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One Expert's Response to Misinformation from Bike Lane Opponents

Swatting down untruths and misinformation by bike lane opponents in St. Paul doesn't require a PhD, but it helps.
October 31, 2015, 1pm PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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David B. Gleason

Writing in BeyondChron, Bill Lindeke sets the record straight on a few points used by bike lane opponents as St. Paul expands its bicycle path network through the city. Lindeke, a St. Paul Planning Commissioner who has a PhD in geography and bicycle planning, writes about his frustration at flyers given to neighbors along Cleveland Avenue, where opponents have stepped up efforts to block a bike lane on the street that would result in the loss of or shift of some street parking to side streets.

If you believe that your career depends on a parking space, there’s no amount of research, argument, or kindness that will convince you that a bike lane might benefit Cleveland Avenue.

And to make a long story short, this flier represents a dishonest argument about street design that appeals to those invested in the status quo. On the surface, these objections might seem reasonable. But they actually reflect how inflexibility about street design and urban transportation, in order to cling to slight comforts, keeps a dangerous precedent in place for another decade.

Opponents have cited the proposed reduction of driving lane widths on Cleveland from 12 feet to 11 feet as creating a dangerous situation, although as Lindeke points out, just the opposite is true. Statistics show that in the urban environment wider lanes are more dangerous than narrower lanes.

Opponents are also asking that the route be entirely "off-street" for safety reasons, or else the entire thing should be scrapped. Lindeke notes that "smart cities build infrastructure for the whole range of bicyclists and allow them to choose where and how quickly they want to ride… it turns into a spectrum of bicycle infrastructure." Asking for perfection or nothing is just another tool of opponents to block bicycle lane development, Lindeke argues.

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Published on Thursday, October 29, 2015 in Beyond Chron
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