Queering the Streetscape

For Spooky Pride Month, I wanted to imagine what some of our broad streets could look like if you put me in charge of queering the streetscape.

an inclusive pride flag, each stripe labeled with what i deem to be the important parts of a road, and suggested widths for those

The important parts of a street, and suggested widths for Lake St

You’ll notice that while there are no personal automobile lanes listed, there’s still trucks and buses using the road. This vision for Lake St still allows for businesses to receive large deliveries by truck if needed, though ideally they’d transition to getting the majority of deliveries other ways. And, it preserves existing infrastructure, upgrading it at minimal cost. A future version of this might put rail here, or it might be a better plan to restore rail uses on the Greenway. Either way, this could be accomplished with a modest budget over a single season.

a city worker painting a durable rainbow crosswalk

Photo by Seattle Department of Transportation

I’m imagining that there would be crosswalks across all the transportation lanes at least as close as every block, and of course they have the right of way over everyone else.

A streetmix of Lake Street color coded with pride flag colors.

Use all the colors to make a great street.

Imagine your nearest broad street redesigned like this – what changes would that bring to Hennepin? Marshall? West Broadway? Would the number of car-caused deaths and injuries drop dramatically? Would small businesses thrive? Would you meet more of your neighbors? Hang out on streetmix.net , plug in your street’s width, and imagine a better tomorrow. Lake St is 80′, building to building – you can find your street’s width using the measuring tools at https://gis.hennepin.us/Property/Map/default.aspx if you’re in Minneapolis. Banning cars doesn’t happen overnight, but we can get there if we try. Once you have your vision – share it with the world. Talk to your friends, talk to your local reps, see what small changes you can make.

Pine Salica

About Pine Salica

Pine lives in Minneapolis and works in Saint Paul. Pine hasn't owned a car for over a dozen years, and can count on one hand the number of times they've operated one in the last 12 months. Housing is a human right, car storage is not. Member of the Climate Committee.

35 thoughts on “Queering the Streetscape

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    I am not quite seeing the connection between LGBT pride and this proposal for Lake Street.

    It seems a little off-putting to use the rainbow flag to distinguish components of a street.

      1. Pine SalicaPine Salica Post author

        Sorry, that sent sooner than I intended –
        What I mean is, my post is taking the current, normative, car-centric uses, and queering them. Maybe I could have explained that better in the text itself… but you know, volunteer writing, and all.

  2. Brian

    So, in this scenario if I ever want to go to a place not accessible by transit I’m just out of luck?

    Ho else is a business supposed to get deliveries except by truck? Nobody is going to pedal a rickshaw full of food from the Sysco warehouse in Mounds View.

    1. Julie Kosbab

      If something is transit-accessible it should also be accessible for deliveries via medium truck.

      This doesn’t mean everything should be accessible via car, with convenient curbside parking.

      1. Brian

        This plan doesn’t allow cars at all. The article also says that businesses should transition to no truck deliveries at all. Most restaurants could not compete if their costs of food goes up 10% or 20% to pay for alternative delivery.

        One option would be to have trucks deliver to a central space that supports many restaurants and make the final delivery by something like a Gem electric vehicle. You have to pay for the space, pay for the electric vehicle(s), and pay the driver of the electric vehicle. The space would need to have walk-in freezers and walk-in coolers to keep food cold once off the big truck.

        1. Monte Castleman

          With paid sick leave, $15 minimum wage with no tip credit, and now Rube Goldberg-esqe delivery methods instead of just sending a semi from the distributor, how much is a burger in Minneapolis going to wind up costing as opposed to a burger in Bloomington?

      1. commissar

        ok, so they’re supposed to WALK a truckload of product from the industrial/warehouse areas? or do you want to eliminate urban retail?

  3. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    I guess I’d be interested to know: if we were serious about no cars on Lake St, what would that mean? In a literal sense. What would the boundaries be?

    The City would certainly need to come up with an alternative routing for CSAHs 3 and 43. Could you expand 26th and 28th — or 31st — to take the traffic? Hypothetically, would it be worth losing a row of homes on 31st (and potentially losing the church on Chicago to correct that intersection) in order to create a bypass for Lake St?

    North of Lake Calhoun, Lake St is one of the top three busiest CSAHs in the Hennepin County system.

    Even if it were worth that high economic and social cost, you’d also strangle out the many auto-oriented businesses on Lake Street.

    I’d rather see traffic balanced on the grid and slowed, without disruptive changes like entirely eliminating private cars on the street. In particular, I’d like to see:

    1. Remove CSAH 43 designation from Lagoon Ave
    2. Reverse direction of CSAH 3 to be westbound only from Lake Calhoun/BMS to Chicago Ave
    3. Designate 31st St as CSAH 43 to carry eastbound traffic from Lake Calhoun/BMS to Chicago Ave

    The resulting one-ways could be 2 lane in each direction plus a generous bike space, rather than the super-wide three lanes. It would also allow for much less traffic and more vitality on Lagoon, a street that just has way too narrow a right-of-way for its traffic load.

      1. Pine SalicaPine Salica Post author

        Proposed bypass – I494.
        And the amount that I am(/would be in this alternate universe) concerned about auto oriented businesses is in the negative, truth be told.

        1. Brian

          So I guess you expect that nobody is ever going to drive, ever. I know people who live in South Minneapolis who walk, bike, or take transit as often as possible, but they still own a car for occasional use.

          1. Monte Castleman

            I guess the expectation is the people in Uptown drive out to Plymouth to pick up I-494, than drive all the way around the Bloomington strip and up Hiawatha to get to Hi-Lake rather than drive down Lake Street.

        2. commissar

          that’s absolutely absurd. how about i close the midtown greenway, and tell ay to cut over to e river rd?

      2. Monte Castleman

        Hadn’t though of this, seems like a good plan.

        One irritating thing is the lights on Lake and Lagoon are now timed so it’s completely impossible to make both of them on foot or bicycle if you’re going along the new trail along Lake Calhoun Parkway.

      3. commissar

        NONONONO. you’re throwing stupid amounts of traffic into a predominately residential area. as i said in anothe r comment, close off the dupont triangle, and then cut the emerson ave bridge to cars, which will prevent there from being a straight shot. close a few cross streets to thru traffic as well by capping the ends. preserve stoplights to keep traffic calmer.

        1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

          Lagoon is largely residential as well — but in many cases, in buildings that are set just a foot or two behind the narrow sidewalks. It is just ridiculously tight, and even basic ADA standards aren’t met between the right-of-way and the space for travel lanes.

          There are two reasons why 31st just makes more sense to me:

          1. Width. 31st has a 75-90′ right-of-way from the Lake to 35W. Lagoon has a 60′ right-of-way

          2. Connectivity to 35W. 31st is already part of the Lake St 35W access. Lagoon doesn’t even appear on the grid for 3/4 of a mile west.

          A hypothetical one-way pair doesn’t have to go all the way to Chicago — but to me it makes sense to at least go through 35W, and preferably through Park/Portland.

          1. commissar

            lagoon is mostly high density res, whereas 31st is mostly SFH. that’s the problem. besides, how are you going to get cars TO 31st? convert the pkwy? it could maybe work, i didn’t realize that lagoon was that tight.

            but, if you’re gonna do that, i’d definitely rezone uptown area between lake and 31st, and upzone everywhere else along it. and run it all the way out to hiawatha.

            i think the main problem, is that you’re gonna run into a massive wall of NIMBY

            1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

              I agree it could face more resistance from neighbors on 31st. In general, with new apartment buildings, I agree that they can be better suited to busy streets — for old ones (like at least half of the ones on Lagoon) I don’t think that’s the place. They generally have no central ventilation, relying on windows (often old and not very sound insulative even when closed). And because they have much smaller setbacks than houses, they are closer to the noise and pollution.

              Especially on that west end, you could have room for really high-quality landscaping that I think would take the edge off.

              Yes, one block of E Calhoun Pkwy would have to be converted to accommodate a heavier eastbound/southbound flow. This doesn’t seem too bad given the fact that it isn’t a complete circle anyway. You would likely need to still accommodate northbound traffic to continue to Lake of the Isles.

              In such a hypothetical, I’d suggest that CSAH 3 between Calhoun and Isles gets greened up, narrowed if feasible, to mitigate the impact to that one block on the east end. Basically, acknowledging that that east block would get slightly worse, make the north edge better.

              1. commissar

                yeah, i think it would work. but i don’t think narrowing is really viable for lake. re-purposing existing space, maybe.

            2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

              As for running it as far east as Hiawatha — on a hypothetical grid, I guess that makes sense for expanding the Lake St corridor. But I think all else equal, a two-way Lake Street is probably better for business, and it seems like traffic is pretty well accommodated east of 35W or Chicago area in the existing space.

              My thought is mainly about getting traffic off Lagoon, improving flow from Lake/Excelsior split and 35W, and making space for bikes on Lake St.

              As I said in one of my other comments, the Chicago intersection itself also poses and issue to extending east, since there is a beautiful old church that is sharply on the corner of the Chicago and 31st. Plus that generous existing 31st St right-of-way is only west of 35W.

              1. commissar

                leave the church. there’s a couple of sigle family houses on the other side that could be removed and the road shifted to accommodate, maybe with some micro-parks in the triangles created.
                yeah, though, you’d probably have to join it immediately prior to Hiawatha. the lrt is kinda in the way

                and ideally, unfuck the Nicollet-kmart situation.

    1. commissar

      honestly, i think we’re just going to have to deal with lake/lagoon being traffic sewers. there’s no real good way to access anything on the other side of the lakes.

      BUT, we close off the lake/lagoon/dupont triangle prohibiting lefts, and cutting dupont in two. that, actually, would let you lose a lane from lake, and give room for bikes. still be able to access cub via Emerson. reducing street parking on lagoon gives you more space, and there’s plenty of offstreet parking in that part of uptown.

  4. Cyclist

    look what happened to copenhagen when they started closing streets to cars. do we really want an awesome city? isn’t it better to just drive everywhere and spend half our car time looking for parking?

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I’m not aware that Copenhagen has any streets the length and transportation importance of Lake Street that have been closed to cars.

      Strøget and Strædet are networks of walking streets in the old city, but even those are not fully closed to cars — you can drive to a private residence, etc. It is just a very clearly “pedestrian first” space.

      Nørrebrogade is the best parallel. Even this only has individual sections closed to cars.

      But even busier streets still have great bike facilities: The Åboulevard and HC Andersens Blvd are very wide, high-traffic streets, but still have high quality bike and pedestrian paths.

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