Trendy transportation plans leave real-world equity stranded

Who are these bike and bus lanes actually helping?

By Carol Becker MAY 4, 2021 — 5:30PM (repost from Star Tribune Opinion page)

In response to "What becomes Hennepin Avenue?" (editorial, April 17) let's begin with the numbers.

1) Minneapolis studied daily traffic on Hennepin Avenue south of Franklin (pre-pandemic) and found:

• 25,050 to 50,600 people in 15,000 to 31,500 vehicles (88% of travelers)

• 6,600 transit riders on 400 buses (11.5%)

• 220 to 280 cyclists (0.5%)

Roughly a third of the trips are for work and school, a third for shopping and a third everything else.

Few trips are discretionary — people have to go to work and school and feed themselves.

2) One out of every five people in Minneapolis is a child under the age of 18, and 60% of kids in Minneapolis are on free or reduced school lunches.

3) Families of color average larger than white families, and families with children make more trips per day than families without kids because children have to go to school and to their activities.

4) Ten percent of city residents are 65 or older, and about 10% have a disability.

5) Local bus ridership (the kind of transit on Hennepin Avenue) declined 25% over the last six years before the pandemic. It is down 58% from the beginning of the pandemic and isn't improving.

Businesses have discovered that employees can very effectively work from home and are now reducing their presence downtown (i.e., Target). This is why transit ridership is so low. The region's biggest transit destination may not be so big anymore.

6) Most bike lane users are white men. Women commute on bikes at one-third the rate of men. Black people commute on bikes at one-third the rate of white men.

7) Even if we tripled the number of people biking on Hennepin Avenue, it would only be 1.5% of travelers (see above).