I appreciate the work of Mary Morse Marti and others who are helping make our cities sustainable ("Less parking will mean more street life," Opinion Exchange, April 13). Where I — and, I assume, the Hennepin Avenue businesses — struggle with cutting street parking there is that it's hard to imagine where I am going to park.
I don't mean that to be cheeky. My family lives in a vibrant St. Paul neighborhood where we can walk to restaurants and stores. We do not always want to stay in our neighborhood, however, and we could not practically get the family on a bus to Minneapolis to go to a restaurant. For better or worse, we will always make use of the car because we cannot imagine how we would plan our activities and schedules around transit. When we want to go a restaurant or store, we first visualize our parking options. Very often the question "But where will we park?" helps us make a decision. For all the studies that show the benefits of transit- and bike-friendly urban areas, customers still need to know they can find parking. I suspect that the Hennepin businesses, many of which have specialized products that cater to customers from around the Twin Cities, are trying to visualize the same thing.
This is not intended to be a counterargument to designing multimodal cities, but from what I'm reading in the paper and seeing as a volunteer for a Minneapolis organization that relies on people coming from around the Twin Cities, I'm not yet seeing the details of the vision for how our day-to-day lives should change and how our businesses and organizations that rely on people from other areas should adapt.
Erik Pratt, St. Paul
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While I agree that safety for pedestrians and those who face mobility challenges along Hennepin Avenue should be strengthened, I don't think adding a bike lane is the necessary solution. We need to improve lighting and reduce distractions like bicyclists and scooter users zipping along (often on their phones!).
I would also suggest critical thinkers do a Google search on the Portland research that the commentary writer cites and read it closely. It is not a definitive study by any means and there are a good number of examples cited that show that businesses and employment were adversely affected by the reduction in parking. In addition, reports that I have seen list current daily Hennepin Avenue users as 3,400 pedestrians, 6,600 transit users, up to 30,000 some cars and up to 300 bicyclists.
When safer streets for bikes (like Bryant Avenue) are currently available, it seems crazy to redesign a major thoroughfare to accommodate a small percentage of the users. The city of Minneapolis needs to engage real stakeholders to enact real change.
Julie Michener, Minneapolis
DEATH OF DAUNTE WRIGHT
Kindness as a police tactic
There may be a time when it's necessary for police to use a Taser, or better yet, a disabling spray, as Tasers have killed people too. But consider another alternative: kindness and respect. ("Police chief, officer resign," front page, April 14.) Why the need to overwhelm the person being stopped? Why threaten with a Taser or gun? Daunte Wright was unarmed. Police knew where he was. If he drove off, officers knew where to find him. If he had a previous warrant, they could serve him at his front door, where so many others are served.
How about trying to "Protect and serve"? How about "Protect and respect; serve and support"? Speak calmly to the young man. Be kind. Tell him why you stopped him. No need for handcuffs, Taser or gun. With most unarmed people, a kind, problem-solving conversation can resolve the issue.
Such a respect-based approach — to protect, to assist, to problem-solve, to serve, to truly be a peace officer — would spread goodwill faster than any wildfire toward generating a culture of peace with people and their communities.
Joyce Bonafield-Pierce, Minneapolis
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This past year has been a tough one for all of us. Starting with COVID, deaths from COVID, the killing of George Floyd, riots, destruction, rising COVID deaths, more violence, more riots, more destruction. It is a continual, unhealthy cycle. We all have been through so much. Among all of this, we cannot forget about the inequality and injustice that our country continues to face. All of this brings so much emotion, anger, frustration, sadness and hatred.
What we all need to understand is that violence is not the answer. Violence only creates more anger, more frustration and more hatred. Why do individuals feel the need to destroy innocent people's property in order to make a statement? That is something that I do not understand, and it makes me very angry. Violence does not solve anything. It is a senseless act that creates a sense of fear and hopelessness.
We are citizens of the United States. This means that we should be united together. All I see is that we are being torn apart. We are becoming an Un-United States. We don't have control over COVID, but we do have the control to fight for justice and equality. Instead of violence, let us unite together to create an environment where each and everyone of us is treated with the respect and dignity that we all deserve. Let's create a country where peace and harmony reign, not violence.
Becky Beeskow, Minneapolis
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All the opinion letters on Wednesday focused on the victims of police brutality, but none even mentioned the fears of police risking their lives each day to protect and serve us ("On police, guns and death," Readers Write). There are hundreds of officers injured and many killed in the line of duty each year; we must mourn them also.
Some criminals will always have guns, and every confrontation has the potential for deadly consequences. Extreme caution met by full legal, procedural compliance must be the standard for all citizens and officers to return home safely each and every day.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
Also, they're stopping spread
As usual, the Star Tribune's reporting on COVID-19 has been among the best that I've read. The piece "Forecasts differ on COVID trend" (April 10) delivers important and hopeful information for what the near-future of our state and nation could look like.
Unfortunately, in the article and in much recent news coverage of the pandemic, there seems to be a regular omission regarding the two most common vaccines: In all scientific studies conducted to date, in both controlled and real-world studies, it's strongly suggested that the vaccines are not only useful in reducing severe illness dramatically for the person receiving inoculation, but they are also very effective in reducing the risk of transmission (symptomatic or asymptomatic) to others. Many people are unaware that across a handful of studies conducted to date, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is between 94-97% effective at stymieing transmission, and it's very likely that ongoing research into the Moderna shot will yield similar results.
Good news like this is worth reporting, particularly as supply of the vaccines grows and demand for them begins to wane. We should all be cheerleading the ability of this medical miracle to bring our state and country back to normal. Touting benefits like these could maybe even encourage some vaccine holdouts to get the jab.
Ted Stauber, Chaska
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