Word on the Streets

Bad Bike Behavior in Downtown

At the last meeting of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, I listened with interest as Billy Binder updatedthe Board on various bicycle projects going on in the city as well as neededaction and opposition to said projects. I was quite dismayed when I heard him talk about the opposition to bicyclists from business groups and various citizens groups in downtown Minneapolis.  Said opposition is apparently due to behavior of bicyclists in downtown.

As I ride in the downtown area to get to work, I thought, how can this be?  What could possibly be generating this dislike?  I decided I would watch the  behavior of other cyclists to determine what the problem might be.  I was pleased to see the many cyclists downtown, many of them “obeying the rules” but I was disheartened by some of the behavior I witnessed.  What would  possess someone to cross a street against the light when a city bus is clearly  coming straight at you? Why would cyclists bomb up and down crowded sidewalks, weaving in and out of pedestrians, said bicyclists going in either direction as are the pedestrians.  This is only some of the bad behavior I witnessed, and I have to say, I was ashamed.

I started talking about this with other cyclists and Janne said it best:   when something is correct/perfect/not out of alignment/well behaved or  just the way it is supposed to be, you don’t notice it.  Only when something is crooked/out of alignment or just plain wrong, does our eye zoom in on the imperfection or offending action.

So . . . I took another look around.  Many of us are “doing it right.”  We’re not riding on the sidewalks, we’re not bombing pedestrians, and we are stopping at red lights and stops signs.  Does any one notice?  No – we are doing the expected so we are not noticed.

I wish I could say I have a solution to the problem of poor biking habits, but I don’t.  I do try to model good behavior and if I get a chance I strike up a conversation and mention the three most common causes of  death among cyclists:  riding on the sidewalk, being doored or riding the wrong direction.  I mention that running a red light only works because others are following the rules and I hope they don’t run into another  rule breaker.  I’d like to think I’ve at least given them something to think about.

If anyone else has any suggestions, I’d love to hear tthem!

Eastside Bike Summit report

More than 50 people gathered at the Ritz Theater last night (August 1st) at the Eastside Bike Summit organized by Michael Rainville of the St. Anthony West neighborhood association. Topics included bike lanes on 18th Ave, Central Ave NE, along with Hennepin/1st and Main Street. Keep reading for updates on progress and need for advocacy, especially on Central Avenue.

Guest speakers at the event included Shaun Murphy (city of Minneapolis), Steve Clark (Bike Walk Twin Cities), Hennepin County engineers Jim Grube and Bob Byers, along with elected officials Councilmembers Kevin Reich (Ward 1) and Diane Hofstead (Ward 3) and State Representative Diane Loeffler (58A).

The agenda/discussion included the following updates:

1. Completion of the 18th Ave bikeway from Monroe to the Quarry and connecting with the Diagonal Trail.

  • Councilmember Reich is working with city staff on solutions behind the Quarry shopping center, which actually contains a bike trail that isn’t signed (but will be).

  • The lane striped on 18th Ave will remain a temporary solution. Councilmember Reich is working to get a reconstruction of 18th onto the city’s agenda as it gets more deteriorated.

  • Participants desire a safe connection to the Diagonal Trail across the complicated intersection east of the Quarry. Several said they would trade improvements on the rest of 18th just to get this intersection improved for cyclists.

2. Resurfacing of Central Avenue NE by Mn/DOT in 2012.

  • Shaun Murphy reported that the city completed a study last year that recommended changes on Central Avenue NE for cyclists. These included (from south to north in 4 segments): sharrows to 8th Ave, 4 narrowed traffic lanes plus bike lanes to 18th Ave, a 4-3 traffic lane conversion to 27th Ave, and sharrows to Columbia Heights (37th Ave).

  • The city and Mn/DOT are working on a design for resurfacing. Mn/DOT is taking the lead as this is a state trunk highway (65).

  • Participants commented that many intersections along Central have high bike-pedestrian crash incidences and that Central is a key thoroughfare for cyclists.

  • The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition will be holding a meeting for people who want more information about the process on Central on Tuesday, August 9th, at the Northeast Library (2200 Central) from 6:15-7:45pm.

3. East Hennepin and 1st Ave (and related)

  • After a bike summit last year, Hennepin county and Minneapolis studied these two streets to find out whether bicycle facilities could be added without major lane changes. That study has been shelved, since Minneapolis is conducting an 18-month study on streetcars along the Central-Nicollet corridor, and bicycle facilities will be considered in that process.

  • Participants raised concerns about safety on these two streets. Speakers reported that business concerns include bicyclists riding on sidewalks and also loss of parking if any changes are made.

  • Participants asked that staff reconsider adding bicycle facilities on the Hennepin Avenue bridge as a short-term solution instead of waiting for the whole study to be finished, since there is plenty of room and many ride on the sidewalks because traffic moves so quickly. Jim Grube agreed that it would be possible to take another look and perhaps find a temporary solution.

  • On a related note, participants asked for the concrete barriers on the Plymouth Ave bridge be moved enough to allow cyclists to ride across the bridge.

4. Marshall Ave and Main St.

  • Bicycle lanes and sidewalks are currently being constructed on Main/Marshall. They will extend across 8th Ave.

  • Michael Rainville asked participants if they would support exploration of a trail along the railroad tracks from the Scherer Bros. lumber site.

  • Many supported this idea; concern was raised that we need both street routes and trail routes for cyclists. General agreement.

5. Update on new bicycle boulevards on 22nd St. and 5th Ave.

  • Construction has begun on these two bicycle boulevards for traffic calming, including diverters, traffic circles, and speed bumps.

  • Stop signs are in the process of being removed to allow for better cycling (part of the purpose of bicycle boulevards).

  • Landscaping, pavement symbols, and a signal system at 5th and Broadway will come later this year.

Now Hiring: Communications Intern

We are hiring a communications intern to help us improve and expand our outreach efforts. This is perfect for a web savvy student who is passionate about bicycling in Minneapolis. Please apply yourself or share with any who might be interested.

Job description after the break...

2011 Communications Intern Position Description

Title: Communications intern

Hours: Part-time: negotiable; roughly 10 hours per week

Start date: September 2011

Length of internship: Fall semester (four months) with potential to extend

Pay: Unpaid

Application deadline: Position open until filled

To apply: Send cover letter and resume to Lesley Schack, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition Board Member, at lesley@mplsbike.org. Work samples demonstrating skills and experience are encouraged (e.g. writing samples, links to blog posts or websites designed, etc.). Please no phone calls.


The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is seeking a part-time intern to help advance e-communications and outreach efforts. The intern will be responsible for helping to communicate the Coalition’s priorities to interested supporters and stakeholders by assisting with the following tasks and other duties as assigned:

1.) implementing the Coalition’s communications strategy and recommending improvements to communications and outreach efforts;

2.) enhancing and maintaining the Coalition’s website;

3.) coordinating and assembling the Coalition’s monthly e-newsletter;

4.) generating content for the Coalition’s Twitter feed and, as needed, Facebook page and blog;

5). identifying other forums through which to promote the Coalition’s work;

6.) helping to develop and send action alerts and appeals to supporters and stakeholders;

7.) tracking and analyzing the number of individuals who participate in the Coalition’s

e-communications; and

8.) tracking and sharing media coverage related to cycling in Minneapolis.

The ideal candidate will be web and social media savvy and detail-oriented; understand how best to maximize audience reach by using a variety tools; and have strong communications, interpersonal, writing, and design skills along with a passion for improving bicycling in Minneapolis.

Required Qualifications

Degree or enrollment in program in: communications, marketing, journalism, computer science, public policy, political science, city planning, or relevant field. Experience in creating and maintaining websites, including solid HTML skills; blogging; and using Facebook and Twitter.

Preferred Qualifications

Experience using Drupal and Word Press.

One year of internship or work experience in related field.

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