Not on My Bike Path!

Midtown Greenway Coalition email subscribers, twitter followers, or website visitors will have seen this notice at some point today: 

Let the Sun Shine In
The Midtown Greenway Coalition fights
excessive shadowing on the Greenway.

What the Coalition is fighting is the shadowing of the Greenway that would result from the proposed development of a 6-story mixed-use building at 29th & Lyndale in South Minneapolis, adjacent to the Midtown Greenway bike and pedestrian trail. What is meant by “excessive shadowing” is that the building would cast a shadow onto a roughly 200 foot section of the trail during 3.5 months of the year.

The proposed building:

The geographic milieu:

The MGC’s opposition to any shadowing of the Greenway is understandable. Anyone who has ridden or walked the Greenway during the darkest months of the year can understand the desire for “sun, not shadows.” Being a Greenway user, I don’t really disagree with that sentiment. But, in addition to a shadow-less bike path, we also need increased tax base. And more people living where they can walk to the bar and not drive home drunk. And more housing near high frequency transit service. And more people watching our streets and the Greenway itself. And higher population densities so we can achieve the operating efficients necessary for more rail transit. There’s a lot more to it than just “Sun, not Shadows.” Less shadowing of the Greenway also means less of those other things that we also value and need more of.

I don’t fault the Greenway Coalition for fighting to prevent increased shadowing of the Greenway, but unfortunately there is frequently no strong voice to counter such opposition with the benefits side of the urban development equation (See: What is the Constituency of a Local Land-Use Decision?). And furthermore, while the Greenway Coalition says “density is fine, just not on the south side of the Greenway,” residents in Linden Hills are saying “density is fine, just not in our village,” and residents in Loring Park are saying “density is fine, just not in our historic neighborhood,” etc., etc., etc. The list of places where somebody doesn’t want dense urban development is endless.
Spencer Agnew

About Spencer Agnew

Spencer is an urban planning and real estate professional. He is a graduate of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis, where he enjoys biking to work, playing soccer, and dreaming of the day when Rapid Bus service replaces the Route 21 local on Lake Street.