Category Archives: Bicycles

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SAVE THE BIKELANE

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LETS GET OUT IN THE SNOW

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Roads for All?

The way our transportation system is currently has a number of injustices and inequities which are inherent in the design.  Albeit no system in the world is completely equitable or just for all communities, the system which exists throughout the majority of our country holds many biases, and effectively blocks a variety of communities from a fair chance at equal access to transportation.

A short Transpo’ history

The Federal Highway Act of 1956 created the interstate highway system we know today.  The driving force for this system had basis in national security, the ability to quickly evacuate cities if an attack occurred and to move supplies for war, and economic prosperity, short term job growth because of the incredible size of the construction project (41,000 miles of new road construction) and long term economic growth through increased capacity for freight traffic and creation of new markets such as suburban development.  This was one of the largest public works project in the history of the country at a ticket of $25 Billion dollars.

This really kicked off the future of American automobile retrofitting and accommodation.  At this point in our history, we were the envy of the world, because of the speed in which we completed a large portion of this project and the lifestyle in which it perpetuated- a freedom unlike any other transportation system in the world- just get in your car and go!  It was/is the premier idea of modernity, a small pod which you can control to any destination you wish, on demand.

The Modern Implications

Today, we suffer from our long standing transportation policy with a pronounced automobile bias.  The wide swaths of land which separate people from their work, errands, and home create a nature in which our roads are classist, racist, and ageist.  Let us breakdown those implications.  Roads are classist in the way in which individuals have to be able to afford the upfront bulk cost, and the continuing cost, of a vehicle in order to buy-into transportation security.  Roads are racist in the way in which initial road construction neglected existing minority communities and (in considerable hindsight) tailored to the flight of financially able whites to the suburban fringe of our cities.  Roads are agist for more obvious reasons.  If an individual is not 16, they cannot get a license.  If an individual is elderly or suffers from a late in life illness disbarring them from driving, they lose a freedom they had enjoyed for their entire life.  This is not mentioning the stereotyping that occurs against the elderly behind the wheel.  Those biases can be directly related to policy.  It is policy that cars are so expensive to purchase and maintain, it is policy that you must be a certain age to operate a motor vehicle, and it is covertly political policy to impose major infrastructure projects on communities which have a marginalized voice.

I am not so pessimistic that I think this was intentional.  Obviously, our roads were constructed with the best interest of the country in mind, and our roads have had a significant impact on our nations growth.  The stakes are higher today and things are not quite as utopian as they used to be, in regards to our roads at least.

Of course, the piece of the solution I am offering is the bolstering of our mass transit systems!  I see this as the biggest piece to closing transportation gaps.

Funding

Roads are consistently funded.  The funding is contentious for many reasons, but it is always there.  What about Metro Transit funding?  Is our MT funding scheme set up to build capacity in our system without assistance from the Federal Government (think Central Corridor… 500 Million Federal Dollars).

Currently, Metro Transit is funded from three sources.

  1. Motor Vehicle Sales Tax (MVST) @ 48% of operating budget.
  2. Fares from riders @ 31% of operating budget.
  3. The State’s general fund, which is basically a pool of money allocated to different portions of government services, @ 8% of operating budget.

The MVST is contingent on how many cars are bought.  This piece of transit funding is the most perplexing, because transit either benefits from more ridership- more revenue from fares- or people buying more cars- more MVST.  There is no win-win with that budget scheme, only a stringent funding ceiling created by two sources which are polar opposites of each other.  The budget for Metro Transit coming from the State- through the Met Council- is a very small portion, but is the only consistent funding source our transit system has.  And as everyone knows, this portion almost decreased significantly during budget debates as the government was shutdown.  Fortunately, this piece of the general fund remained untouched and service will not be lost.

A Policy Paradigm Shift

The ideal funding scheme would be to pull a large piece of funding from the Highway Trust Fund, which is used for new road construction and repair.  I find no real concern with the current funding scheme for consistent operation of the current system, but I do find concern in the search for more local and state funding to extend and upgrade service.

Small changes in the way we allocate our funds, which is contingent on our transportation policies as a state and national level, will be able to extend and bolster existing service to close gaps in the transportation inequities which exist in Saint Paul/Minneapolis today.  As much as I scoff at Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin for denying 810 Million Federal Dollars for high speed rail funding, I commend, even more so, the difficult, but concerted, efforts to create better transportation for all citizens in certain states (a number of other states were awarded that money instead!).

All over the globe nations are recognizing the importance of the inclusion of all citizens in the discussion of equitable transit and safe passage to work, school, and home, because it is not how we get there, but if we can get there that is truly the root of the problem.

Here are some anecdotes to bring out with you to get people around you excited about how transportation, and how we operate facilities for it, can change to become more equitable:

First off:  The cornerstone of the discussion about transportation equity:

London Congestion Pricing – Capitalizing on the traffic in inner cities creates revenue and makes our streets safer.

Find a parking spot easier! – How using technology can create a environment where a parking spot is there for you and you save gas finding it. 

Even Car and Driver Mag thinks it is time for “alternatives”

Carmageddon!!!  Los Angeles without one of its major freeways!!????

It was a bust. 

How New Roads Create More Congestion – Changing the way we think about reducing congestion.

But… Transit might not solve it either. 

But more buses and trains won’t reduce congestion, he added, because regardless of how many drivers switch to transit, other drivers will fill the vacuum.

In the end, America’s infrastructure must take a higher order of priority. 

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Stupor Bowl

image from BikeJerks

details from bikelove:

Friday February 5th:
Pre-registration 7:00pm-10:00pm @ The Nomad(501 Cedar Ave S)
Bands to follow

Saturday February 6th:
Registration 10:00am-1:00pm @ One on One Bike Studio(117 Washington Ave N)
Race starts at 2:00pm

The Stupor Bowl is this Saturday, February 6th and is put on by the fine folks of the Minneapolis Bike Messenger Association.  Here are some links to learn more about this event.

This event is the largest and longest running alleycat in the midwest.  It is huge.  Come out and ride!

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Charged Team – Fixed

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University Avenue User’s Manual

Right off the bat, wag of the finger (WOTF) to the two mountain bike riders that looked at me like I was retarded when I shouted “wrong way!”  You(1): 12:00PM, riding against the grain of traffic, on street in bike lane, and when I shouted from 5 feet to your left, you smiled slyly like no one but you knew what you were doing.  You(2): 12:40PM, riding against the grain of traffic, on the street on the opposite side of the road from the bike lane, back tire severely low in PSI, and when I implied that 4th street has westbound traffic AND A BIKE LANE, while you slowly bounced by, there was a look in my direction and no execution.  ME(1): Waiting for the light to turn green to go north on 10th Ave.  Me(2): Waiting for the light to turn green to turn left from 10th ave to University Ave.

Salmon.  Listen.  I have been fairly understanding so far, I never said anything to you before besides scowling and shaking my head to myself but now there will be no amnesty.  If I am riding in the University bike lane and you salmon your way toward me (acting like a salmon, riding upstream, get it?), I will be forced to make loud noises drawing attention to you and then give you no space to pass safely along the curb.  Please, you deal with the oncoming traffic and then reevaluate the decision to not go one block north to a legal bike lane.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the biking on campus and I love to see everyone out later and later into the year, but some people really put a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the typical mountain bike rider, which comprises the majority of riders on campus.  Keep pedaling around campus, but expect to follow the laws and use correct discretion, it makes the world much more enjoyable for all– driver, biker, walker and those friendly squirrels on campus.

On the bicycle note, I have new ride.  If you see a Spaulding “Blade” with a MPLS bikelove spokecard, that is me, say hello.  Say hello to me, if I am by the bike, don’t say hello to the bike.  Well… maybe the bike would appreciate it.  It is inevitable, if you read this that you will be evaluating my bike etiquette on the road, hopefully I am up to where my standard is set.  Well, at least my bike tire is correctly inflated, got that going for me.

 

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