Sunday Summary – June 7, 2015

Image of Sunday Summary logoSchool’s out! Mosquitoes are out! It must be summer in Minnesota! This week Minneapolis made its first appearance as the first US city in the Copenhagenize Index with the note “America – often content with baby steps – is in desperate need of leadership cities and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender” and closer to home writer Sean Hayford O’Leary was all over the League of American Bicyclists social media promotion of an article in its American Bicyclist magazine for helping lead Richfield to be the first Bike Friendly Suburb in the Twin Cities in 2013., of course, leads the way on many issues and here’s what we’re writing about this week:

Distracted driving and other hazards

“It Never Should Have Happened.” But What’s Being Done About It? looked at last year’s fatal collision in Rock County and the more recent incident on Grand Avenue where distracted drivers caused injury or death and directed our attention to the Metro Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) conference as one step toward addressing this issue. The many commenters discuss possible penalties for distracted driving, changes to laws that might reduce pedestrian and cyclists deaths, and strict liability. Cutting Off the Thumbs of Drivers Using Cell Phones: Pros & Cons humorously but pointedly suggests a more draconian approach to punishing distracted driving; commenters add some additional facetious solutions, before moving on to serious consideration of what would work to reduce distracted driving.

Keeping Right? is not about distracted driving, but about speed limits, speeding, giving way to faster traffic and why people justify speeding and other bad habits. Commenters continue to debate speed, moving right and justification for building more lanes.

Crash on Grand Avenue

Crash on Grand Avenue (photo by Brian Quarstad)

Design and development department

Sam Newberg follows up on his guest starring in Eric Roper’s  Star Tribune story about the ground floor design (and previous posts) with Street Level Design and Beautiful Cities to continue to highlight the importance of what happens where the building meets the street and keep that conversation going.

Meanwhile, in Saint Paul,Thune and the Port Authority Quietly Neuter Walkability on Saint Paul’s West Side itemizes and critiques last minute changes to the West Side Flats Master Plan made just before a vote to adopt the plan (this past Friday). The several years of community input and planning to begin to transform this industrial area by reconnecting the walkable street grid, building minimal surface parking, and increasing green space in the plan appear to have been quickly edited out of the picture in favor of protecting current interests.

But back in Minneapolis, a thought experiment to imagine how the city could make greater density legal asks What if We Upzoned All of Minneapolis Tomorrow? and shows how the sky would not fall, but infill and redevelopment at a scale even more compatible with the historic pattern could occur.

West Side Flats area

West Side Flats area

Current events and hot topics

The Soccer Stadium Should Pay Taxes provides a recap of stadium financing issues, disputes the notion that tax breaks are required to show interest in professional sports franchises and asserts that other valuable businesses (like grocery stores, for example) pay taxes while providing valuable goods and services.  Commenters bring up public vs. private ownership of stadiums, suggest that perhaps refusing tax breaks wouldn’t be the deal breaker some believe, and generally continue to discuss the dollars, impact and politics. Or, the stadium could be located on land already tax exempt: Put the MLS Stadium on the Snelling-University Bus Barn Site with its tax exempt status, transit connections, redevelopment opportunities and more. The comments section includes thinking about a cap over I-94 for parking and much insider knowledge about soccer here and elsewhere.

Whose Roads? Not Yours! takes on-line comments following the recent U.S. Eastern District Court ruling that the Wisconsin DOT failed to adequately explain traffic projections or account for updated demographic data when deciding to expand Highway 23 to point to the need for a discussion which robustly revisits highway funding formulas.

Audiovisual department

Videos: Meet Minneapolis Street Artist HoTTea follows HoTTea’s creation of several installations which might be called “soft graffiti.” Koochella Rising interviews Anna Schwinn, founder of the Koochella Twin Cities women’s track cycling team (and others) about building the team based at the velodrome at the National Sports Center in Blain (and getting an armchair look at track racing). The A Line: Snelling Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project Preview is a Metro Transit video about this BRT project including how similar it is to light rail.

Charts of the Day: Comparing Vehicle Miles Traveled Charts is a sort of meta-chart of different ways to break down vehicle miles traveled. Midwestern Obesity Rates over Time shows Minnesota’s obesity rate has leveled off while our neighboring states keep getting going up. Minneapolis bucks the trends in Rental v. Home Prices in US Cities, too.

Map: Map Monday: US Top “Millennial Influx” Metros shows where the millennials are heading including the Twin Cities.

Highly visual: Some Unusual Traffic Signals continues the series on signals with a potpourri of curiosities you probably haven’t noticed yet. And, this could be in the breaking news department: Metro Transit Rolls Out Vastly Improved Bus Stop Signs.

New Metro Transit Signage

New Metro Transit signage at Fairview Park

Interested in writing for  You could come to our annual Summer Writers’ Picnic on June 14. Or have your own picnic in your favorite park to celebrate summer and have a great week!

Betsey Buckheit

About Betsey Buckheit

Betsey rides her pretty blue city bike, walks her energetic black dogs, and agitates for more thoughtful, long-range decision-making in Northfield, MN. You can follow her blog at