Recently, one of the more prominent voices from the bike coalition tweeted this statement:
“If it’s true that families with kids have to drive everywhere (it’s not) then a city for empty nesters and young childless people who can take advantage of not driving seems like a good result.”
This is not only anti-family. It’s also deeply offensive to a large share of our city’s population.
On average, non-white households are larger than white households. 75% of Somali households have three or more people living in them. In the Hmong community, the average household size hovers at around 5.6. Hispanic families average 3.1, while black families average 2.74. A city with “empty nesters and young childless people” would probably be a much whiter one.
Also, this is a “good result?” Does he understand anything about school funding? Public schools receive federal funds based on student population. If families are forced out to the suburbs, inner-city school populations will decline, and the Minneapolis schools will lose funding. Families that can afford to send their children to private schools will do so, while students left behind at city schools will have access to fewer and fewer resources. There are already schools in Minneapolis that are struggling with this problem.
Lastly, is he right that families don’t need to drive everywhere? Perhaps, but only to some degree. If you have a child with an illness who has multiple doctors’ appointments, getting to and from the doctor’s office and back to work is a significant challenge if you don’t have a car. And if you’ve ever watched a low-income mother struggle to get two small children and a stroller onto a bus, you know she’d be driving them in a car if she could afford one. A single parent who works two jobs probably doesn’t have time to bike from one to the next.
This tweet betrays a stunning lack of empathy. He believes everyone should be able to live the way he does. “If I can do it, so can you!” And if they can’t, they can just leave town. Is this the kind of voice we want influencing our city policy?