These People Lost Their Minds Over a Bike Lane

Photo: Lisa Bender
Photo: Lisa Bender

Over the years, Streetsblog has reported on many, shall we say, disproportionate reactions to the installation of bike lanes. But a demonstration this weekend in Minneapolis — replete with Nazi references — just might take the cake.

Minneapolis Council Member Lisa Bender shared photos of the anti-bike lane rally in a Facebook post that quickly went viral. These folks really, really object to some stripes on the street.

Photo:  Shane Morin
Photo: Shane Morin

Believe it or not, this wasn’t just a bunch of random cranks. John Edwards at local blog Wedge Live reports that while the organizer is a notorious attention-seeking troll, the event drew real political candidates and a former council member:

One important thing to know is that the idea for this protest began on social media as a hoax, but became very real after spreading to credulous bike-haters on Facebook. The Facebook event was created by internet hoax artist Jeremy Piatt (known for creating the GoFundMe for Kanye West that was picked up by major national news outlets).

By all accounts, organizer Jeremy Piatt didn’t show up to the protest. But here’s who did show up to march against bikes: two candidates for City Council, David Schorn (Ward 10) and Joe Kovacs (Ward 7); and former Ward 10 City Council member Meg Tuthill; and let’s not forget the group of people carrying “Nazi Lane” signs dripping with red paint intended to look like blood.

The anti-bike marchers began by walking in the newly installed bike lane on 26th Street, east from Hennepin to Lyndale Ave. They then walked in the bike lane, west on 28th Street. Observers on social media remarked how fortunate they were to find refuge from cars in the bike lanes.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as a fringe action that happened almost by accident and only drew 20 people. Or it could reflect where local bike lane politics are headed in the Trump-era culture wars.

For a more reasonable account of why these bike lanes were installed and what’s at stake, visit Ethan Fawley’s article over Fawley lives right off 28th Street and he says the bike lanes were installed after the death of a child. They help give him peace of mind when he’s walking his own 2-year-old son to daycare along the street.

More recommended reading today: BikePortland reports on the results of a distracted driving sting after Oregon’s new rules took effect banning the use of mobile devices behind the wheel. And TheCityFix reflects on Amazon’s insistence on good transit access for its second headquarters, and what that means for cities.

165 thoughts on These People Lost Their Minds Over a Bike Lane

  1. The post-truth aspect of Trump-era politics is something we’ve already had plenty of experience with as transit activists. Like the Colorado gubernatorial candidate who said that bike lanes were part of a U.N. takeover plot, or those who argue that bicycles cause gentrification.

    Fertile ground for this prankster to grow things in.

  2. Ah yes, that 85th percentile based on 1964 research that pertained to a certain type of rural highway. Its misapplication to all situations is a cherished rationalization for speeders.

  3. Some years back, San Francisco had an anti-bike protest called “Car Critical Mass,” which attempted to do that. They printed up expensive big signs to put on their cars (illegally blocking their windows in some cases).

    It got stuck in traffic.

  4. The post-truth aspect of Trump-era politics is something we’ve already had
    plenty of experience with as transit activists. Like the Colorado gubernatorial candidate who said that bike lanes were part of a U.N. takeover plot, or those who argue that bicycles cause gentrification. The namecalling on these signs are very much like a Trump tweet. #sad

    Fertile ground for this prankster to grow things in.

  5. Yes. But why does the President have to get dragged into it – “Trump-era culture wars”

    Last I checked Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted any hatred for bike lanes.

  6. Yeah, it’s all Trump’s fault, isn’t it? Sure looks like you folks are trying to take any topic and turn it into more Trump hate and more negativity.

    During the Clinton/Obama regimes our bike infrastructure wasn’t exactly the Netherlands, nobody blamed things on them…

  7. Did you notice how you had to word the first sentence so as to make it seem to come from me? It didn’t. That’s your exaggeration and has nothing to do with what’s being discussed.

  8. Well floyds55, perhaps you would like to demolish the points put forward by the City of Toronto Transportation Dept. It’s possible that theymay have thought things thro’ a little further than you may have:
    By the way – long post:

    Works and Emergency Services

    David C. Kaufman, P.Eng.
    , Acting Commissioner
    City Hall, 24
    Floor East Tower
    100 Queen Street West
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5H 2N2
    2005 BUDGET
    BRIEFING NOTE – Licensing Cyclists and/or Bicycles

    History of Bicycle Licensing in Toronto:

    The City of Toronto required bicycles to be licensed and to display a licence plate in 1935. The by-law was repealed in 1956.

    ·In the past 20 years licensing cyclists and/or bicycles has been investigated on at least three occasions by the City:
    1984 – concern with bicycle theft
    1992 – concern with sidewalk cycling and compliance with Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
    1996 – concern with sidewalk cycling and compliance with Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
    In the three instances described above, City Council rejected licensing cyclists/bicycles for a variety of reasons, including:
    the high cost to develop and administer a licensing program;
    · the difficulty in dealing with cyclists crossing the municipal boundary into the City;
    the challenge of licensing children as well as adults; and
    · the lack of support by the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

    Two Kinds of Licence:
    It is important to distinguish between the two different kinds of licence and their different purposes.
    Vehicle Licence – to put a licence plate on a bicycle for easier identification, either for theft prevention or traffic law enforcement.
    Operator Licence – to ensure that cyclists achieve a minimum level of knowledge and competence before being permitted on the roadway.
    Reasons for Licensing Cyclists and/or Bicycles:
    Licensing cyclists and/or bicycles is most frequently proposed as a means to:
    · prevent bicycle theft or to assist in returning a stolen bicycle to its owner;
    · improve compliance with the law by cyclists;

    · assist the public to report cyclists who have committed HTA or municipal by-law infractions;
    · enable police officers to ticket cyclists who have committed traffic offences.

    2 Bicycle Licence is Ineffective in Preventing Theft:
    · Developing and maintaining a bicycle licence system would be a costly undertaking — there are more than 2,000,000 bicycles owned by City of Toronto residents.
    · Bicycle licensing has proven ineffective as a means to prevent theft because a licence plate or decal is easily removed.

    Most North American cities which at one time required bicycles to be licensed, including the former City of Toronto, have discontinued their programs. Many of these programs charged a small registration fee intended to offset the cost of administering the program.
    · Toronto Police Service provide a free service to register bicycle serial numbers so that stolen bicycles can be identified and returned to their owner, if recovered by police.
    Increasing Enforcement of Cyclist Infractions Does Not Require Licensing of Cyclists:
    · Cyclists are subject to the same HTA rules and fines as drivers.
    · At the request of the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario amended the Highway Traffic Act in 1989 to require cyclists to identify themselves when stopped by a police officer, to aid in effective enforcement.
    · A cyclist or bicycle licence is not required in order for a cyclist to be charged under the HTA or Municipal By-law.
    · Toronto police can and do enforce traffic rules for cyclists, including at least one “Cycle Right” campaign in the Spring of each year.
    · There is a perception that having a licence plate on the back of a bicycle would enable citizens to report errant cyclists and have the police issue a ticket, however;

    a licence plate identifies the vehicle not the vehicle operator;
    a ticket is issued to the vehicle operator not the vehicle (red light camera violations are the exception – provincial legislation was enacted to enable red light camera offences to be issued against the vehicle owner rather than the driver).
    · There is a perception that the police do not ticket cyclists often enough or as often as they could, however the police must balance their limited traffic enforcement resources against competing enforcement needs. For example, there is an average of 68,700 reported motor vehicle collisions every year in the City of Toronto – bicycles are involved in 1.8 percent of those reported collisions.
    · Licensing cyclists is not likely to change the priority bicycle enforcement receives vis-a-vis other enforcement priorities.
    · If police bicycle-enforcement resources are to be increased, it would be more effective for police officers to focus on increased enforcement of the existing traffic rules for cyclists rather than enforcing compliance with a licensing requirement.
    Improving Cyclist Compliance with Traffic Rules is the Main Objective:
    · Requiring cyclists to pass a written and road test to obtain a licence to operate a bicycle on the road would ensure a minimum level of knowledge and competence for all cyclists.
    · Requiring a bicycle operator’s licence without a knowledge and skills test as a prerequisite would not achieve any safety benefit and could be perceived as a user fee.
    · Establishing and maintaining a testing and licensing program would be a massive undertaking – there are 939,000 cyclists age 16 and older in the City (data for younger cyclists is not available).
    3 · Requiring a cyclist operating licence raises a number of questions, including:
    How do you develop licensing requirements for both adults and children?
    Do you prohibit cycling on the road for cyclists under a certain age?
    Are occasional cyclists, who may ride primarily on pathways, subject to the same requirements as frequent cyclists who ride primarily on the road?
    Can cyclists from other jurisdictions (tourist and residents of adjacent municipalities) be expected to obtain a licence to use City of Toronto roads?
    · Previous investigations into licensing have concluded that, if cyclists are to be licensed, it should be the responsibility of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) – similar to drivers’ licences.
    · In 1992 and 1996, the City asked MTO to comment on the feasibility of licensing cyclists. MTO responded in 1992 by stating that it would cost $24.80 per cyclist (same cost as licensing drivers) to operate a licensing program, not including the database or program development costs.
    · While it appears there is potential to generate revenue from a bicycle or cyclist licensing program, if the cost is too high many cyclists will not comply. In order for the program to be effective, strict and consistent enforcement of the licensing requirement will be required. This could divert the limited enforcement
    resources away from enforcing the existing traffic rules for cyclists.
    · In 1996 MTO advised the City that the Ministry did not support a provincial bicycle licensing scheme because “such schemes, apart from being administratively and financially burdensome, do not increase bicycle safety practices…”
    Both MTO and the Toronto Police Service have advised, in the past, that education and enforcement are more cost-effective means to improve cyclist knowledge, skills and general compliance with traffic rules.
    · Bicycle licences are not effective in preventing bicycle theft;
    · A cyclist operating licence is not required for police officers to enforce the existing traffic rules;
    · Developing a cyclist testing and licensing system would be expensive and divert attention from enforcing the existing traffic rules for cyclists; and

    Providing more resources for cyclist education and training and increased police enforcement would be a more cost-effective approach for improving safety.
    If Council wishes to pursue a City of Toronto bicycle or cyclist licensing program, the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division of Urban Development Services would be responsible for developing and operating such a program. Any proposal to test and license cyclists should be developed in consultation with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
    Prepared by: Daniel Egan, Manager, Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure,
    Transportation Infrastructure Management, Transportation Services
    Circulated to: Works Committee Members
    December 23, 2004

  9. The protesters were right. Those bike lanes are virtually unused, but occupy nearly half each of both 26th and 28th streets, significantly increasing congestion on the latter, especially at rush hour. They are an exceedingly stupid idea, even more so considering that the greenway, with bike lanes running both directions, is a few yards west of and parallel to 28th. The increased congestion alone is bound to increase, not decrease, the number of accidents on 28th in addition to burdening drivers with slower commutes.

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