Sunday Summary – July 16, 2017

The Summer Picnic was July 15. It was hot and there was the little problem with double booking of the shelter, but there was also food, fun and some fine conversation about the website, people’s places, and what’s happening in the world. We might have picked up a few new writers, too (you can write, too!).  Thanks to all the organizers and guests; we hope to see more of you when we have another event. Here’s a little taste:

Board members Bill Lindeke and Janne Flisrand and more picnic guests

Big ideas

In Housing is (Not) a Human Right, Zachary Wefel says:  “I wish we treated housing were a human right, and that homelessness and unaffordability meant we were willing to build our cities in a way that made affordable housing available to everyone. I expect this is what many people who say, “Housing is a human right” mean: we should have affordable housing for everyone. It’s what I meant when I said it. But too many people use “Housing is a human right” as a shield against having to engage with specific housing policies. If a slogan provides cover for avoiding hard discussions about how to move forward it’s better we stop using the slogan and demand candidates confront the real trade-offs inherent in policy; force them to reconcile their stated beliefs with their proposed policies.” The post considers what we might be doing to ensure housing for all if we moved beyond simply giving lip service to a right to housing.

Particular projects

The Riverview Transit Study Prioritizes Everything Except Good Transit says Alex Schieferdecker.  Much has been written about the Riverview Corridor and its transit possibilities on, but this post responds to the latest report (summarized in this article) identifying six transit alternatives. “The Riverview Study has done a lot of excellent work overall,  and there’s some great detailed analysis done on a ton of other topics, like potential bus route connections. But the study’s thoroughness shouldn’t escape the problems laid bare by its conclusions. When it comes to modes, the study is willing to sacrifice quality transit to short-term NIMBY concerns. When it comes to routes, the study appears unwilling to eliminate options that obviously will destroy the quality of the transit because of long term development concerns. The reasons are different, but the losers are the same. Everyday riders of the Riverview line appear to be the bottom priority of this study’s decision makers.” Commenters consider the study, light rail, existing transit service, and what to do about the Ford site.

Maryland Avenue: The Pedestrian Experience by Eric Saathoff shows us what people walking face as they try to cross Maryland Avenue.  “Maryland Avenue is currently in the midst of a 4-3 conversion trial. You can read more about what led to the trial here and here. Part of the trial includes pedestrian refuges at two intersections. At these locations people walking across have a safe space to wait while drivers notice them and stop their vehicles. Ramsey County is taking feedback and weighing it heavily. Surprisingly, some people told the county that the new configuration made it harder to cross by foot because there are fewer ‘gaps.’”  This post takes issues with the widespread belief that people walking should wait for “gaps” in the traffic to dart across the street and shows how the 4-3 conversion can help make drivers see people crossing the street, and people walking comfortable crossing.

Maryland Avenue

In depth

Monte Castleman has written extensively about streetlights and traffic controllers for This week, The LED Streetlights Are Here gives us the history of LEDs, some of their characteristics, and a spotter’s guide to identifying different LED fixtures around the Twin Cities. As always, Monte tells us much about things we see every day, but probably haven’t thought about until now.

Warm White Streetlights being tested on Plymouth Ave.

Warm White Streetlights being tested on Plymouth Ave.


Podcast #102: A Pedestrian Future for Downtown Minneapolis with Leif Pettersen features a conversation between Bill Lindeke and Leif Pettersen, a travel writer and tourist public relations professional living in downtown Minneapolis. Extensive excerpts are transcribed to give you a taste of the entire conversation, including some appreciation for skyways and consideration of turning some bits of downtown Minneapolis into pedestrian-only areas.

Leif Petterson

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