Sunday Summary – February 24, 2019


In 2018, Melissa Wenzel decided to commit to 30 Days of Winter Biking; in 2019, she wanted to have virtual company by encouraging others via Twitter and her posts to join the fun. It worked!  Here’s the story of Melissa’s January of cycling, plus interviews and reports from others who took up the challenge in30/31 Days of (Winter) Biking 2019.

Fred Kreider read Melissa’s December 2018 post and decided to ride in January and beyond: Winter 30 Days of Biking: The First 50 Days where he committed to not just commuting (his usual mode) but added riding for fun and started experiencing his neighborhood in new ways.

For people walking (and taking transit), clearing snow off sidewalks is a big deal.  Jesse Lorenz provides some insight from Richfield where the city clears sidewalks in Municipal Sidewalk Clearing in Richfield: An Interview with the Operations Superintendent for Richfield Public Works. Learn about how they do it, some of the challenges, and some comparison with Minneapolis.

Sheridan Ave And 73rd St

Municipally-cleared sidewalks at Sheridan Ave and 73rd St in Richfield, MN.

The history of a place

The Lowry Hill Apartments: a Place Called Home is part biography as Thomas Regnier tells us how he came to live in the Lowry Hill Apartments and part history of the apartment building itself, “Think of it: a place where once only the white elite of yesteryear could live, has become a place where a diverse set of people, most of us low-income, can call home. Where businessmen caught streetcars to the office, we can catch the 6 to work. Their maid’s rooms are still here physically, but they’re maid’s rooms no longer at the Lowry Hill Apartments. That’s pretty damn poetic, I think. Apartment buildings like mine are the tidepool of democracy. They’re places where people of diverse races, religions, cultures, politics and lifestyles live side by side as equals. When better citizens are made, apartment buildings make them.” 

Img 1597edit

The Lowry Hill Apartments, ca. 2017, author’s photo.

Law and apartments

Mark Thieroff describes a Minnesota case which may be heard by the  “Curtilage” And The Constitutional Right You May Not Even Know You Had (And Possibly Just Lost) about a Minnesota case which could be before the Minnesota Supreme Court, “The lengthy list of ways that our laws and policies favor single-family residences (and their occupants) over apartments (and tenants) is long and well-known to readers. But that list has a significant new entry that has received far less attention. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, many Minnesota tenants will enjoy less protection from unreasonable searches than do folks who live in houses. Specifically, if you live in an apartment, police will be able to conduct a sniffer-dog search of your front door even though doing so at a single-family residence is unconstitutional.”


Jenny Werness has written recently about her bike commuting, but winter cycling on ice and in deep snow is daunting, so she offers Lessons from a Cyclist’s First Bus Commute as she switched to transit. Here are some simple choices and what she learned along the way.

Following up on last week’s posts about the Minneapolis Fed’s proposed parking garage, Julie Kosbab tries Fixing Inequitable Commuter Benefits by making commuter benefits cafeteria plan eligible as a way to start chipping away at free parking as the only commuter benefit, “Were employers permitted to handle a commuter benefit this way, every eligible employee could be given the same allocation, and the same ability to weigh the costs of each way of getting to work. Someone who chose bicycling could buy up their health insurance or put surplus in an HSA. Someone who got a parking spot further away that was cheaper could put the excess in their 401k. Someone who contracted with the fancy underground garage could pay the difference for that choice.”

Snow with various tracks through it, snow-covered trees and bushes in background

Walking to transit: Most of my walk looked like this: deep snow and picturesque trees

Neighborhood Associations

As the current financing for Minneapolis’ neighborhood associations is ending, the city is proposing changes to the way these groups work in its Neighborhoods 2020 plan.  Anton Schieffer writes Neighborhoods 2020 Should Provide Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency from broader representation, basic transparency like publishing agendas and minutes, and the post offers some thoughts on how neighborhood associations could do important work, “There are many other things that neighborhood orgs could focus on. This winter has been been tough on pedestrians, with plenty of ice on the sidewalks and snow buildup from plows pushed onto street corners. Neighborhood orgs could help lead volunteer efforts to shovel out bus stops and sidewalks, and connect residents who are unable to shovel with neighbors who can help.”

Percentage of Renters Across Minneapolis vs. Neighborhood Org Representation

Over half of Minneapolis rents, yet renters only make up 15 percent of neighborhood boards.


Sam Newberg considers The Importance of Airport-Downtown Rail Connections after trying out Denver’s A Line saying “Direct transit links are not only good for urban quality of life but improve regional competitiveness. They should be a no-brainer. Being able to land in a city and board a train with assurance you’ll be downtown in a fixed amount of time provides peace of mind for residents, tourists and businesspeople alike. A pleasant and even scenic journey bolsters this experience, and makes a powerful first impression that can boost investment.”

Conrad Zbikowski looks at How a Hub-and-Spoke Model Could Improve Metro Rail Transit by applying the airline model to the Twin Cities, “Let’s start by identifying the hubs of the route map. Minneapolis-St. Paul has something most metropolitan areas do not: two downtowns. With the confluence of buses, light rail and commuter rail service in these two areas, it’s clear the two downtowns would make great hubs for our route map. I would add MSP airport as the third hub. With the Metro Transit Blue Line and the future West Seventh street car or light rail converging here, the airport clearly is a hub in the triangle of the Twin Cities.”

Metro Transit Map With Hub Connector Loop

Imagine a loop connecting the hubs and improving trip times. Photo: Metro Transit with annotation by author.

Regular features

National Links: CA High Speed Rail Scaled Back and Stick Built Mid-Rises from Jeff Wood and The Overhead Wire.


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