streets.mn usually covers paved, metro-area streets, but this weekend, the action is on the gravel roads. The first DAMn gravel race has just concluded with cyclists starting in South Dakota at midnight on August 5, riding across the narrowest bit (240 miles) of Minnesota on gravel roads and ending in Wisconsin by midnight August 6. As early voting for 2017 elections gets closer, the Voter Guide expands again with Podcast #103: Minneapolis Ward 7 with Janne Flisrand (full disclosure, Janne sits on the streets.mn board. streets.mn does not endorse candidates but seeks to provide information in the candidates’ own words to help you decide).
Approaching difficult issues in different ways
This week, two posts show very different approaches to talking about and working on issues which can be contentious. Where Will They Park? A Video Series is John Edwards’ compilation of video excerpts from a public hearing at the Minneapolis Planning Commission for a variance (approved) to reduce parking requirements for a mixed use development which tries to use sarcastic humor to expose misconceptions about parking by editing testimony from residents at the public hearing. Watch the videos and read the comments and see opinion strongly divided about whether it is acceptable to highlight the NIMBY-ism of the speakers rather than the issue to make a point. What I learned at YIMBYtown 2017 showcases both a conference Scott Schaffer attended but also an inclusive way of making change in our neighborhoods by fostering conversation, correcting misperceptions, and changing laws to increase the supply of affordable housing. While thinking about these two posts, reread Dana DeMaster’s recent post about community engagement and how cities can help inform residents and solicit meaningful input in contrast to the typical public hearing format and how it might fit with the NIMBY or YIMBY approaches.
Other big ideas
In A New Vision Zero for St. Paul: Part 1 – Introduction, Michael Daigh calls for Saint Paul to become an official Vision Zero city: “As of July 2017, St. Paul is on pace to exceed its abysmally landmark performance in 2016 for pedestrian and cyclist traffic mishaps, including two fatalities. 2016 was a year in which the State of Minnesota reached a 25 year high for pedestrian deaths. While most of the carnage is in the suburbs, well-intentioned campaigns within St. Paul like “Stop For Me” and other police enforcement actions have done very little to move the metrics by a statistically significant degree. A new approach should be considered.”
Also from Michael Daigh is Get on the Bus, a response to Bill Lindeke’s favorable review of the Riverview Line last week. Sharply criticizing the streetcar model proposed for the Riverview Line: “Bottom line: develop the right tool for the job. Don’t shortchange buses while spending millions to make rail that behaves like buses. I think the first step in getting past the irrational love of the streetcar, and addressing our distaste for buses, is identifying with historical honesty why that distaste exists, and then doing something about it. The most flexible, cost-effective, and equitable form of transit would be an innovative and thoroughly modernized bus network augmented by rail utilized efficiently and to its own best advantages.”
Pseudo-Public Spaces follows up on an article in the UK Guardian about pseudo-public spaces in London. Here, Ben Surma calls for some greater scrutiny of these seemingly public, but privately controlled places in Minneapolis: “The Commons park in Downtown East exhibits many characteristics of a pseudo-public space. It’s publicly owned but its use is reserved for Vikings and other stadium events on certain days…Meanwhile, the city still struggles to pay for its construction, maintenance, and programming. There are plenty of other nebulous pseudo-public spaces in the area: Gold Medal Park, the plazas at US Bank Stadium and Target Field, and, of course, there’s that never-ending question about what the skyways are.”
Look, listen and walk
Listen: More information to help you make informed electoral choices with Podcast #103: Minneapolis Ward 7 with Janne Flisrand. Bill Lindeke notes: “We sat down the other day to talk about her platform, which as you might expect, covers a lot of familiar territory like street design, transit, housing policy, and racial and social equity issues. Plus we talked about Hennepin Avenue, which is a major Minneapolis street!”
Look: Two charts this week: Carbon Footprint Reduction Chart shows what choices have the biggest impact on reducing your carbon footprint. At the top of the list is having fewer children which generates some thoughtful criticism in the comments. American Home Size Trends is a response to news about a new micro-apartment development in Saint Paul (as small as 372 square feet for a studio up to 955 for two bedrooms) to look at trends in all sizes.
Walk: Western Columbia Park: Industrial Gateway to the Camden Bridge continues Max Hailperin’s alphabetical walk around all the Minneapolis neighborhoods.