Complete Streets: A Springtime Slideshow

Upon reading this recent post by Alicia Valenti, I decided to take a walk with my camera around my own neighborhood. Here is a “slide-show” (pun intended) of the proceedings:

On my walk, I was able to talk with some others about their bipedal experiences of the day.

Outside the MPD 3rd Precinct, I spoke with one person who said they were more comfortable walking shin-deep in the adjacent snow than they were willing to risk a fall on the hardpack ice that covered the sidewalk. They then motioned to the Arby’s behind us saying “it is much worse back there”. [I had stopped in to that Arby’s for lunch and, upon leaving, helped an elderly woman who was struggling to push her cart 20 feet from the bus stop to the intersection.]

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Snow in the parking spots leaves vehicles parking in the bike lane, and creates an overall unpleasant experience for all road users. (sorry and thank you to the bus that waited behind me while I was biking as fast and safely as I could)

 

As you may be reading this while sitting on a bus or close to a window, I am positive my experience and these images are not unique to my neighborhood. We had one doozy of a February this year, no doubt about it, but that is nothing new for us in “MinneSNOWda”.
While we usually get our snow spaced out between November and March, given the reports of our ever changing climate, I think it is time we re-evaluate how we react to and plan for the weather which we cannot control. This Minnesota Monthly article from December 2014 cites U of MN climatologist Mark Seeley, saying that our storm sewers are inadequate for the increased rainfall that is being predicted by climate models.

This brings me to another point: Minneapolis is beginning to update their Transportation Action Plan which builds on the policy initiatives that have been approved through Minneapolis2040, and further builds on the previously approved Climate Action Plan (2013), Complete Streets Policy (2016), and Vision Zero (2017). Feel free to comment on this post, but I guarantee you those words will be much more effective when directed to those in charge of planning.

I believe these are all problems that have been created as a side effect to planning exclusively for automobiles, and I believe we are equally able to plan and engineer our way out of it for our collective future.

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21 Responses to Complete Streets: A Springtime Slideshow

  1. Jenny Werness
    Jenny Werness March 14, 2019 at 2:46 pm #

    Extreme precipitation and flooding are becoming increasingly problematic due to climate changes, especially in Minnesota. We need better strategies to handle stormwater/drainage, and fewer impermeable surfaces.

    Your photo essay is an excellent illustration of what will keep happening if we don’t make some large scale changes. Thanks for putting this together.

  2. Andrew Evans March 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m sure quite a few storm drains are covered by ice or blocked. Same goes for the sidewalks having ice and snow on either side of them. Not to mention one of the last few snows we got was slushy and just created a layer of ice. The water has nowhere to go, the ground is still frozen, impermeable surfaces wouldn’t really help this all that much – unless they are a drain.

    I don’t mean to imply that it can’t improve, but that it’s one of the issues we face living here when winter turns to spring.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller March 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm #

      One obvious area for improvement is getting more drains cleared faster. Whether that’s outreach to ask property owners to clear drains near them, or more municipal drain clearing or what.

      • Jenny Werness
        Jenny Werness March 14, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

        Yes, and better drain placing for new construction. Also, crucially, less pavement.

        • Brian March 14, 2019 at 7:10 pm #

          Great, we can remove all the bike lanes to get rid of some pavement.

          • Paul March 14, 2019 at 9:12 pm #

            What’s the advantage of starting with bike lanes?

            • Rosa March 14, 2019 at 10:48 pm #

              it will leave drivers with fewer places to park next winter!

            • Jenny Werness
              Jenny Werness March 15, 2019 at 11:01 am #

              Separated bike paths are great candidates for permeable surfaces, so getting rid of pavement that way is awesome. Like the Capital City Bikeway in St. Paul, which uses a porous asphalt – stormwater can collect on the path and drain through the asphalt. It’s actually even better than conventional pavement, because it quickly dries the path.

              Can’t do that with roads/freeways, though, because cars are too heavy and do too much damage to the material. On-street bike lanes would be good candidates, as long as they were protected (so driver don’t drive or park on them).

              So, yes, let’s start with bike paths.

      • Brad March 14, 2019 at 4:39 pm #

        The focus of Minneapolis’ Adopt a Drain program is on clearing out leaves in the summer & fall, but it could also be used to encourage people to try to keep drains clear during winter/spring melts.

        • Julie Kosbab March 14, 2019 at 7:47 pm #

          I think part of the problem becomes that municipal snow clearance sometimes thwarts us all.

          Not in Minneapolis, but my neighbor and I considered clearing our storm drain. Ended up shrugging, because neither of us had a flame thrower and our city had piled about 3 feet of snow and ice on it.

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller March 15, 2019 at 9:57 am #

            There’s a drain by my bus stop that I keep thinking about clearing, but then I’d have to take my ice pick and stuff over there, or take it to work with me on the bus. Maybe I’ll head home early and try to attack it.

            Meanwhile the intersection is a flooded, icy mess. So is the sidewalk adjacent, as that house holds someone with the “I’ll just shovel a path to my car” attitude.

            • Rosa March 15, 2019 at 11:45 pm #

              I keep thinking we should just leave ice choppers on the corners. Maybe find a way to tie them with long cables to something, so they stay there? Or just make there be enough of them that you can trust they’ll circulate around.

              I think about a shovel & bucket of grit at the bus stop, too. Make it a little easier on that homeowner, some people can shovel while they wait.

        • Rosa March 14, 2019 at 10:49 pm #

          we keep chopping the ice over our drains and plows keep coming back and covering them back up. There’s no amount of words that can “encourage” people who have to do that over and over all winter. Not to mention that to chop the ice off of them you have to stand in the street and risk getting hit by a car.

    • Mike Sonn
      Mike Sonn March 14, 2019 at 3:50 pm #

      This is pretty much the point of the post…

  3. Scott March 14, 2019 at 6:39 pm #

    My neighbors cleared the storm drain at the corner and then City plows came by days later and piled heavy snow right back over the top of it. C’mon, can we keep asking individual property owners to take all this on when it requires a collective, municipal effort? Their little shovels aren’t able to uncover the heavy snow and ice now. And, they’re responsible for clearing both frontages because of living on a corner.

    • Brian March 14, 2019 at 7:12 pm #

      Are willing to pay higher taxes to cover the millions it would cost to have city workers clear storm drains?

      • Julie Kosbab March 14, 2019 at 7:45 pm #

        If all property owners pay in, it’s not a lot per property, and it’s for the common good – a fine use of taxes.

      • Rosa March 14, 2019 at 10:52 pm #

        maybe we could decide to only plow half the streets, let everyone park on the other half, and then commit to clearing half the sidewalks and half the drains? Then people can decide if they want to pony up for snow and water management (hell, maybe then the commuters who just come through town and don’t pay any of our property taxes can chip in, too?)

    • Rosa March 14, 2019 at 10:50 pm #

      it’s not just city plows, I’m pretty sure the one that re-covered the manhole cover by our alley opening yesterday was a private plow going through the alley to get to someone’s driveway.

  4. Andrew Evans March 15, 2019 at 11:32 am #

    How would a bike path work with a more permeable service when the ground is frozen, there is ice, and snow banks on either or one side of the path?

    If storm drains, with I’m guessing larger grates/openings, are constantly clogged, how would we expect these bike lanes to stay open?

    • Rosa March 15, 2019 at 11:46 pm #

      the storm drains aren’t randomly clogged, snow is plowed ONTO them repeatedly. A permeable path might not work until we get a real thaw (like today) but snow would be plowed OFF of them instead of onto them.

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