complete streets / road diets

The 1.2 mile blue line of cultural and financial destruction

The 1.2 mile blue line of cultural and financial destruction

One bad decision can haunt a municipality for decades.

This 1.2 mile blue line represents one of the biggest urban planning blunders in Mankato history. In fact, it probably represents upwards of a $1 billion in extra cost to the City of Mankato and taxpayers over its short 20 year existence. The line is the shortest route that connects Mankato’s Madison East Mall (built late 1960s) to the newer River Hills Mall (built early 1990s).

Instead of expanding the existing mall and using existing infrastructure in the (still) vacant land surrounding the Madison East Mall, the decision was made to sprawl out the town an extra 1.2 miles. How much financially better off would the town be if it didn’t build the additional roadways, exit ramps, water and sewerage pipes and electric lines?
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The scale of a neighborhood

The idea of a neighborhood is a malleable concept.  Everyone has a different perception of their own neighborhood's extent, and the extent can change depending on context. It can vary from the very small, such as merely counting houses immediately adjacent to your own, to quite large—perhaps miles in size.

Back in my early childhood, my sense of my own neighborhood was toward the extremely small end.  I didn't think of it extending much more than a few houses away, though an exception was the nearby park, which my mother got a decent view of from her kitchen window.  Put another way, the extent of my neighborhood was about the maximum distance at which my brother and I could hear my parents calling us home for supper in the evenings. Read more >

2011 Bicycling and Walking Counts

A random pedestrian on the Lake / Marshall Bridge

From Amber Collett at Bike Walk Twin Cities

More Twin Cities residents than ever are getting around by bike or on foot. Bicycling in the Twin Cities has increased by 52 percent since 2007, and walking by 18 percent. Twin Cities bicycling, in particular, experienced a sharp year-over-year increase - up 22 percent from 2010 to 2011.

The new data comes from an official count of bicyclists and pedestrians passing 42 designated locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul on weekdays in September 2011, and comparing this data with identical counts conducted each September since 2007. The counts were conducted by volunteers, who were trained based on a federal protocol.
 
Thank you, volunteers! We could not do this you without you.   Read more >

The turning lane to nowhere

What happens when the engineers designing our rural highways simply apply standards without bothering to consider the context of the space? Sadly, a more pertinent question would be the opposite: what would happen if they did bother to look outside of their right-of-way?

The following video was shot in Northern Minnesota about four miles outside of Grand Rapids. The mindless waste of money it so clearly depicts is endemic in a transportaion funding system that is rewarded for moving cars, not creating valuable places.

Next time someone talks to you about a society that is living beyond its means, be reminded of this.

Video compliments of SID.tv -- See It Differently television -- coming in 2012 from Strong Towns.

2011 – a big year for bikes with more to come in 2012

Bryant Avenue bicycle boulevard.

by Amber Collett, Bike Walk Twin Cities

It’s no secret that folks like to bike in the Twin Cities. Every year the cycling community grows –and I’m sure this year will be no exception (stay tuned for the 2011 Count Report release scheduled for Dec. 16th!) With supportive city leadership, committed advocacy organizations, and a set of dedicated funds made available through the nonmotorized transportation pilot program (called Bike Walk Twin Cities), Minneapolis has earned it’s spot as the number one city for bicycling in the nation

As I look back on the year, I can’t help but focus on the huge stride forward our city made in building out our cycling infrastructure. More than 75 miles of on-street bike lanes have been added to our network since the start of the Bike Walk Twin Cities program–this is great news!

Here is a little bit more about some of the most innovative projects that hit the pavement this year: Read more >

Streets.mn Podcast #3: Campuses, subsidies, W 7th Street with Nate Hood & Alex Bauman

State Street in downtown Madison. Img via Flickr.

Podcast #3 is complete. Access it here!

Nate Hood, Alex Bauman and I sat down yesterday evening at the Aster Café, a lovely place along the Mississippi River just across from Downtown Minneapolis. You can find Nate’s writing on his blog, Thoughts on the Urban Environment, and Alex’s writing is at Getting Around Minneapolis.

Nate, Alex, and I had three things on our agenda this week, and tried not to stray around too much. We chatted about campus design comparing the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Second, we discussed the role of government subsidies in cities, looking at a recent public private development in Mankato, and finally, we talked about the pros and cons of “greenway” style pedestrianized residential streets, thinking about the current greenway project in North Minneapolis. The conversation went a little bit long, so feel free to turn it off at any time by using the stop button on your audio device.

Enjoy! Read more >

Greenways vs. The Grid: Is Mpls' Greenways plan a good move?

A rendering of the greenway plan, via TC Greenways.

(written by Reuben Collins)

One of the more interesting aspects of the recently completed Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan is the inclusion of a long-term vision to convert some local roadways to Greenways. The master plan map lays out a network of future Greenways (most facilities we're currently referring to as Bike Boulevards are envisioned to transition to Greenways over time. Read more >

Really Narrow Streets: A Missing Element in Twin Cities Urban Design

Even the narrowest of Twin Cities streets are pretty wide. With few exceptions, streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul tend to range in width from 30 to 60 feet, curb to curb. Including sidewalks and boulevards, the width stretches to a ballpark range of 40 to 70 feet. Streets get even wider when you move into the "stroad" territory of suburban and semi-rural commercial strips. An average neighborhood street in Minneapolis may not seem wide in the context of an average American city, but compared to the "really narrow streets" of traditional cities in Europe and Asia they are gigantic: 

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