Our mission is to help transform Twin Cities streets into community spaces that invite people of all ages, cultures and abilities to walk, bicycle, socialize and play.

Open space as wasted space?

This is open space?

This is “open space”- between the rear of the Super Target and the parking lot for the pancake house. It has a bike path that connects virtually no one to no where. It’s convenient if you want to bike from the Original Pancake House, behind the Target, down a quarter of a mile of big box loading docks, past the Chucky Cheese to the Office Max. Read more >

Pedestrian crossing - Shibuya, Tokyo

"Barnes Dance" pedestrian crossing in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Via Pedestre >

The Essence of Sustainability

What is left after you’ve peeled off the eco-groovy labels and unwrapped the post-consumer recycled-content packaging? Will the product underneath stand the test of time? Will the business you run survive the next recession? In a word, are they resilient? Read more >

Arterial Transitways Public Meetings

A system someday

Metro Transit is holding three public meetings in October to discuss/present/solicit comment on their study of concepts for Arterial Transitways. Read more >

Nicollet-Central streetcar to begin alternatives analysis in January

View Nicollet–Central streetcar in a larger map. Red lines indicate existing and planned light-rail lines, while blue lines represent planned streetcar routes.

The proposed Nicollet–Central streetcar line in Minneapolis is moving forward and is expected to enter an alternatives analysis (AA) phase a few months from now in January 2012. Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council took action to begin looking for a consulting company to do the analysis, which is the first phase of study needed to receive federal funding. The route will combine parts of Metro Transit's busy 10 and 18 bus routes into a single fixed-rail service. The buses already carry a combined 18,000 passengers daily, and the 18 passes through the city's densest neighborhood (Stevens Square–Loring Heights).

The AA is one of the first phases necessary to receive federal funding, and generally precedes an environmental review -- an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS). Hopefully the environmental review will go quickly since the planned route is entirely on existing city streets and mostly follows historic streetcar routes. The AA should begin in January 2012 and run through mid-2013.

The route being studied runs about 9 miles from the I-35W/46th Street Station in South Minneapolis up to the Columbia Heights Transit Center, mostly following Nicollet Avenue and Central Avenue along the way (with a brief segment on Hennepin Ave and 1st Ave NE). It's not yet clear what the cost for the entire route would be, but a previous study indicates that a short starter route, such as running the 2.4 miles from Franklin Avenue north to University Avenue and 4th Street SE, would cost around $110 million. If federal funding falls through, the city may be able to build that part of the route on its own by making use of local funding sources such as increased parking fees downtown and special taxing districts.

This article also appears on my main blog, Hi / Zeph / 400

Sustainability Alive in Deadwood, North Dakota

Deadwood, South Dakota, is the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, and has more buried residents than unburied ones, yet it is unearthing new ways to breathe life into its sustainability efforts. Deadwood was founded in 1870 (illegally) to host the onslaught of gold miners that flocked to work in the thriving Homestake Mine of Lead, SD, located a few miles away. Deadwood was intentionally formed to “mine” the miners through gambling, liquor sales and prostitution; today the town focuses on mining tourists (through much the same tactics). Read more >

Re-realizing 1st Ring Suburbs

I pose the thought that, maybe, just maybe, first-ring suburbs aren’t actually as bad as we urbanists frequently make them out to be.


1st ring suburbs can be hard to define. They’re a little bit city. They’re a little bit suburb. Here’s my teaser line:

I pose the thought that, maybe, just maybe, first-ring suburbs aren’t actually as bad as we urbanists frequently make them out to be.

On one hand, these places are comprised nearly exclusively of single-family detached homes that typically epitomize “sprawl”. Yet, they can be walkable, transit-connected and have interesting smaller homes, spaced closely together and near desirable neighborhoods within City limits. Read more >

Bike Lanes: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly


Minneapolis is certainly moving full speed ahead in its support for cycling. NiceRide is expanding its stations; the city is considering hiring a full-time cycling & pedestrian coordinator; bike lanes are freshly restriped in bright green (at least in Dinkytown, anyway); and last year Minneapolis surpassed Portland as the nation’s #1 biking city. As an urban enthusiast, ardent supporter of Minneapolis’ pro-cycling efforts, and downtown resident, I should be excited to be biking every day in my city. But I’m not! I walk, or drive, for all my trips. But I don’t bike.
Why, you ask?
I am afraid of being hit by cars, that’s why!
Despite all the efforts to increase awareness of bikers, and despite all the prominent restriping of bike lanes, the fact is that cars can still quite easily strike, injure, and kill cyclists. I have no intention of being one of them (the injured cyclists, that is).

I found myself ruminating on this on a recent trip to Paris. In that city--and in Montreal, as well (apparently Francophones really like bikes)--most of the bike lanes are grade-separated. There is a large curb, about 8 inches high and 18 inches wide, marked with regular 3 foot tall posts, that separates the car lanes from the bike lanes (look at a Google StreetView of Rue Cherrier, Montreal for a good example). This configuration is marvelous for promoting biking. Bikers can freely move down the road, confident that cars will not casually destroy their undercarriages by sweeping into the bike lane.

The effect was particularly pronounced when I looked at two portions of the same street in Montreal. On one side, the bike lane was grade-separated. On the other, it was not. On the grade-separated side, a fair number of bikers were happily cruising down their lane. On the non-grade-separated side, not a single biker was present. This was probably because a large number of cars had parked in the bike lane. This included, frustratingly, a cop car. Even the cops park in the bike lanes!

The only way to truly get cars to respect bikes is to make it impossible, or at least sufficiently damage-inducing, to cross into bike lanes. The Netherlands has taken this truly to heart, and even has bike-specific traffic lights for its bike lanes. Ridership in that country is astonishingly high.

Grade-separated bike lanes also prevent cars from using the shoulder to quickly make right turns, another harrowing event for cyclists. Right hooks, as they’re called, have an insidious way of making bikers’ lives unpleasant. If the configuration of the road prevents this, the road becomes safer for everyone.

Minneapolis is on a decent path, but there’s a ways to go. If--and hopefully when--the city finally understands the bikers deserve a protected lane, I’ll be happy to join in the fray.

  Read more >

Minneapolis Joy Ride

On Sunday, October 2nd, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is hosting a "Joy Ride" celebrating the #1 Bicycling City in America while looking to the future of bike amenities in Minneapolis. The ride is free, open to all, and moderately paced with activities and fun events at stops along one of two routes. There is a roughly 17 mile route and a second, shorter family route of just under 10 miles, so bring your family, friends, and neighbors and join them as they highlight what makes riding a bike such a great experience in Minneapolis!

Date: Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Location: Gold Medal Park 1000 2nd Street South Minneapolis,MN

For more information, please see: http://mplsbike.org/content/minneapolis-joy-ride Read more >