We are almost there, good readers; 2013, and the end of our gilded series on your opinions on where our fair cities are headed in the next year and beyond. Unfortunately, I have the task of reporting on what was least popular subject: the Best Current Plan. Woe is me.
Of the 10 subjective and thought-provoking questions, this had a response rate of just 83% of the total number of respondents. But to an academic such as I am, that is still passing, and it’s good enough for me.
In nature, it seems that voting for the Best Current Plan is akin to voting for a little-known local official in a presidential election. Sure, you may not have ever heard of these plans, but I would argue that they have a proportionally much larger impact on our day-to-day than big sexy construction projects, or New Urbanist dreams.
But I digress. First-things-first, let’s look at the standings.
#1!: Access Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan! Honestly this is a very, very good plan. It’s comprehensive, has had a good public involvement strategy, is at times both technical and approachable, and covers all realms with special consideration for cyclists, pedestrians, and even consideration of a re-implemented streetcar network!
Beyond the Access Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan winning with a solid 24% of the vote, the rest of the field, from 2nd to last is as follows:
Tied for 2nd: The Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan and the Met Council 2030 Transportation Policy Plan with 22.9% of the vote. The former, authored by the renowned local firm, HKGi, is an approachable, illustrated, integrated framework of how development of the Central Corridor LRT should necessarily include an address of the bike and pedestrian environment. The Hiawatha Corridor should’ve been so lucky.
The head-scratcher is why this is equally popular as the Met Council’s 2030 Plan. As discussed later, this is likely due to readership. Additionally, however, this could be because as far as I’m concerned, this is the most progressive document I’ve seen from the MC. It mentions a system focused on moving the most number of people as a priority over moving as many automobiles as possible. Imagine that…
3rd: Minnesota Go: Crafting a Transportation Vision for Generations with 13.5% of the vote. I have to applaud MnDOT for their actual concern for public involvement on this one, and that may very-well be why this plan is so popular. I would say that it functions better than the dry PDF plans I’ve seen in the past. There is a decent-looking website with interactive features and everything. Similar to the Met Council 2030 plan, there is palatable concern for a truly multi-modal system over an auto-centric environment. Granted, I’m sure that at the expiration of the 20 years this plan covers, the automobile will still have the greatest mode-share on the road, but is seems that we’re moving forward. Pun intended
4th: This is where things get interesting. The Other category, surprisingly, did not come in last. On reading the results of my little corner of this series, this category was most definitely my favorite. It’s also these write-in votes that got me going on this idea that our local plans and policies are much like our local legislators.
For instance, more that one of our Other voters, rather than simply abstaining from the question, wrote-in things like, “I’m not familiar with these”, or, “I’m not that big of a geek” (what then, does that make me for writing on the subject…cest la vie). Other responses included things like, “The one that gets implemented”, or this intellectual gem: “Pot Brownies”. Do you see what I have to work with here?
To be fair, some (arguably geeky) respondents had intelligible write-ins such as Above the Falls Minneapolis Parks Plan, and the Minneapolis Bike Master Plan. Two of my utterly favorite plans, if I’m honest (though the Bike Master Plan is, technically, part of the winning plan).
5th: Last on our list of current plans, neglected as they are by public eyes, is the Statewide Transportation Policy Plan. Came in last, even after the write-in section, scattered with misfits and n’ere-do-wells…ouch. On reading through the document, it’s not hard to see why it isn’t as popular as the flashy Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan. The graphics are generic and the text is bland. However, it’s a good plan; and thorough. Just because it didn’t win the popular vote doesn’t meant it isn’t instrumental in the future of our region; which brings me back to my point.
These are the instruments of our transportation future, just as your local zoning board could be instrumental if you want a chicken coop in your back yard. Yes, sometimes local policy machinations are mind-numbingly dull, or lack-luster, but I would be hard-pressed to find anything that is open to my personal input and debate that has a larger impact on how I get around my region than these documents.
So, good readers and citizens of our fair cities, if you are still looking for a New Year’s resolution, let it be this: get more involved, stay up-to-date, and make sure the place you reside lives up to it’s potential and your own expectations.
All my best, and a Happy New Year!
Proud of the role I played as lead transit planner on the original Downtown and Citywide elements! Thanks for the commendation!
Knowing enough about all of these plans to say something interesting is reason enough for an accolade. Good job, Prescott!