John Edwards Was Only 2/3 Right

Former Senator and two-time Presidential hopeful John Edwards was an immensely tragic figure, in a purely satirical sense, in that he may have been the only Democrat candidate in history to be derailed by violating conventional prole social mores.

But he made one great contribution to American life; the phrase starting “There are Two Americas…”.  This is a gift that has kept on giving to satirists, and likely always will.

But in some cases, it doesn’t go far enough.

Because in cities like Saint Paul, at least in re the Met and City Councils’ ongoing plans to bike-ify the streets and make driving cars utterly unpalatable, there are three Saint Pauls:

The Midway, Saint Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Battle Creek, Payne-Phalen, Summit-Uni and the like:  In these neighborhoods, there is a minority of bikers – and no real resistance to the idea of having the neighborhood’s streets whittled down to one lane plus bike lanes and, maybe, parking.

The East Side, The North End, Frogtown, Dayton’s Bluff:  Nobody bikes, and nobody wants to build bike lanes through them.

Highland:  A powerful minority of well-connected bikers went up against a powerful minority of well-organized NOMASs (“Not On My Arterial Steet!”) – and the NOMAS won a victory, even if only temporary.

The council voted 6-0 for Council Member Chris Tolbert’s amendment to study possible bike lanes on Finn Street and Prior Avenue as well as Cleveland, and to ask the Public Works department to draw up “a robust public engagement plan” to get more input from residents, business owners, district councils and others before deciding by the end of the year where to put the lanes.

Finn?  That’s narrow enough already!

Prior?  That’s two blocks from Cleveland!

And four blocks from already bike-friendly Fairview.

Tolbert said based on the feedback he had gotten — “the most public engagement I’ve received since I’ve been on the council” — he wasn’t sure the issue had been properly vetted. He represents the area south of St. Clair Avenue, where business and property owners said they had collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing bike lanes down Cleveland.

“Both sides have brought up a lot of good issues and a lot of issues that need to be resolved, and we haven’t had a lot of time to let that happen,” Tolbert said.

Now, in most cases – see “The Green Line”, the “Lebanon Hills Park Bike Path” – the “public engagement” is just a ticket the bureaucracy punches on the way to doing what it had planned all along.

In this case?  NOMAS in Highland Park might actually bring some teeth to the issue.

8 thoughts on “John Edwards Was Only 2/3 Right

  1. Only Democrat? Well, you’ve got Gary Hart, no? And Chappaquiddick was probably just as damaging to Teddy in 1979 as his awful answer about why he’d have liked to be President. So some Democrats pay for violating moral norms, though it’s rarer than it ought to be.

    OK, to the point, it’s worth noting that one of the big things we’re doing to make the problem worse is to incentivize people to live and drive in cities built before the two income. two (or more) car family was the norm. Can’t find a place to live that’s safe? Don’t clean up the hood; build ten story buildings everywhere! That’ll make it easier to drive and find a parking space!

    And as an avid bicyclist, yes, there are a bunch of places that I won’t ride, and that includes a lot of “bike paths” that are really, really poorly thought out. Looked at Cleveland on a map, and I would tend to agree that if you want a bike route, you need to bite the bullet and pay homeowners for a few feet of space to widen the road. Otherwise you just make an awkward situation worse.

  2. Well, living in the Highland Park neighborhood, I think Finn would be a good alternative to Cleveland. Relatively little auto traffic on Finn, compared to Cleveland. While I question the need here, given the river route to the west and Fairview to the east, if another north/south bike route is needed Finn makes more sense. We don’t have to have the “bike busy streets” also on the “car busy streets”.

    Now, I don’t think you need anything more than some share the road signs on Finn and you would be good. I have used it on occasion when I didn’t want to go to either Fairview or the river. And without any special signage, it is just a quiet residential street that is quite safe for bikes.

    Oh and without looking at a map, I think Prior is only two blocks from Fairview.

  3. I joined the Highland District Council in 2008 as a Community Member of the Transportation Committee. That’s when the city was attempting to qualify for Federal money to turn Highland Pkwy into a Bike Boulevard (shared road). We held several public information sessions, sometimes filling the gymnasium. By a 3-1 margin, the supporters of the project were Minneapolis residents.

  4. ANd you know, I ride my bike down Highland Pkwy quite frequently without the Bike Blvd designation. No issues. Just difficult to cross Fairview given the traffic, but that is true for cars on Highland Pkwy too.

  5. NW; interesting, but I’m thinking that authors like the one you cite really ought to think of whether jerk bicyclists would understand their position in his words. Liking to believe I am not one of that tribe, I can’t be entirely sure, but it strikes me that most real jerk cyclists would not recognize their own argument there.

    Which has got to be part of the problem, really.

  6. Sorry, but wearing cycling clothing to cycle does not make one a cycle jerk.

    In at least 3 of his points the author makes reference to cycling shorts. Is it because he is jealous?

    Does he make the same arguments about the runners? They wear clothing like they are Carl Lewis or Joyce Griffith-Joyner all the time. But cyclists get the Lance Armstrong reference all the time. (Probably the only cyclist the detractors can name.)

    His point 4 is self contradictory. Does he want warning made to those being overtaken, or should cyclists silently speed by?

  7. Loren, speaking as someone who has also followed the running scene since the 1980s, I object to you comparing many modern road race participants to Carl Lewis or FloJo. Carl especially would never have been seen in the get-ups many modern joggers wear. :^)

    I don’t mind real running wear or cycling wear, but honestly…

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