Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

City of Minneapolis Online Cycling Survey

The city of Minneapolis is doing an online survey of bicyclists in support of their many worthy cycling facility improvement initiatives.

However, I’m a bit put off by a bunch of their questions for bicyclists, sorry to say. While I love things like the commuter trails (Cedar Lake, Midtown Greenway) and their winter-care, a lot of these questions show a particular bias for bike lane and trail construction. Consider this question:

Then, explain what infrastructure improvements could be made along the segment. What would make your ride safer and easier (for example, add a bike lane from Minnehaha Pkwy to 46th St & widen the bike lane from 46th St to 15th St)?

With my background in marketing analytics, I understand the need to provide some examples. But these seem to pander to the misconception that cyclists are safest in ‘segregated’ facilities. We see this again later:

I consider myself to be
An ‘A’ Rider (Advanced rider who is able to ride in the same lanes as vehicles on high-volume streets)
A ‘B’ Rider (Intermediate rider who is able to ride in bike lanes, or in the same lanes as vehicles on medium-volume streets)
A ‘C’ Rider (Beginner rider who is able to ride on trails, sidewalks, or in the same lanes as vehicles on low-volume streets)

I might give this a bit of a slider, as this may be more reflective of common misconception. Given a choice of being on a high-volume street with no shoulder, or one of those infernal Lakes trails, people are almost invariably safer on the street regardless of their own speed. Bikes are safest when they act like and are treated as vehicles. Period.

There is a good section of the survey which seems to be a perception survey on what rules apply to cyclists (are they restricted to bike lanes and trails, car-cyclist passing distance, etc.). I hope they fly with this, although given what publicity this has received, I’m not sure the answers won’t see massive knowledge skew. Ignore the collected stats and do PR around it regardless. I mean, I have been told to ‘get on the trail!’ when riding on a road where there’s a nearby trail, all while within sight-distance of a ‘Share the Road’ sign. I doubt those fine individuals are taking this survey.

That’s part of why I find the whole topic of ‘build more bike lanes’ so tiresome. Build wider lanes with room for multiple users, and avoid creating ‘facilities’ that create misperceptions of where in a lane a cyclist is safest and most visible, or where a cyclist even may legally ride. The number of bike lanes I see that create bicyclist going straight to the right of right-turning cars situations, or please ride in the door zone and good luck to you gambles is icky. It’s even ickier the number of accidents I’ve had to clean up in such facilities.

Build right. Re-educate the ignorant. And, dare I say it, ride boldly.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.


  1. Did you see this in the City of Minneapolis transportation plan?

    talk abut dangerous. A bike lane in the middle of two way car traffic.

    “Hennepin Avenue – retain existing two-way bike lane in center of street. These bike
    lanes will be extended north across the river to Main Street and south to the existing bike path along the west side of Loring Park. Due to the unique safety problems associated with the proposed bicycle lane configuration on Hennepin, additional study will be done to improve the safety of intersections for bicyclists. This may include both pavement markings and signalization.”

  2. guh. Just… guh.

    This is one of the 7 million reasons I tend to not like bike lanes. They either end up built to the door zone, or something like this.

    The reason bikes belong going with traffic is partly because if you are riding toward a car, car is coming toward you, the physics of a potential collision — and it can be caused by a tire blowout, no bad riding or driving — is worse because of the physics of approaching objects.