It’s something the city first tried to do 25 years ago. In fact, the law is still on the books, and there’s a nearly identical ordinance in St. Paul. The prohibitions just haven’t been enforced.
“This is a redo, a retake, if you will,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson, who is sponsoring the new proposed ban.
More than 100 U.S. cities now ban food containers made from expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to by the brand name Styrofoam. But when Minneapolis and St. Paul attempted to ban virtually all plastic food packaging in 1989, such measures were unprecedented.
In those days, plastic recycling programs were rare, and the city ordinance banned all food packaging that couldn’t be recycled or returned to the vendor. It was an ambitious measure, but it turned out to be mostly symbolic.
“I don’t think the expectation was that only in Minneapolis and St. Paul would certain products — that were wrapped in plastic every place else — have a different distribution method,” said former City Council Member Steve Cramer. “It was a statement of concern.”
Cramer says the ordinance started a conversation about plastic waste and spurred the city to start recycling some plastic items.
The new proposed ordinance is more narrowly tailored, because it only targets restaurant food, as opposed to pre-packaged items produced outside the city. It also singles out expanded polystyrene, which is now one of the only types of plastic the city still doesn’t recycle.
With the spring thaw comes increasing numbers of bicyclists, who are required to follow most of the same laws as drivers. But they also face some unique challenges that aren’t addressed in statute.
Ethan Fawley, executive director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, said he is hearing more concerns about bike etiquette as cycling continues to grow in popularity. Fawley, along with a few bicyclists on Twitter, suggested some ways to maintain safety (and harmony) as you take to the streets this spring.
1. Pay attention on trails
Minneapolis has 85 miles of off-street bikeways, and trails are becoming more common in cities across the state. But they are places where all sorts of bicyclists mix. Some are training for races, some are riding to work, some are taking a leisurely ride on their day off. Fawley said bicyclists need to pay attention to all the other people who are using the trails for different reasons.
“When people going different speeds are present, both sides need to be aware of that. Sometimes when the trail gets crowded you might have to slow down and maybe wait to find spacing when passing.”
2. Ride predictably
Fawley said this is the number one bike etiquette rule.
“Don’t swerve unexpectedly, don’t turn without signaling when there are other people around, don’t speed up or slow down unexpectedly and, of course, just try to relax and enjoy the beautiful summer, and I think we’ll all be a little happier if we’re less stressed out.”
3. Use your words
You should also announce your presence by saying “On your left” when passing otherwise you risk someone veering into your path and causing an accident. For safety’s sake, Marc Warnest suggested on Twitter that bicyclists shouldn’t be afraid to make some noise to cars either.
4. Don’t crowd one another
Drivers and bicyclists often have to share the road. Fawley said drivers and bicyclists must give one another the room they need to stay safe. Drivers should stay a safe distance from bicyclists when passing. And bicyclists should give parked cars a wide berth to avoid getting “doored” into traffic, Fawley said.
“Everyone is learning more and more that cyclists really should be out a little from the edge, and it’s incumbent on cyclists to recognize and be aware that at the same time as you want to be safe, you also want to be considerate. It’s a balancing act between those two things. I think some people will say I want to be a little farther out so I don’t get buzzed, I think other people will want to be closer to the edge of the road.”
5. Treat pedestrians respectfully
Bicyclists should treat pedestrians the way they wish drivers treated bicyclists. Fawley said that holds both on the street and on sidewalks.
“That’s being aware, not buzzing people walking, giving space, slowing down at intersections and crossing points. Hopefully from the pedestrian side, being predictable, just as we hope bicyclists are being predictable when they’re biking on the streets.”
6. Stay visible
That means using bike lights at night and not darting in and out of traffic. Sidewalks can also be some of the deadliest places for bikers because they often can’t be seen by drivers at intersections. An analysis of bike crashes released by the city of Minneapolis last year found that 33 percent of the crashes studied involved a bicyclist entering traffic from a sidewalk or path.
Last year, I blogged about some of the hundreds of gun-related cases prosecuted in Hennepin County. I’m following county gun cases this year too, and updating The Cities each month with some noteworthy items. Here’s what I found in March: Bloomington Police say when an employee of the Sam’s Club on West American Boulevard saw Read more →
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The City of St. Paul has identified about 20 miles of streets it says are badly in need of repair. This map shows the “Terrible 20,” as Mayor Chris Coleman calls them. Are there streets that aren’t on the map that should be?
The Minneapolis-based hackers at OMG Transit rebooted their web service last night and are getting tantalizingly close to putting a transportation system in the palm of your hand — or at least on your smart phone. The new, rebuilt web service relies principally on data provided by MetroTransit, one of a fraction of transit agencies Read more →