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Sunday Summary – November 8, 2015

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In the last week, we’ve observed Election Day (Saint Paul City Council Ward 2 election results still not quite settled), Guy Fawkes Day (410th Anniversary of the foiled Gunpowder Plot), and the House passed a $325 billion Transportation Bill (but doesn’t quite know where all the money will come from). The last week on also saw a mix of topics and voices, but no voting and no fireworks.

Field Trip

Group Outing to the History Center’s Suburbia Exhibit is happening next week on Tuesday, November 17, 2015.  Really, what better company could there be for this exhibit where “guests are invited to look back and reflect on the successes and failures of Suburbia and what’s in store for the future” than people who read, write and run has a vision of “a public better informed and engaged on transportation and land use issues” so come and be informed and engaged.

Website banner for MN History Center "Suburbia" exhibit

Website banner for MN History Center “Suburbia” exhibit

Transit and car-free living

Commuter Conundrum: Packing for a Long Day at Work is a very practical post; Janelle Nivens lists her usual excess baggage for her car-free commute and asks for suggestions for lightening or consolidating the load. Commenters spring into action and respond with their own tricks, specific recommendations on bags, and other helpful hints.

Scott Shaffer finds Planned Light Rail Extensions Dodge Car-free Workers since “[o]ne thing I think transit projects should do is serve workers who don’t have cars.” A look at Census data shows the current alignments for the Blue and Green Line extensions avoid neighborhoods with the most car-free workers.  Commenters consider what importance to assign this criterion (other thoughts include overall density, retired people who live car-free, etc.) as well as suggesting how the bus (or BRT) could also connect those without cars.

Woman waiting for light rail

Packing for a car-free commute

Travel near and far

Geeking Out on London Infrastructure is Sam Newberg’s trip to and around London (go to Paris with him here) to travel by bus, train, Underground, Overground and foot; there’s additional comment-discussion about how smaller UK towns are connected by rail, rising bollards, and streetlights.

Riding in a Tesla with AutoPilot (2015) documents David Levinson’s (and other board members’) recent ride in Tesla electric car which, like the rest of Tesla’s most recent model year cars (about 50,000 vehicles) had been remotely upgraded with “Auto-Pilot” to be semi-autonomous. There’s video of the ride plus some comparison to Google’s autonomous vehicle plans, too.

Walker Angell observes in Riding With Tornadoes that “Motor vehicles are perhaps a bit like tornadoes. They’re big, deadly, and an encounter can feel like a near-death experience. Riding on most roads close to cars and trucks is like a tornado warning — there are tornadoes in the vicinity so be on heightened alert, extra vigilant, and ready to take action to protect yourself.” Extend this to thinking about how stressful this experience could be and then the argument for separated bike lanes or trails makes more intuitive sense especially in light of the comment that tornadoes are non-preventable natural events, but we can design the tornado effect out of our streets.

A Camino De Minnesota? asks whether something like the town-to-town walking experience of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain could be possible in Minnesota or the United States. Andy Singer concludes “in Minnesota everything is too spread out to create much of a walking trail. But we could create a bicycle pilgrimage using the MRT or some of our other, excellent bike trails. We just have to convince the Catholic Church to canonize Bob Dylan or some other internationally popular figure from Minnesota.”

Photograph of vintage Routemaster doubledecker bus

London Routemaster bus

Audiovisual department and other quick looks:

Photo-tourism by bike: On the Way to Jail: Part 2 continues Wolfie Browender’s trip to the now-defunct Ramsey County jail (here’s Part 1, in case you missed it) by exploring the jail from the outside and documenting the bike ride home. As always, Wolfie finds the interesting details most of us miss.

New data tool: Learn Some Healthy Stuff alerts us to the new Transportation and Health Tool from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Centers for Disease Control which can help planners understand “how the transportation environment affects safety, active transportation, air quality, and connectivity to destinations.”

Video: Why Jaywalking Is a Crime is an episode of Adam Ruins Everything where “Adam reveals the derogatory origins of jaywalking and explains how the auto industry made it illegal.”

Charts, lots of ’em: How Kids Get to School is from a new Safe Routes to School report (via Streetsblog) showing more kids walking to school, but fewer riding bikes. Distraction Rates for Hands-Free Tech indicates just keeping your hands on the wheel does not equal complete concentration or, another way, “just talking on the phone while driving is very dangerous, even if it is ‘hands-free.'” Lane Width vs. Speed on Suburban Streets highlights a topic much discussed on (including last week’s Anti-Bike Lane Narratives).  Last but not least, Vehicle Miles Traveled vs. Change in Wealth Per Capita (Selected Countries).

Map Monday: HOLC Redlining Map of Minneapolis is another map from the (fascinating!) Historyapolis Project  showing the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Map which “demanded that realtors serve as the border patrol, monitoring the lines that divided neighborhoods by race.”

Mental distraction ratings of voice-activated technology

Mental distraction ratings of voice-activated technology

Even if Congress has left the funding details of its transportation legislation to the future, knows its funding comes from you. Please consider giving to to keep us going and growing. We also welcome donations of time and talent since our content and management also comes from you, our volunteers- write for us or help with one of our committees.  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