Making Mpls. safer for cyclists, pugnacious caucuses, and the city of hockey (5×8 – 2/5/14)


AP File Photo/Jim Mone

The death of a 26-year-old bicyclist in Minneapolis late Monday has sparked another round of conversations about what the city can do to make cycling safer.

Marcus Nalls, who had recently moved here from Atlanta, was hit by a van driven by a man who was apparently drunk. Police said Nalls was doing everything right. He was wearing a helmet. The lights on the front and rear of his bike were lit, as the law requires. Forget the usual blaming of the victim — no helmet, no light, etc. It isn’t valid (and never is).

So Nalls did his part for bike safety. How about the city?

“The sad reality is that Franklin Avenue has a long history of safety problems that have received too little attention,” writes Ethan Fawley on the Minneapolis Bike Coalition blog. Only Lake Street records more accidents between bikes and vehicles, he says, pointing to last fall’s Franklin Avenue report for Bike Walk Twin Cities, which spelled out solutions to the city, including a road diet.

A road diet typically reduces the number of travel lanes along a road to provide space for pedestrians and bicyclists and/or to create space to provide dedicated turn lanes for motorists where none previously existed.

Where road diets are implemented to incorporate dedicated turn lanes, traffic safety5 is improved as rear end, angle crashes, and sideswipe crashes are reduced. Pedestrian safety can be improved through the provision of shortened street crossings and/or the provision of pedestrian refuge islands.

Lastly, the removal of through travel lanes typically provide traffic calming throughout a corridor through reduced top end travel speeds while generally providing minimal change to average travel speeds and travel times. In some circumstances, road diets can reduce motor vehicle capacity during peak traffic periods where the quantity of through traffic exceeds the capacity of the remaining through travel lanes.

Bicycle Lanes: Where road diets add bicycle lanes, safety and comfort are improved for bicyclists as they are provided space to operate at their own, typically slower traffic speeds. During peak periods, bicycle lanes allow bicyclists to filter past stopped traffic minimizing their delay.

During non-peak periods, bicycle lanes reduce delays to motorists by creating space for slower moving bicyclists to operate. The provision of bicycle lanes have proven to increase comfort (in this case to BLOS “A”) by allowing bicyclists to operate independently of motorized traffic reducing concerns of being rear ended or sideswiped by motor vehicles.

Bicycle lanes improve safety by reducing wrong way bicycle riding and sidewalk bicycle riding, two of the most common contributing factors to bicycle crashes in urban areas. The addition of bicycle lanes also improves pedestrian comfort by increasing the separation between moving motor vehicle traffic and pedestrians.

Buffered Bicycle Lanes: Buffered bicycle lanes increase the safety and comfort for bicyclists by increasing their separation from adjacent motorized traffic. They likewise increase the comfort for pedestrians. Buffered bicycle lanes have been found to increase rates of bicycling and achieve greater reductions in sidewalk riding than standard bike lanes.

Related: One in eight Minnesota drivers shouldn’t be on the road (Minnesota Public Radio News).

Given the increased polarization of politics and the fan-the-flames 24/7 media, it’s surprising there aren’t more physical fights between candidate supporters.

Every four years, Warroad, Minn., gets international love. How could it not? It’s the capital of U.S. hockey, the New York Times notes today. The city is sending its seventh and eighth olympians to the games this year.

During Warroad’s frigid winter, the temperature has lurked below zero like a walleye beneath the ice on Lake of the Woods. On a recent dawn, snow blew like sand across the highway. A band of pink flared on the horizon, and then extinguished into grayness. The fire had gone out on another morning.

“When it’s 30 below, and there is this much snow, there’s not a whole lot to do for kids,” said Jay Hardwick, the boys’ hockey coach at Warroad High School. “You go to school and go to the rink. That’s about it.”

Well, there is ice fishing, though, as Dave Christian joked, “They frown on cutting holes in the ice on the rink.”

In his interview on CBS, comedian Jerry Seinfeld said “who cares?” when asked about the fact most of the comedians who appear on his (fabulously hilarious) web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, are white. To be concerned about the racial, ethnic makeup of comedians is to be concerned about something other than whether the person is funny.

What’s the big deal? provides the answer:

As the comedy-world blog Splitsider explains, people are upset not because Seinfeld prioritizes humor over diversity, but that he’s saying — given the existence of funny people from a wide variety of backgrounds — that it’s “P.C. nonsense” to give any thought to the message sent by highlighting mostly white men.

The very response to his statement, and to the whole recent history of diversity in comedy, shows that he’d do well to give it more weight. Even if he is being purely meritocratic, some comedians have already noted that the system doesn’t necessarily give all voices a shot, whether those exclusions are deliberate or the product of institutional factors. And, because that conversation started before Seinfeld got into it, his deciding to ignore it can’t make it go away.

It’s possible that Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee won’t drive conversation for long enough to have an impact, but if the issue stays in the spotlight, Seinfeld’s perspective will lose. A continued lack of diversity on his show would prove his detractors’ point — and make him look racist and sexist, even if he’s merely failing to actively think about matters of race and sex — while increased diversity would seem to acknowledge that the “nonsense” isn’t so nonsensical at all.

There’s no longer a way for a prominent comedian with Seinfeld’s level of influence to be so glib about the issue — especially given that of his 26 guests, only 2 have been women and another 2 have been non-white. (There have been no minority women guests so far.)

Thankfully, a victory for diversity isn’t a loss for humor. In SNL’s case, public pressure forced the show to become more diverse and, as it turned out, the added diversity didn’t hurt in the laughs department. If the parallel holds, his coffee-run passenger list may soon look a little different — and that new look will be diverse and funny.

Isaac Lufkin, 14, didn’t find anything at the Super Bowl to change his mind about becoming an NFL kicker someday. He’s apparently pretty good at the sport. He helped his Rhode Island team to an undefeated 2013 season and the freshman football state title.

At MetLife Stadium he got to go on the field before the game to watch the players warm up, he shook hands with superstar actors and was feted in a luxury box, according to CNN. President Clinton stopped by for a chat.

His mother says the visit was “overwhelming, but in a positive way … I went from mom who wants everybody to see my son the way I do to OK, mom is super secretary.”

If his career goes the way he hopes, young Lufkin will be the first NFL kicker without arms.

Related: What You Didn’t Know About the Mother of Armless Athlete Isaac Lufkin May Break Your Heart (

More Super Bowl: Surprise! The halftime show was fake. Again.

Bonus I: Listen up, Salt Lake City, Utah. This is what should happen in your city when a bunch of kids are delinquent in their hot lunch accounts. Show ’em, Houston.

Bonus II: Bill Nye debates evolution with creationist Ken Ham. Scroll ahead to 13:15.

Bonus III: This is how you cancel school.

Is Glenn Greenwald a thief?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Of course, your child will be worth the fuss and the endless advice you receive. But just how accurate or true is the standard advice you receive?

Second hour: Author Sara Paretsky’s long-running series starring female private investigator V.I. Warshawsky continues with “Critical Mass.” She joins The Daily Circuit on the book’s release date, ahead of her appearance at Once Upon A Crime on Thursday night for a reading and book signing.

Third hour: We’ll talk with travel expert Rick Steves about introducing someone else to a place than enchanted you.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – In their own words: former “Second Lady” Joan Mondale, and Minnesota civil rights leader Matthew Little. (both from 1995 MPR interviews)

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In Pakistan, the Bhutto family represents generations of prime ministers who have been killed. But that does not intimidate 25-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He says the forces behind his mother’s assassination have actually drawn him in to politics. NPR talks to the heir to the Bhutto dynasty.