It’s Not Equitable to Protect Cars on Summit Avenue

Patrick Rhone recently wrote Explanation of MinnPost Condemn the selfishness of those who support the improvement of Summit Avenue’s bicycle infrastructure. Rhone accuses bike advocates of promoting lanes that only a few elite and privileged people can enjoy. Rhone’s article, on the other hand, describes automotive infrastructure as a priority for racial justice, as it describes various marginalized people who may not be able to use their bicycles. It is an attempt to claim that it is fair to prefer a car over a bicycle.

However, you do not have to rely on accidental demographic breakdowns from public meetings to determine systematic fairness. You can look at the data and think more comprehensively about transportation. Doing so reveals that support for car-first infrastructure is extremely unfair.

Rhone said in his article that bike proponents are ignoring “people doing two (and in some cases three) jobs to achieve their goals,” and car defense It suggests a defense for hard-working, low-income people. When I read this line from Rhone, I thought of the graph below. Parking lot survey conducted by the city of St. Paul in March 2021.. The graph breaks down car ownership by income group and clearly shows that low-income earners are far less likely to own a car.

Image from St. Paul City

To create the graph above, city officials used American Community Survey data from IPUMS, a census database hosted at the University of Minnesota.Used Their useful online tool Further calculate who doesn’t have a car at St. Paul.

To see the same trends, we can see a broader comparison of the poor compared to the entire population.

The comparison between homeowners and renters is similar.

There is also a large racial disparity in car ownership. Rhone talks about a group of “overwhelmingly white” bike advocates, but advocacy for urban design that prioritizes cars clearly doesn’t claim racial fairness (European street design). Ignore his unruly hint that the admirers are white supremacists).

Rhone also mentions the elderly and disabled as a group that may not be able to ride a bicycle, as part of his argument that bicycle advocates are exclusive. However, it is relatively unlikely that either group will have a car.

For clarity, bicycles are not suitable for everyone. Some people do not use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. People who have physical restrictions that prevent them from riding a bicycle, or who have specific time and distance restrictions, cannot rely solely on bicycles. For example, people with disabilities need better options for traveling around the city than just a good bike path. Safe bicycle infrastructure is far from a complete transportation solution for various marginalized communities.

However, despite the very unfair distribution of car ownership, car infrastructure is rarely kept at the same standard. People need better transportation infrastructure than safe bike paths, but much better than roads and parking lots.

Moreover, views like Rhone are pessimistic and ignore the fact that people choose transportation. In response to the To city design. Rhone can’t imagine a better world. It doesn’t make sense to say that you shouldn’t invest in your bike infrastructure, as bikers may be more privileged. A good bike infrastructure lowers the barriers to riding and allows more people to ride. Recent studies in Minneapolis During the evening commute from 2007 to 2013 (4 pm to 6 pm on weekdays), we measured how improved bicycle networks affected passenger numbers. Over the last six years, passenger numbers in areas without bicycle lanes have increased by 10%, and areas with protected bicycle roads (such as those proposed at Summit Avenue) have increased by 69%. More people do it when it’s safe to ride a bike.

Finally, forming a city around a car can hurt everyone, whether they are the owner of the car or not.of High cost of free parking, UCLA scholar Donald Shoup explains how free parking can help us. actively Car user, But hurt us time left. The same idea can be applied more generally to automotive-first infrastructure.Cars are heavy, fast and dangerous — see Andy singer editing Some of the recent pedestrian and bicycle accidents in cars at Summit Avenue. They occupy a huge amount of space in our city — 35.6% of the land area of ​​St. Paul..They are huge Contributors to carbon emissionsAnd only a few of the electric cars on the road still have others Harmful particulate matter to the atmosphere.. Car infrastructure is convenient for car users, but it hurt us as pedestrians, bikers, residents, and air breathers.

Building a safe bike path on Summit Avenue is an incomplete remedy for traffic illnesses in our city. It does not meet the needs of everyone. However, applying the same analysis to the current car-centric situation will significantly improve the bike lanes on Summit Avenue. We must continue to fight for this advance in St. Paul.

Top photo courtesy of: St. Paul Bicycle Union

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