A Tale of Two Bicycle Cities: Editorializing in Kansas City and St. Louis

Chestnut Street protected bike lane - St. Louis, MO

Call it a Tale of Two Bicycle Cities. While The Kansas City Star pushes for that city to speed up completion of its downtown bicycle infrastructure, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch chooses the cynical route, mocking what is commonplace, and working in other cities.

From “Pedal faster to finish new bike lanes in Kansas City”:

It’s also regrettable that City Hall has not made enough headway in completing the other parts of the BikeKC Downtown Loop and Neighborhood Connector, which will offer about 13 miles of dedicated bike lanes in the heart of the city. Grand Boulevard is the spine and needs to be completed first. It’s clear now that the rest of the loop won’t be put in place until later in 2016.

The typical Kansas City way of doing things — let’s talk, compromise, and then talk some more — is responsible for some of the frustrating delays. Property owners along Grand as well as on 18th Street, Southwest Boulevard and 20th Street questioned how the new bike lanes could affect them, especially when it came to parking. Ultimately, a lot of the on-street parking was kept in place.

That article quotes the Kansas City Public Works Department’s bicycle pedestrian coordinator. In fact, all but two of the largest 40 cities have bicycle-pedestrian specific staff. A quick search shows that cities and towns from Brownsville, TX and Bettendorf, IA to Omaha and Tucson employ bicycle-pedestrian coordinators.

In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch publishes a column in response to the city announcing that it would hire someone for a similar position is derision and mocking. We won’t link to that item, but here’s how the author wrapped it up:

I was able to obtain a secret copy of the test that will be administered. I might as well disclose it here:

1. Bicycles are way better than cars because:
a. They don’t pollute.
b. They make you healthy.
c. They confer a higher degree of moral purity on the operator.
d. All of the above.

2. When countering skeptics, the most effective argument a bike czar can make is:
a. “Look at Denmark.”
b. “We should strive to be Copenhagen.”
c. “Denmark, Denmark, Denmark.”
d. “If St. Louis was spelled St. Løis, with one of those slash-Os like they have in Danish, we’d be much cooler.”

3. A bicyclist who rides on a sidewalk in the opposite direction of street traffic is:
a. Asking for trouble because drivers at intersections aren’t expecting to see him.
b. Merely exercising his devil-may-care hipster attitude.
c. A victim of a benighted streets policy that doesn’t allow for enough bike lanes.
d. B or C but definitely not A.

4. For every 1,000 motorists inconvenienced, how many bicyclists must use a route each day before traffic lanes are reduced so bike lanes can be added?
a. 10.
b. 100.
c. 1.
d. Zero. Stripe it and they will come.

5. A pedestrian wearing black pants and a black jacket dashes into a busy street at midnight. He is struck by a car. What is the proper response?
a. Jaywalking is dangerous.
b. We need more pedestrian crosswalks.
c. Motorists should be more alert.
d. If only everyone rode bicycles.

6. The most coveted award in St. Løis is:
a. The World Series trophy.
b. The Stanley Cup.
c. The Lombardi Trophy.
d. The Bike Friendly Community Platinum Award.

7. What would happen if St. Løis had a Citi Bike rental service like New York City?
a. Lots of stolen bikes.
b. Lots of unused bikes.
c. A thousand flowers would bloom.
d. Tech-savvy hipsters would flock here, creating thousands of new jobs and eliminating urban blight.

8. How do you reply to someone who says bicyclists aren’t entitled to full use of roads because bicycles aren’t taxed?
a. “Communist!”
b. “Hitler taxed bicycles.”
c. “Bikes provide indirect benefits far greater than taxes.”
d. “That’s not how they do it in Denmark.”

9. Since bicyclists are entitled to share the roads, shouldn’t they be required to obey traffic signals and stop signs?
a. If they feel like it.
b. Don’t be ridiculous.
c. Of course not.
d. All of the above.

10. Essay question: Please describe the best route for a St. Løis bicyclist to follow in carrying back to his loft a load of IKEA meatballs to his partner (of whatever sex) and their dog.