For 100 years, American cities have prioritized the automobile, and it’s understandable that people would question any approach that questions this status quo. However, in his Nov. 5 screed against the proliferation of Minneapolis’ bike lanes (“Lane-brained”), Doug Berdie makes few convincing points.
He especially blasts the bike lanes on 26th and 28th Streets as well as those on Park and Portland Avenues. I have driven on those streets before and after the bike lanes, and definitely felt safer after bike lanes were installed. Those residential streets felt like freeways at times, and speed limits were routinely ignored; they are much safer now for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. And people who live along those thoroughfares likely enjoy the lack of whizzing traffic for hours each day.
Berdie is right that humans don’t make transportation decisions based on strict logic; it is amazing that people insist on driving to and from the downtown cores when parking and car ownership is so expensive and traffic such a burden. Several reasons given are easily overcome: If you need groceries, app services will deliver them; if you miss your carpool or bus, take an Uber or Lyft, the true game-changers of the current transportation system.
Most puzzling about the pushback against bike lanes is the perception that cars are somehow “under attack.” With our web of interstates, state highways, county roads and massive 4,000-plus-mile city pavement grid, bike lanes are hardly taking over. Anyone wanting to drive a car can still do so quite easily, and to argue anything else is absurd and downright insulting to those who can’t afford to own a car.
Planning needs to prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, mass transit and cars, in that order. The coming decades will see our urban landscape completely transformed due to increased population density, self-driving cars, and ride-sharing and other transit options that eschew the automobile. This will benefit society greatly for myriad reasons, and I am proud that Minneapolis has the planning vision to look 20 years ahead and not 20 behind.
Jason Walker, Minneapolis
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Berdie claims that drivers are confused with new protected bike lanes on 26th and 28th Streets. He obviously hasn’t been here recently. Traffic is calmer, safer and flows fine almost all of the time. Drivers may have been confused the first few days but have adjusted. Bikers have, too. Elderly people, teenagers, and families with kids now ride their bikes in the new lanes where they would they would have never ventured before.
Berdie claims that having a Greenway nearby negates the need for a protected bike lane on 26th and 28th. Hmmm. By that same logic we might ask why a car route is needed on 26th and 28th Streets, when one is obviously provided on nearby Lake Street! Maybe cars should only be allowed on every 10th street or so, and leave the others for kids to play. More realistically, let’s have complete streets where all people can travel with dignity.
Jeff Carlson, Minneapolis
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Not even one bike did I see, traveling three times this week on the formerly two-lane, one-way streets (26th and 28th) between the hours of 9 and 10:30.
Ann Buran, Minneapolis
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While I agree with most of the opinions expressed in Berdie’s “Lane-brained,” I feel an important consequence was omitted — that of bus access. Buses are much more efficient in moving people through the city than either bicycles or cars, but often seem to be mentioned only as an afterthought in the discussion of who gets priority on the streets. As a Minneapolis resident, I try to limit my use of the car for local travel by taking the bus. (I am not a safe bike rider.) Increasingly, this is becoming more inconvenient. The local routes that temporarily ran along 2nd Avenue during the Nicollet Mall construction suddenly got moved to Hennepin Avenue, with unexpected new bike lanes cited as the reason. That makes my closest boarding stop eight blocks away. My friends frown at buses returning to the Nicollet Mall, but, interruptive as buses are on a pedestrian mall, at least they provide a closer option for boarding. Really? Do we have to compete this way? Is the only option to yell over one another to be given consideration by the planners? Couldn’t all forms of transportation be given consideration in equal proportion to the number of people they serve? Wouldn’t it be possible to fairly dole out corridors in the city where, in turn, cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians each had priority?
Gayle Dustrud, Minneapolis
Considering purpose, strategy in maximizing populations
Wildlife, according to Minnesota statute, belongs to all Minnesotans, a truth only touched on by Josephine Marcotty’s excellent story on moose-deer politics (“Deer bringing death to Minnesota’s moose,” Nov. 5). This means that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a mandate to care for and manage wildlife in everyone’s interests, not only deer hunters who want to maximize their species in order to hunt them. Taken to an illogical conclusion, the DNR would seek to create roads in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in order to maximize deer numbers. We have become numb in defining animals only in terms of “resources.” The agency does not exist as a tool for the strongest interest; it exists for all wildlife and all of our interests.
So here is my interest: The DNR should manage to promote a viable moose population, because I love seeing moose. When I go camping in the Boundary Waters, I want to hear loons at night, otters frothing with eternal play in the water, and moose. I love canoeing around a bend in the creek and seeing a moose look up, gazing at me and chomping on plant life. Once, while canoeing across a small lake, I saw a moose with a white head and her two calves edge toward the lake and swim across it. That moment touched my spirit at least as deeply as any hunter who rips the life from a deer and takes a picture of his/her trophy. Global warming may indeed eventually make northern forests untenable for moose, but right now they are here and we need to do what we can to keep them.
Bob Waligora, St. Louis Park
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There was a time when we would often see moose as we traveled the area around Grand Marais, Minn. It has been years since we have spotted a moose. On the other hand, we see deer all the time.
One suggestion I have would be to allow year-round hunting of deer 100 miles south of the Canadian border. This would essentially cull the deer herd in this limited area, allowing the moose once again to flourish. Hunters would still be able to enjoy deer hunting throughout the rest of Minnesota while knowing they promoted the return of the elegant moose.
Kirk Dornfeld, Owatonna