7.25.2007

Cyclist tasered for riding bike at MSP airport

The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport is accessible by train, which allow bikes, and from the Bloomington side via a bike route. But the main entry was built without bike lanes. Interesting how car-centric design is somehow seen as the fault of the cyclist (who may have acted like a jerk, as police contend):
New bicycle racks have been ordered for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but here's the catch:

It's illegal to ride your bike to or from the Lindbergh terminal.

Stephan Orsak, a professional violinist from Mahtomedi, found that out last September. The cyclist's confrontation with two airport police officers culminated with a Taser blast and propelled him into a jury trial that ended last week.

Orsak, 50, sees his arrest as an attack on his civil liberties.

Orsak faced six misdemeanor charges ranging from obstructing legal process to failing to obey a traffic control signal. The traffic signal count was dropped, and on Friday a jury acquitted him of all but one count of failing to obey a lawful order from an officer, according to court records.

[...]

Orsak had returned home to the Twin Cities from California, unfolded his 21-pound bicycle and was pedaling along an airport road when two officers told him to stop.

The criminal complaint describes Orsak as using foul language and says he ignored police instructions before he was zapped with the Taser. Orsak says the behavior that got him into trouble was asking questions of officers about the airport's rules about bikes... Allowing bikes on the terminal's roads would be unsafe because of traffic merging from both sides and drivers looking up to read signs, Hogan said. And the main road dumps traffic out onto a stretch of Hwy. 5 that's a freeway.

[...]

Hogan says the airport doesn't really have any plans to change its bike access. The airport is out of room, he said, and "we have not had demand" for bicycle facilities. He noted that the airport used to have bike racks years ago but took them out because of lack of use.

After airport security chopped up a bicycle that was left chained inside a terminal last year, the airport will install new bike racks next month. The one at the Lindbergh terminal will be placed at the transit center, where the light-rail entrance and bus stops are. Hogan encouraged bike riders to bike to the most convenient stop on the light-rail line and take the train the rest of the way.

The Humphrey terminal is accessible by city streets via Bloomington, so it can be reached on bike, and when the light-rail station at Humphrey reopens in September, bicyclists could ride from there to the Lindbergh terminal. Rail service between the two terminals is free.

Bicycling advocates would like to see a better connection.

"There are very few airports that are not bicycle-friendly, and this is one of them," says Steve Clark, who works for Transit for Livable Communities. "There's always a way" to give bikes access, he said -- a restriping of roadways, for example, to make inside lanes narrower and the curb lane wider.

In Denver, where the airport is 23 miles from downtown, bike lanes run along a freeway linking the city to the terminal, said Chuck Cannon, an airport spokesman...

1 comment:

charlieq said...

With LRT, the airport is actually quite accessible to bikes. Could it be better, from more directions? Sure. But let's face it, the numbers of us who bike, fly and travel light are pretty minuscule. The improved access would mainly serve airport workers, not people like Orsak and me.

The real access problem is not getting in and out of the airport. It's secure bicycle storage.

("Preview" seemed to drop the post. Sorry if this is double.)