Here in Minnesota, we are holding our breath for another 24 hours or so, The state legislature must conclude its session by midnight tomorrow, May 18 and although the DFL-controlled Senate and Republican House have reached agreements on many issues, a transportation bill is not (yet?) one of them. We hope legislators (or their staff) are reading streets.mn, because we’ve got posts (and robust discussion) about transportation policy, funding and framing key issues.
Move MN has been actively promoting a comprehensive transportation funding package for “fixing Minnesota’s long-term transportation problems” with money for transit, bicycles and pedestrians as well as roads. Move MN’s well-organized, sustained campaign has generated much discussion here on streets.mn over the past year. Now as the legislature must conclude its business (with or without a transportation funding bill), streets.mn has a point/counterpoint on the proposal with some excellent discussion in the comments.
Last week, Ethan Fawley, executive director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (which is one of the coalition partners of Move MN), wrote Why I Support Move MN supporting it as a politically possible, incremental plan which buys bicycle, pedestrian and transit funding by accepting funding roads (and new roads). This week has the counterpoint from Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns, Why I Do Not Support Move MN which takes the uncompromising position that the proposal “would commit us to a decade of destructive investments in perpetuation of a 1950’s economic model. It is inertia personified with a spoon full of bling to help bind the coalition” and calls for much broader change.
Read the main posts, but don’t stop until you’ve read through the comments. Thoughtful commenters for both posts do a fine job of untangling issues implicit in transportation funding including (but not limited to) distinctions between urban and rural (and Twin Cities Metro and the rest of the state), clarifying goals of each position, considering some specific projects and areas, how change can happen (and whether the Move MN proposal helps or hinders that), and links between transportation and land use.
May is National Bike Month and the week just past was Minneapolis Bike Week (and it’s not quite over – today is Family Parks Day – why not go ride as a family to your favorite park?). When not advocating tor transportation funding, Ethan Fawley works for better biking in many ways and here’s his Minneapolis Bike Week and My Personal Biking Story.
9th Street Protected Bike Lanes: An Unacceptable Missed Opportunity calls attention to the Minneapolis Public Works Department’s about face on protected bike lanes on 9th Street ostensibly because of a lack of time for adequate public engagement. This post calls for members of the public to take the initiative and engage with the city instead in order not to miss the golden opportunity for adding bike lanes during a street project. And Chart of the Day: Sidewalk Biking and Protected Lanes measures the change in numbers bicycling (up!) and numbers bicycling on sidewalks (down!) after 5 different protected lane projects.
As always, there are great posts which do not cluster under other subject headings (although these could all be related to transit). An Exit Interview with a Minneapolis Urbanist is a conversation between streets.mn board member Nick Magrino and transit oriented development planner (and streets.mn contributor) Thatcher Imboden as Thatcher departs for Seattle. In addition to the biographical chat, there’s also some thoughtful commentary on development in Minneapolis and a comparison to Seattle. Bon Voyage, Thatcher!
Who Benefits From Other Peoples’ Transit Use? starts with a quote from a Chamber of Commerce official “Every person who is riding transit is one less person in the car in front of us.” to dispute the implicit position that the purpose of improving transit is to improve driving for those of us who don’t need to take transit; rather, transit should serve the people who use it (especially those who have no other transportation options).
Related to transit and making driving less congested, Twin Cities Traffic Congestion Goes From Fine to Still Fine unpacks the headline-grabbing congestion fear-mongering to show that traffic in the Twin Cities is not bad now and, while peak times do slow down, not likely to be much worse because “thus far in America in 2015, we have not figured out a way to build a metropolitan area of 3 million people driving their own cars where things did not slow down for a few hours at rush hour. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.” Commenters provide much context about commuting choices and how different housing preferences, job choices and job changes can drive people to be commuters and part of the congestion.
Map of the Day: Walk Access to Jobs 2014 maps jobs which can be reached by foot within 30 minutes in the Twin Cities area. This week’s Map of the Day: Average Jobs+Population Density in Hennepin County might also be appropriate in this context by showing how the people and jobs cluster. Besides walking to work, Walk This Way: Lyndale Avenue shows us 20 miles of Lyndale Avenue with natural splendor, urban delights and some infrastructurally-created pedestrian challenges (and, if you missed last week’s Walk This Way: 31-mile Loop of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway you should walk back and take a look).
Two posts think about parking, proximity and walking: Lowertown’s Parking Problem is Lowertown’s Walking Opportunity looks at recent media coverage of the new Saint Paul Saints stadium and the perceived parking problem to reframe the issue (with observations from the seat of a pedi-cab, too). Cleveland Avenue Shows St. Paul’s Need for Parking Creativity takes this perspective over to Cleveland Avenue where loss of parking is also contentious; the post provides great graphic evidence of how far 100′ will get you from your on-street parking spot or out into the big box lot.
Walking in Saint Paul — What Will It Take to Make It Safe and Pleasant? celebrates the trend toward more, better walking in Saint Paul, observes some of the difficulties which still exist, but looks ahead to workshops planning for better walking in the very near future.
Only one chart this week Chart of the Day: Sidewalk Biking and Protected Lanes, but two maps Map of the Day: Walk Access to Jobs 2014 and Map of the Day: Average Jobs+Population Density in Hennepin County.
In video this week, there’s Fresno: A City Reborn – Rare 1968 Documentary by Victor Gruen Associates and, finally, our cartoon interlude between Bicyclopolis Book 1 and 2, The Return of Roadkill Bill.
We hope you’ve been out on your bike during Minneapolis Bike Week, whether around the block or commuting to work. Although time is very short, you can still contact your legislators about transportation funding before the end of the session; grassroots support really does move legislators! Have a great week!