Friday Photo – Winter Bus Stops


This bus stop with over a foot of snow – now packed down, frozen and probably pretty slick – is seen here just outside of the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Now, with the recent streak of sub-zero temperatures in the Twin Cities and across the Midwest snow removal has been nearly impossible, however, this bus stop doesn’t look like it was ever shoveled or cleared. This photo comes from writer Nick Magrino who took the Metro Transit Route 17 bus to the Rec Center to attend the Southwest Corridor Public Meeting last night. As funny and/or disappointing as it is – the transit stop for the transit meeting was piled with snow – these snowy bus stops are really a hazard. Our winters make it hard to travel at times, whether by foot, bike, car or bus, but what would happen here if someone needed to get off at this stop in a wheelchair or using a walker? Here’s hoping the warm-up allows for bus stops to be cleared – by humans or from the sun.

Share a picture of problematic bus stops at our Flickr group.

19 thoughts on “Friday Photo – Winter Bus Stops

  1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    One professional transit advocate that I know once told me that the “tagline” for Minneapolis should be this:

    “Minneapolis: Where people drive to meetings about promoting transit.”

  2. Dave

    Sad part is, this winter has been better than average for bus stop accessibility. The massive snow dump from a few years ago had me climbing a 2-3 foot ice wall to board the bus on Chicago Avenue. I think the Game of Thrones wildlings had an easier time.

  3. Jim Ivey

    Allie, could you give a little more detail about how you want us to post bus stop photos to the Flickr group. Should they have specific tags or something? Thanks.

    1. Allie Klynderud Post author

      Hi Jim. If you have a Flickr account you can click the “+Join Group” button in the link I posted. To add a photo to the group, go to your photo’s page and click on the More Actions link (the three dot icon) in the actions menu. Then choose the group you want to add it to, and you’re done! If you prefer not to join the group, you can send the image link to me and I can add it.

    1. Cedar

      Really? I’m supposed to go out and buy — and then store — an ice chopper in my apartment and then take it on the bus with me to go clear out stops? That’s not a viable solution to the problem.

      And someone else also mentioned impossible-to-access push lights at snowed-in stoplights; that’s one of my other major winter pet peeves (and one of the reasons I hate those buttons in general — but that’s another topic.)

      1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

        I don’t think anyone’s expecting the onus to fall on the transit user, but the property owner. So if you own a home adjoining a bus stop, you should clear the access to the bus — just as you are already expected to for the sidewalk, and the curb ramps, if you live in a corner. If you live in an apartment building, the building maintenance would be responsible for this.

  4. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    I actually agree with whoever LRT Op Dude is. I don’t mind the complaint, but the 17 bus in that particular area is a somewhat circuitous, infrequent route. While this was a transit meeting, I suspect ridership at this particular stop does not warrant special attention.

    But the more important question might be, if these stops were being cleared, who should clear them? Unlike some other suburbs, St. Louis Park does actually require property owners to clear sidewalks themselves. But without adequate frontage (and ideally, customers/users/residents who the property owner knows use the bus), the stop itself isn’t likely to get cleared well.

    1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

      Relying on individuals or individual property owners for clearing is not a recipe for success. That’s exactly why that is not done for roads—you’d hardly be able to drive on them during the winter. Cities and counties need to take responsibility for keeping transit stops, sidewalks, paths, and access to crossing buttons clear and safely useable. That is exactly why we have such government entities.

        1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

          To me, your bridge ordeal seems to prove exactly the opposite, Janne. That bridge was maintained and cleared by a public agency, in the same way Walker suggests sidewalks should be. Yet the result, as you showed, was totally unacceptable.

          1. Janne

            Last year, once reminded it was their job, they did a fine job. This year, they are using the wrong strategies. (Of course, I did have to remind them to do it this year again, for the fourth year in a row.)

            Also — really? You think this is a good solution? Then I suggest you come and shovel it for me, ’cause it’s not my job. I already do my sidewalk.

            I don’t see how this is a tenable way of maintaining bike facilities. The main thing that has happened is a person happy to pay lots-o-taxes in exchange for great amenities is angry as all get-out and resentful that I’m paying taxes to plow someone else’s damn freeway, while I’m supposed to go out and shovel my freeway. Taxpayer resentment is not going to improve the situation in any way — it’ll just turn us into a low-tax, low-amenity state, and I’ll move to some other better run place. Portland, maybe.

            1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

              I’m not advocating some extreme limited government, where we all take shifts shoveling our streets in lieu of paying taxes for an agency to do it. I simply want to emphasize that some things are more practical for an agency to maintain than others. Plowing a straight, even street is quite practical. Plowing a wide path (or a bridge like the one you shoveled) is slightly less so. Clearing out a bus stop requires precision that you just can’t do well with a machine, and can’t possibly do for thousands and thousands of bus stops in the metro. (Many bus stops don’t have the boulevard paved between the curb and sidewalks; some don’t even have sidewalk adjacent to the roadway where the stop is.)

              A Strong Towns writer actually covered a similar issue in Highland Park. While the author is advocating for the city/district to pay to maintain it, he also points out that extremely easy, low-cost things by property owners can improve the public environment dramatically as well. I think the same attitude should apply to snow removal.

  5. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    Compare sidewalks in Richfield and Bloomington (which have fewer sidewalks, but those that exist are cleared by the respective City) to those in Edina or Minneapolis (which are usually cleared by the property owner).

    In general, I think you’ll find that those cleared by the property owner are about the same or slightly better than those cleared by an agency. Property owners, especially businesses, act much faster, and are able to put far more care into the work than somebody whose job it is to clear miles and miles of sidewalk. (For example, the France Avenue bridge over TH 5/494 often takes days for the narrow sidewalk to be cleared.) While cities and counties do clear roadways, roadways are not very labor-intensive to clear, because they’re generally straight, without vertical obstacles to work around, and able to be cleared at 20+ mph.

    I think the best solution is both to require the property owner to clear the walk, but also to encourage development that has an interest a safe and clear sidewalk. See the frontage along this collector street in Lakeville: there’s no reasonable way you can expect those homeowners to clear that sidewalk, even though they adjoin it. They could well live there for 20 years without having to use it. Similarly, businesses strewn behind a couple acres of parking have far less of an interest in a clear sidewalk than businesses that have an entrance on a sidewalk.

    That’s obviously not the only reason to support such development. I simply mean to say that our current snow clearing problems are mostly a(nother) side-effect of bad planning and bad urbanism.

    1. Rosa

      They’re mostly a product of snowplows, truthfully. We don’t have a bus stop (it’s across the street) but we do have a curb cut on our lot, and we shovel it…and then the snowplows pile it up. And then we shovel it, as best we can except the wall of snow from the plows is full of ice. And then they plow again, or it freezes hard. There’s no winning, most winters. That’s why crews come around and shovel out the fire hydrants – you just can’t depend on property owners always doing it in the face of it constantly being undone.

      Aside from home and business owners doing the best they can, the bus drivers really fill in the gaps here – helping people on and off the bus, stopping with the door lined up to the shoveled spot, watching elderly people to make sure they got safely to the flat part of the sidewalk, just generally being heroically nice and careful even when it slows them down a lot on their routes.

  6. Matt Steele

    Regarding public vs private sidewalk/stop clearing:

    People in my neighborhood must just be particularly obsessive about clearing their sidewalks.

    I was actually going to write a post about how walking in the city, on sidewalks cleared by residents, is actually the best method of mobility after a snow event. People seem to clear snow for their neighbors and the entire grid of sidewalks is usually clear by the early evening following a snow event. My wife and I often walk to places in the neighborhood after snowfalls because it’s so much easier than driving. The sidewalks are a breeze to walk on, punctuated only by the slushy snow at intersections.

    1. Rosa

      provided you’re steady on your feet and can step over barriers. But there are mounds of snow just after each curb cut, by this time of winter, and in a lot of places the path through is quite narrow. That’s why you see wheelchair users in the street all winter (I am embarrassed to say that today was the day I lost the battle with the alley – there’s a melted-then-frozen wall of slush from the alley being plowed that i could not get through when we shoveled this afternoon). The individual segments of sidewalk are mostly fine, but getting across streets or alleys becomes less and less possible through the winter.

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