Fox 9 Brings “Fair and Balanced” Reporting to Minneapolis Bike Lanes: Part II

So yesterday we started writing a response to the Fox 9 report on Minneapolis bike lane innovation, and found that we had way too much to say for just one article, today we continue our examination.  Be sure to pop back to yesterday’s story and read that first,

Let’s take a look at some of the other ridiculous things said in the report;

– “There are bike lanes on either side, but there is no center line and no way of knowing that it is a two-way street”- Yes, this is true on this particular street (15th Ave.) there is no painted centerline, but this has absolutely no correlation to the bike lanes being in place. Welcome to 99% of the non-main streets in Minneapolis.  In fact, lets take a look at the street before it had bike lanes painted (time travel courtesy of Google Street View to the right).  Oh my god, where is the center line?!?!  How do people know which way to go?

– “Consider these two lanes on First ave, is it a bike lane, or something else?” – Ignoring for a moment that there are two signs on every block, and on the ground indicating a bike lane, and in some places they have signs, which diagram exactly how to use the lanes…. We found this part of the report informative, because as they are driving along, the news van is clearly, completely driving in the buffer lane, which is a great example of why the buffer lane is useful.

– Cyclist confusion –  The story is prefaced with the statement that cyclists don’t even know what the lanes are used for, but you might ask yourself, what information do they have to back up this assertion?  They showed clips from interviews from two cyclists, one “expert cyclist” and one U of MN student who they stopped while riding along.  The “expert cyclist” did not seem confused, rather he simply said that he wasn’t going to ride in the green lanes on Bryant because they are in the middle of the street.  This is a matter of personal preference, not confusion.  In fact, if drivers are seeing the green lanes then they are serving their purpose.

Also interviewed for the story was Shaun Murphy, a City of Minneapolis spokesman for everything cycling.  We have to give Mr. Murphy credit, as always he does a good job representing the city and cyclists and tries to get the word out.  It does sound like there will be some additional educational campaigns throughout the remainder of this fall and into next spring.

Jeff "Bowtie" Passolt

We can’t exactly call this a “fair and balanced” report, just watch until the end of the clip when they kick it back over to an incredulous Jeff Passolt (see picture) in the anchor’s chair speculating on what will happen when the snow plows scrape all of the paint away and wondering how much all of this is going to cost.

As a side note the marking on campus at least appears to be Thermoplast, which is much more durable than paint and shouldn’t need re-application every year.

There are two ways to look at this;

1) Any coverage is good coverage, the average viewer who didn’t even know that some of these things existed, now know they do, and won’t be bewildered when they happen across them.

2) Coverage like this does not help it perpetuates drivers negative reaction to cyclists, and casts a poor light on the City of Minneapolis’ efforts to improve the cycling infrastructure.

We find ourselves taking a little bit from each category, but honestly, how many people total watched this (ratings say not that many)?  On top of that, we imagine that many who watched it already have formed opinions about the cyclists of the Twin Cities (ourselves included), so this probably didn’t change that too much.

If nothing else, we have to say thank you to Fox 9, it gave us something to talk about for two days.

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