RIDE SHARING

To be established isn’t necessarily to be good

Where is all of this “professionalism” the taxi companies claim (“Established taxis offer something concrete,” Readers Write, May 6)? I patronize taxis frequently. I get in; they punch my destination into their GPS, then resume their phone call. At the end of the trip, they typically make it extraordinarily difficult to pay with a credit card, even though it’s been the law since 2012. It’s no wonder they’re afraid of a little competition.

Ryan Sheahan, Minneapolis

• • •

At the recent public hearing on the future of UberX and Lyft in Minneapolis, taxicab owners and drivers pleaded with City Council members to designate and regulate these ride-sharing options as just other forms of public (taxi) transportation. They were very concerned that the council’s failure to fully regulate ride sharing would create an unlevel playing field and unfair competition. While it’s true that innovative alternatives such as UberX provide significant, perhaps disruptive, competition for taxi services, they do not tilt the playing field unevenly.

First, UberX cars cannot use taxi stands, drive down the Nicollet Mall, pick up riders at the airport or pick up anyone hailing a taxi. They also want none of those privileges. UberX and Lyft are private services and should be no more subject to city regulation than a private chauffeur or a private golf club would be. If you or I chose to hire a neighbor or a friend to drive us around from time to time, we would set our own service standards and pricing, not City Hall. For a service to be considered (and regulated) as public transportation, the public must have full access to that service. UberX rides are given only to registered members and their guests; their credit cards must be on file, and riders must get good ratings from drivers to maintain their memberships. This is a personal, self-regulating transaction.

While the voices of our beloved cabbies are loud and passionate, the voices of thousands of satisfied metro-area UberX members must be heard as well. And since UberX already operates in more than 100 major cities around the world, thousands of business and family visitors expect a robust ride-sharing experience when they arrive here.

Michael LaBrosse, Minneapolis

 

36TH STREET BIKE PLAN

A new crucible for individual opposition

The city of Minneapolis plans to change 36th Street between Bryant Avenue and Richfield Road to introduce a protected bike and pedestrian way and to improve the bus stops. At the public meeting recently, there was much clucking over details and impacts on individuals in the corridor, while there was very little talk of providing access to the full community. Since we have never done this type of thing before, how do we know with such certainty the negative impacts? For instance, how do these individuals know so absolutely that they would never walk on the south side of 36th Street? Maybe they will when the corridor is redesigned. And if they are right, we’ll at least have experience to guide us, not just blind fear.

Susan Johnson, Minneapolis

• • •

I normally support projects similar to this, however, this plan as drawn is not supportable.

1) Any proposal that inhibits parking for business and driveway or alley access to homes on 36th Street between Bryant and Dupont will likely be met with a lawsuit it will lose, and is stupid.

2) Any proposal that disallows eastbound traffic on 36th to make a left turn north into the neighborhood (unless you are all right with having one car back up traffic all the way to Lake Calhoun from any one of nine turns on the route) is stupid.

3) Any proposal for a bike path that takes away a winter travel lane on a snow emergency route between Oct. 1 and March 31 is stupid.

4) Any proposal for a bike lane that bottlenecks at a bus stop (actually three bus stops) that are integrated with it is stupid.

5) Any proposal that neither provides safe bus access within the bike route, nor safe bus access without a bike path is stupid.

6) Any proposal that creates a separate safe path for bikes yet allows them on a reduced automobile path at the same time is stupid.

7) Any proposal that does not safely disperse bikes at either the entrance or exit is stupid.

The goal is to do something smart, not stupid. Start over.

Tim Kleinpaste, Minneapolis

 

RAIL TRANSIT

Suppose a spill could happen in Kenilworth?

The May 7 editorial (“Face up to threat of oil transport mishaps”) supports strong measures to limit the effects of the transport of hazardous petroleum products by pipeline or rail tanker on the safety of Minnesota residents. Yet, the Star Tribune Editorial Board has continued to support co-location of the proposed Southwest light-rail line and freight trains hauling ethanol in the Kenilworth corridor. A derailment and explosion of an ethanol tanker could be disastrous for residents of Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Hopkins. We need to re-examine a proposal that would endanger all three communities and find a solution other than co-location.

Art Higinbotham, Minneapolis

 

PUBLIC MEETINGS

Why recite prayers? Do this instead

Prayers before public meetings? (“What’s being done in the name of God,” May 7.) Violations of the First Amendment? Denominational, nondenominational? Prayers in public schools? The dilemma could be resolved rather easily by allowing a minute or two of silence instead. We could all benefit from that to counter the noise pollution in our society.

Kai Laybourn, Bloomington

 

TELEMARKETERS

Burn fewer calories while being bothered

Thank goodness for portable phones. I keep mine by my side at all times. Now, whenever I get a call from the “lower your interest rates” or “the free Bahamas cruise” folks, I don’t have to race through the house to catch the phone (as I would do in case it were a family member in distress or a return call from my doctor), only to find I am being peddled to. Now, when the crank calls come in, I just pick up the phone, listen for eight seconds and hang up. No stress, no accelerated heart rate. By the way … whatever happened to “do not call”? Hmm …

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park