Monday, March 05, 2007

Minneapolis prepares for more bikes

From the Downtown Journal (Minneapolis, MN) 03.05.07:

A boost for bikers and walkers
(The) federal government is prepared to spend ($7.3 million) this year on encouraging more Minneapolis-area residents to use nonmotorized transportation. The program has already announced plans to pay for 1,000 new bike racks at schools, recreation centers and transit stops throughout the city, and it’s also funding the development of a pedestrian plan.

Larry Bontreger, 53, wore a maroon and white Golden Gophers jacket as he wrapped a chain around his yellow bike along 4th Street. The city might encourage more ridership by improving the flow of bike lanes in the city, he said. It’s inconvenient when lanes or trails end abruptly without connecting to other routes, he said.

The most pressing need for bicyclists, though, is the education of drivers, many of whom don’t understand the rules regarding bicyclists, Bontreger said. "I honestly believe most drivers view a cyclists as something that’s in their road and slowing them down," he said. (Read more.)
Exactly. This is precisely the issue for those motoring pundits who seek to privilege drivers--in their view bikes simply don't belong. Bicyclists are tolerated, only on the condition that they behave better than any other class of road users to earn respect. Of course, like many bicyclists, I can attest that vehicle code compliance is no, repeat no guarantee of safe passage on city streets.

Sadly, another example of such vehicularly biased nonsense also appeared in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the paper's traffic columnist declared: "Bicyclists who don't follow the rules are a big pet peeve of mine. And unfortunately, far too many bicyclists act like they don't have any laws to follow." She went on to add: "If all bicyclists followed the rules, there would be less tension between riders and motorists." Right. Motorists are blameless, bicyclists are lawless miscreants. (Um, er, about those drivers who kill more than 40K people in the U.S. every year...)

The pervasive idea that motorists have a greater "right" to public thoroughfares--while bicyclists are barely tolerated intruders--is a great challenge to a more equitable transportation system. Effective advocacy that consistently challenges such nonsense is critical.

Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Bicycling is about to get a whole lot better in the city of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

1 comment:

Addiction said...

I think this is a great Idea but I do also understand the concern of drivers not actually taking into consideration that the cyclists are people rather than objects in the road. I work at a residential drug rehab and most of the people here walk everywhere. If people could just be a little more aware the possibilities for betterment are potentially endless.