Podcast #41 – Improving Minneapolis with Mayoral Candidate Cam Winton

Img Minnpost.

The podcast this week is a conversation with Cam Winton, who is running for Mayor of Minneapolis. As you’re probably aware, incumbent three-term mayor R.T. Rybak is not running for re-election, and the race this year is a wide open contest. Can Winton, a wind power entrepreneur from Southwest Minneapolis, has been running one of the more creative campaigns so far, hosting regular press conferences from places like potholes.

I sat down with Cam the other day at the Dunn Brothers in the downtown Minneapolis skyway to talk about his view of land use and transportation issues in the city. We talked about why he dislikes streetcars and cycletracks, what he would do to get rid of petty regulations that get in the way of creative businesses, and Cam even took a few questions from our twitter followers, including taking a strong position about floaty noodles in Lake Nokomis. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

The link to the audio is here; get the whole 41-part series on the feed.

14 thoughts on “Podcast #41 – Improving Minneapolis with Mayoral Candidate Cam Winton

  1. helsinki

    I was receptive to much of what Mr. Winton said. But when did Minneapolis collectively decide that Washington Ave was a suburbanite funnel, and that narrowing it would “make no sense.” ? That was one of the least intelligent comments I’ve heard on the subject in a while.

  2. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    agreed. he seems to be picking a fight over cycletracks as some kind of symbol of “big government” even though its actually a smart economic / fiscally sustainable change.

    1. Jeff Klein

      As much as it absolutely kills me to agree with this quasi-Republican, I’m with him on the cyclotracks (though I don’t share his obsession with Washington Ave. as a suburban access point).

      Anyone who has bike commuted seriously knows that eventually you need to use streets; and anyone who has seen the state of our infrastructure and economy knows that this idea that somehow we can overly our entire road system with an entirely new cyclotrack system is ludicrous. All that they accomplish is temporary separation that only serves to make motorists *less* used to bikers on the streets. A simple striping is the best of all worlds as a biker; your own space, but you have the freedom to easily make left turns or pass slow bikers or god forbid sneak through a red light if there’s nobody around. I would be shocked if I could move around town as quickly on a bicycle if bound to a cyclotrack.

      1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

        Well this is an old debate Jeff, and I’m on the other side of it. Cycletracks might not be ideal for you, but if we want to grow the number of cyclists past the 5-10% threshold, we need to start building these kinds of protected lanes. Not everyone wants to ride in traffic through downtown Minneapolis. In fact, most people don’t want to do that…

        1. hokan

          Cycletracks needed to increase bike modeshare? There’s been a number of studies looking at how facilities affect modeshare and all of them that I’ve seen say that facilities make little difference. They may attract bikers from nearby roads, but don’t impact overall modeshare.

          A lot of people look at northern European cities with high modeshares and with cycletracks and assume that the cycletracks brought the high modeshare, but it was actually the other way around. Motorists felt inconvenienced by all the bikers and supported cycletracks to get the bikers out of there way.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

            Not sure which studies you’re referencing, but I’d refer to Pucher and Buehler’s work on this, especially:

            1) Pucher, John and Buehler, Ralph (2008) ‘Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany’, Transport Reviews, 28:4, 495 — 528

            They make some mention of education as part of the approach, specifically training for children in schools (in the Netherlands)… but overall they find that vastly more emphasis on separated infrastructure as the key reason why rates are so high in Northern Europe. More pointedly, they have zero mention of instructors or training for adults (which is often the emphasis of US / UK bicycling efforts).

            2) their recent edited volume, City Cycling (http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/city-cycling-0), especially Chapter 6 on infrastructure, which makes the case that cyclepath-style infrastructure is the key difference in Europe between places that have high and low rates of cycling is separated infrastructure.

            In Holland, streets w/ mixed bike and car traffic should only exist be below 20 mph, less than 5K cars / day (109)… “mixed traffic on multilane roads is never acceptable” (pg. 111)

            Those are the kind of high standards they have in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, etc.

            1. hokan

              Those northern European cities have always had high modeshare, even before any special facilities. A lot of people look at the presence of special facilities and of high modeshare and assume that the facilities somehow caused the modeshare when the truth is that the high number of bikers were the impetus for the facilities.

              I was fascinated to find in City Cycling, Pucher’s statement that the main influences on people choosing a particular mode is time and money … the cost of the mode and the speed of the trip. I agree and am concerned that we may, in an effort to make cycling more comfortable, be making cycling less advantageous … slower.

  3. Nathaniel

    Helsinki – Agreed. I was somewhat receptive to his ideas and policy proposals up until the Washington Avenue comment. I couldn’t disagree more with him on Washington Avenue; because in it’s current form it is unacceptable (cuts off neighborhoods, is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, etc). Minneapolis’ economic, social or cultural prospects are not reliant upon merely moving vehicles in-and-out during peak periods as quickly as possible.

    The performance pay scale is an interesting idea, but if you implement something like that, I don’t think a $90k base + $30k in incentives is going to cut it. If a program like that is to be implemented, I would argue the base would need to be lower and the additional incentives higher. The devil is in the detail, but depending on how it’s framed legislatively, this could be good or bad.

    My only other comment about Winton is that I am hesitant to accept his claim that we need to do all the small things correctly before investing in protected bike lanes (or other similar initiative). It sounds like an excuse to oppose a project without saying you oppose a project. Now, I agree with his basic premise that local government needs to work on the important benchmarks first. In a sense, that Minneapolis needs to play “small ball” (e.g.: education, financial house-in-order, etc). However, saying that you shouldn’t build a cycle-track until graduation rates in North Minneapolis improve, or some other metric improves, you may be placing small, unrelated micro/neighborhood project against macro-forces that are out of the control of a City Government.

    Otherwise, Winton has a shot with ranked-choice voting; and I’m glad he’s in the race competing against what is effectively a DFL-backed candidate line-up. I’m not aware of many differences in policy between the other candidates. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    AND – Cam Winton, If you’re reading this comment, please check out Donald Shoup (as Bill recommends in the podcast): http://www.streetfilms.org/dr-shoup-parking-guru/

    AND – Great interview Bill. I know a handful of people who were looking forward to hearing this podcast interview.

    1. helsinki

      I had a similar reaction (about the “It’s not that I’m against it, it’s just that we have other priorites” argument).

      Even when it was pointed out that cycle-tracks would merely be a design change to a street reconstruction – only a nominal expense, he was opposed.

      I appreciated the push-back on the data/metrics/Compstat argument. Yes, it’s super important for cities to harness big data. But statistics are always viewed through an interpretive framework. It’s not necessarily a good thing that “arrests are up 23.6 percent”, because maybe they just rounded up the usual suspects to massage the numbers.

      1. Nathaniel

        I was listening to a podcast interview (from somewhere, I don’t remember) and heard some really smart person say, “Big data is important, but it’s also not important.” I feel the same way. Numbers are important, but people’s lives are anecdotal.

  4. Morgan

    This is a very poor performance by Mr. Winton.

    As a “wind entrepreneur” I would expect him to have a better concept of where government has an important role to play in market activity. Instead, he doesn’t appear to understand markets at all. The operations, or service delivery, of an enterprise does not matter if a well defined market does not exist.

    I also LOL’d when I heard the bond trading analogy applied to the permitting call center. His brother pays a hefty fee for the buy/sell orders he places and there is plenty of volume in that market. Way more than small business permitting in mpls.

    This guy is another idiot that thinks he’s a private sector badass that really doesn’t understand anything.

  5. Morgan

    Man, it just keeps getting worse!

    He doesn’t do the basic math on how many miles of bus lines there are in Minneapolis. Even if his bus amenity program is much cheaper per mile than a streetcar, there are so many more miles of buses – and a huge maintenance cost.

  6. Morgan

    Haha! My “why can’t you participate in other ways” question.

    Well, the point of the question is to understand the role that advocacy plays in policy. He struck out pretty bad. Most of the time, when dealing with government leaders, they need citizens to take the lead on almost everything because consensus based change is so hard and slow. This is why advocates and volunteers matter more than elected officials. I am looking at you Streets.MN!!!

    Overall, he gets his nose into way to many things that the Mayor of Minneapolis has very little control over – teacher tenure, the Hennepin County back office, his own compensation – and to me, he comes off as a rudderless ego maniac much more than a change-agent or visionary.

  7. Morgan

    I have not seen a private entity pay the capital cost of a public biking or recreation asset, EVER. They might help with operating but the capital funding is the issue.

    This guy is a nutter!

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