Odds are good if you know someone from Minnesota you know a lousy driver. The sad fact about my home state is just that. Minnesotans truly cannot drive. (Name a world class Formula 1 racer from Minnesota. Quick. See…?) Harold’s friend Maude looks like a blue ribbon driving instructor in comparison with most Minnesota drivers. I speak the truth.
We are equally as bad at stopping and parking.
In my neighborhood parking and stopping is important. We have narrow streets designed for an era when driving on a residential street meant you were moving at a relatively safe 25 miles an hour. Today that speed counts as a roll-through stop at most controlled intersections.
One of my new neighbors reached the point of action. She started an online campaign and petitioned the city and got some new “No Parking” signs and fresh yellow paint on the curbs, and in the process she eliminated 4 or 5 spots in this already space-staved neighborhood.
(Was that a run-on sentence? Pretty good one though. It gives you a sense of what driving is like in Minneapolis. A perfect grammatical rebus of sorts. Let’s continue on.)
The real villain is Bad Parker — no relation to Fess Parker — and his following of wayward fumblebutts. Look at this Honda family van. One van. Two spots. When I rule the world — and don’t think it can’t happen — these cars won’t be towed, they’ll be recycled.
But as bad as the parking situation is around here, stopping in fact is a much bigger problem. No one stops at stop signs. No one. I do, of course, but I am unique. Other than me…well, I cannot think of anyone else who does. School buses don’t stop. Young blonde women with big hair driving Pontiacs don’t stop. (No surprise there.) Priests and nuns don’t stop. Bishops either. Politicians and bartenders keep rolling. Grandma can’t stop. Even the police don’t stop. In fact I doubt my neighbor who achieved a parking victory with City Hall stops. In Minneapolis it is what they call an identity; it is true in itself in every form, people in Minneapolis don’t stop at stop signs. That’s it. It is true.
So now let’s go back to my neighbor who had the parking spaces removed the sake of safety. Ah ha! Haven’t we all been ruined by a genie promising the happiness of three wishes fulfilled? Indeed. My neighbor carelessly sought and found her wish granted. I’m going to argue now that this was a mistake.
When we had cars parked on this corner, people were — most people were — forced to slow down because they could not see the intersection. Now they have a clear view. The result? Well, recall the 25 mph roll-through at stop signs I pointed out earlier. No need to worry about that at this intersection anymore! Save the brakes and zip through at a cool 35.
The argument for removing the parking spaces at this corner was safety. Cars drove too quickly and pedestrians were blocked from view by parked cars. That sort of thing. This is all very quaint, as if people in cars give a damn about pedestrians in the first place. But I sympathize with my neighbor’s efforts. We live in a motorist asylum here in Minneapolis, a place where the genetics of the native stock is more geared toward sleighs and wheelbarrows than cars and trucks. (Check the phone book. See any Italians in there? ) So any effort to make driving safer is…well, a sporting good show, but likely not much of a result.
I’ll just leave with this. When parking, please ask yourself, are you a follower or are you special? Be like me, be unique. Don’t be a follower of Bad Parker (no relation to Fess). And when you come to a stop sign, please … please, please, please…on behalf of all of us who have been hit, please stop.
And stay the hell out of my neighborhood! No…just kidding. Just having a little fun with you. Come and have some fun. Go to Tilia. Great place. I am the fun good-looking guy at the bar.
- Residents: Drivers ignore new stop signs (wcpo.com)
- Even owners of Minneapolis parking lots don’t like parking lots (bizjournals.com)