Happy New Year! The Summary took a little holiday, so this post collects three weeks of good stuff. Looking ahead, streets.mn is holding a Backyard Ice Skating: The How-to and Why fundraiser on Sunday, January 22. Billed as a SIMBY – skate in my backyard – event, this is a chance to skate, eat and drink, and learn about building your own rink and building community, too, from board member and writer Dana DeMaster. We hope you’ll join us and help support our work.
And looking ahead, we welcome feedback, suggestions and assistance with continuing to shape streets.mn’s content and managing the organization. You can use the comment section to offer your thoughts, and we continue to encourage you to write for us, volunteer for our committees (social media, events, editing) or indicate your interest in serving on the board. Today’s summary of posts gives a sense of the range of what we do, from personal stories about community to particular projects to criticism of the status quo; your voice can help expand the conversation.
Christmas and community
A Christmas Love Letter is a post which does indeed capture the generous spirit of Christmas and the importance of community. Dana DeMaster writes lovingly about Potluck, the neighborhood group which gathers for meals and so much more. She asks, “what does Potluck have to do with streets.mn? Neighborhoods are not just the sidewalks, streets, businesses, and buildings. Neighbors are a special relationship. You do not chose each other like friends. You could be stuck together for decades, so you had better figure out how to get along.” And, with an intentional group such as Potluck, also organize to make the neighborhood a better place.
Rochester architect Adam Ferrari has 9 (More) Ideas to Help Implement Rochester’s Vision of DMC following last year’s “9 Ideas” which stimulated conversation about Rochester and its possibilities. So, “This year, as two outstanding design advocacy organizations sunset, I am offering up 9 more ideas to continue the conversation. I hope that the coming year will be one where our city leaders choose to act progressively to create change; instead of reacting to change as it occurs.” Suggestions include narrowing streets, developing a skyway plan, and creating a review and enforcement mechanism for DMC design guidelines.
Aaron Isaacs compares the Transit Potential: Arsenal vs. Ford Plant which “offer rare opportunities to design new neighborhoods from the ground up. Both will feature a mix of commercial and residential, will be pedestrian friendly, and will incorporate public transit. In terms of transit potential, however, the two could hardly be more different. Transit to the Arsenal will be relatively expensive to implement and the ridership potential is modest at best. The Ford Plant requires no additional expenditure at all. There is very good service already in place to numerous destinations and any new ridership will be gravy.”
Counties Transit Board Dissolution Plan in the Works is a quick review by Bill Dooley of the report detailing the probable voluntary dissolution of the CTIB saying “The goal is to remove the legislature and CTIB from the transit capital funding process and replace it with individual county transit taxes or certain counties in conjunction with other counties transit tax funding. Operational costs would also come from county transit taxes along with a legislative appropriation to the Met Council.”
Walking, and obstacles to it
Our Winter Sidewalks Are Broken says John Edwards. Although Minneapolis (and other northern cities) have snow emergencies which impose fines and towing for vehicles parked on plow routes, clearing sidewalks is the responsibility of property owners and there is no immediate penalty for failing to do so: “If Minneapolis is going to continue to rely on individual property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, then the city needs to communicate an Oh no, what if my car gets towed? level of urgency.” Commenters relate their own experiences with icy sidewalks and city action as well as highlighting issues such as the additional difficulty of moving on icy sidewalks (and corners!) using mobility scooters.
I’m Really Disliking Traffic Engineers Today says Walker Angell after witnessing a pedestrian attempt to cross Saint Paul’s West 7th Street, but be struck by a driver 3/4 of the way across. “To expect someone to cross 4 lanes of 50+ mph traffic safely without traffic signals is nuts. Yet that’s exactly what traffic engineers have given us…They’ve made walking dangerous, and so most people don’t do it because it feels too dangerous, stressful, and unpleasant.” The many commenters consider different ways to make streets safer (road diets, for example) as well as particular places around the Twin Cities which could use some attention.
Quick looks and longer listens
Podcasts: Not one, but two podcasts this week from Bill Lindeke. Podcast #95: Energy and Carbon Consensus with Brendan Jordan, vice-president of the Great Plains Institute, discusses the new political landscape for climate change policy both here and nationwide. Podcast #96: The Urban Effects of Amazon.com with Spencer Cox a Geography PhD student at the University of Minnesota studying how Amazon and Amazon.com is changing the urban landscape through its logistics, hiring practices, etc.
Chart: Chart of the Day: US Road Fatality Rates of Increase by Mode is “a depressing chart, ripped from StreetsBlog’s end-of-year post of 2016 high- and low-lights.”
Links: International Links: Seven Ring Roads in Beijing and more national links to news about transit, policy and more from The Direct Transfer.
And that’s the week on streets.mn. Stay warm, shovel those sidewalks, and keep reading streets.mn.