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Sunday Summary – January 27, 2019

Brrrr. Currently somewhere below zero Fahrenheit and way way below zero Celsius as I write this and likely to be brutal when published; what a good time to sit warmly inside and read what happened last week on

Building small bridges

Tamara Jorell tells a story of one particular Breakfast which feeds a few people directly, but prompts us to consider how we feed and build out communities in small ways.

More small bridges

Dan Marshall identifies his Best and Worst Pedestrian Bridges in MSP–an Unscientific Sampling. Following last week’s post calling for a ban on slip lanes in Saint Paul and the multiple comments which turned to pedestrian bridges, this post goes directly to the bridges to rate the five best and five worst in the author’s opinion. Commenters provide more examples and some detail about the bugs/features of some of the ones in the post. Click the link to find out which wins this particular race.


Cedar Avenue at 57th Street

Getting around

Pat Thompson asks Free Transit or Better Service?  Considering a recent “conversation on Twitter about two approaches to increasing public transit use: free fares or better service and connections,” the author interrogates the conversation (heavily quoted) to support free transit (and addressing climate change) and asks for commenters’ perspectives on this question. And commenters reply with back of the envelope math to see how to make it work as well as debate the benefits of free transit.

Downtown St. Paul Buses and Bikes by Eric Saathoff considers bus only lanes (following Minneapolis’ rejection of bus only lanes on Hennepin Avenue) and shifts to considering how to increase capacity with bus lanes AND bike lanes, “On 5th and 6th Streets we can both increase capacity by diversifying modes and increase comfort for pedestrians and cyclists without majorly impacting the current traffic load. I propose that we install buffered bike lanes on 5th and 6th Streets between the curb and the bus lane by removing one car lane in each direction.”

Jenny Werness reports how A Desire Path Turns into a Sidewalk!  On the east side of St. Paul, “To get to the grocery store from the south, you had to navigate to the west side of McKnight (no sidewalk on the east side), walk under a dark freeway bridge, and then were faced with no obvious route to access the Sun Ray stores,” except for the heavily used shortcut across a vacant parcel which has turned from a consensus desire path into a sidewalk for a pragmatic and useful improvement.

Sidewalk stretching into distance toward grocery store, with a thin coating of snow and many footprints

Footprints on the snow-covered sidewalk

The Problem with East Sixth Street in St. Paul is an identity crisis says Matt Mazanec, “Is it a residential street? Is it a minor arterial street? Is it a street to just get to and from interstate 94? In its current state I would say that depends on your perception of the street, how a person uses it and what one thinks would be its and the community’s best use.” The post looks at the land uses along the street and the long history of what has been done to make it safer to cross and better to live. Follow the discussion in the comments for additional perspectives on this street, reviews of some of the proposals for fixes, and comparison with other routes.

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East 6th Street in Saint Paul

Public Space

Continuing our series from Macalester geography students as part of the 2018 Saint Paul Field Guide to Public Spaces (here’s the introduction to the series), Henry Nieberg writes Groveland Recreation Center Provides Physical Amenities, Lacks Social Participation assessing that facility and finding it underutilized. Commenters from the neighborhood provide additional grassroots perspective about how they and their families have used the center.


Groveland Recreation Center on election day

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