Urban Planner Alert! Americans are Biking Less!


By Andrew Richter

Boy, this has to make the American Planning Association scratch it’s head. Despite all of their efforts to force us out of our cars and on to our bikes, it apparently isn’t working.

LOS ANGELES – On Thursdays, Charles Dandino becomes the conductor of an unusual kind of train. He leads what he calls a “bike train,” a group of cycling co-workers who band together for their 6-mile ride to work in the name of safety, as well as for fun and exercise.

Around the country, city transportation officials wish there were more bicyclists like Dandino as they seek to cut traffic congestion, promote health and identify alternatives to cars.

There’s all you need to know. They “wish” people would stop driving.

After rising for several years, the percentage of commuters turning to bikes declined for the third year straight, U.S. Census Bureau figures show. Nationally, the percentage of people who say they use a bike to get to work fell by 3.2 percent from 2016 to 2017, to an average of 836,569 commuters,  according to the bureau’s latest American Community Survey, which regularly asks a group of Americans about their habits. That’s down from a high of 904,463  in 2014, when it peaked after four straight years of increases.

So more and more bike lanes, trials, complete streets, and sidewalks and use is down! Now wait until you hear the excuses;

In some cities, the decline was far more drastic. In Tampa, Florida, and Cleveland, cycling to work dropped by at least 50 percent, although in some cities, cycling to work was up just as dramatically. Experts offered several explanations for the nationwide decrease that has unfolded even as cities spent millions trying to become more bike-friendly. Most obviously, lower gasoline prices and a stronger economy contributed to strong auto sales and less interest in cheaper alternatives, such as mass transit and bikes. The rise of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft and electric scooters cut into bike commuting, said Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition.

Oh that damn capitalism! We need to triple the price of gas!

Another bike advocacy group, the League of American Bicyclists, found a mix when it examined biking trends in the 70 largest cities based on its own analysis of Census data. Bike commuting was up slightly from 2016 to 2017 in one of the large cities where it is most popular – Portland, Oregon. There, 6.3 percent of commuters bike to work. It was also up in the second and third most popular big biking cities, Washington and Minneapolis. It was down 19.9 percent in fourth-place San Francisco, 11.4 percent in fifth-place New Orleans and 20.5 percent in sixth-place Seattle over the same one-year time period.

So, since its down in these liberal big cities, you’d think our planners would learn…..not!

“It shows that while we have made investments over the last 20 years” in bicycle infrastructure, “we are still far from having safe and connected networks that make people feel safe biking to work,” said Ken McLeod, the league’s policy director. Federal highway spending  onbike- and pedestrian-related improvements totaled $915.8 million this year. In Austin, Texas, there was a 24.1 percent drop in bike commuters from 2016 to 2017 and a 38 percent decline from 2011 to 2017. City officials said they have a strategy to increase ridership by concentrating their biking infrastructure efforts on trips up to 3 miles that are “very doable by bike,” said Laura Dierenfield, the city’s division manager of active transportation. “We want to make it possible for people to have a variety of choices about how they get around,” she said.

So, in other words, biking is down and instead of stopping the crazy biking infrastructure, the city of Austin is doubling down on it! They will constantly use red herrings like safety as an excuse. By the way, what is a division manager of transportation?

In the Communist country of California things of course are worse:

Long Beach, California, saw a 23.1 percent increase in the number of bike commuters from 2016 to 2017, though it was down 19 percent from 2011 to 2017, the league’s report says. Over the past decade, Long Beach added bike lanes throughout the city and dedicated routes separated from traffic, including some that recently opened. Its bike-sharing program continues to grow, having 11,000 members. “I think we are getting a lot of commuters coming into the downtown,” Public Works Director Craig Beck said. “A separated bike lane that goes four blocks doesn’t really do anything. It’s about point-to-point safety.”

There’s some code language: only four blocks? Well then of course you need more!

For bike commuters, safety is a top consideration. In a push to make the city more bike-friendly, Los Angeles started installing miles of protected bike lanes and embracing “road diets,” or slowing streets to make them safer for bikers and pedestrians. In a city where the car is king, a backlash from motorists drastically cut back those efforts.

Oh, so you mean they actually listened to their constituents? Of course the bikers don’t like that.

“The City Council and the mayor’s office are only listening to angry drivers who don’t want their commute to be slowed down by anyone,” said Ted Rogers, a veteran bike rider who writes the BikingInLA blog. “I hear from countless people who say they quit” biking, he said. “They just don’t feel safe on the streets anymore.” 

Come on! Yeah, countless people I’m sure!

Look for these big cities to push biking no matter what! The War on cars continues! Even as the numbers of people biking drops, nobody proposes less bike paths or trails.

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January 7, 2019 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

I Paid For This?


The League

Welcome to 2019, Season 3 of the Community Solutions Podcast! Episode 100 is coming right around the corner! With a new year, comes new plans and new headaches. Groups (like The League of Minnesota Cities) come out with their legislative action plans for how they plan to lobby the Minnesota Legislature to get their issues addressed and passed. They take all of your tax money that they have collected in the form of dues and turn around and use it to try and get legislation passed that you would never agree with. Isn’t that nice? You can’t raise enough money for your cause, but you’re paying groups like this to work against your best interest.

If you were to look at the League of MN Cities 2019 City Policies for Legislative and Administrative Action, you would find enough crazy to raise your hair. They have plans for everything under the sun from increasing the ability of local government to enact eminent domain to organized garbage hauling, radically altering laws around our elections, increasing opportunities to expand taxation, and increased regulation concerning our businesses and our private lives. Do you think you can still stand by and do nothing when you know what they are pushing for is opposite of what you believe? 2019 is not an off year. It is the time to get a good foundation set and to ready ourselves for a productive 2020. Are you ready?

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

January 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm 1 comment

You Can Make Your Voice Heard


advice

As we close out Season 2, we bring you an unreleased early episode of the Community Solutions Podcast. As fast as our world seems to be changing, this podcast remains an unchanging truth.

In this episode, we discuss advisory boards and commissions. Cities, Counties, and School Boards all have them and it’s the easiest way to get involved in the governing process. Andrew and Jason explain what they are and what they do. They also discuss their importance, and how to get involved. If you are looking at ever running for office or just getting involved in your community, this is a great place to start. This is entry level governing. This is how you can easily get your voice heard when it comes to how your city is governed. Let us know if we can help you get started.

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

Community Solutions MN

untitled-presentation-2

In this episode we discuss advisory boards and commissions. Cities, Counties, and School Boards all have them and it’s the easiest way to get involved in the governing process. Andrew and Jason explain what they are and what they do. They also discuss their importance, and how to get involved. If you are looking at ever running for office or just getting involved in your community, this is a great place to start. Let us know if we can help you get started.

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December 29, 2018 at 11:06 am Leave a comment

‘Tis the Season for Giving


empty wallet

It’s that special time of year again for selflessness and giving with a joyful heart… and by giving, I mean government taking more from the people. And by joyful hearts, I mean frustration as we look at our bank accounts, because the tax increases we pay equal or eclipse the raises we get every year. The extra we get to cover inflation instead goes to feed a greedy government that demands that it gets fed first. You’ve heard it said that taxation is theft. It is definitely an act of violence, but one that has become more and more egregious over time. Few would argue there are some things that are necessary for us to pay for, because we benefit from them. We left the land of necessary a long, long time ago.

Local tax levies are going up almost everywhere. The average increase across the state is going to be 5.7%-6.2%. That’s an increase from your city, your county, and your school district. There are some tax increases that are unbelievably large, and I’m sure you can guess some of the worst offenders. Some tax increases were smaller… but still tax increases nonetheless. We are going to go through a number of these growing levies across the state, and what you are getting for all of your hard-earned dollars (spoiler alert: there’s a whole lot of debt payments and government employee raises and benefit increases).

In a related issue, we also take a few minutes to discuss the obscene $1.5 Billion “surplus”, I mean overtaxation, from the state of Minnesota. As if this wasn’t enough, the incoming governor says that he’s not ruling out massive tax increases on top of it. We break that down for you here.

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

December 19, 2018 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

Outside Influence on Local Elections


close-up-of-hammer

Local elections are supposed to be the most simple act of democratically choosing our representation. It is neighbors selecting the neighbor that best represents their views to serve them at city hall or at the school or county headquarters. Not so fast. I don’t think any of us are aware that our local elections are under attack, being influenced by outside groups, whether special interests, political parties, or wealthy individuals with an agenda. Today, we’re going to introduce you to the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. I know what you’re thinking. You hear the word “Minneapolis” and think you can tune out. Oh no. Sure, this group is throwing money, resources, and volunteers at Minneapolis elections. They are also getting involved in places like Crystal, Osseo School District, Richfield, Prior Lake, McCleod County… Why? Why are labor unions from Minneapolis trying to sway elections outside of Minneapolis? If you are not from Minneapolis, you should be very worried that outside groups want to make other parts of Minnesota more like Minneapolis. The only way to combat this is to be aware of these groups, and flat out reject the candidates that they support. Today, we begin to take the power back.

We also discuss our take on the passing of President H.W. Bush, and what seemed like a simpler time.

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

December 12, 2018 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

A Debt Free City?


mans-hand-with-credit-card

Cities love to discuss how to bring in revenue to pay for all of their spending. They almost can’t wait to raise taxes, implement new taxes, raise fees, or write new bonds. Should we be throwing a party while spending other people’s money? Should government celebrate all of the “great” projects that get implemented on the backs of the people they serve? We, here at Community Solutions MN, don’t agree. Spending other’s money is a somber responsibility. It should be handled with the greatest amount of care and reverence. Unfortunately, that is almost never the case. Every city, county, and school seem to have the same approach. How did former Crystal Councilman Mark Hoffman put it? We can tax residents to cover our butts whenever we want to? It’s disgusting that they believe they have first rights to our money.

Enter Mayor Jim Adams. Under his leadership, the city of Crystal has walked a road of innovation and reform. We’ve written all about removing the point of sale inspections, the city code task force, and paying for a much needed public works building all in cash. And it’s that last point that we want to dig deeper into this week. We invite Mayor Adams back on the show to discuss his goals to make Crystal a debt-free city. This is a bold plan that some would say is impossible. If he can accomplish this task, he will have been successful in eliminating most hidden taxes and saving the taxpayers of Crystal tens of millions of dollars over the long term. Listen to Mayor Adam’s plans and then try to get your city, county, and school district to rethink how they spend your money.

We also take a deeper look at how those mysterious write-in votes work.

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

December 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

Wonder Twin Powers Activate!


Wonder Twins

What does government do when they want to do something that they can’t afford? Yeah, I know, that’s an easy one. They tax us. But there are so many ways that they can choose to do it… and that’s where it gets complicated. Budgeting for it in the property tax levy, bonding, general assessments, franchise fees, local option sales tax, and the list goes on longer than your arm. Sometimes there are functions of government that are so costly that they can not ever be maintained by some single governmental entity (like police, fire, or running a rural hospital). Sometimes projects are so vast, that multiple entities come together to govern it together (watershed district, new development project, gang task force, etc). Small cities and townships (and sometimes counties) join together to operate these governmental units, called joint powers agreements. Some have taxing authority, and some have tax dollars appropriated to them from the entities that run them. Regardless, they are a vital part of Team20k that need good and men and women across the state to volunteer to get involved and act on behalf of their communities with a small government mindset and common sense policies.

Have you checked out our Spotify playlist? At the beginning of each episode Jason quotes some song lyrics that have to do with the subject matter of the podcast. Andrew never knows what they are, but now he can… and so can you! We’ve launched the Spotify playlist: “Community Solutions Music From the Podcast“! You can listen to Roundabout from Yes after listing to Episode 30 on Roundabouts… or kick back and enjoy a rocking playlist just for the thrill of it. We add a new song every week. Subscribe and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, or go out to the PodBabble Podcast Network!

November 29, 2018 at 10:18 am Leave a comment

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