Sunday Summary – February 14, 2016

Image of Sunday Summary logoIt’s Valentine’s Day, but we won’t presume anything about how readers celebrate, ignore or reject this holiday. However, we think this week’s (and every week’s) posts care passionately about some piece of the transportation and land use relationship and hope you’ll be inspired:

Continuing conversations

Several weeks ago, published a preview and review of proposed changes to the Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha intersection with emphasis on making this area more bikable and walkable. Last week, Joe Scott proposed more sweeping ways to really fix the intersection by restoring the grid. This week, after a Seward Neighborhood Group on February 9, 2016, new writer Sheldon Mains reviews the issues and previews the Changes Finally Coming to the Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha Intersection in Minneapolis as well as offering some perspective on roads not taken (roundabout, restoring the grid, etc.).

Conversations commencing elsewhere – the Star Tribune, in this case – are continued here, too. Alex Cecchini responds to a Strib editorial critical of Minneapolis’ recent City Council proposal to amend city ordinances to extend Pedestrian Oriented Overlay districts including a ban on drive-through businesses with Counterpoint: Expanding the Existing Drive-Thru Ban Won’t Hurt Minneapolis . Alex reviews some of the infrastructure details, safety stats, and considering all users to conclude that drivethroughs are a convenient little luxury “It’s a bonus that makes driving just a little more attractive, factoring into every residents’ complicated decision on how to leave the house for the day. Considering the real public safety benefits of reducing conflict points and getting a few people to choose to walk or bike, this is a luxury Minneapolis can stand to lose in a few key highly-pedestrianized neighborhoods of our city.” And, there’s another counterpoint over on the Strib site, too, by writer Andrew Degerstrom.

Drive-Thru access examples

Drive-Thru access examples

Big ideas

Welfare Queens, Performance Incentives, and Public Transportation Planning was inspired by a comment to Alex Cecchini’s post about drive throughs in Minneapolis suggesting giving cars to poor people because it is a necessity to drive. Dana DeMaster, describes our underlying assumptions about poor individuals, incentives to help them, and transit saying “First, it would be a healthy change for everyone to change some of our focus away how the welfare myth narrative encourages us to think about people on welfare” and “For transportation, however, human services could be an important voice at the table…If local and state human services agencies were part of the transportation conversation, we could bring different perspectives, a voice for the poorest in our society, and some funding” for systemic change.

In No, Large Apartment Buildings Won’t Devalue Your HomeAlex Cecchini reviews zoning law from the 1926 Supreme Court decision in Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty which established zoning as constitutional to present-day Twin Cities laws which all highlight the need to protect single-family homes from more intense uses. He follows up with a list of reports and studies which show the negative impact to be at least equivocal. To finish, a question: “what are these transition zones and buffers protecting? What are the actual social goods to concentrating development in small pods or thin corridors that represent a tiny fraction of the city’s overall land rather than being more flexible? Should we let people in apartments live on the quiet side-streets single family dwellers desire even if the scale isn’t “compatible” with its neighbor? What do compatible and stabilize even mean? Just because we have the legal power to zone our city this way doesn’t mean we should. Especially when underlying concept supporting this separation may not even be true in the first place.”

edith macefield house


Other good stuff

In Twenty Is Plenty TuesdaysMatt Steele proposes on Tuesdays, “In places where the speed limit is 30 (remember, speed limits are maximum limits rather than minimum limits) you simply drive 20 MPH instead. Scale up as necessary for urban streets that are 35 or 40 MPH.” The rationale is that slower speeds are safer and state law includes provisions requiring drivers to slow down when conditions warrant. Commenters ask some questions about rural roads and places 20 might be inappropriate, but also raise the question of whether driving slowly will spark road rage in others.

Shoveling is Hard Work according to Evan Roberts as he takes us around his neighborhood to show us the beautifully cleared sidewalks and the less than easily passable sidewalks. The post kicked off a lively discussion in the comments including whether cities should be clearing sidewalks (to prioritize walking and have consistently clearer sidewalks), whether cities respond to 311 complaints (variable), and sharing information on Uber-like services for snow-shoveling.


Quick looks

Event recap: Here’s a summary of the kickoff event for the Self-Driving Vehicles for Minnesotans with Disabilities group with information on how to get involved.

Project: David Levinson criticizes the long-planned (or at least considered) Pierce Butler route extension in Piercing Butler as well as providing a little history of Pierce Butler, the person for whom it was named.

Chart: Just one chart this week with Chart of the Day: American Life Expectancy, a CDC chart showing the main causes for decreased life expectancy in the US.

Maps: Map Monday: Locals vs. Tourists Geotagged Photos uses geotagging data to map locations of photos taken by tourists and locals in the Twin Cities.  The Theory Behind the 1935 Saint Paul Slum Map gives us both the map plus some of the urban sociological theory of the time which helps explain the map.

And that’s it for Valentine’s Day moving ahead to President’s Day tomorrow.  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