We Read Carmageddon Articles & Comments So You Don’t Have To

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

Kitten Reading Internet Comments

Emergency kitten

Perhaps you have heard it is road construction season in Minnesota? Exits from I-35W northbound into downtown Minneapolis are closing for important bridge work. Local media has been hyperventilating about the project for days. We are getting regular Star-Tribune coverage of “how today’s commute was.” And there are comments, of course!

We decided to read the comments on multiple articles and rate each article’s comments section on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 1 means “reading these made us feel dumber,” and 5 means “we have hope for our civilization and perhaps people will realize that super-commuting is killing our planet.”

June 10: Construction on I-35W will bring major changes to your commute downtown

245 comments. What am I doing to myself?

  • kenshabby tells us that congestion is all because of toll lanes and bike lanes and poor people: “The toll lanes on Twin City freeways by and large have made traffic worse.   Not near enough use them, the poorer folks cannot afford them, and so the congestion is horrible on the other two lanes.   Open up all lanes for all traffic and quit building bike paths on the busiest streets!”
  • I am unclear if jnunezm1 is employing sarcasm or not: “Minnesota is run by idiots.  There is no other city in America that would do such a thing on their major freeways.” This is a Star-Tribune comments section, so it could go either way.
  • We have many comments about bikers “not paying their fair share” for road use. Of course.
  • the lone stranger believes people do not actually live in Minneapolis: “We may see an exodus of businesses out of downtown Minneapolis, as they begin to relocate their offices closer to where people live.”
  • wegman: “EVERY SINGLE bike lane should be removed.  Streets are for cars.”

The natural evolution of this thread from how awful this is for commuters from Lakeville, how this will make it hard to get to Vikings games, to the evils of all bicycle infrastructure was predictable.

SCORE: 1 ⭐, mostly because there are a few very earnest people who are posting sensibly about how the gas tax funds very little in terms of street improvement, and because one person used the term “Lakevillian” which is hilarious and we want a movie where the “Lakevillian” is wearing some sort of spandex outfit and cape and mask.

June 11: Traffic mayhem expected, Minneapolis motorists brace for nightmarish commute
I accidentally opened this on a browser that didn’t have ads disabled and all the bloat that the Strib insists on delivering with every web page, so this started with regret, and, well.

This article is nothing short of amazing in its own right, though. The cab driver thinking of alternatives is a sympathetic anecdote. Meanwhile, we have people who dreamed of moving to the city to teach in the inner city who are reconsidering because traffic:

“I look around and can’t help but think, ‘Is it worth it to live this way?’ ” she said, pointing at the backed-up traffic. “Just getting around is so chaotic here. You can have one route planned and then find yourself stuck on another. By the time I get some place, I need a beer.”

We also learn the tragic fate of a turtle near Loring Park. (Spoiler: It died.)

37 comments. Which is to say, fewer comments than number of ad scripts and trackers they wanted to foist on me. I think everyone was still commenting on the June 10 piece.

  • ukiddinme tells a heartwarming story of manual labor in the Philippines, and concludes: “When poverty stricken people can do manually in days what takes you several years with top of the line heavy machinery, that’s just pathetic.”
  • youpeople says “The road capacity is decreasing in Minneapolis thanks to the bike lanes and initiative to make traffic go as slow as possible for safety.” Damn that safety anyway.
  • Subthread about why they don’t work all night. Spoiler: It’s because construction equipment is loud and people who live nearby might prefer to sleep.

SCORE: This is rough. I’m giving this 2⭐. One of them is in tribute to that poor turtle, because there’s nothing good about being a turtle in the Loring Park neighborhood.

June 12: First commute with I-35W ramp shut down in Minneapolis short of car-mageddon fears

Apparently, the world has not yet ended? The subheadline says that just because the first day was okay doesn’t mean we aren’t all doomed, though! We are at least doomed to more of these articles, because MNDOT will be closing I35-W in both directions this weekend between the Crosstown and downtown, and also be closing off more lanes between downtown and Lake Street, bringing the roadway from 10 travel lanes down to 5. There’s also an upcoming I-94 lane closure.

We have 57 comments.

  • chablis28 will be finding their libations in the suburbs or similar, apparently: “This will kill downtown business. I usually go to a couple downtown vicinity wine stores once a month downtown plus a couple restaurants.”
  • swmnguy thanks most of the drivers on Park Avenue for obeying the 30mph zone, and calls out a few exceptions who thought it was a 50 zone and stop signs are optional.
  • Markipeach: “MNDOTs and the Metro Council mission statement s to get peoole out of their cars and herd them around in mass transit or more foolishly onto bikes. Truly 3rd world thinking.” Western use of fossil fuels is killing that third world. Just saying. Maybe we could use some “third world” thinking – think about their welfare a bit more?
  • gandalf48 suggests paving all the green spaces between 42nd Street and 94 to add 4 additional lanes, because green spaces apparently suck. (Another user points out the very valid point that the greenspace is part of the water catchment for the miles and miles of concrete that is needed for the highway.)
  • We devolve into comments about how biking is not viable in winter. Yawn.
  • We have comments about public transportation being a boondoggle, and how it doesn’t connect every place to every other place.

SCORE: This one is managing a single ⭐ again, mostly because the people who have not yet had their souls crushed by the hopelessness of the Star Tribune comments section deserve something, and I cannot give them all popsicles.

It’s going to be a long summer of dumb construction update articles.

So, how was your commute today, friends?

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!