Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Exclusive Breaking News!

After numerous bicycle commutes and walking forays following our recent snowstorms in Mpls, yours truly, editor of Urban-Crawl, could discern no rhyme or reason to the City's plowing methods and criteria. So, I decided to dig a little further.

While I had to pay two informants an undisclosed sum in Northern Lager Light (case packs) and gift cards to Sauce Wine Bar, as well as guarantee their complete anonymity, the cost was well worth the dirt I've uncovered. That's the grimy dirt that lay well below many of the unplowed and poorly cleared paths we cyclists have been forced to contend with so far this season.

It seems the City's plot is two-fold, but equally sinister at both turns.

My first correspondent, code name Hans Hunyuk, holds a position with Mpls Public Works. We spoke via Skype using an elaborate system of multinational relays. I posed a simple question in layman's terms: "Hans, how come the snow plowing is so shitty this year?"

He replied: "Oh yah, da City's made a lotta cost savin' measures dis year, ya know. Like skippin' da corners of every street and jus' pilin' snow on da sidewalks. Plus, der hirin' rookie plow drivers from Florida and Arizona to clear what we call, uh (he paused as if to pluck the term from memory) ... da 'non-essential routes'."

I pressed Hans for clarity just what he meant by "non-esential routes": "Well, der da trails around da lakes and all dem paths da skinny folk go ridin' bikes and joggin' in der funny outfits. Dat's da best place to go a-practicin' yer plowin', ya know."

I thanked Hans as we cut the conversation short to avoid a trace (but not before I got a few tips on the best holes this year at Mille Lacs).

My second informant, who goes by Zoe, is a fashion consultant/writer for a local trendy rag. In her spare time she's a social media maven focusing on conspiracy theory surrounding the City's dark inner workings. I'm not on Facebook so we texted. (I've expanded some of the text language because that stuff annoys me anyway, but I had trouble keeping up with her machine-gun texting prowess):

"The City doesn't care about bikers. They wish their hippie scum would move to Portland where they belong, so they've launched an aggressive campaign to strip away all the amenities you people have bragged so much about. The City needs new stadiums after all. Ones with real goddamn roofs."

"What might those amenities be, Zoe?" I queried.

"OMG, don't give me that shit! You know, 'Oh they plow our paths FIRST before the streets. They're smooth as a blow mirror. Blah, blah. We're number one in the nation now. Ha, f-ck Portland!' You know the lines, Dagwood." (That was the best code name I could muster on short notice.)

Zoe went on: "Well, blow me! I'm sick of your whiny crap because you naive bunch of sweaty, smelly, badly dressed misfits are gonna get screwed over like the rest of us. This town's no place for my art, my sensibilities and I don't give a shit whoever else they put the screws to either. You'll see."


I thought it best to forego thanking Zoe and instead contacted my cell provider to immediately have my number changed.

Well, there you have it folks. The City's definitely put cycling low on the list with snow removal this year. And it could be standard operating procedure going forward. Pray for subzero, because the warmer this unplowed stuff gets the nastier it's going to be when it does freeze hard.

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