Sunday Summary – September 11, 2016

sunday-summary-logoToday is the 15th Anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Although not usually the top headline, the attacks have also impacted the conversation on transportation and land use from security guidance in the American Planning Association policy guide to more obvious bollards and reinforcements around government buildings. Perhaps a writer (or you, because you can write for us, too) will continue to consider the impacts on our communities’ built and human environments.  But back here in Minnesota, here’s the week on

#Safer Streets

#SaferStreets are better for businesses, families, and the community in Saint Paul says new writer and Fresh Energy staff member Matt Privratsky. Three short videos help tell why safer streets for biking are better for business (with Jonathan Weinhagen, the Vice President of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce), for families (City Council representative Amy Brendmoen), and for the community (State Senator Foung Hawj) as followup to Saint Paul’s adopting a new bike plan and now working at local and state levels to implement its recommendations for safer, connected streets.

Indianapolis improvements - possible in Saint Paul?

Indianapolis improvements – possible in Saint Paul?


Lowry Hill East and Downzoning

The majority of posts this week are related to the proposed downzoning of the Wedge neighborhood. Lowry Hill East Rezoning Community Meeting Tomorrow announced the gathering held September 7, 2016 but also contains a link to the project website for the City of Minneapolis Lowry Hill Rezoning Study and how to submit comments to the City on the project until September 30, 2016 when the 45-day comment period ends.

There are two very different posts criticizing the proposal. Downzoning Does a Disservice to Minneapolitans of All Ages follows 96-year old Tank around the neighborhood to show the “real life impacts to a half-century of downzoning. For those who move at 2 MPH, it means that when we’re in Lowry Hill East, Tank can easily be a five to ten minute walk from the closest shelter during an unexpected downpour (as happened to us recently)” as well as few restrooms, shelter, and poor sidewalks close to traffic or covered with snow. For Tank’s ghostwriter, downzoning is “a direct reflection of our city’s priorities and values. It doesn’t move us towards zero-waste or encourage creative reuse or recycling. It doesn’t center our disabled community members or work towards increased independence under the Olmsted Act. It doesn’t orient itself to the future and the changing needs of aging Baby Boomers.”

Downzoning Can’t Save Us From the Future from John Edwards (also see his earlier post on this issue here) focuses on housing in the Wedge and takes on arguments for the downzoning on the basis of preserving the character of the neighborhood: “So when we talk about preserving neighborhood character, keep in mind what downzoning can and can’t do: it can stop a new apartment building, but it won’t prevent your duplex from becoming a single-family house, and it won’t protect a low-end apartment from a high-end renovation. Downzoning doesn’t actually preserve what we have, and it can’t protect us from the future. But it can make our other housing problems worse.”

96-year old Tank takes a walk

96-year old Tank takes a walk

Quick looks

One Map: Map Monday: Twin Cities Walkable Grocery Store Density which you can use “as kind of a shorthand to think about where pockets of walkability exist and don’t exist in the region.”

Two Videos: Saturday Music Video: Cheap Thrills (KHS & Kina Grannis) which is “A great cover of SIA’s song and all instrumented on a bicycle” plus a link to an earlier video post of King of the World (Anthony’s Putsch) filmed in the Netherlands.

Two Charts: Charts of the Day this week with Chart of the Day: Occupant and Non-occupant Fatalities by Mode showing fatality rates per billion passenger trips for four modes – passenger cars, transit buses, heavy and light rail – and whether the fatalities were occupants of the car, bus or train, or someone not riding. Plus from the Financial Times feature on whether urban cycling is worth the risk of accidents, air pollution and health benefits, a chart showing the health benefits of urban bicycling at different levels of particulate pollution (and where bicycling does more harm to the rider than good) with Chart of the Day: Bicycling Health Benefits at Different Pollution Levels.

Lots of Links: National Links: 11 Million Listings and Uber Losing Money from The Direct Transfer.

And that’s the week on For folks from Northfield like me, this weekend is the annual Defeat of Jesse James Days celebration which marks the start of Fall far more than Labor Day – there’s still time for metro folks to drive south for the parade and a bank raid re-enactment today (and cheese curds and other food you may have missed at the State Fair) before really getting back to school, working on election campaigns and other Fall stuff.  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