All politics is local
Power belongs to those who show up
The squeaky wheel gets the grease
All around the country, No-birds have been showing up at local meetings on national health care policy, spewing disinformation and disrupting actual discourse. But the ones most likely to affect your quality of life are flooding meetings about local issues.
Our worst, most inhospitable streets — as measured by safety, health, aesthetics, community, recreation, property values — are those designed for the convenience of people in a car traveling somewhere else. Yet to hear the public outcry, you’d think bicycle boulevards were a plot against neighborhoods.
The Jefferson bike boulevard opponents have provided virtually all the public commentary and follow-on objections. Almost all of it is wrong or misguided, but so far, the volume (in both senses) seems to represent the majority.
"It will hurt home values" — Studies consistently show that home resale value increases by about 8 percent when automobile traffic and speeds are reduced on a residential street.
"Thieves on bikes will scout our neighborhood" — Thieves can already scout your neighborhood, on bikes and in cars. Any increased pedestrian and bike traffic is actually a crime deterrent.
"Cyclists will camp in the yards along the route" — This is a well-known problem on Summit Avenue, where the tent cities erected by cyclists have driven the wealthy to ugly places along freeways where cyclists don't want to camp.
"Pedestrians will be endangered" — As opposed to the safety they experience on streets where traffic flows unencumbered.
"It's a waste of [transportation] money" — This is based on the assumption that drivers pay for roads and that this tax money should be spent on facilitating auto traffic. In fact, most cyclists are also drivers who pay fuel and motor vehicle taxes, and the maintenance of city streets like Jefferson is funded by property taxes and assessments, not by dedicated motor vehicle revenue streams.
Whatever the issue, facts alone aren’t enough to defeat social torpor and fear masquerading as the champion of freedom and initiative.
You have to show up.
If you’re interested in the cause of bike boulevards:
The map (here's a more detailed one) highlights Jefferson, midway between Summit, which has a marked bike route, and Highland Parkway, where a similar plan was rejected by the Highland Council. (The St. Paul Issues Forum had an informative discussion that accompanied that proposal, to little avail.)
Minneapolis Bike Love has some current discussion about a public meeting held by the Macalester Groveland Community Council. A meeting of its Transportation Committee will be held at 7pm August 24th at the Edgcumbe Rec Center.
A good discussion also resulted when Strib reporter Steve Brandt questioned the Minneapolis Issues Forum before writing this story about whether Portland and Park Avenues should revert to two-way streets.
Between 1975 and 1984, we lived on Portland Avenue because that’s where we found a decent house we could afford. We moved once we envisioned our toddler tumbling down our steep front yard toward the street.