Comment on “How Bicycling Connects Us to a Healthier Community and Stronger Economy”

I submitted this comment this morning, but it hasn’t been approved yet. Hopefully it will be.

In response to How Bicycling Connects Us to a Healthier Community and Stronger Economy by Tyler Pell, I had these thoughts on how to improve these arguments:

“I think these are good points, but in the interest of helping to win over people who are stuck in a car monoculture, I’d suggest two things.

First, you should point out exactly why “keeping cars off the road” is good for community. It removes congestion, reduces noise, allows people to stop and chat while they are commuting, all of which strengthen the ties between people who live in the community.

Second, you should move all the environmental issues to a separate section. There are more than enough reasons for people to ride bicycles without shoving “the environment” or “climate change” down people’s throats. Note that I agree completely that it’s good for the environment to commute by bicycle, but I know it’s a sensitive subject with some people; if you give these people other reasons that they can personally get behind as human beings or consumers, you have a better chance at getting them into cycling.

Thanks for all the citations, this is a good resource overall.


I think my suggestions are meaningful because when you’re trying to debate someone, it works best to start from a common ground and work toward the point your trying to make, all the while explaining why your points make sense. “The environment” is a nonstarter for some people. “Community” is a great thing to aim for, and I think Pell did a good job expressing that. Economics is a good place to start for some people, as long as you don’t get into too much theory.

Even though I frame this as a debate, remember that anyone you’re trying to convince to commute by bicycle is a future comrade-in-arms. Even if they don’t agree to do it themselves now, they may consider it in the future after your conversation, and they may be just a bit more understanding, which is good for community as well.

Changes to First Avenue North

This one should be quick. I noticed on my way into school this morning that the signs that have, for so long, dedicated Thursdays to a street free of cars (“No Parking Thursday 8 AM – 4 PM”) seem to be gone along 1st Ave N. Additionally, on the EERC end of the street (between 22nd and 23rd street at least) there are new “No Parking This Side of Street” signs on the south (eastbound) side of the street. 

I was considering that maybe this move was a way to save money by not cleaning/plowing this street, but it doesn’t leave the city a time in which to sweep or plow if it is necessary. I’m thinking now that the removal of parking on one side of the street (if in fact it goes all the way to South Washington) might be a move to encourage traffic flow along 1st Ave in addition to 2nd Ave (which is the high-traffic and quite narrow next street over).

Anyway, what do I know? Hopefully someone can find an answer. If more traffic is going down 1st Avenue, we need stop signs on all the cross streets so people don’t die.

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East Grand Forks to add parking–on the Greenway

The city of East Grand Forks, MN is divided on whether to add parking. “Add parking,” you say, “why wouldn’t you want to add parking?” In this case, as reported by the Grand Forks Herald, the additional parking lot would add 32 stalls on the river side of the Boardwalk, a popular downtown collection of restaurants and bars. The problem is that the river side of the existing parking lot (as shown in the image below) is the Greenway, a park/wilderness area created as a buffer from the Red River after the devastating 1997 flood.

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Map centered on proposed parking lot site.

Obviously, many business owners and city council members are excited at the prospect of additional parking because it is (at face value) expected to bring even more people to downtown EGF. (I’ve personally experienced the lack of space on a busy night.)

The mayor said he supports the plan to add parking. He said it is the best thing for the city and he would vote for it with his tiebreaking vote if the city council was deadlocked. Mayor Stauss said his support for the plan is not influenced by his brother and son owning the Boardwalk building.

Some owners, however, are seeing the long-term consequences. 

Dave Homstad, the co-owner and general manager of the Blue Moose Bar & Grill, says he spent an extra $80,000 to $100,000 to build his exterior deck to a height high enough to provide a view of the river and the Greenway, and the new parking lot would block that view for his customers. “If they extend that parking lot out there it’s going to take away my view of the river,” he said

Additional parking is available across DeMers Avenue in the Cabela’s parking lot, in other lots and streets near downtown, and across the Red River in downtown Grand Forks, ND. Why another lot, and why here?

Snapshot: Crossing at DeMers Ave/S. Columbia Rd Interchange

Trying to keep the words to a minimum, but here is an intersection in Grand Forks that I find particularly worrisome, especially for people to whom cycling/commuting is new. This crossing is the primary avenue between the University of North Dakota (to the north) and points to the southeast. The protected sidewalk on the S. Columbia Rd. overpass is used by riders because the traffic on the often exceeds 35 mph and people are not used to cyclists. See map at bottom of post.

Most problematic: drivers merging onto the northbound onramp and off the southbound offramp. They do not expect to stop because all they have is a yield sign. Drivers merging on are especially dangerous because they have little need to yield most of the time, and see little reason in signaling.

Suggested solution: Unsure. Would be nice to straighten out the crossing (will have to take a photo now that it’s snowed again) to make it easier for people on the path, but something needs to be done to prevent merging drivers from running into riders and drivers stopped at the red light from stopping in front of the pedestrian cutout ramps (on the crosswalk).





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Total time on this post: 46 minutes.