I am writing as a downtown resident in response to the Sept. 3 article “Mpls. puts squeeze on parking.” I am enthusiastic about the city’s efforts to “encourage people to find ways besides cars to get around” and, in particular, the great progress in making the city bike-friendly. But what is missing here are equally aggressive and well-funded efforts to provide robust public transit services that far exceed what are currently available. With the possible exception of light-rail routes, it is virtually impossible to get to most parts of the city without at least doubling, and sometimes tripling, the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B if one uses public transportation. Parking may be much more limited and expensive, but most of us will be left keeping our cars until public transportation improves significantly.
Jeffrey Brown, Minneapolis
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Wonderful to read how Minneapolis city officials have wisely ratcheted back parking in favor of more bike lanes. The Star Tribune was also very shrewd to run the article now, rather than three months from now, when the waist-high snow will turn those same Minneapolis city officials into idiots.
Jack Kohler, Plymouth
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The article on parking sends a strong message. So does the refusal by the unelected Metropolitan Council and by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to expand our highways and roads. The message is that the people in power are intentionally trying to make Minnesotans’ lives more miserable.
Anyone under age 40 should start planning to leave the metropolitan area, because it is going to get worse, much worse. These people in power are the first to complain about urban flight, when they are the cause of it.
Martin R. Wellens, Shorewood
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I am going to offer a headline to you, no charge. You will need it in the next few years. “Minn. Mourns: City of Mpls. closes last business.”
If the urban planners wish to deliver the final death blow to our once lovely city, I think they have found the way. Minneapolis won’t survive the naive trend that the well-intentioned millennial decisionmakers are proposing. People will stay away in droves rather than be bullied into getting on bikes in February. There is no shortage of places outside the city limits of Minneapolis to work, shop and recreate with free and convenient parking.
This idea belongs in the same trash bin as the idea of tearing down the skyway system.
Elizabeth Anderson, Minnetonka
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Of course retail is suffering all over but in places with easy parking, it survives. Why do Minneapolis city planners not see the connection between downtown decline and their utopian vision of a city of bikes and public transportation?
Ross Olson, Richfield
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Good riddance to decades of heavy-handed social engineering through providing government-subsidized on-street parking and government-mandated off-street parking minimums. The high cost of free parking is invisible no more.
Matthew Steele, Minneapolis
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In my realistic, but sometimes cynical point of view, and as a new employee working in the University of Minnesota East Bank area who is paying $12 per day to park, I think the city planners have done a wonderful job in paving the way to a more environmentally conscious city. However, I believe their true motive may not be the environment at all, but rather the city’s property tax base. Like I’ve been telling family and friends for years, a four-story, 120-unit apartment building is going to generate far more taxes than will a parking lot that holds 100 cars.
Karen Adamson, St. Paul
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The Sept. 3 article quoted a commuter who was concerned about taking the bus due to needing flexibility as a father of young children. Readers should note that through the Guaranteed Ride Home program, Metro Transit will reimburse transit commuters for up to four cab or app-based rides per year for unexpected circumstances such as working overtime or picking up sick family members. (And $1,500 per year saved on parking would certainly buy a few more rides than that.)
Malka Key, Minneapolis
Our ‘own worst enemy’ because we write the narrative
The predicament we now find ourselves in could also be understood as a clash of competing narratives (“Our own worst enemy,” by Bonnie Blodgett, Opinion Exchange, Sept. 3). Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, we have lived under the spell of a technological narrative that views humans as standing apart from nature and therefore not subject to its laws or its limits. Nature exists to serve humanity and can be harnessed and exploited at will. If problems arise, they can always be corrected with further doses of technology. This is a comforting story to many because it doesn’t require any changes in our current, fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle.
The other narrative, a much older one, tells us that we are not the masters of nature but an inseparable part of it and what we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. We live on a finite planet, and if we don’t learn to live within its limits, we’ll have to suffer the consequences, one of which may be our own extinction.
Climate-change deniers, like the corporations that fund them, are committed to the first narrative. They know, as Exxon CEOs knew, that acknowledging the reality of human-caused global warming would require drastic changes in how we choose to live in and relate to the world, and this is unacceptable to them. The trouble is, nature doesn’t care about what we choose to accept. We are now seeing the results of hurling millions of years’ worth of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere — catastrophic floods, rising sea levels, crop-killing droughts and out-of-control wildfires — and no amount of denial can keep the fires or the floodwaters at bay. If we truly care about our own survival as a species, we need to start transitioning from the first narrative to the second. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us.
Kurt Seaberg, Minneapolis
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Blodgett’s commentary is correct insofar as we are a wasteful and spoiled society and some of our problems are self-inflicted. Her veering into Monsanto-bashing, however, leaves a totally incorrect impression of reality.
Monsanto’s contribution to agriculture and to our inexpensive and abundance of food over the last 50 years is remarkable. One example is fresh water, the world’s most-precious resource. Monsanto has developed corn that uses 10 percent less water, slowing the depletion of water resources in irrigated areas. Robert Fraley, the chief technology officer at Monsanto, was awarded the World Food Prize a few years ago for his work in food production for us, but also where food scarcity can be alleviated around the world. Has Monsanto done everything perfectly? Probably not, but neither has any other company, government agency, nongovernmental organization or even your local church. We’re human.
Other than bashing Monsanto, if you want to make a difference, turn your air conditioners up to 78 degrees, drive less and slower, rule that no houses can have more than 500 square feet per person to save on heating and cooling, and, just like China, decree no more than two children per family. And everybody has to do it and feel the pain. I won’t hold my breath.
Tom McGraw, Buffalo Lake, Minn.
A Sept. 3 letter about jobs and automation incorrectly attributed the source of a cartoon it referenced with respect to scientific processes. The cartoon was drawn by Sidney Harris.