Telling good stories
Urban Living is Good for Your Health is a good story about how our built environments shape behavior without technical details, policy language or other formalities. Living in the city makes walking and bicycling obvious and easy; the result is building improved health and well-being back into daily life, rather than something special to be pursued at the gym. Comments include another wonderful life story about learning to bike (and bike more) and other confirmation that when walking and biking are easy, people will walk and bike.
Slap in the face department
Two posts push hard against clichés sometimes used to dismiss tough issues. “Think of the Hardworking Families” unpacks the political rhetoric surrounding raising the gas tax to ask what the real impact on families beyond the fearmongering including providing suggestions for how to drive less. Discussion considers the cost of car ownership, possibility of cycling. I Don’t Want to be Like You, Either replies to critics who fear urbanists just want to force happy suburbanites into high density housing by discussing why some of us don’t want to live on quarter acre lots past the strip mall; real urban development is also distinguished from mixing a few urban features into the suburbs or suburban-style regulations into the downtown.
Hey Transit Investments, Don’t Skimp on the Sidewalks reviews transit funding and finds sidewalks left out of state and federal funding formulas; proposed state legislation includes dedicated funding for bike/ped improvements. This post also reminds us that sidewalks (and other bike/ped connections) are part of the transit system rather than something extra. MetroTransit’s Signage: Still Room for Improvement complains new signage for bus links from Franklin Avenue to the Green Line might be well-intentioned but fails on the details; commenters offer some more positive feedback, ask some questions about Metro Transit programs, and add some feet on the street perspective about using the system. Increased Transit Funding Can Save You Money considers how the DFL-proposed sales tax for transit could help save households money by letting them ditch the car. The comments have a lively discussion about how additional money could be spent wisely, looking at housing (and housing prices) and transit, and more. Read this one along with “Think of the Hardworking Families” and Urban Living is Good for Your Health for more about reducing car-dependence.
Around the neighborhood
Whittier Alliance Among Most Restrictive Minneapolis Neighborhoods is partly about the Whittier Alliance neighborhood association’s recent amendments to their bylaws, but also provides a survey of many (all?) Minneapolis neighborhood association bylaws provisions about membership, voting and representation. Comments help tease out issues of public funding for neighborhood groups and its link to representation as well as revisiting the question of how renters and property owners should be included. Streets.mn has also mapped the money unspent by neighborhood organizations and considered the importance of participation during 2014. Start Seeing CCTVs looks at public CCTV in the UK and its more limited use in the US raising a few questions, but providing no answers, about the cameras.
For a road trip this afternoon, perhaps, or just a virtual tour, we have two destinations this week. New Ulm: The Urbanists Utopia takes us to the compact, urban small city of New Ulm to show that good urbanism can happen at a smaller scale out of the metro area. Main Street – Le Sueur, Minnesota is another photo tour of small town Minnesota (others are here).
Two videos: Brazilian Auto Insurance Ad–Texting While Driving and NOIR: ‘Walking’ (Original Song Version). The next of the podcasts: Podcast #80: Amusingly Approaching Public Policy with Tane Danger (of Theater of Public Policy fame). Two maps: 2013 Vehicle Miles Traveled per Capita by County and Map Monday: The Second Great African-American Migration. And three Charts of the Day: Parking Loss vs. Total Parking Supply, Twin Cities Population (Age and Race) by 2040 and Salt Use by Industry over Time.
By this time next week, it will be February. Enjoy this week’s posts and think encouraging thoughts about snow for next weekend’s City of Lakes Loppet. Have a great week!