Sunday Summary – November 15, 2015

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Thursday, November 12, 2015 was Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s 24 hour on-line philanthropic extravaganza and was part of this collective giving frenzy for the first time this year. And you gave! Treasurer Sam Newberg said it well:

A big thank you to everyone who donated to us on “streets to the Max Day” yesterday. We received $2,255 from 50 different people. That includes a $500 matching gift from an anonymous donor!

We sincerely appreciate all of you who read, and thank you to everyone who gave yesterday. Your generosity will help continue to provide a wide variety and high quality of content!

Thank you!  If you didn’t have a chance to click and give on Give to the Max Day, you didn’t miss your chance; use this link to make your donation now or any time during the year. If you need some reasons to support, watch this little video Will You Be an Angel for which nicely captures both the big issues our writers consider and the fun we try to have doing it. Or, if you’d like to know just how much impact (would like to think it) has, check out the group-written post Gets Results which asks and answers “what have posts on done to change the landscape in the Twin Cities?”

Bikes, walking and parking

Because building better streets for biking and walking often kicks up controversy about losing parking spaces, I’m putting the bike and pedestrian posts with the parking posts to see if they can get along.

crowdsource-logoTo finish up the Ride crowdsource conversation about how to expand or improve Nice Ride planning, Bill Lindeke takes us to the Seward neighborhood Birchwood Cafe for Nice Ride and the Birchwood Exception. The Birchwood Cafe had the very first Nice Ride station and enjoys higher-than-would-be-expected numbers of people riding to the cafe. “I have a theory that it all can be traced back to their station placement, and whole-hearted embrace of bicycling, not just as equal-to traveling by car, but as a mode-of-choice, to be placed symbolically and physically at the center.” The cafe embraces bicycling not only by its ample, obvious bike parking next to the Nice Ride station, but also sponsors a bike team.  Find the other posts in the Nice Rice series here.

The Museum of Surface Parking elevates a suburban-stye surface parking lot in front of a new urban clinic to cultural icon status which “will help 21st century college students in particular study the details associated with the storage of cars, as practiced in 20th century America.” In the spirit of the exercise, commenters ask where they will park to visit the museum.

Much more seriously, How Language Choices Blame the Victim continues Lindsey Wallace‘s thoughtful analysis of how the media report on incidents involving people who walk and bike (here’s her post about retiring some of the anti-bike arguments which are so prevalent) following the death of a 5-year old trick-or-treater on Halloween by being struck by someone driving a car.  “The conversations we have about whose responsibility it is to stay safe are absurdly skewed” to put the burden for safety on the victims who are the most vulnerable street users, rather than looking to how roads are designed and how drivers are responsible. The comments are well worth reading with extended discussion of the term “accident” and whether or how to use this word to describe crashes and how it does or doesn’t signal intent and/or culpability.

The Draft Complete Streets Policy is a Good Start for Minneapolis and Janne Flisrand tracks the history of developing the policy (a process begun in 2011) and reviews the draft to date. Good stuff: the plan establishes a “Default Minneapolis Modal Priority” where pedestrians are the highest priority followed by transit, bicycle, freight, and finally motor vehicles. Room for improvement noted included applying the default priority (even in the face of additional cost or constrained space), including green streets, and planning to fix current safety problems (identified in other plans). It’s a draft, however, so more input is likely possible (but not scheduled at this time).

Alex Cecchini asks nicely for Minneapolis to Please Enforce Hennepin Avenue Bus + Bike Lanes while many buses are rerouted there during construction on other streets. Hennepin Avenue has a poorly marked and lightly enforced lane for buses, bikes and right turning traffic; improving pavement markings and stepping up enforcement are a small step to improve the interim situation.

Minneapolis Default Modal Priority (draft) pedestrian, transit, bicycle, freight, motor vehicles

The Default Modal Priority  from the draft Minneapolis Complete Streets Plan


In Pet Fees + Pet Deposits + Pet Rent = Petposterous, cat-loving Nick Magrino laments the number of add-on charges pet owning renters pay, “I would have to say that it does make sense for a prudent property manager to want some sort of upfront or ongoing mechanism to protect against potential pet damage. You know what’s ridiculous though is paying all three types of financial penalties associated with pet ownership.” Comments include landlords explaining pets’ impact on their rental properties in detail and how they account for them, brief discussion of “nonrefundable deposits), but also mention of a cat share system.

Matt Steele asks decision-makers to Stop Choosing LRT Alignments Before Knowing the Cost and suggests planners should instead “discuss costs and benefits in parallel until shovels hit the ground, rather than committing to a “value” alignment and then being all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when the cost goes up 50% or more.” This larger question was triggered by the Green and Blue Line Extensions which adopted Locally Preferred Alignments (from a short list of options) and each project has seen the cost climb steadily. The extensive comments discuss funding and a great deal about this history and decisions made in the LRT expansions.

Map posts are often just a map with an extended caption, but Map Monday: Two Minnesota Cities Are About To Swap Borders is more than a quick visual. Instead, Eric Anonson recounts the recent agreement between land swap between Hopkins and Saint Louis Park to accommodate expansion by the Japs-Olson company giving Hopkins land of greater value since Saint Louis Park will benefit from the expansion once built. Commenters provide greater context of other city land swaps as well as greater depth into how municipal boundaries can be redrawn under state law.

Hopkins - Saint Louis Park boundary realignment

Hopkins – Saint Louis Park boundary realignment

Audiovisual department

Video: Movin’ On – Transit Music Video is a little music and video accompaniment for transit journeys of many kinds (with banjo!).

Map Monday: Two Minnesota Cities Are About To Swap Borders is a map showing the redrawing of municipal boundaries between Hopkins and Saint Louis Park, but see above for the full story.

Charts of the Day: Why are People of Color Interested in Bicycling? shows a chart and links a report from Cycles for Change documenting what communities of color value about bicycling. Duluth Population over Time is from Perfect Duluth Day and shows Duluth’s history as a boom town.

Cycles for Change chart

Cycles for Change chart


And that’s the week.  Thanks to those who donated on Give to the Max Day; we hope to be able to upgrade the website in the near future and your generosity helps bring that day closer.  Since we are an all volunteer organization, we also welcome your donations of writing and service on committees.  Don’t forget, folks will be meeting at the Minnesota History Center to view the Suburbia exhibit this Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 6:00 pm (the museum is free); we’d love to see you!

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