I am blogging today under orders from #2 son. He sent me an email with links to these photos and the command, "BLOG THIS."
Ever the compliant parent, I am following his instructions.
The City of Minneapolis recently revised its downtown street usage and directions. Among other changes, two formerly one-way streets became two-way again, now with both parking lanes and bike lanes at the side. But the lanes are a bit... odd. The bike lane is next to the curb, separated from traffic by the parking lane.
Yeah, people no longer park next to the curb. Like I said, odd.
There is plenty of signage to help people do the right thing.Below you can get an idea of the layout. Bike lane next to curb, separated from parking lane by a double white line, then driving lane. The parking lane is only a parking lane during non-rush hour times.
Those two cars next to the curb? Yup. Parked in the bike lane.
One problem immediately evident to everyone who ever rode a bike on a city street is that in this configuration bicyclists will constantly be confronted by passengers opening their doors into the bike lane, getting out of the cars into the bike lane, standing in the bike lane while retrieving purse, briefcase, toddler, and/or packages from the car, and eventually crossing the bike lane to get to the safety of the sidewalk. There does not appear to be any way to avoid that conflict.
A biker commented on the bumper sticker:
#2 son wrote:
You have to realize that this is meant as a command to bikes, not a statement of support, in this case.
Another biker commented:
As I was taking the last two pictures, a black SUV pulled up behind me and patiently waited for me to move so that he could park behind the road-sharing Volvo.
Here is what the bikers would really like, bike lanes like those in Paris, with a concrete barrier wide enough to prevent the disembarking passenger/bike conflicts I described above.A worthy goal, but methinks it will take awhile -- some major rethinking on the role of bicycles in urban transportation, some tax dollars to construct, and some dedication on the part of snow-removal crews. (Yes, dedicated bicyclists ride year-round in this Land of Seven-Month Winters.)
Ok, I have a plan. Let's do this. Since they are allowed to illegally impede traffic, let's all go over to Steef's shop and get a kickstand out of the box. Then we'll put them on our bikes.
Then we'll all go down First Avenue and for every one car parked there like that, let's have one bike take the middle of the right-hand lane and put the bike on a kickstand and say were waiting for someone to come out of the building.
Seems fair enough.
Highway safety has come to be seen, not just as a matter of educating and exhorting people to drive safely, but also of designing roads and vehicles to enhance and ensure safety. Likewise, part of bike safety means designing potential hazards OUT of the system, not INTO it, as was done here. I have no doubt that conditions and infrastructure will improve. Minneapolis is, if nothing else, a relatively well-run and citizen-friendly city. Like so many things, it's just gonna take some time and some money and some effort.
In the meantime, Bicyclists! Be careful -- it is dangerous out there!
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Just in case you really, really, really need an Eye Candy Friday image, here is one taken at Autumnfest two weeks ago.