With the unseasonable warm weather today it seemed like a great leap forward for bike riders. Besides, the outdoors is calling on the lot of us that are thoroughly fed up with being indoors the past 5 months. And for the record 2011-2012 is the warmest winter in recorded history in Minnesota.
The last mile of my “no sweat” half marathon morning commute was unprecedented by the convergence of bike riders going into downtown St. Paul. I counted 7 of us at one intersection like a school of fish running upstream as soon as the traffic light changed. Although, more people bike ride on good days when I think about it it seems that helping to balance life for those that drive cars is no more than a thankless reward. Bike riders ought to be getting paid climate offsets at the very least for everyday they ride or given chits for hair products and deodorant.
If yesterday is any indication of thankless and thoughtless behavior, there couldn’t have been a better example than the dozen or so drivers that I passed that were parked and “idling” their automobiles either chattering on a phone, eating snacks or waiting to pick someone up. It was the perfect storm in that I have never seen so many drivers on a commute just “idling.” It’s the yin and yang thing, don’t you think? While bike riders are in motion “yang” car drivers are idling “yin.” While bike riders en mass will invigorate a place with a spirit, car drivers en mass bogs down the spirit of the place.
So what is behind the Great curtain of bicycle riding that prohibits car drivers from getting out of their cars? One theory is bicycle advocates are prone to give into the powers that be. Thus ineffectual advocacy spawns mutant strains of policy that defies logic which gives the upper hand to those powers that be. As an example the University Ave transit corridor will not have a bicycle lane and will have to share double lanes with automobiles. This is a public transit project that skirted planning for bicycle riders and will be nothing but a headache for bicyclist and an uphill battle to change once the light rail and automobiles take to the roadway.
The future of University Ave looks a lot like the bleak past that it is projected to replace. Businesses along the construction zone have closed up shop or are barely hanging on. What should new business expect if the design is not pedestrian friendly much like the old design? Public dollars are too few to construct a field of dreams transit system and it could be decades before profits from real investment transforms the urban corridor scaled to pedestrian activity.
One nagging question about the light rail plan for the Twin Cities; how did the powers that be decided the 3 corridors in the first place? If two corridors were initially built running NS and EW there would have been a transit renaissance in the Twin Cities. Now there is just bedlam. A corridor running on 35W south would have transformed suburban traffic to downtown Minneapolis. And a corridor running along Lake Street and Marshall Ave would have connected St. Paul all the way to St. Louis Park. But, none of this will come to pass because the idle rich are the powers that be and the bike riding advocates are too few to make a difference.