On Wednesday, July 22nd the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) approved a bold resolution calling to remove traffic enforcement from the City of Minneapolis' traffic safety strategies. This resolution is the BAC's second on enforcement in the past year and comes as the City works to re-imagine the role of policing in community safety following Minneapolis police killing George Floyd. The full text of the resolution is available below.
The resolution was presented by Bicycle Advisory Committee Vice Chair Elissa Schufman, who also serves on the Our Streets Minneapolis Board of Directors. It came after the BAC spent 18 months engaging with what role traffic enforcement ought to play in street safety in Minneapolis. In summer 2019 Elissa partnered with former BAC member and current Our Streets Minneapolis staff member Emily Wade to present on traffic enforcement at the BAC. The pair teamed up to create the presentation after noticing their fellow committee members were not familiar with data and scholarship around the negative impacts of traffic enforcement, particularly in Black communities.
Nine BAC members voted in favor of Wednesday night's resolution, three voted against it, and two abstained from voting.
At Our Streets Minneapolis we've held a position against traffic enforcement for several years. Rather than relying on a punishment-based model of street safety, we advocate for a public health approach that prevents traffic violence before it happens through improved street design. This work began at our organization under the leadership of former and current BIPOC staff, board members, and volunteers.
Our Streets Minneapolis Executive Director Ashwat Narayanan praised the resolution saying, "This resolution is a huge step towards building just, equitable streets that belong to everyone."
Now, we need to continue telling the City we support removing traffic enforcement from our traffic safety strategies. Find sample text along with contact information for City staff and your City Council Member here.
Below is the full text of the Bicycle Advisory Committee resolution.
Resolution on the Future of Safety in Minneapolis
Whereas, the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) believes that everyone in Minneapolis should be able to get to where they need to go free of violence or its threat, but recognizes that this is not the city we live in today; and
Whereas, on May 25 2020, George Floyd was murdered by members of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), and his murder and its aftermath are just the most recent incidents in MPD’s long history of racism, violations of the rights to free speech and assembly, and direct violence towards people in Minneapolis; and
Whereas, the BAC’s vision is of a city where all people, regardless of skin color, can experience the joy of biking and mobility, health benefits, and financial benefits it provides; and
Whereas, the Minneapolis Police Department is a direct barrier to that vision, and is emblematic of the system of policing as a whole, whose U.S. origins are rooted in slave patrols and town watches that forced escaped Black slaves back into bondage, brutalized Black and Indigenous communities, and searched and confiscated property without cause; and
Whereas, while society at large has imagined that police help solve society’s toughest problems, the reality is that they have carried this legacy of brutality and racism into our communities today, and that much of what our society has asked police to do is work better done by others; and
Whereas, people have attempted to reform MPD for decades in hopes of changing its fundamental nature, but these attempts have failed, and we can no longer turn to reform as a solution; and
Whereas, City budgets have prioritized policing over other, more effective solutions to community concerns, and changing our City's budget priorities is the best way to create communities where everyone has the resources they need to thrive; and
Whereas, as homelessness can be best solved by housing, addiction can be best solved through treatment, poverty can be best solved by opportunities to work for living wages, and traffic injuries and fatalities—and the unwelcoming environment cars create for people walking, rolling, and biking—can best be solved by changing the designs of our streets and investing in walking, rolling, biking, and transit systems that make driving obsolete; and
Whereas, traffic enforcement is not a good stand-in for education, and education for all street users is insufficient; and
Whereas other types of traffic enforcement, including surveillance and facial recognition technologies, also worsen racial disparities; and
Whereas, Minnesota laws governing fees and fines create poverty penalties and traps, with a minimum $75 fee attached to fines for all moving violations, and Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program calls for the elimination of mandatory fees and surcharges as poverty traps that disproportionately impact low-income communities—which in Minneapolis are also largely communities of color; and
Whereas, Minneapolis has a legacy of street design in low income communities and communities of color that encourage more and worse speeding and thus more enforcement penalties; and
Whereas, case studies of other cities that have used enforcement as a strategy to eliminate biking, rolling, and walking fatalities have seen mixed results at best, and at worst have seen no improvements to biking, rolling, and walking safety while creating or amplifying racial disparities; and
Whereas, enforcement happens at an individual level after the fact, diverts resources away from system-wide preventative actions, encourages people driving to focus on avoiding penalties as their main deterrent instead of reminding people of the responsibility they have to demonstrate care for people walking, rolling and biking, and serves to distract from spending energy on exploring new strategies that don’t reinforce disparate outcomes based on race and income; and
Whereas, driver behavior in Minneapolis is also a serious concern, causing injury and deaths, including among people walking, rolling, and biking; and
Whereas, Minneapolis residents are concerned about the safety of their streets, and the dangerous behavior of drivers; and
Whereas, the current approach to public safety has not been effective in ensuring that drivers behave safely and conscientiously, or effective of holding drivers accountable for the negative impact of crashes; and
Whereas, people who walk, bike, roll, and use transit should have the opportunity to determine how our City approaches public safety in public spaces, and a ballot referendum is a far-reaching, efficient way to reach many people at once;
Now, Therefore, Be it Resolved by the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee,
That the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee joins Reclaim the Block, Black Visions Collective, and thousands of Minneapolis residents calling for a transformative re-envisioning of public safety in Minneapolis, in a way that de-centers the role of policing in community safety. The BAC supports the Council’s commitment to a year-long engagement on the future of community safety, and requests that this engagement include a focus on re-envisioning the way we provide safety for people walking, rolling and biking.
Be it further Resolved that the BAC requests that the Enforcement sections of the Vision Zero Action Plan (Safe Streets strategy 1.3 and and Safe People strategies 4.1 through 4.7) be removed at this time, and replaced with a more holistic, comprehensive approach to addressing unsafe behaviors by street users when the City’s year-long engagement on the future of community safety is complete and a new model for community safety has been put in place.
Be it further resolved that the BAC requests that the City Council move funding from police, including funding for traffic enforcement by MPD, to invest in strategies that address the root causes of violence and community instability, and in building safer streets for people walking, rolling, and biking.
Be it further resolved that the BAC supports placing the Charter amendment put forward by the City Council on the ballot for the election taking place November 3rd, 2020.