We talk a lot on streets.mn about what will make our communities and especially our streets safer. We talk a lot about infrastructure, about engineering, and about laws. Yesterday, as a light drizzle fell, I stopped in my car for a pedestrian waiting at a marked crosswalk on Grand Avenue. I was rear-ended. The other driver was immensely apologetic. She wasn’t on her phone, she was in her own neighborhood, she just …. wasn’t paying attention, I suppose. Luckily, the damage was minimal. Neither of us had been going very fast — I think I was keeping it to about 22 mph on that rainy pavement in gloomy weather. I got a bit of a bonk to the head — thus the lateness of this Summary. They mean what they say about “resting your brain” if you think you’ve had even a mild concussion. Writing was not something that was happening yesterday.
The irony of this incident was not lost on me. As a pedestrian advocate, I drive slowly, stop for pedestrians in my car AND on my bike, encourage others to do the same, and spend a lot of time outraged at drivers when I’m walking, with my dogs or to a specific destination. However, better infrastructure wouldn’t have prevented this incident. Lower speed limits wouldn’t have prevented this incident. The only thing that might have prevented it was if we all paid the kind of constant attention to our surroundings and the kind of respect to other users of spaces, streets, and sidewalks, that we should pay when we’re operating two-ton vehicles in public.
Every time we get behind the wheel, we make decisions that affect our own lives and the lives of those around us. Multi-tasking isn’t a thing. If you’re driving a car, that’s where all your attention needs to be.
On this final Sunday before Halloween, one of the biggest “walking days” of the year, I’d like to remind everyone to be careful tomorrow night. Whether you are driving, walking, bicycling, or busing, whether you’re party hopping, bar hopping, or candy collecting, please stay aware of your surroundings, be respectful of our spaces, be respectful of everyone moving through them, and put safety first.
Now on to the week that was, here on streets.mn.
In response to a letter in a local paper, Walker Angell wholeheartedly agreed that Bicycle Riders Should Pay Their Fair Share. However, a little research and arithmetic shows that they already are. He gives a great breakdown of the actual costs of wear and tear on roads by various vehicles. Take a peek at the comments, where you’ll find an estimate of aggregated costs of commuting ten miles each way for a year by bike and by car.
Walker also gives us a look at the light, life, and social connections brought by windows and doors connecting interiors with exteriors, especially when we’re eating out, in Street Connections. Look for the bonus pic of Cotswald, UK. The comments bring additional great photos.
Ethan Osten brought us this week’s Monday Map of Twin Cities Redlining (HOLC) Map, 1934. He’s overlaid this ugly piece of American history on the modern street grid, which makes obvious some of the far-reaching long-term consequences of this practice. Met Council has made raw redlining data available to the public. If you’re a GIS Geek, maybe you’d like to do something with it, too.
Stalwart Dr. Bill Lindeke, who recently gave a TedX Minneapolis talk about sidewalks, brings us a chart of US Metro Areas Ranked by Ridesharing Usage. This is especially pertinent given the news out of London this week that Uber drivers are employees and must be paid minimum wage and receive paid breaks. Will this ruling hold up? And will it move to the United States? It could have significant impact not just for the sharing economy but for the gig economy in general.
It does seem like this week was all about the money: after commuting/road costs, mortgages, and wages, Peter Bajurny gave us a two-part primer on Minnesota property tax in Part 1: What are Property Taxes? and And Part 2 Minnesota Property Taxes Explained, Part 2: How are Property Taxes Calculated? get out your pencils and play along! Watch for the third post in the series next week, in which Peter will answer burning questions like “Do renters pay property tax?”
Adam Ferrari, Rochester resident, asked about The Consolidation Problem. In the process, he introduces us to the term “holon,” which means recognizing both the parts of a system and the system itself. The sum and its parts. Basically, the consolidation problem is not being able to see the trees for the forest when you group too many city and county services in an effort to cut costs or take advantage of efficencies of scale.
Finally, Jay Walljasper rounded out the week with an excerpt from his book, America’s Walking Renaissance. In How to Make City Streets More Friendly, he offers great ideas on getting engaged and creating communities, from using temporary installations to making it fun.
So go out tomorrow night, make it fun, and remember: We’re all in this together. And if you have a fabulous time and take some pictures, write up a post for us! We want to hear how you and your neighbors make community happen.