Backlash Against Bike Lanes Erupts in Minneapolis

The backlash against bicyclists took long enough to get here. But it broke out full force today in an unlikely place–the Star Tribune’s op-ed page. Minneapolis resident Barbara Nylen rips the bi-wheeled crusaders and city planners who converted miles of city streets meant to move cars into bike lanes, utterly disregarding the views of the majority. Nylen also decried the city’s double standard that gives bikers equal footing with motorized vehicles on the road, but not equal responsibility. Car bike

Also, whatever happened to city officials who make automobile drivers follow rules, but obviously not bike riders? Car drivers must wear seat belts. Car drivers must turn on headlights at dusk. Car drivers must turn lights on when it rains. Car drivers must signal turns. Car drivers must stop at all stop signs and red lights. Car drivers must follow all rules for merging into traffic. Car drivers must yield to all pedestrians. If we don’t do these things, we are issued tickets and must pay the fines.

Can city officials tell us why bike riders aren’t required to wear reflective vests like construction workers when riding their bikes? Or why they aren’t required to have reflectors on front and back of bikes? Or why they aren’t required to have headlights on bikes turned on at dusk? And why don’t the vast majority of bike riders comply with the rules of the road?

Nylen urges the city to get back to the basics of traffic flow, moving cars quickly and safely through the streets. She ticks off a list of major thoroughfares that no longer function efficiently due to the loss of lanes used by relatively few bikers in comparison to drivers.

Poor planning examples include: Blaisdell moves traffic to 36th Street, leading in turn to major highways: 35W north and south, 94 east and west, and 62, which leads to 55. Blaisdell was changed from two lanes to one lane for cars from 31st Street. No common sense.

 Then, forgetting that when accidents happen on 35W south, cars are rerouted to Portland, and when 35-W north traffic is detoured, it is to Park Avenue, we reduced traffic on both avenues from three lanes to two, plus bike lanes seldom used.

Bike lobbyists then focused on Washington Avenue, taking one lane in each direction without considering that Washington leads to major highways: 35W north, 35W south and 55, which leads to 62.

Also, even though the major designated bike path is on old railroad tracks on 29th Street, bike lobby advocates had lanes made on 26th and 28th streets, with plans for bike lanes on Lake Street (30th) — all within blocks of 29th.

As for downtown, 3rd Street was selected for bike lanes, while it leads to all highways heading west — 94, 394 with offshoot to 55.

Bike lanes have also replaced curbside parking in business districts citywide, potentially threatening the livelihoods of store owners and their employees.

As the Longfellow businesses and residents expressed so well, “no parking results in no business and lost revenue.” Homeowners and residents lose parking for themselves and guests. Construction workers are building condos and apartments as fast as they can. Without parking, it’s a hard sell. All to make bike lanes on streets never used by bike riders?

Sadly, we — the majority of the population — have had no voice in these senseless examples resulting in these examples of poor “transportation planning and programming.” They reflect no common sense for traffic moving in a safe and efficient manner.
The official bias toward bikes and alternative modes of transportation in Minneapolis flows out of the Met Council’s longstanding policy opposing more roads and cars. Look for American Experiment’s public information campaign this summer on why Twin Cities traffic congestion continues to worsen and why all roads lead to the Met Council.