Does it make sense to reduce car lanes for the benefit of bikes?

Officials are getting ready to expand walking and biking routes in the Twin Cities. In some places that will mean closing off space to cars. Today’s Question: Does it make sense to reduce car lanes for the benefit of bikes?

  • It totally makes sense.

    The current emphasis on the automobile is beginning to fade and move toward a multi-modal transportation system. Bicycles are an integral part of that system.

    In a cold weather city where people bike year around adding bike lanes make sense. People will ride more when riding is safer.

  • Don

    YES – it does make sense. Cars and bicycles can exists together, but our city is designed almost exclusively for cars today. When car drivers get annoyed at a bicyclist who by law has a right to space – they sometimes do foolish and dangerous things. This vigilante like behavior necessitates bike specific space. Happens more than you think.

  • Ted

    Only if the new bike lanes help bike commuters get where they need to go safely. To work, not to a park or just around the lake. The Twin Cities needs more bike lanes to make it easier for people to make that choice to ride their bike to work, stores etc. If more people were out of there cars and on a bike we wouldn’t be having unhealthy air warnings like we just had.

  • Virgil Wiebe

    Yes, a no brainer. Good for public health. Good for the environment. But if walking and biking routes are expanded, there needs to be traffic enforcement to make sure the new lanes are respected. As both a commuter biker and an occasional motorist, I fully understand both the frustrations and temptations for both bikers and drivers to break the rules. I see bikers run red lights all the time. I experience motorists driving in bike lanes. Tickets don’t eliminate that behavior, but could reduce it. More respect between the motorist and the biker would also go a long way.

  • Bike commuting isn’t a radical, fringe behavior: it’s a simple, practical solution to rising energy costs, crowded streets and expanding waistlines. Anything that makes it easier, safer and more practical for people to travel by bike helps relieve traffic congestion, reduces pollution and encourages healthy lifestyles.

  • Ryan Hansen

    I have no problem with reducing car lanes to make more space for bicyclists as long as it does not effect traffic flow. If motorists and bicyclists make safety paramount, then this is a workable situation.

    It would appear by creating more bike lanes, vehicle congestion will decrease making it safer to bike, gasoline consumption will be reduced, there will be less wear and tear on Twin Cities’ roadways, and individuals will be encouraged to be proactively healthier through bicycling. I see it as a commendable decision with the benefits outweighing the costs.

  • John Scandurra


    Excellent bicycling opportunities are common to many of the ‘high quality of life cities’ around the world, Even in Minnesota, it is possible to build bicycling into your daily life – all year. Building and maintaining more and better bike lanes is in everyone’s best interest.

  • Andrew Minck

    I am a Minnesotan, who is a temporary transplant for Grad school here in New York City. I bike all around Brooklyn and Manhattan to get to/from my job.

    I I feel much safer when I use bike routes. I use bike routes even if they detour me a little to my destination just for safety and I feel more at ease. Bike routes here include bike signs for routes, bike lanes and some bike boxes (where bikers wait ahead of cars at intersections so cars don’t turn right and crash into bikes).

    Biking and walking will ease our obesity epidemic, and I believe giving people more access to exercise outdoors the better.

    I feel like Biking here in NYC is sometimes safer than Downtown Minneapolis as I remember the fatal accident this past summer there with a semi- and a biker. Bike lanes there, like here, would help drivers see bikers. ]

    If we can do it as a city hear and have actually no real congestion problems on city streets, Minneapolis (my home) should as well.

  • jane

    Absolutely NOT! This is branding cars and the driving of them as evil, just like the campaign againt cigarettes. If we make it more and more obnoxious and difficult for people to use, more people will stop using them (cars? cigarettes?). Why on earth would a 120 – 180 pound person want to travel in the same lane as a 2,000+ pound mass of steel and metal?? Get bikes – who pay even less attention to traffic signs and signals than bad drivers – OFF roads. Paths have been paved all over the place – get bikes on the paths and off the streets.

    If minnesota is really intent in creating an auto-hostile environment, maybe you should pass a law again having them. After all – they can kill if they hit that poor, hapless cyclist who a) moved in front of the 2,000 pound car or b) didn’t want to use his personal energy to start from a stop, so breezed right through the stop sign or red light, or – better yet – c) put him/herself in the AUTO TURNING lane.

    Bikes and cars ARE NOT equal modes of transportation AND SHOULD NOT BE.

    Yes, it’s healthier to walk than drive but does that mean we should let people walk at will in the street because it’ll slow cars down??!!! That’s insanity! Oh wait, it’s also a minnesota law already!

    Unless you’re ready to go back to horses and buggies, face the fact that cars are not going away. So stop assigning a negative value to them. Find a way to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians SAFE and MOVING by keeping them all separated!

    The popular P/C trend to slow cars down is ridiculous – – stop trying to CONTROL auto traffic and instead think about MANAGING it. Move cars efficiently, at as fast a pace as is safe for others cars on the road to move and not bottleneck or cause traffic jams.

  • Ben Matheson

    We’ve completely conceded our public space to cars. Everything is designed to allow for the efficient passing of automobiles. I’d love to see planners take a stand for cyclists, pedestrians, and all things non-car: heath, air quality, road diets, walkability, and overall quality of life.

  • Tom

    Cars already have something like that. Its called the Interstate, bikes and peds are not allowed on them. Cars do not have exclusive rights to the road. Where would you put a bike path in Minneapolis or St. Paul? They are fine for the suburbs. But far to restrictive. If you want to see where more bike lanes work and work well look to Portland OR. Use that city as a model, cars and bikes are able to get along just fine.

  • Mike Vanderscheuren

    Does it make sense to reduce car lanes for the benefit of bikes? I like to think of it as much broader than the “benefit” of bikes – but more aptly the benefits of us all. Actively creating alternate transportation options for the residents of Minneapolis is a smart and forward thinking move. I think this expansion will ultimately be viewed as a great achievement, much in the same way the Minneapolis Parks System is viewed.

  • Bill O’Reilly

    There is a dramatic difference in traffic when changes to the existing model are implemented. Re-striping four lane roads into three with bike lanes on both sides hasn’t impaired traffic, and has made it safer for drivers and pedestrians, while adding a bike route with no additional cost. For an example take Medicine Lake Road from Douglas to Winnetka. The Crystal side is safe and calm and the New Hope part is hectic and more dangerous.

  • Stuart Raymond

    The more bike lanes and bike paths the more us bikers will stay out of impatient, angry, mad at life and generally rude peoples way. Give me more paths and lanes and I will gladly take them and free up drivers space so they can get to their house or job 30 seconds faster.

  • Reuben Koutal

    Sure. Especially, if something would click in your mind, that makes a hypothetical mystical legendary slight connection of a viable and visible list of cancers of all varieties, in all age brackets, and a 250hp gas gozzler, or a small innocent hybrid for that matter, you are propping up, nothing other than getting an ice cream cone, at the other corner. Bikes are classy and sleak, and a good way to show off exersising. But, for one thing, if benefit is workup, is not as good as barefoot, for the very fact, that the upper limbs are static all the time, compared to walking or jogging. One thing, those lanes you’re sparing for bikes, are used by the same people who were going to drive on it. So, for one thing, if time allows, while you’re at it, you do a workup, no fitup facility to subscribe to, and drive a car to get there, and breath a contaminated air in the exercise room, save money on gas, maintenance and repair charges of the wearout the car goes through, the time you spend taking the car to fix and wait, and back, replacement parts, more frequent purchase of new more advanced reasonably higher cost vehicles, and a lot more. And also, less health and medical complications, from an elaborate imaging devices, to no one knows how preventive and erradicating medicine, to time lost at the expense of performing positive work of desired benefit, and the hardship that accompanies each one. Bike is fine but not as good as walk or just jogging, if one is concerned about doing exercise by riding a bike. Simply, because, exercise if to have any meaning or tangible effect that usually people attribute to exercise, has to be on a regular basis, and extraneous. If one of them is missing, it is useless. A casual brisk walk or a hard effort bike, one time spontaneous out taking is useless, and harmful, to cut down a few pounds. Depending on age and physical capacity under attention of a professional, any barefooted exercise, outdoors, cuts down a lot of ailments, if it is done regularly, and in an extraneous manner. If you stick with it uncompromisingly, making no distinction between hot and cold weather, as much as possible, you should see a noticable positive change in about 3 months, as far as healthier overall feeling and physical well being as well. There is something about extraneous exercise that your attending physician would explain, among them enhanced circulation, and cleansing of all body organs. So, cutting down those lanes is beneficial, also in the asphalt and heavy machinery that goes to make it.

  • It makes wonderful sense. I won’t reiterate the benefits of cycling as other posters have done fabulously. However, I will point out to motorists that each bicycle and pedestrian you see is one less car you have to merge with in traffic. One more person reducing demand for fuel helping to drive down prices. One more parking spot available for you. One less person getting their oil changed so you can get in and out of service sooner. More bikes makes driving better.

    I would also like to reach out to my fellow cyclists and ask that more of us do a better job representing ourselves on the roads. A good number of cyclists do ignore the rules citing many weak excuses for doing so. Obey the law, yield to pedestrians, wear a helmet, use lights and reflectors, and be courteous to drivers. If you do encounter a driver being a class A jerk in a 6000lbs S.O.G.G. (Single Occupant Gas Guzzler) – just smile and wave and continue on your day. No need to yell, gesture, or otherwise. Two jerks never pull anything together. Ride safe and ride friendly!

  • Pam Burrows

    YES! We definitely need more bike lanes! and yes, it totally makes sense to encourage people to bike in Minnesota, even in the winter. I used to bike all winter but have stopped, partly because of the cold and the difficulty of plowing through snow on a bike, but largely because I”m terrified of wiping out on a patch of ice directly in front of a car. If was had decently plowed bike lanes (and this winter Minneapolis did not manage decently plowed roads, so that’s another question) I think more of us would bike all winter.

  • Will Fifer


    As a bike commuter, I recognize that we have a way to go in this regard. We must keep building a bicycle infrastructure and teaching new drivers that bikes have a role in transportation as well as recreation.

  • Amber

    Yes! It makes complete sense – we need to make sure our roads are safe and accessible for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers — all users, regardless of age or ability. Bike lanes not only make it easier/safer/better for bicyclists to get where they need to go, it keeps drivers safer as well!

    Adding bike lanes to roads doesn’t just benefit bicyclists and walkers – it benefits drivers of cars as well. There are clear markings and rules for bicyclists and drivers to follow – clarity is always a good thing when we are thinking about designing roads for multiple uses.

    Don’t forget – the definition of ‘traffic’ isn’t just cars – it includes all road users!

  • Zebulun

    Sure. With all this animosity between bikers and auto drivers though there apparently needs to be some enforcement for both sides first. Numerous times I have seen bikers taking advantage of the rules that auto drivers must follow by weaving through traffic, running red lights, and not heeding stop signs. I have also seen bikers who are the epitome of what a biker should be. Auto drivers need to treat bikers with more respect as well. Drivers get an attitude when they see inattentive or careless bike riders and that can be very dangerous. As a transplant to the metro from a more rural area I see this issue as volatile. Any way to add safety, differ confrontations and strengthen this relationship would be a positive measure.

  • David Hruby

    I’m not anti-bike by any means (although I detest the methods of Critical Mass). However, we must take a practical view of bike lanes. Unless you are the heartiest of riders (as I was back in college), weather dictates bike lanes are only practical for seven months or so a year. How much should we invest in terms of money, and lose in terms of road capacity to accommodate bikers? Some, probably. A lot, maybe not. Perhaps they could have “conversion lanes” that are bike only for a portion of the year, and car only during winter months.

  • bsimon

    It depends. First, yes it makes absolutely perfect sense to create designated bike lanes on some streets. But that does not mean that bikes should have special lanes on all streets. For instance, the bike lanes on Minnehaha Avenue make sense. But putting similar lanes on Hiawatha – a higher speed road – would not.

  • Jennifer Anderson


    This is a common sense, win-win situation.

    I think we all agree that the more people start biking as their main mode of transportation, the better.

  • Amy

    I’m going to go ahead and say no, simply because I think the focus needs to be on fixing the problems with roads right now. Crumbling roadways and bridges are dangerous for all users, so lets fix those issues first, then we can talk bike lanes

  • Garyf

    So, all the plumbers, carpet cleaners, couriers, and UPS/Fedx drivers not to mention all the semi-trucks that deliver food to grocery stores, paint to hardware stores, clothing to clothing stores won’t be able to do their job as efficient thus driving up costs of everything we buy.

    Its a feel good measure.

  • Gary F



  • Jessica Sundheim

    Americans shake their heads at the amount of obesity and cost of health care in this country, and proclaim that people should “take responsibility”. However, collectively we seem to be unwilling to do something as simple as stopping at a cross walk, or treating healthy modes of transport with respect by planning for them. We want to relegate these behaviors to expensive paths in the nicer suburbs that lead to nowhere. Yes, recreational biking is fun and healthy, but how much more health benefit would our community encourage if one could incorporate those behaviors into one’s daily movements? The biggest problem is the lack of planning. Cities and towns could learn from Curitiba, Brazil, where bike and bus routes were integrated into the places where people work, so that people don’t have to segregate their work commute from the places they live and play.

    Yes! Increased space and education is needed, especially in rural areas. We have to ride our bikes with our kids on the sidewalks because the people out here have no idea what to do if we are on the street. Plus, many do not look out for bikers. There are many kids that ride their bikes around our town because it is small, and it makes more sense for kids to bike to the library or summer activities instead of having mom pile everyone into a mini-van to drive five blocks. Unfortunately, there is not more done to ensure safety.

    The most frustrating thing is trying to cross the street at a marked cross walk and waiting for fifteen minutes because no one will stop. We tried having a bike bus to school, but gave up for that very reason. It was impossible to plan for the amount of time it would take to cross busy roads and get kids to school on time.

    People who live in the city and demonize bikers, and those bikers who do not respect rules of the road, are having an affect on rural communities where traffic patterns are drastically different. Please stop demonizing the healthiest, most cost effective modes of transport because of your limited experience. Please don’t turn this into party politics. If you do conservative rural communities are going to become anti-biking. Something so rediculous, I can hardly stand it.

  • Jesse M

    Oh gawd yes.

    Parts of this city are already a parking nightmare. Bikes don’t take up onstreet or offstreet parking. So, more bikes = less cars.

    It also allows the poor, such as college students, to be able to get to work and to school without a car. Seems like a good idea to me, for those of us who want to keep college costs down and want to encourage the poor to better themselves.

  • Jenn Gallup

    YES! This would be fantastic! As a cyclist commuter year round in the twin cities, I would LOVE to see more infrastructure implemented that makes sharing the road safer for everyone.

  • Katherine


    Making it easier to use bikes to commute is a simple step that has a minimal impact on our city streets — especially with bike-only routes like the Greenway.

    Minneapolis already has one of the biggest bike-commuter populations in the country. It would be great to help serve a group that is positively impacting the environment and encourage others to join in by making bike commuting simpler (not to mention less dangerous)!

  • Lawrence

    Because America’s challenge is urban and rural sprawl, bike lanes were favored as a solution to reduce traffic congestion. However, because bike lanes serve short commuter routes in dense areas best, traffic congestion may be alleviated only along small to medium sized roadways near small and medium sized employers and retail centers. You can not, for example, ride a bike from Northeast Minneapolis to Inver Grove Heights in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bike lanes will not stop urban and rural sprawl; therefore, the public’s need for roads and rail will increase to keep pace with sprawl. For example, 40 years ago, Chaska was a farming community. Today, Chaska ia a prominent Twin City metropolitan suburban community. From that standpoint, bike paths is a bad option. Rail, inspite of its steep price tag, is a better alternative to reduce sprawl and traffic congestion, but voters’ don’t like rail’s cost, and they are fearful rail will bring undesirables to their communities and ugly sites to their high valued neighborhoods. You won’t see, for example, Eagan residents asking Met Council to expand the Hiawatha Line to Town Centre. Expanding roads are voters’ preferred choice (as seen by the posts thus far) because of roads’ ability to maintain one’s privacy and desire to go anywhere at any time. Bike paths, on the other hand, is the cheaper option Tea Party advocates favor because fixing and expanding roads and rail drives up taxes. Currently, state and federal government deficits are very high, making expensive road and rail repair and expansion difficult to do.

  • Robert

    Yes! – No one is suggesting that all roads be modified for reduced car traffic and increased bike traffic. Strategically routed bike friendly roads will attrack bikers to those routes making other streets better for auto traffic. Win-win for all involved. Roads that are designed exclusively for cars only are bound to cause problems when used for a wider range of transport options.

  • Blarg

    I think what some of the people commenting here complaining about current infrastructure becoming neglected and not getting fixed (bridges, etc.) are missing the point.

    That has nothing to do with adding bike lanes where they can safely be added. Building these in no way would take away safety standards from existing infrastructure. Bikes would use them too, in fact.

  • Lawrence

    Bike paths serves the public best when they are implemented for short commutes in relatively dense areas–preferably along short to medium roadways near plenty of short and medium employers and retail centers. Bike paths are also more affordable than road and rail repair and expansion. But bike paths won’t reduce traffic congestion because too many Americans favor urban and rural sprawl — that is the right to move wherever you want to and the right to have roads to commute to jobs wherever the jobs are. Inspite of its steep price tag, rail is the best alternative. However, Americans don’t like the cost of rail, they worry about the wrong people using rail to come into their communities, and they worry about rail being an eye sore and therefore, lowering property values. The best solution is giving government the right to preserve all lands for future use. But, again, Americans favor local and state control above federal intervention. Moreover, we’ve already sprawled across America, making federal control of land all the more difficult to do.

  • Absolutely. As a year-round cyclist I am always appreciate and gravitate towards riding on roads with bike lanes on them. (Stores on these roads also get more of my business!) Not only will promoting increased bicycle traffic lead to less wear and tear on the roads, but fostering an infrastructure of non-polluting transportation that improves public health to boot will be good for the general population.

  • Troy Abfalter

    Exciting! I commute 20 miles a day on bike, and the health, economic, and psychological benefits are immense. With that being said, I am somewhat terrified of getting hit by a car, and am currently very limited in the routes that I will take. The more “dedicated” routes and trails we have, the more people will feel safe to get out and enjoy the ride to work. See you out there.

  • kriss

    I’m originally from Eden Prairie and currently living in NYC. I believe that it is important for bikers to have their own lane so that they have a safer way to get around the city. In addition, there are already many great bike trails that lead into Minneapolis/St. Paul but once one gets in, there isn’t a great way to get from the trail to one’s office/store etc. I think the bike lanes would be an wise extension to the great bike trails.

    I also think that adding bike lanes would make biking safer for teens who do not have their drivers licenses and would empower them. The lanes would increase their ability to get to jobs, see friends, and stay out of trouble.

    In the summers in NYC they actually close Park Avenue on the weekends for 1 month in the summer to encourage biking. The mayor recently added bike lanes with a median separating bikes from cars to many of the major streets and avenues. I can now safely bike commute from Brooklyn.

    On that note, if it comes between money for light rail and money for bike lanes, I vote light rail.

  • Trevor

    Yes. I highly value the use of well-maintained roadways for both my automobile and my bicycle. Drivers who take it for granted that roads are built and maintained exclusively for their use forget that these transitways are funded in large part by public dollars. Our national obsession with zooming around our environment at ever-increasing speeds is no excuse to deny slower forms of transportation–like bicycles–access to certain roadways. Certain high-density, high-speed express routes should remain closed to bicycles and pedestrians, but that does not mean we cannot work to accommodate all citizens who wish to take advantage of our transportation infrastructure.

    As other commentators have pointed out, building a more bicycle-friendly city improves the quality of life for everyone: it reduces congestion, makes the air cleaner, contributes to a healthy workforce, dramatically cuts down on the need for sprawling parking lots, and encourages residents to invest in and enjoy their communities rather than just zipping through them with the windows rolled up.

  • justacoolcat

    This is a loaded question, but I like it. First I’m going to answer the loaded question “Does it make sense to reduce car lanes for the benefit of bikes? ”

    Yes, also it makes sense to build commercial vehicle lanes and separate commercial traffic from regular traffic.

    That said, I don’t see it happening.

    I do see occasionally dropping/changing a lane or a shoulder and making a bike lane. The problem is our gov’t lacks common sense and common sense is what’s needed to make it work.

    If you look at the map that shows the new bike lanes you’ll notice huge sections where there are no bike lanes or the bike lanes do not connect.

    e.g. If a commuter is the the northern section of St.Paul it’s almost impossible to bike to parts of Roseville or the Northern section of Minneapolis without biking on some very dangerous roads with little or no shoulder.

    Not everyone bikes from Downtown to Downtown, yet these are the places that seem to get most of the funding/attention.

    What is the purpose of this project? To get more people bike commuting or to continue to serve a small group of bikers with more paths?

    I think the former has a future.

  • Maggie L

    YES – I am a year-round bicycle and bus commuter. I take the bus part of the way from Seward in Minneapolis to work in downtown St Paul because of the lack of bike lanes. In order to ride the whole way to work, I’d need to go down University Ave, which is not a safe road to bike on for any long distance – it’s congested, and cars don’t pay a lot of attention to bikes on the shoulder. My other option, taking the River Road and Summit Avenue, adds a lot of distance to my commute.

    I agree with the earlier post by Don, car drivers sometimes get annoyed at a biker riding in the street, and behave in unsafe ways – I have been honked at for riding on the shoulder of a street that had two lanes for traffic in both directions, at 6am, when that car, and my (well-light!) bike, were the vehicles on the road.

    A side note for bike commuters – have lights and reflectors on your bike (especially if you ever ride in the early morning or nighttime), and ALWAYS wear a helmet. Bicyclists have a right to space in the road, but if the cars can’t see you, you shouldn’t be there. Safety first, above all.

  • Phil

    I welcome more biking and walking paths, but it would be nice if officials could keep the current infrastructure intact before building more it. No one can seem to keep sidewalks intact along much of University, especially in Rondo and Frogtown. Funny how pristine everything is around the Gopher’s new stadium, the Capitol, the Cathedral…

  • Mike

    Yes. We have an opportunity to address issues relating to public health, creating community, and improving infrastructure for all modes of transportation by supporting more bike lanes. I would also add that we need to make sure we address the maintenance of these improvements from plowing and upkeep, to safety and enforcement.

  • John Kraning

    YES! While motorists are encouraged to share the road with cyclists, my experience is that often the driver is somewhat oblivious of the cyclist. A separate lane tends to heighten awareness. This safety factor makes bicycling a more viable means of serious transportation. In these times of economic hurt and environmental awareness, more people are turning to this cost effective, non-polluting transportation. The trend toward biking to the store/school/work/friends/etc. should be encouraged by us all since it will benefit us all with cleaner air and a healthier population.

  • Mike Jones

    For sure. Bike lanes encourage cycling by those weary of sharing lanes with cars. Cars aren’t evil, but there is no law against jerks and idiots driving, and they are inherently dangerous. Any measure to protect people from the harm they cause is positive. Bike lanes are especially helpful in auto-centric suburbs which have little to no cycling infrastructure and require a much higher level of commitment for somebody to ride in the streets.

    The next step is maintaining bike lanes: towing cars that park in them, regular removal of debris and snow, and ticketing cars illegally using them.

  • Bike commuting alleviates auto congestion immediately. And it promotes health and a great sense of well being, gradually over the course of your first year of working at it, and then continuing on, year after year. You should be able to bike safely across town well into your later years. But asking bike commuters to wait for all other infrastructure maintenance isn’t sensible. Too many people essentially want free roadways and will put off the inevitable forever. Asking for patience is like asking to put up with perpetual procrastination.

    I have commuted 3 days per week from April through October from Minnetonka Mills to the state capitol in St. Paul for 7 years. Initially I biked Minnetonka Avenue to Lake Street to Marshall, etc. It was great when the Greenway opened to 5th Avenue, then fantastic when it reached to Hiawatha, and finally it felt like heaven when it opened to the Mississippi River. It is a great relief, after biking through St. Paul at rush hour, to pull off of the auto-jammed Marshall Avenue and swing onto the Greenway and the path system to Minnetonka; it is simply much safer to commute on a dedicated roadway. If the dedicated path extended on to St. Paul, I would seriously consider biking year through winter months.

    If we were to connect major commuter destinations with a few dedicated roadways, east to west and north to south, it would encourage greater participation in this worthwhile pursuit. It would encourage individuals to get started, and it would encourage employers to help provide facilities for their healthier employees. Bikers would devise their own solutions for getting from their homes to the dedicated roadway and then to work.

  • Steve


  • Joey

    Today I rode my bicycle two miles to the grocery store and back, and when I neared home, my lungs filled with some thick, noxious material that affected my composure. I looked at the cars moving past me, each occupied by a single commuter and spewing crap into the air, and I thought of the air quality advisory in effect for the metro today (and so many other days).

    Somebody who posts regularly on these forums is fond of reminding us to weigh our wants against our needs. The drivers of those cars want to get where they’re going incredibly quickly and without exertion, but we all need oxygen.

    Cycling is not just recreation. It is a simple, effective solution to a widespread transportation problem. If adding bike lanes to city streets has the bonus effect of discouraging automobile traffic, that much the better.

  • Rachel Widome

    Yes, it does! More bike lanes make biking safer and easier for everyone. Biking as a form of transportation has many benefits to both the individual and to society.

    Also, it’s pretty ridiculous that streets are so car-oriented? Streets are just as much for bikes as cars.

  • Comments texted to MPR:

    You bet it does. Making it easier and safer for the population to navigate the city is a win for everyone. Less cars, fitter, healthier people. The suburban lifestyle is slowly killing America. -Rob, Minneapolis

    Yes, for the safety and equal recognition of bicyclists, road lanes should absolutely be dedicated to them. However, I believe bicycles and bicyclists should be required to be licensed and insured in order to help pay for the infrastructure dedicated to them and shared costs of medical costs due to accidents. Bicyclists should also be strictly policed according to the laws of the road the same way motorists are in order to maintain road safety. Policing bicyclists will also help reduce the anger of motorists who already feel that most bicyclists act as if driving laws do not apply to them, and are tacitly allowed by the police to run red lights, ride the wrong way on one way streets and ignore other basic driving laws. -Greg Robinson, St. Paul

    I think it makes sense if it is in the original plan, however the retrofit in DT Mpls is an example of what does not make good sense. -Alan, Minneapolis

    Absolutely. Just compare us to Amsterdam where bikes and bike lanes are the norm. Their city seems like an advanced civilization compared to ours. -anonymous

  • Linus


    Especially as burgers of Minneapolis want it and reduce the number of lanes for car drivers from suburbs, go for it.

  • Cyd

    Absolutely not!

    That is ridiculous. Streets are for cars and we are a vehicle mobile society.

    Consider the winter in Minnesota when you lose about 10% of your roadways to snow as it is and bicycle travel is highly impractical if not impossible.

    If you want to allocate funds for creation of bicycle lanes and paths that is all well and good, but additional funding of bike paths is a different question.

    Commerce will also be hindered by reducing the functionality of the delivery system of goods and services, ultimately reducing efficiency and increasing cost to…US…the consumers.

    Bicycling is an outstanding form of recreation and exercise, but our streets and roadways are meant for and should stay adequately designated for our necessities which are and will continue to be motor vehicle traffic.

  • Diarmuid K

    Absolutely! I am a year round bike commuter! Would love to see some more lanes in the interests of safety and getting more people on the road. Let’s make the number 2 bike city in the country number one. I would call sitting in my car in busy traffic impractical; instead I pass it all on my bike.

  • Absolutely it makes sense! Bike commuting promotes health, well-being, eliminates traffic congestion and the ill effects that go along with it (frustration that can lead to anger, vehicle emissions, wear and tear on the road) and also creates a better society for the individual, and their surroundings. Can we completely eliminate cars altogether? Maybe someday, but infrastructure is not in place and wont’ be for a long long time. I think overall, the American sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing this country, and promoting bicycle commuting is one easy way to help remove this laziness that has infected every one of us. It’s a good start, not a magic bullet! Any man that has wanted to move a mountain, had to start with one rock right?

  • Andy

    Of course! Bikers need a lane protected by a curb for safety reasons, and the only way that’ll happen is to nix a car lane. I’m specifically not a bike commuter for this reason. Two years ago some teens tried to knock off my bike from their car (police later arrested them). I’ve nearly been hit a dozen other times (and I obey the rules of the road!). If I’m going to bike to work, something I’d absolutely love to do, I need insurance against the tired zombies in their cars who treat bikers as second-class commuters.

  • Jesse Watkins

    Yes, because special bike lanes replacing some car lanes will be seen in use by the car-driving public and encourage them toward biking. Also the converted lanes will tend to keep bikes off the lanes with cars, which drivers will appreciate. Jesse Watkins

  • Tristan Moritz

    I believe it makes perfect sense. It would be easier for everybody to ride a bike and get out and move around if there are safer places to do so. As long as they can route traffic through in an efficient manner some dedicate bike lanes and more sidewalks would be greatly appreciated.

    I know that I would like to be able to ride my bike and lose a little weight, but there really aren’t a whole lot of areas to ride where I wouldn’t have to watch my back for cars.

  • Comments from Facebook:

    My family and I moved to the Twin Cities during the last year. The efforts to accomodate and encourage the use of bicycles is one of the things we love about this city. -David Taylor

    I’d like to rephrase the question…”Does it make sense to change our transportation infrastructure and public space for the health, safety, and happiness of all Minnesotans–cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers?” And my answer is yes! -Ben Matheson

    Why not spend money we don’t have to create new bike lanes and encourage a bike-to-work program from November through March! Not enough jobs in MN, TONS of potholes – but we have plenty of programs to ride a bike in the snow! Sorry – nice concept but you can’t ignore reality. We need roads and to be able to fix the ones we already use and need. -Mike Zipko

    I agree with Ben. He hits on the fact that Twin Citians already ARE commuting by bike – and this makes it a safer, better experience for bikers, walkers, AND drivers on the streets. -Jana Røsten Huffman

    I think it’s great that the cities have so many bike paths that parallel our roads. I don’t even mind spending tax dollars on them. Can anyone explain to me why bikes don’t use those paths and insist on being on the roadway five feet from the paths causing traffic hazards? -Mary Myers

    I feel great about biking 6 months a year! I actually get to work faster than driving. It would be wonderful if some day we could have bike lanes like they have in Amsterdam. They even have their own traffic lights! -Linda Beaverson

    We live in a world plagued with obesity – it is time to encourage activity in every way we can! It will pay off in the end with lower health care costs! -Kathy Carlson

    Generally, I support any initiatives that make it more enjoyable or convenient for people to walk and bike…or travel more efficiently than we do in automobiles. May I share a secret? When I run across the Lexington Avenue bridge during high traffic periods, crossing 94, I like to count the small number of people (relative to the space they take up) — backed up for a mile, burning fuel, crabby, stuck in a game of ‘hurry up and wait’. …We can do much better. -Tanner Larsen

    Only if you don’t think the universe revolves around the internal combustion engine…which unfortunately our culture does. -Rachel M Johnson

  • Geoff Pursell

    Yes. Don’t listen to the haters; bike lanes make life safer and more orderly for both cyclists *and* drivers.

    Those that think bikes simply shouldn’t be on the road are living in a fantasy world.

  • Tracy

    Not really.

    I love cycling and think it is important to think about the safety of all people and while it would be nice to have bike lanes, there are already too few car lanes in the cities to support the current level of traffic. If lanes were reduced (I assume a reduction in lanes is a reduction in the number of lanes as opposed to the size?) the already “stand still” traffic would be even more impossible.

    While it is nice to encourage people to bike, people are free to make their own choices, and some people do not have the ability to bike to work.

    Perhaps there is another way, (some streets have very large sidewalks, and perhaps some of that could be reduced?) I don’t know.

  • Tom

    Generally I am for anything that makes it safer to ride a bike and support healthy living and sustainability. However, I think bike lanes tends to reinforce the idea that bicyclists should be restricted to “their lanes” and don’t have a right to be in a traffic lane. Car drivers need to learn that bicycles have as much right to the road way as any other vehicle, just as bicyclists need to understand how to operate safely, responsibly and effectively in traffic. Bike lanes tend to reinforce the perspective that drivers don’t need to be aware of bicylists.

  • Phil the Pedaler

    NO. It could make car drivers more resentful. And don’t assume bike lanes make traffic safer for cyclists. In the excellent book “Traffic. Why we drive the way we do,” Tom Vanderbilt writes: ” . . . several studies in different countries have found that drivers tend to give cyclists more space as they pass when they are on a street without a bicycle lane. The white marking seems to work as a subliminal signal to drivers that they need to act less cautiously–that it’s the edge of the lane, and not the cyclist, they need to worry about. (This suggests that no bicycle lanes are better for cyclists than insufficiently wide bicycle lanes.) pg 199.

    I’m a driver and cyclist. I often prefer to pedal in traffic and take my chances with drivers rather than risk my life in the bike lane with devil-may-care cyclists. Before more bike lanes, I’d favor the police getting tough with bicyclists who ignore traffic laws and signs and signals. When on two wheels, I am embarrassed by bicyclists who zip through red lights and stop signs with impunity, and when I’m on four wheels, they make me mad. Fewer bike riders would be maimed and killed if more realized they are using a vehicle and have rights AND responsibilities if they truly want to share the road with cars, trucks and buses. And also, cops ought to hammer the car drivers who run lights, disobey signs, and make the roads dangerous for everybody!

  • Jon

    Yes. But laws need to be adjusted to treat bikes differently than cars. Safety arguments need to be the focus.

  • Greg

    Yes. It is better for people. Studies show bicycle commuters are healthier and live longer than others. This is a good way to reduce health care costs.

    It is better for the environment. Bicycle lanes encourage people to use bicycles instead of cars for pleasure, errands, or commuting. This cuts down on fossil fuel use and improves air quality. Bicycles take up less space than cars on the road and in parking spaces.

    Bicycle lanes have a calming effect on traffic. This is better for neighborhoods and encourages people to walk on the calmer streets.

  • Paul

    Bike lanes are a good idea where there is sufficient room. Where there is not enough width to the street it just ads to the danger. In addition,there really should be regulations that when a full bike path is available and the streets are narrow (e.g., West River Road) cyclists have to use the paths provided. It is illegal to impede traffic, and it is dangerous arrogance for cyclists to not recognize that, on a narrow road when they ride three feet from the curb, they are impeding traffic.

  • Matty

    @Paul: It’s unlawful for motorists on West River Road to exceed 25mph and it’s unlawful for cyclists on the West River Road sidepaths to exceed 10mph.

    A cyclist traveling in the general traffic lanes on West River Road at 20mph is not obstructing traffic. Thanks for making sure we all understand the rules of the roads in Minnesota and on MPRB trails.

  • Paul

    @Matty- If I am permitted to drive 25mph and a cyclist

    directly in front of me is driving 20mph, somebody will have to explain to me how that cyclist is not impeding traffic. On a windy, narrow snow covered road that cyclist (more often, going closer to 15 than 20, by the way) is not safe, nor are the drivers who attempt to accommodate, as other cars line up behind, tail-gaiting. As a cyclist I have a healthy respect for the larger, heavier motor powered vehicles for whom the roads were built and designed. Cyclists who do not share that respect are always puzzling to me.

  • Matty

    @Paul: Thanks for response. The reason traffic is not being impeded by a vehicle (bicycle in this case) traveling at 15 or 20 mph is because there is no minimum speed limit on local streets like West River Road. 25mph is the maximum speed on WRR. There is nothing in law that I’m aware of that grants the right to travel at the maximum speed limit.

    It’s not reasonable to expect the maximum allowable speed to be your bar for impediment in an urban environment like the Twin Cities.

  • Paul

    @Matty- Respectfully, I have to disagree.

    When cyclists (or other cars) block or slow the normal flow of traffic, that is impeding traffic. In my opinion, anyway. And I think state laws support this.

  • Safety for pedestrians and cyclists means safety for drivers.

  • stu klipper

    A small, but I think still somewhat trenchant point:

    I have ridden bkies around Mpls. for mnearly 40 yrs — mostly as a leisure activity,but also to do errands. Whenever possible I stay on the residential streets rather than course along the through street that carry most of the vehicular traffic. It has always puzzled me that I seem to have long been an odd man out in doing so, To wit, why do so many cyclists think they have to stay on the main streets. The time difference in trnasit (if that matters) is for the most part negliable. My option is the safer one; and I get to look aroud at the passing surrounds a bit more.

    This is a consideration that might be instrumental in making planning decisions.

  • Gary

    It absolutely makes sense. It does need to be done in a sensible way. In some cases we (cyclists) need to share the road but in appropriate cases there should be designated bicycle lanes.

    The real answer is streets which complete and are designed to accommodate both with curbs between cars and cyclists. Also, rules of the road need to be different so that a STOP sign for a car is a YIELD sign for a cyclist and advancing through a red light, after a full stop is permitted for cyclists.

    Cycling is good for all of us, drivers and cyclists, and we need to create a new reality.

  • Mary Austin

    Knee jerk reaction: OF COURSE.

    Reasons: safety, energy, health, environment, reduce congestion

    In reality it’s a long-term policy question. Too many of the negative answers focus on potholes and bridges right now; THEN, only after those things are complete, think about bikes. But we have to think about how these repairs and improvements are made AT THE SAME TIME holding the needs of bikers and walkers in mind.

    SOME changes can be made quickly with paint. Others will wait … but if we don’t plan to do them for the future needs, we will continue building infrastructure appropriate to the 60’s.

  • George Rosar


    For the last 50 years we have discouraged walking, bicycling and public transportation. We need to reverse this trend and provide equal access to all.

  • Mark

    The bicycle is a much more healthy, lower cost, sustainable mode of transport than the automobile and should be promoted. A comprehensive transit system that works with bikes would make a much more livable, healthy, sustainable city. Most people, especially those in their cars, don’t realize what we’ve given up for the automobile.

  • Phil the Pedaler

    Hey Matty,

    Thanks for straightening out Paul. Like I wanna poke along at 10 mph on the W. River bike paths?! No way. I’ll hang with the cars at 25mph.

  • Yes, on some roads. I am an advocate of complete streets and many of us realize that not all roads are desireable for biking.

    However, a major issue is the problem of crossing major roads and rivers. Here bikes are forced by lack of alternatives to share the main roads. So it is either reduce size or number of car lanes or some how educate car drivers on sharing the road with bikers at these key choke points.

  • dina

    Clearly marked bike lanes could only – I hope – make conditions safer for bicyclists and drivers alike. Some educational initiatives would be helpful as well, as I’ve found myself questioning my rights and responsibilities in both roles.

  • Bob

    Eric, didn’t you do a column a long time ago bitching about bikes on roads when you worked at the Strib? What’s your problem? Why don’t you look around and see how many people are biking even in the middle of a Minnesota winter? Cyclists pay taxes, too.

  • Dave

    I am not as concerned about increasing the number of bike lanes as I am about the availability of Bike racks. For eaxample, bike parking is very unfriendly downtown. Whats worse is that they put bike racks in places where they go unused as if they gave little thought to where to place them.

  • David Peterson

    With respect to the various conversations about impeding traffic – MN state law is quite clear (M.S. 169.222). Bicycles are vehicles according to law and may use state highways (roads) anywhere except where restricted (freeways, basically). They are subject to the same rights and duties as any other vehicle. A bicycle should not impede the “normal and reasonable” movement of traffic. Laws are full of this sort of interpretation language to allow for law enforcement to make the call in the field. “Normal and reasonable” is not defined anywhere in the statutes. If writers are concerned that normal and reasonable means you’re not able to drive the speed limit when you’re waiting to pass a bicyclist, you might as well call 911 every time you get stuck in traffic on I-94 at rush hour (which is entirely NORMAL and REASONABLE under the circumstances). The truth is that bicyclists have a right to be on the road, and motorists have the duty and responsibility to safely accommodate their lawful presence by yielding until it is safe to pass with at least a 3′ gap between the car and bicycle. And in anwer to this general question, yes, it absolutely makes sense for us to think about restricting the amount of space available to cars on our roads to make more and better spaces for bicycling. Providing separated space is the only way that we are going to encourage truly large numbers or people to use bicycles for transportation. The benefits far outweight the costs.