply: living in the city. Please recognize your own privilege.
Ian what do you mean, “millitant the housing supply”? I don’t think Julia mentions housing at all
I think that’s supposed to be “limiting the housing supply.”
As a woman of color who doesn’t own a car, who walks, takes the bus, and occasionally rides a bike, I’m troubled by this author’s conception of privilege, especially considering she’s an elected official. This post goes against streets.mn’s mission of “A public better informed” about transportation.
Disabled people do actually exist outside private automobiles. I have visually impaired neighbors who travel on foot and by transit, they deserve to be safe on our streets.
Come ride with me on the 5 bus sometime and tell everyone how privileged they are. There are people who walk or bike to work because they have to. Many of these people are walking to and from bus stops for blocks crossing multiple intersections that aren’t safe, every single day.
Let’s go talk to them and tell them how privileged they are and how their safety is negotiable, and tell them they need to sacrifice some of it to enable you to drive a little faster through our neighborhoods.
I have so many issues with this article I’m probably going to author a rebuttal article to address them point by point.
Thanks for being out there and reminding me that someone with the polar opposite view from me exists.
I am 53 years old woman. I have arthritis, money is sometimes tight. I am a caregiver also. I choose to bike because it relieves my pain, reduces my stress and cost much less then having a 2nd car. Its my choice. Im not warring against driving, but I can tell you many stories of drivers warring against cyclist.
My summary of this article: “I’m not privileged but i refuse to ride the bus because it’s full of stinky dirty poor people”
I wish I could subscribe to comments without posting one first, because I’m really here for the discussion in the streets.mn comments on this post.
I might add my own later when I have access to more time and a full keyboard and not just my phone.
This take is bad. Like real bad. I am not sure if there are editors/doorkeepers for the content posted here, but it is unfortunate that no one told Carol this was a bad idea. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would love it if people would stop throwing :1. minorities 2. the disabled 3. the elderly 4. children, under the bus for their self interested arguments.
It is okay to just say, ” I want to drive, everywhere, really fast.” Distasteful, sure, but okay. It is not okay to feign concern for others to mask that ugly self interest, especially when your stance is actually contrary to many of those peoples actual best interest.
As a minority woman with children in the city, Carol (and those who think like her) aren’t doing me or anyone else any favors. Thanks (but no thanks).
Everyone already told Carol this was a bad idea over on e-Democracy where she first posted it last week. http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls/messages/topic/656O34TTyNxqofibImNF4f/
YES! Agreed about using children for self interest. Kids love public transit. I remember a winter day full of snow and we needed to get from day care to an auto shop where I left the car for repair work. I gave my daughter (4) the option of walking five blocks to the bus stop or a taxi. She couldn’t wait to ride the bus. On other days when we left the car home she enjoyed the ride on the LRT as much as the destination.
What I’ve observed kids don’t like are car seats and walking through parking lots.
I can’t help but be a little offended when Carol says she doesn’t “have the privilege of taking a lesser paying job I can bike or walk to it.” That is such a backward way of looking at things. What about the people like me, who don’t have the privilege of finding a job outside of an area that I can get to through transit or bike? For decades the Twin Cities have developed entirely around the personal automobile, leading to a sprawled metro area where job centers exist far apart from one another. For my entire adult life, because of my own condition that prevents me from driving a car, I have ONLY been able to look for jobs within reach by bike or transit. I live in Uptown, putting me in reach of maybe 25% of jobs in the metro by way of bike or transit. It is also one of the only places in the metro where I can live comfortably without a car, allowing me to safely walk, bike, or take transit to daily amenities. EVERYWHERE in the metro is safe to reach by car. The privilege lies with those that are able to afford and operate a vehicle. They can live in any part of the Twin Cities and have access to any job and amenity. Not the case if you don’t have a car. These are the people we need to be helping.
I’ve been denied jobs because I don’t have a car. Several years ago I lost my car and wasn’t able to replace it. I had to quit two jobs because there’s only one bus a day to Excelsior.
Recently I was unemployed and desperate for work. Every temp agency I spoke to couldn’t find anything for me closer than Woodbury. “Most of the companies we work with have moved the temp and entry-level positions to the suburbs. Downtown is mostly higher level.” I had to take a part-time service job I’m overqualified for that pays $10/hr with no benefits so that I could eat. Calling that a privilege is so, so offensive. As if anyone would volunteer for this.
I, too, had some problems with the article’s presentation of history. But Carol’s experience also resonates with my experience as a parent.
There have been phases of my life where I walked to work, took the bus, ran to work (and helped get employee showers installed in all Honeywell facilities back in the ’70s), drove (and could not have otherwise functioned in my job or family life), cycled year-round and exclusively for all kinds of purposes.
The best transportation systems work for all people in all phases of life, and driving is one of them. Once it was king, but it still has a place.
For example, I was involved with a Growth & Justice report years ago on investing in transportation. One of its key findings was that for job trips, about three-fourths of workers from poor households drove or rideshared to work both statewide and in the Twin Cities.
One of the reasons was the mismatch between the location of low-income housing, the location of jobs and the schedules and availability of transit between those locations. (How many cyclists killed in recent years have been service workers with odd hours biking to and from work in the dark?)
Looking at transportation systems beyond the streets level is important. That includes realizing that not everyone’s life, privileged or not, is the same as ours.
Drivers have long been privileged users of our cities in general but of Minneapolis specifically. I’m sorry you don’t feel that you are at the front of the line here, but others deserve a chance to have advantage.
Your argument also ignores the bottom line: expanding access for drivers endlessly is impossible and unsustainable. It’s time to give our city a chance to be overrun by something besides cars. Downtown is dying and if pedestrian and cycling access isn’t improved, it’s not going to improve. We don’t need or want a dead downtown area.
Is this a good time to plug 2016’s “Bike Lanes Are White Lanes” by Melody L. Hoffmann? Minneapolis was part of the study. Here’s the publisher’s page for the book: http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9780803276789/
And it’s worthwhile again pointing out the whole situation with the North Side Greenway. My understanding (as an outsider repeating hearsay) is there was some people that resented outsiders dictating what happened to the neighborhood (after an apparent complete failure in the public engagement process), but also the pragmatic difficulties with having space for their family and guests to park, having to walk through dark alleys at night, etc.
I can tell you right now that the notion a lot of rich people have that “poor people don’t drive cars” is untrue. If my stepfather has a a beautiful $10,000 car on his lot in Shakopee, it sits for months. If he has a “car” under $1000 that can move under it’s own power he gets inquires from all over the metro, including poorer areas of Minneapolis. Once he had a $500 car, and he got a phone call wondering if he took trade-ins. Do poor people that drive cars keep valid insurance, pay citations, etc? I don’t know, it’s none of his business once they drive off the lot.
Whatever the background of the author I don’t see the notion that it’s privileged to have the luxury of being so picky about what job you take and what house you live in that you can ride a bicycle from one to the other is ridiculous or uncommon. As the cities gentrify more and more poverty is being pushed out into the inner ring suburbs where the non-motorized accessibility to jobs is probably much worse.
People work at jobs because of a bunch of different reasons. Certainly, commute and distance from home is one of them.
Carol, it is not okay to say you’re “coming out of the closet” as a driver. Separate from every other problem with this piece (which I am considering responding to at greater length) that line in particular is in exceptionally poor taste.
Not only do queer and trans people very frequently face homelessness, abuse, and violence as a direct result of coming out, not only do we subsequently suffer disproportionately high rates of mental illness, including staggering rates of depression and chronic PTSD, we are also a demographic that is much more likely to live in poverty in urban centers–which means we are much less likely to own or drive cars and much more likely to be *actually* harmed by the ubiquity of cars in our community.
As someone who has come out of the closet for real: you are not coming out of the closet. You’re voicing a very popular opinion–so popular, in fact, that it has shaped the vast majority of American planning for close to a century. It’s remarkably insensitive to use “coming out” in this context and I’m disappointed that line made it through the streets.mn editing process.
And one fact-check while I’m here. Two thirds of *working* Minneapolitans *over age 16* drive to work, not two thirds of all Minneapolitans. Less than half the city’s population is reflected in the relevant ACS estimate. See: “Transportation to work – Car, truck, or van (including passengers)” at http://www.mncompass.org/profiles/city/minneapolis
Becker is a lesbian (is very public about this in her campaign materials), and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for editors to police a gay person’s use of the phrase “coming out”.
As another gay man, I didn’t take particular offense, but I guess I can understand if you feel differently. I agree that it’s sort of silly, since it is a very common and well-represented viewpoint.
I very much get Carol Becker’s argument, and while I don’t really agree, I’m glad she reached out and wrote this.
As a planner, I speak with a lot of people who share her viewpoint. Most of whom are not on Facebook/Blogosphere/Twitter. It’s actually pretty common. So, I hope this helps streets.mn readers/urbanists at least *understand* where other people are coming from.
Perhaps you could explain it for me? My main takeaway from this article is that at best Carol Becker is very uninformed and lacks curiosity about how the world works and how other people experience it; at worst, she’s intellectually disingenuous, co-opting other people’s struggles to fight vociferously against a city that works better for everyone (including her) because of a fear of [change/people who aren’t white].
If there’s more to the viewpoint she expresses than a lack of curiosity/critical thinking or a deep fear of change/the Other, I’m curious to grasp it better.
I feel here is the problem this is a democratic country I don’t see how a city that are elected officials makes decisions on others lives without asking the people who pay for it
Its majority rules not minority. This is all another goverment revenue stream. More money for parking. More money they can make on tickets, towing ect. Point of story ask the people what is in there best interest and not what’s in there’s.
After all we pay for it. Not the city….
I can barely make sense of this. Let me recommend this short video about parking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akm7ik-H_7U
Why on earth would you live in the 3rd most expensive. Ith in the nation that is ran by liberals but still hasn’t legalized weed.
I will leave the same comment here that I left with this Becker piece published in the Star Tribune. I am a 69-year old black male who bicycles as much as he can and obeys the rules of the road. I am tired of white commentators or commentators who enjoy white privilege speaking for communities of color on bicycling or physical activities issues. First of all, have you seen the health disparities between whites and communities of color? If anything, people of color should be encouraged to walk or bike more and not just jump into a car for every travel issue. And if communities of color need to go greater distances or are physically unable to walk or bike, or the weather is poor, public transit and not a car payment should be encouraged. If public transit needs to be improved, let”s improve public transit. Secondly, we need to stop using age (like age 54) as a crutch. I know a number of people that bike and are physically active in my peer group or older. So not so much worried about the environment as I am diabetes, heart attack and stroke in certain communities. We need even more biking and walking infrastructure in Minneapolis communities of color and low-income communities.
I conpletely agree with the article. I live in the suburbs where majority of residents live. I don’t work downtown. I’m not going to bike to work in a snowstorm. I used to live in maple grove and worked in Eden Prairie. I used to sit 40-1hr in traffic. If you call that privileged I’ll trade with you. This isn’t new York, Chicago, Cali where they have a good subway, transit system or warm weather to be outside. If you want that, move there. Quit insulting us drivers as privileged as we all know cars are basically a standard here to get anywhere. If you choose to live in uptown or downtown and can’t afford a car, maybe you should move to a cheaper location. It’s the lifestyle you chose. Have you seen the roads at uptown, you must be blind to consider that adequate for traffic. Rather than bike lanes it needs to widen the road for cars and parking. You can’t even drive there when you have cars parked on both sides of the street.
We have a good transit system from a national perspective, and I think it should be much better. There’s a lot of potential to improve our transit and build housing in transit friendly walkable places, so that people have a choice about where and how to live.
A national perspective is irrelevant for the cities. Yes, what we have is fairly good. But we need plans and funding for more bus lines near where people live, with more buses running more often on every day of every week. We need the billion$ going into limited fixed rail to be going into buses instead.
Why not both? LRT ridership is doing well.
>If you choose to live in uptown or downtown and can’t afford a car, maybe you should move to a cheaper location.
There’s a lot of people who live outside of Uptown or Downtown that truly can’t afford a car. Cars aren’t cheap to own and maintain properly (at minimum, an old beater still will cost around $50/month in liability coverage and need $600/year in maintenance costs and registration fees, making it $100/month without even counting the cost of buying the car and paying it off.) Someone who’s working at minimum wage may not have the means to buy a car outright, thus resulting in even higher costs, all before even driving a single mile in that vehicle. The vehicle I currently own, between car payments, insurance, and registration, costs around $300/month before I even drive a single mile in that vehicle. Granted, it’s a late-model car, but it’s a basic vehicle, bought used, without a ton of bells and whistles.
That’s a lot of money to buy and maintain a vehicle, and for many of the poorest residents in our metro area, that’s more money than they can afford. They’re not the ones living in the luxury apartments in Uptown; they’re the ones living in homes and affordable apartments throughout our metro area. For them, they’d love to be able to own a car and only have a 40 minute-1 hour commute to a single full-time job that pays enough to own a car and pay for housing. Bus commutes can easily be double that, especially if you live in a suburb and are commuting to another suburb.
Anecdotally, my spouse, when she was in grad school, couldn’t afford a vehicle. She was comfortable with using the public transit system, but most of the jobs that were available for her to do part-time were only in downtown Minneapolis, or perhaps along the single bus route that ran once an hour near her campus (and didn’t run at all on Sunday.) The next nearest route was a half-hour walk away, one direction. While her situation wasn’t dire (she was in grad school so student loans and a part-time job covered her living expenses,) it still showed clearly how many of our residents who can’t afford cars live their daily lives, and how difficult many of them have it.
So yes, it is a privilege to own a car and to be able to operate it. It’s a sad state of affairs that it’s pretty much necessary to own a vehicle to be able to access a lot of our jobs in the MSP metro, but it’s still a privilege to be able to afford one (especially if it’s a reliable one that’s relatively late-model or paid off.)
So there’s this idea- spoken or not- that if suburbanites want something it’s normal or natural, but if people in the city want something it’s a liberal conspiracy to attack everyone’s freedom.
There’s a reason why people in places like Maple Grove can live relatively inexpensively on huge lots in huge houses with easy commutes, next to no crime, and little racial and economic diversity among their neighbors. It’s not because of freedom or personal choice or some form of nature. It’s because over the past half-century the Federal government and states have directly subsidized this form of living while pushing all of the externalities onto inner cities. Black people and other minorities are concentrated in low-income neighborhoods in inner cities due to intentional policy. City residents face more air and water pollution due to freeways that were built to serve suburbanites. Transit funding in MN is regularly directed to new park and rides and routes in the suburbs at the expense of urban service.
Just because you don’t have to interact with poor people, people of color, or people who live differently than you doesn’t mean we all ceased to exist or that we have any less of a right to decide what our communities should look like. And we shouldn’t have to bear the external costs of your lifestyle any more than you should have to bear the external costs of ours.
Carol Becker appears here as well: http://www.startribune.com/minnehaha-academy-neighbors-angry-they-didn-t-have-involvement-in-plans-for-new-school/478825613/#1
From the article: The city of Minneapolis, which has “parking maximums” has decreed that the parking lot must shrink by 50 cars. That will push students’, parents’ and staff members’ cars onto residential streets.
Becker said she needs parking space; she has health problems of her own and takes care of her elderly father. “The city has all these nice young planners who are physically fit … who say, ‘if we make it hard for people to park, they’re all going to walk or bike,’ ” she said.
We spent most of the last 50 years ramming freeways through our cities, widening streets, and destroying buildings for parking, all to make it easier to drive. What is wrong with making changes so people that can’t physically drive or can’t afford to drive can also have transportation options? What’s wrong with giving people the option to go car free or at least reduce the number of cars owned per household to save some money? What is wrong with making streets safer so kids can get around without needing a parent to drive them and making crossing streets safer?
I do think bringing up her job is relevant because she pulls the privilege card when it’s the least privileged people who are most hurt by our auto dependent society. It doesn’t matter how wide the roads are or how much parking there is if you don’t own a vehicle. She is talking about privilege when she is an very privileged person herself.
I do understand that some people need cars and that is fine, I don’t think anyone is proposing we completely get rid of cars. I think it’s fair to say most of us here just want more options. Living in the city has allowed me to be part of a single car household which allowed me to save enough money to pay off my student loans early. Most people don’t have that option because the areas with best transit tend to expensive and our transit system isn’t as good as it could be.
It’s important to also remember this isn’t just being done so yuppie millennials can bike to yogi classes. The most important reason for these changes is to increase the housing options in a city where housing is becoming an issue. This probably doesn’t affect someone with her privilege though.
I was trying to find a chart yesterday showing per capita incomes by mode, e.g. average income or wealth for a bicyclist, pedestrian, transit rider, and driver in Minneapolis. I couldn’t find one!
Should be fairly straightforward to create with ACS data, but that would overstate income in each group since the ACS modeshare is the primary mode of transportation *to work.* Employed people definitionally have a higher average income than people who are unemployed or out of the labor force. Because the distribution of employed versus non-employed persons probably differs by mode of transportation it would be a biased estimator of the overall population by mode. But it would be a start!
I made the chart using 2012-2016 ACS data: https://twitter.com/berge314/status/981920161694437376
Car/truck/van/motorcycle drivers had the highest average household income ($90,000/year) of people who did not work at home. Transit riders had the lowest average household income ($55,000/year – lower even than people who did not work), followed by walkers and bicyclists.
Actually the ACS can’t exactly provide mode share by income, because the data are aggregated. You could get mode share by census tract and income by census tract and correlate those. You can get vehicle miles traveled and person miles traveled by income, nationally, from the NHTS, but the sample sizes are too small to get useful data at the city level.
2017 NHTS, VMT by income:
PMT by income:
Per capita, there’s not much in the VMT data; all groups are between 3.06 and 3.97 (thousands) VMT per capita, and while the highest is those with income from $15k-$25k, the lowest is $25k-$35k, so it may be a data glitch.
The PMT data are a little more interesting, with a clear trend towards more PMT among higher income brackets. Those from $10-$15K have 3.43 thousand PMT per capita, while those above $200K have 5.54 thousand.
If you aggregate the two tables, those with income less than $10K (nationally) have 97% of their PMT in vehicles, while those with $200K or more have just 62.5% in vehicles.
Households earning less than $10K actually have the most vehicles per capita (1.12); all other groups are below 1.0 vehicle per capita, with a slight trend towards higher-income households having fewer vehicles than lower-income households.
These are national numbers, so they’re combining different regions, and more significantly, combining urban and rural areas. Probably a lot of those low-income groups are rural farmers, whose relationship to vehicles is very different.
You can break the NHTS data down as far as Urban/Rural, and by state, but the number of data points gets really small (below than 20 in some categories). In that breakdown, it looks like affluent urban dwellers in Minnesota have more VMT per capita than poor urban dwellers in Minnesota, but it’s noisy.
[This is exciting stuff for a transportation geek! I hadn’t realized the 2017 data had been released a couple weeks ago, before that we had to go back to 2009]
No, this is using person-level census data. You can check it out at usa.ipums.org. The public use microdata doesn’t allow you to identify specific tracts (too identifying) but instead aggregates individuals into PUMAs (public use microdata areas). I’m not totally clear on how the city code is identified (the documentation indicates that it applies if the majority of the PUMA’s residents live in a particular city) but it seems to correspond very closely with Minneapolis because the sum of the person weights equals roughly 410,000 (the population of Minneapolis).
Does this have what you want. It’s a little out of date and doesn’t include certain modes, but it gives you an idea.
So 45 is the new 90. Got it. I can’t even get into the rest of her nonsense, that right there was enough for me.
I haven’t had time to read all 126 responses, but I’ll just reply that drivers are, and will continue to be, privileged versus everyone else.
Pedestrians, cyclists and transit users are not suddenly going to become privileged relative to drivers. It’s just that drivers will have somewhat *less* privilege. And that’s what this whole debate is really about.
Ms. Becker’s article relies on demagoguery and false premises. There are few valid points to be found. Let’s start point-by-point, premise-by-premise:
“The proposed Comprehensive Plan does not support a balanced transportation system where the needs of all travelers are considered.”
In reality, the current configuration of the city is radically imbalanced precisely to cater to Ms. Becker’s privileged lifestyle. The amount of money we spend simply maintaining our automobile-centric city design dwarfs what we spend on all other modes of transportation combined. Our grid of roads takes you to every single nook and cranny of the city, whereas bike lanes and mass transit lines weave a much less dense network. The status quo is wildly imbalanced in favor of Ms. Becker’s mode of choice, and it’s amazing how she does not perceive an imbalance that is so clearly and obviously favorable to her.
“Instead, it diminishes the ability of many people to live in the City. It supports narrowing streets, reducing lanes and slowing traffic….. It makes it less likely you can park next to your house or park at your destination. It literally says the needs of drivers come last”
The false premise Ms. Becker steadfastly clings to is that making it easier to adopt other modes of transportation means that driving will be harder/less convenient. In truth, the more people adopt other modes of transportation, the less competition there will be for parking. People adopt other modes of transportation as those modes become more and more viable to cover a wider variety of their daily needs. Even if only able-bodied people end up using bike lanes, these people are not competing with Ms. Becker’s automobile privilege. Parking and driving lanes are subject to the law of supply and demand. If we reduce the competitors for parking by making non-automobile transportation more enticing to more people, Ms. Becker’s relative privilege will remain intact.
“About 10% of population in Minneapolis is over the age of 65 and most need a car to live independently.”
Rather stunning that Ms. Becker simply glides over the fact that this demographic is precisely one where a relatively large portion cannot drive. Do they merit consideration? Ms. Becker’s lack of acknowledgement implies they do not.
“We need to stop pretending that everyone is young, childless, physically able, male, white and privileged enough to give up job opportunities”
Here’s where the demagoguery is at full sail. Literally nobody who is for multi-modal transportation pretends what Ms. Becker claims. The claim itself is a highly insulting strawman and wrong in a multi-faceted way.
First, let’s point out that right here on streets.mn there was recently an article that showed a marked increase of job accessibility around the two light rail lines. This is just one example showing that non-automobile modes of transportation increase job accessibility for people who do not share Ms. Becker’s automobile privileges.
Second, it is a patent falsehood that the users of bike lanes and especially mass transit are all young or able-bodied. Many studies have shown that automobile-centric urban design increases the isolation of elderly people who cannot drive. Tighter, denser, more walkable areas offer much more freedom, community engagement and agency in their lives to these people. The same holds true for people with disabilities that prevent them from driving. The automobile-centric status quo of our city is a sentence of solitary confinement to many people who cannot drive and Ms. Becker not only has no solutions for them, they do not even merit mention.
Third, even if it were only the young and able-bodied who take advantage of non-automobile modes of transportation, Ms. Becker would still benefit as she would see diminished competition for parking and road space. If people choose to drive, they still benefit from other modes of transportation since the demand on their mode of choice is diminished. Ms. Becker repeatedly lies by omission when she does not acknowledge this.
Moving away from the point-by-point and moving into the more general false premises:
“Some people need cars to perform some of their daily tasks, therefore making the city friendlier to other modes of transportation disadvantages them.” I’ve pointed out before how this is a falsehood. Another facet of this is that nobody expects people to behave in a binary fashion “I will only ever drive” versus “I will only ever bike/walk/use mass transit”. People will likely alternate as convenience or circumstances demand. I do so myself: by and large I take mass transit during the work week but I feel no shame hopping in my car when I need to. When I don’t drive, I benefit drivers by not competing with them.
“My privilege is just the right kind of privilege” Roughly 17% of Minneapolitans do not have cars. This is not a small group. These people are by and large less privileged than Ms. Becker. They do not merit a moment of thought or consideration in her piece. That’s pretty insulting to them that in a piece that purports to defy notions of privilege. It’s wildly myopic and shows a strong lack of social awareness. Blatant hypocrisy.
“My privilege does not negatively impact anyone else” Ms. Becker argues against moving this city from its current state of overwhelming privilege for people in cars. Continuing on in a similar vein perpetuates the disenfranchisement of anyone who wants to get places without a car. Moving towards multi-modal transportation gives more people more choices. It’s that simple. The auto-centric status quo aggressively denies people other options.
I’m all for streets.mn posting articles that challenge or differ from what might be the near-consensus here. However, I would hope that articles of this sort could be based on empirical fact and popular prejudices and false claims- the stuff of demagoguery. I *respectfully disagree* with anyone who would claim this article has much merit, for the reasons I have listed above.
Not sure how to edit my post, but “I would hope that articles of this sort could be based on empirical fact and popular prejudices and false claims- the stuff of demagoguery” should read “I would hope that articles of this sort could be based on empirical fact RATHER THAN popular prejudices and false claims- the stuff of demagoguery.”
Empirical fact is a difficult concept even for experts, let along volunteer editors. Who will fact check claims? Plus I want this to be a place where people share opinions. In this case, Ms. Becker’s notion of the “history of Minneapolis” is, to me, very off. (I mentioned this above.) But I guess a person could believe this and it would take a few minutes to “empirically prove” that Minneapolis was not composed of Victorian single-family homes on large lots.
Anyway, fact checking claims in posts is difficult without trained staff compensated for their time.
My personal hope is that our wonderful readers will fact-check claims the comments, as has happened here. streets.mn is one place where, as opposed to the vast majority of online news sources, I actually look forward to reading the comments. Thanks for helping out with this!
I would like to know who is checking on whether I am, in fact, Pol Pot. 😉
That’s my job. I use streets.mn official Magic 8 Ball. So far, “my sources say ‘No'”
I didn’t mean to imply that streets.mn ought to fact check, but I did mean to convey that Ms. Becker’s article relies on little more than demagoguery and popular prejudice and as such doesn’t meet the quality level of most of the other articles that get posted here.
As far as the posting of opinions, I’m fond of the Moynihan saying “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” There really isn’t much room for useful, constructive discussion without some appeal to facts (even if facts are, as we all know them to be, tricky things….). Otherwise it’s just a tedious game of ‘duelin’ opinions’ that goes on forever, like Monopoly.
If there’s no fact threshold for streets.mn, there’s a lovely article I’ve been cooking up about bicycling causing second-hand colon cancer in minivan drivers – I’d be happy to send it your way! 🙂
There’s a “fact” threshold but it relies on volunteer editors, each of whom might have a different background. Some editors might fact-check more than others, I suspect…
Good lord. You would think from this piece that cars are being banned. Yes, improvements in the walkability, bikability, and bus-ability of this city are going to come at the expense of drivers, sorry. Your commutes WILL be longer and more frustrating. And I know that feels like a punishment, but it isn’t. Carol says we need a balanced transportation system that works for everyone. That’s what this is: the balancing of the transportation system, to better assure that walkers, bikers, bussers, etc. get a share of the convenience pie that drivers have long taken for granted. If you “don’t have the privilege of not driving,” try imagining how much harder it is for people who *don’t* have the privilege of driving. Carol could bus to her job. I just about guarantee it. Her kid could bus to school. That this isn’t even on her radar is very telling.
Anyone care to get Gil Penalosa’s 8 to 80 Cities to offer a hot take reply? I understand he’s not a young city planner though…
ma’am we recognize that Minneapolis was not built to be a walkable city, that is the aim of these changes, to alter the incentives of the game. While you see this as entirely penalizing driving, bear in mind that it also rewards not driving. Many of those groups who you aspire to represent can’t currently afford car ownership and take public transit to do all of those herculean tasks you list. these changes do not make it impossible to drive, we will have cars well into the future, but the reality is that it is too easy to own and operate a car. And lest we forget, if there are fewer cars on the road, it will be easier to drive
I believe Minneapolis was built to be a walkable city, and can be again.
I find it very strange, that so many people have forgotten the definition of the word, “privilege”. Just so we are clear, driving a car is the penultimate example of privilege. I raised 2 children alone and 99% of the time, for almost all errands and commuting trips..we took the bus, walked or biked. I also find it totally bizarre that the above authors opinion seems to suggest that under the new plan, she is somehow unable to drive her car around town. I see zero examples of this in the real world. She is still free to drive around town burning petrochemicals to her hearts content, with no regard for the lives lost in the wars, that ensure her privilege is relatively inexpensive, nor the environmental damage that every thinking person knows is real. I don’t understand the reason that this opinion piece was written. Minneapolis freeways and roads have been a tangled mess for as long as I can remember (1960’s). It reads like a venting of pent up road rage. It is utterly and totally disconnected from reality.
Not everyone is be privileged to be able to be so selective about finding a job in this tough economy that of all the jobs in the metro they only consider ones that are accessible via bicycle or transit from there house. Or privileged in that in finding housing in what everyone acknowledges is an extremely low vacancy market in that of all the housing in the metro they only consider housing that is accessible by bicycle or transit. And in addition are privileged that all their shopping, kids daycare, relatives, etc live withing bicycle and walking distance too.
But if you live in north Minneapolis because you can’t afford Shakopee, and work at Amazon because you can’t find a job in north Minneapolis, isn’t driving essential rather than a privilege even it it meets the legal definition of a privilege
The bus goes almost everywhere. However, sure drive a car. The article makes it sound like that is now completely unworkable. That is quite simply not the case at all. The article honestly summed up, should read, “ I am frustrated because I am driving a car through rush hour traffic. I see that if we axes out the bike lanes, I might shave a couple of minutes off my commute. I am so mad, I am going to write an opinion piece.”. Uptown mpls is a horrific tangle of unmoving traffic, because of automobiles alone. You don’t see bicycles rolling down Hennepin avenue. Furthermore, it is idiotic to couch her road rage in faux left wing terminology. “Privilege” of biking. What crap. Driving a car is the penultimate privilege. It is a destructive privilege at that, with huge environmental cost and millions of lives lost, in wars to keep her privilege of driving relatively inexpensive…but hey..we wouldn’t want her to expirience any slight, minuscule, next to zero inconvenience as she tears around town burning her petrochemicals.
It’s a little funny that the author, a DFL elected official on the Board of Estimate and Taxation would appear to go out of her way to express her personal NIMBY opinions and argue with so many throughtful readers of this blog and other online forums. Is this where the DFL is going in this town? I always hoped that the comment section of this blog wouldn’t start to resember the STrib’s, but here we are.
I do believe Ms. Becker is the exception to a lot of rules.