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September 20, 2004

Car Culture

Before we moved to Minneapolis, we heard a lot about how family-oriented Minnesota is. I can't say that I expected anything different; my own impressions of Minnesota growing up in a neighboring state was that it was a happy and healthy place to be born and raised. I even know a grad student who moved here specifically to raise her family. She thinks that people are nicer, stuff costs less, and there's less traffic. I think it all depends on your perspective. As I've been seeing it lately, I think Minnesota is a really car-oriented place.

Let me begin by saying that there's the rules of the road, the state-approved rules that you need to know to pass a driver's test. Then, there's what actually happens--the rules you need to know to avoid an accident. They include:

1. Go at least 15 mph above the posted speed limit.

2. Slow down, or preferably come to a complete stop at the on-ramp, in order to merge.

3. Always go around someone trying to turn left.

4. Passing is allowed on city streets.

5. Bicycles should avoid the bike lane whenever possible and ride on the street (if there's a bike lane).

6. Bicycles should ride on the sidewalk when the signs say "No Bicycles"

7. It's okay not to stop for pedestrians.

In reference to this last one, last week, I stopped to let a woman cross the street in a crosswalk near the St. Paul campus. She was on the other side of the street, so she had to wait for the traffic on her side to also stop. No one did! In the meantime, the traffic behind me started passing me (in the on-coming, of course!). I thought about giving up, but by that time, there's no way I could've safely continued on...I just had to wait for someone to stop on the other side of the road. Today, a similar thing almost happened. A woman was waiting with her baby carriage to cross the street in south Minneapolis. I decided to stop for her and was almost rear-ended by the guy behind me who was following too close. After he almost hit me, he started to go around me (again, in the on-coming), but he realized that I had stopped for a pedestrian and changed his mind.

I definitely wish I could just ride the bus, but public transportation around here isn't what it should be....don't even get me started!

Posted by chri1010 at September 20, 2004 8:19 PM

Comments

Hi,Laurene.
Since I have had a ride with you quite often,
I could get sense how frustrated you were
in the situatons...

I don't drive a car and am always a pedestrian,
so I would be very appreceated to a driver
being nice to pedestrians like you!!

Akiko

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