Reviews of Minnesota Streets I Have Never Been On: Woodland Circle

There is a street in Minnesota, just as surely as there has ever been a street in Idaho, or British Columbia, or Fiji. It’s a street that some person, at some point, is all but certain to have walked on, traveling away from one moment and approaching another. This person, by process of elimination, is not and has never been me…because the street I’m talking about is Woodland Circle, and you can find it curving around the edge of town in Long Prairie, Minnesota, and I have never—not once—been on this street.

In this article I would like to tell you what it’s like to be on Woodland Circle. 

I suppose at least seeing a picture of Woodland Circle would be a good place to start, but I have never seen such a picture. The second option would be to speak with someone who does have a picture of Woodland Circle, something some people might at minimum expect me to have done, but I have not done that either. The people I know who have pictures, have pictures of other things.

A shame. I’ll bet Woodland Circle would really shine for all it’s worth in a snapshot at dawn.

Most people aren’t aware that serious street critics like myself have come up with a standard for assessing street quality known as the Dawn Standard. To use the Dawn Standard, you find the street that needs reviewing, and you walk along it at dawn. You notice the rising golden light and then you reflect on how many other living things on the planet this light connects you to, how many of them are alive because of this light, and then you make note of what your camaraderie with these lifeforms makes you want to do with the rest of your day. However many living beings flash or swim or flap or fly or hop or wave across your mind is the number that represents how good the street is.

The Dawn Standard all but ensures that no street will ever score a higher score than a marsh or a prairie or a river. But a good street-user who’s ready to ugly cry at a sunrise can usefully evaluate the likes of Woodland Circle. Please don’t misunderstand: by talking about this assessment strategy, I don’t want to make it sound like I have been on Woodland Circle at dawn or at any other time; that is not something that has ever happened.

As I sit here writing this, wondering when was the last time Woodland Circle was paved, when for all I know it could also be a gravel road, and I can’t help but reflect on the enduring memories I could have made on Woodland Circle simply by doing a thing I’ve never done before: being on Woodland Circle.

11 thoughts on “Reviews of Minnesota Streets I Have Never Been On: Woodland Circle

  1. Jenny WernessJenny WernessModerator  

    I love the Dawn Standard, but as a non-“serious street critic” I may modify it to a Dusk Standard (so I don’t have to get up so early). Thanks for writing!

  2. Nate Anderson

    I feel like I must be missing some relevant context, but this was a joy to read nonetheless.

  3. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    This is beautiful. I love it! The more I think about it, the more I’ve never not gone to Woodland Circle. I can’t wait to never be there again.

    1. Kyle Constalie Post author

      Fascinating! When I picture you going to Woodland Circle, it is an image of nothing. It seems like it just hasn’t happened. The amount of time we spend not on Woodland Circle is unique to everyone.

  4. Joe

    Gearing up for the annual April Fools tradition, eh?

    (Just to be clear, I really like this article, whatever it is)

  5. John Dillery

    I would like to read the curbside bus lane story but I just can’t open it. Too bad. Frustrating!

    1. Monte Castleman

      Are you referring to the last one linked to on the national links page?

      Basically the problem is that private cars can still use them legally in certain circumstances (right turns, short drop-offs, accessing curbside parking), and commonly do illegally in others (not-so-short drop-offs or even just using the lane as a through lane)

      A common problem is with only one general through lane you need to allow private vehicles to use the bus lanes to make right hand turns so a motorist turning at say 26th that needs to wait through most of the cycle for pedestrians to clear doesn’t block the through lane and cause general traffic to back up all the way to Washington Ave. But instead of blocking the general lane for most of the green cycle, this right turning motorist is now blocking the bus lane for most of the green cycle instead.

      There’s of course ways to deal with this (not really covered in the article but they’re out there), like providing right turn lanes AND bus lanes if space is available, banning right turns, or exclusive pedestrian phases, but these all come with their own drawbacks.

      1. John Dillery

        Thank you. I finally managed to open the link and read the article. We at Metro Transit are well aware of the limitations of right lanes for right turns and buses! You are probably familiar with Hennepin Ave between Lake St and Franklin Ave. The lanes in place there surely help in the peak hours, yet there are many commercial driveways in most of the blocks that must introduce right turns for entering them, and these slow down the buses often, but overall, the bus & right turn lanes are better than nothing.

        My utopian design would place the bus lanes in the median with minimal width (8-foot) stop islands. On a street like Hennepin, we would have to allow left turns from the transit lane. I see evidence that it is easier to restrict left turns than right turns, so I believe such a design would be better for transit operations. Hennepin is narrower than University Ave which fit the Green Line in the median with separate left turn lanes, but Hennepin hasn’t the space to give every traffic need exclusive space and some sharing is inevitable. Yes, this layout would be more like the streetcar lines were designed here. Where would the extra general traffic go? This is a big issue that would emerge with a single lane per direction Hennepin Ave. I imagine that it would be easier to redirect much of the traffic if the interchange ramps between Hennepin and I-94 would be closed. Keep up the creative thinking! It is where the solutions come from.

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