Crap Public Process Irresponsibly Inciting Bikelash

[A David Glass for City Council volunteer handing out fliers.]
Yesterday while working on a totally unrelated column, I stopped inside the Half Time Rec, one of my favorite Saint Paul dive bars to grab a beer. (I was trying to get a picture for a story I was writing.)

It turned out to be a highly unpleasant experience because I'd biked there. As it happened, I walked in just as anti-bicycling City Council Candidate (and failed restauranteur) David Glass's organizer had just gone through the place handing out  misleading fliers about the proposed bike lane for Front.

[You can see the full text at the bottom.]

I ended up having to sit there drinking my Summit while five or six old guys ranted at me about bikes. Other than muttering, "I'm just trying to get around," I didn't really argue with them.

Here are some verbatim quotes:

No more bikes! No more bikes! [Chanted]

The problem is they don't pay taxes on the road, they think they own the road...

Not on a busy street, they get enough trails.

You know how we got around in the 60s 70s? We didn't even wear the fucking faggot ass bike helmets.

I hear you, I love that, it's great and it's so green, but there's so many trails now. They mess up traffic. We pay enough city taxes. Are you guys paying taxes? Get a license and pay taxes on it, but they don't. Get a bike license, if you're on my trail and have a license, get tagged.

Saint Paul's trying to go biking-cars-no street parking. That's bullshit. you can't mess up people's parking.

That's crazy. I'm not totally against it, if they do do it that way, then you got to get a bike license on it

The problem is this road, people use this damn near like a highway.

We used to be able to play baseball down here in the middle of the street, but now there are so many people it's just overpopulated.

This is a throughway now. Maybe tear the sidewalks out and make it wider.

A lot of trucks, this is a throughway.

[Front of the Glass flier.]
I have thick skin, and I don't necessarily disagree everything these guys were muttering. Cars and trucks drive too fast, which is a good reason for bike lanes. I don't wear a helmet most of time, because I think bicycling should be safe for anyone. I'd love to see equity in taxing and spending, though they've got it totally backwards.

And I've been through a lot of public testimony during public meetings at The Planning Commission about all kinds of things, from St Thomas student malfeasance to traffic to taxes. I once listened to five-minute rant by a twelve-year-old about traffic and the war on cars, and I did it with a straight face.

Not only that, but I love dive bars and often get into conversations with grumpy old men about bicycles. They usually think I'm crazy. I've even joked with the guy who owns The Gopher Bar about parking my bike, and if he's not a raging asshole, than I don't know who is.

Ramsey County's last minute half-assed public process (which I wrote about today on streets.mn) seems designed to inflame disputes. It amounts to a kangaroo court, and that's irresponsiblity on an almost Lake Elmo scale.

Misinformation that turns bike lanes or other safety improvements into divisive politics has poor consequences. And there are a lot of facts and examples that can provide actual data to help with shape conversations. For example, the city actually counted the parked cars on Front Avenue before recommending putting in the bike lane.

[Dead people not parking on Front Avenue.]

Inciting Violence against Bicyclists

[Strib story.]
In just the last week or so, there have been at least two attacks against bicyclists that have crossed over my desk. In the first, a guy driving a White Ford Bronco threw concrete at a few random bicyclists in South Minneapolis, seriously injuring at least one of them:
About 5:30 p.m. Friday, he said, two people were struck with cement-type material “within seconds of each other” near W. 41st Street and Bryant Avenue S. One person had minor injuries, but the second, identified on a GoFundMe page as Mackenzie Jensen, was struck in the face and suffered multiple facial fractures that will require two surgeries.
His jaw has been wired shut and he is expected to lose multiple weeks of work, the web page states.

Via Facebook, here's another story from a woman who was biking on Saint Paul's East Side:
August 10 at 9:04pm

Another heads up. Last week on my commute home some punks tried to knock me off my bike on Edgerton at 6:30 pm. I couldn't get their plates. they were going too fast. Be safe ladies. Focus and have your eyes and ears on guard. 🚴💚... some boys came up behind me on Edgerton, going really fast and close. The boy on the passenger side was out of the window to his waste and he swung@ me but missed. I tried to catch them and came within a block 6 blocks later. Never got plates. Punks.

Those are just two stories from this week. It's dangerous enough riding bikes around the Twin Cities, having to worry about cars accidentally running you over. Having to worry that drivers might intentionally try to hurt you is something I thought we'd left behind us.

The way that Ramsey County is handling this situation does nothing but inflames animosity to people riding bicycles, and makes what should be a simple safety improvement into a culture war. I'd expect this kind of thing from someone like Joe Soucheray. But for elected officials like Janice Rettman, I have higher standards.

[Commissioner Rettman pacing around in front of the Western Avenue bike lane meeting for some reason.]

[David Glass flier below.]

Re-Think Bike Lane Striping on Front Avenue
[A dumbfounded bicyclist reading the flier.]
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are in need of safe roads to travel given that the rate of vehicle travel is returning to pre-recession levels. In the city of Saint Paul we have the worst roads that we have had in the past 50 years. [sic] Our roads and highways have become increasingly challenging as drivers encounter potholes and pavement deterioration throughout the city.

Better citizen involved and discussion is needed in the conversation regarding striping lanes in the City of Saint Paul, MN. More people are driving our streets today than were driving ten years ago. Resulting in less parking in most areas of the city. Striping for bike lanes on well-trafficked roads with a mix of businesses and residences displaces parking for patrons and residents alike pushing parking into neighborhoods causing additional burdens and frustration with their neighbors.

We realize the need for bikers to ride safe and on dedicated routes however neighborhoods should work for the people who live in the neighborhood, not for people passing thru. Imposing a suburban solution for a core city neighborhood that has had a presence of residents and businesses for the past two centuries is not well thought out. Front Avenue is not wide enough for bike lanes. Removing parking would hurt the businesses on Front Avenue, pushing parking int o the local neighborhoods making all parking much more difficult.

Front Avenue borders on many industrial areas, which attracts heavy truck traffic. The quality of the street degrades quickly. Bicyclists do not prefer riding on rutted, pitted streets like Front Avenue. The few riders that would still use Front Avenue would be more in danger due to conditions of width of road, the rapid degrading, and high industrial traffic.

Lets make a decision that is better for everyone and not stripe bike lanes on Front Avenue.

Miigwetch (Thanks),
David Glass


Eric Saathoff said...

This is soooooo frustrating. Our city council voted for the plan!

Anonymous said...

So does David Glass think people should isolate themselves in their own little corner of the City and never go anywhere else? There is so much wrong with what he says.

Anonymous said...

David Glass is fucking out of touch with reality.

Anonymous said...

I was at that meeting tonight and Glass just rambled on and on. He was very disrespectful of everybody's time.

Adam said...

Did you ask the bar patrons whether they had any trouble parking?

nnyl said...

Funny about the pitted condition about Front Ave, that stretch by Half Time Rec is county controlled for resurfacing. I've been bugging them for years to redo it. Resurfacing of that stretch is currently scheduled for this fall, along with the city portion at least from Dale to Western--not sure if it is to Rice. The bike lanes aren't going in until that resurfacing is done.

I'm not a cyclist, but I see many in that part of town. I've been nearly mowed on the sidewalk by them. I'd prefer they be in bike lanes instead of sidewalks.