Tree Owl

Sunday Summary – June 11, 2017

Quite a bit happened last week: President Trump’s much ballyhooed Infrastructure Week was mostly a dead end,  UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s snap election did not go as planned, and the heat index hit 100 degrees yesterday.  A new crossposting feature on this week is a series of podcasts about getting around produced by Apparatus with the first three episodes available at “Here to There” Podcast Explores Human Impacts of Twin Cities Commuting. And, mark your calendars for July 15 and the picnic and members meeting (and stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about this event).

Big issues

Melody Hoffman’s Lightrailing While Brown is Our Issue uses a recent incident to urge transit advocates to step up to do more: “Being undocumented and in public is a precarious place to be. That means being a transportation advocate right now is about more than encouraging people to ride the light rail, walk, or get on their bicycle. We are tasked with figuring out how to advocate for people risking their lives everyday when they step into the train, onto the sidewalk, or push off from their apartment.” Commenters offer thoughts on how fare enforcement could be fairer, personal experiences with enforcement and payment, and issues with particular enforcement officers’ unwarranted inquiries into immigration status.

Bill Lindeke observes that the History Theater’s “The Highwaymen” Hit on Some Crucially Unexplored Themes. The play about the decision-making which lead to the construction of Interstate 94 and destruction of the Rondo neighborhood began to untangle some of the issues of race, transportation policy, and more, but “Perhaps it’s too much to ask for a single play to untangle the complex tendrils of urban freeways, displacement, and race in Saint Paul. Some of the parts of the story that I think are most important might be nothing but footnotes from another point of view, and I liked the play most because it opened a door into one of the most important chapters of our urban history. I’d love to see much more work done thinking about these decisions, voices, logics, and erasures. Kudos to The Highwaymen, the History Theater, and playwright Josh Wilder for beginning an important conversation.”

A Metro Transit police officer questioning a passenger about his immigration status on May 14, 2017.
Video screenshot courtesy of R. Levins Morales. Image courtesy of AJ+

Preparing Our Roads For Autonomous Vehicles says Walker Angell, will be a good deal for people not in cars: “With more AV’s on the road, we’ll likely see significant increases in people riding bicycles for enjoyment, health, and other reasons as they’ll feel safer. Yep, more slowdowns by AV’s driving cautiously, as they should, around bicycle riders.” The programmed caution and speed control of AV’s may cause more delay for drivers, however, unless the our roads are redesigned to give non-motorized modes their own places to move. Commenters consider what rules AV’s will follow to pass bicycles, wonder whether it would work as described, and perhaps whether AV’s would increase “non-Dutch” vehicular cycling. And check out the National Links from The Direct Transfer for some more links to autonomous vehicle information.

Bauhaus Design and The Sidewalk Ballet: Two Conflicting Views of “Neighborhood Character” by Daniel Choma continues a conversation on neighborhood character which started with an argument against “neighborhood character”, continued with a post about character beyond the built environment, and looking for the character of a the Ford site neighborhood ready for redevelopment. After considering Bauhaus design ideas and Jane Jacobs’ Sidewalk Ballet, “We have this same opportunity when we build our cities.  Our cities are a collection of our people and because of that, our “neighborhood character” is a collection of our shared values.  Instead of building places that unwittingly separate people from each other, let’s truly listen to our community values as we create our designs intentionally with human fluidity as to make our buildings perpetuate a healthy culture.”


As a public service, writers occasionally take on the task of reading articles in main stream media which generate particularly vigorous (and often vitriolic) comments. In the past, has waded into comments on parking meters, pedal pubs, and speed limits to summarize and rate the feedback. This time, Dana DeMaster contributes We Read the Traffic Congestion Report’s Comments So You Don’t Have To: “Today the Center of the American Experiment, Minnesota’s Think Tank, released the report, “Twin Cities: Traffic Congestion: It’s No Accident.” The Star Tribune gave it above the fold coverage in their article, “What’s to blame for Twin Cities traffic congestion: regional growth or bad public policy.” I swear I read all 28 pages of the report. Really, I did. I will let some other smart (daft?) writer cover the content, but I have bravely waded into the comments section to save you the trouble.” And check below for a chart showing Percentage of Twin Cities Freeway Miles Congested for some data on the subject.

Some Twin Cities congestion. Photo: Star Tribune


This week, two of’s most intrepid walkers have posts. Max Hailperin continues alphabetically walking Minneapolis neighborhoods heading west on 36th Avenue North into and around Northern Cleveland.  Janelle Nivens celebrated Arbor Month in May by taking the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources up on its #31DaysOfTrees Challenge to post daily trees photos to TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Learn a bit more about the value of trees, Minneapolis’ Heritage Trees, Saint Paul’s Landmark Trees, and many, many photos of lovely trees and places around the Twin Cities.

Giant tree at W 49th Street & Minnehaha Parkwary

Giant tree at W 49th Street & Minnehaha Parkwary

Quick looks

Charts of the Day: Percentage of Twin Cities Freeway Miles Congested and Twin Cities New Housing by Urban Type, 2005-2016 – June 8, 2017 – 1 comments

Map: Map Monday: Dakota and Ojibwe Place Names in Minneapolis.

Links to more good stuff: National Links: Extreme Subsidies, Ridership Data, Housing from the Direct Transfer with more discussion of autonomous vehicles.

Dakota and Ojibwe place names in Minneapolis



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