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There's no way that we can possibly cover everything happening around bicycling, walking, and transportation in the Twin Cities region. That's why we started a blog network: a one-stop shop to get read all of the bicycling and walking blogs in the area. If you'd like to add your blog to this network, send an email to tlc@tlcminnesota.org. 

Dero Dream Bike Room Pinterest Contest ends April 1, 2014

Dero Bike Racks - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 1:27pm
One lucky person will win a Dream Bike Room for their workplace or residential building – up to $7,500 in Dero products and $1,000 to decorate and furnish the space. Dero is proud to announce its first Pinterest contest. Registrants … Continue reading →

Is the Strib Trolling the Bike vs. Car Fight?

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 02/24/2014 - 10:48am
[Steve Brandt submitting his piece on bike safety.]One of the nice things about blogging is being your own editor. You don't have to submit story ideas. You don't have to make unwanted revisions. And you can frame your piece exactly how you like, no editors slapping cheesy or cloying headlines on your copy. Sometimes headlines can steer a conversation in the wrong direction, or change the tone of a piece in ways you don't appreciate.

The Star Tribune had a great article this weekend by veteran reporter Steve Brandt, all about street safety in South Minneapolis. Brandt's piece focused on 28th and Lake Streets, and how they have been the site of a disproportionate number of bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. This is something I wrote about after the city bike crash report came out, and I'm  reminded about it each time there's another "accident".


Unlike most pieces on bike crashes, Brandt's piece is good reporting because it goes into some of the history of how the streets were designed in the first place. Hennepin County reconstructed Lake Street back in the late-2000s at great time and expense. And as Brandt points out, there was an opportunity to complete a 4-3 conversion that would have calmed traffic, improved pedestrian safety and left turns, and added bike lanes to the whole stretch of the avenue. A year ago I had a conversation with a woman who works with one of the Lake Street business councils, and she told me point blank that Hennepin County screwed up. She believed that today's 4-lane design made it more difficult for local businesses to succeed because drivers were less likely to stop and walk around the neighborhoods. As a pedestrian and cyclist, I agree with her.

Is the Online Frame Shark Chum?

I first read Brandt's piece over a cup of coffee at Mickey's Diner, thumbing through the diner's well-read early Sunday edition. I was impressed, but then I started reading links to it from my Facebook feed. A few people online thought that the article was being "anti-bike" because it seemed question why bicyclists would be riding on Lake Street when the Midtown Greenway was only a block away.

Was the Star Tribune fanning the "bikes v. cars" flame war?

The print edition: "Lake, 28th Crash Magnets: The Minneapolis streets stand out for bike accidents, and they run parallel to the Midtown Greenway dedicated bike route."



The online edition: Midtown Greenway draws bikers; parallel streets draw crashes: The Minneapolis streets stand out for bike accidents, and they run parallel to the Midtown Greenway dedicated bike route."


It's subtle, but the headlines focus on different issues. The print edition asks about two dangerous streets, while the online edition focuses on the Greenway for some reason. The latter headline seems more accusatory. "Why are you on the street, if there's a bike-only route nearby?" it seems to ask. "Are bicyclists partly to blame for these accidents?"

There are a few bicycling issues worth mentioning here. One is the (supposed) "safety in numbers" effect.  Anytime you build a high-quality bike route in an area, you're going to be bringing more bicyclists into that area. And, as Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition head Ethan Fawley says in the piece, most of the trip destinations are on Lake Street. The Greenway and the surrounding streets have completely different functions, and bicyclists should be safe on both.

But the real question is about media framing. There are a few reasons why the print and online stories might be different. There is a bit more space on the internet, where the large fonts of the print edition demands a punchy banner. The audiences are a bit different, too. I'd imagine that the online audience was far larger, and that the print audience was older and had higher income levels.

Frankly I'm not sure. Maybe it's nothing. The headline difference might be a random fluctuation. But if the Strib is framing pieces on street safety to encourage a bike/car flamewar, then it's a real shame.

Reading the Highland Villager #101

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 3:44pm
[The Villager shivers.][Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]




Headline: City tees up new era at Como and Phalen courses; Hopes to save money by leasing operations to private contractor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone other than the city is going to run two of the four city-owned golf courses now in the hopes of turning a profit. [I know, CRAZY!]


Headline: Hardware just got harder to come by; Seven Corners store gives way to mixed-use project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The best hardware store in the Twin Cities is closing because it's too close to valuable land in the downtown.



Headline: St. Paul lays out ambitious bikeway plan; Proposal would put routes no more than a half mile apart in city
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Years after it was supposed to complete it,] Saint Paul released its draft "bikeways plan." [What's a bikeway? About 20 pounds.] It has lots of bike lanes and bike boulevards and sharrows and a "downtown loop" and a "grand round." Article claims that marking Highland Parkway with sharrows and signs is "potentially controversial." Costs are unclear.



Headline: St. Paul streetcar plan gets mixed reviews; Despite the high cost, opinion is pretty evenly divided over feasibility of new transit network ["Despite" or "because of"? The Highland Villager frames issues so strangely!]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city completed a streetcar feasibility study which is unclear about costs, downtown routing, and timeline. It chooses 7th and Rice/Robert as the "starter lines."  Article includes postive quotes Best quote is from a east side business owner who says "I see buses drive by and I've never seen a full one." [Well then, case closed!] Article also cites Lexington and W 7th as "the intersection of death." [Therefore we shouldn't spend money on transit and sidewalks!] Article includes quote from [impolitic gadfly] Bill Hosko: "Anyone needing mass transit is already well served." [Article does not state in his fantastic fantasy world and on which planet this is true.]


Headline: Despite cold, ash borers not going away any time soon
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Bugs are still eating nice trees.


Headline: Council appoints 10 members to city's planning commission
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People got appointed, two new ones.

Headline: Hearing set on new median at Marshall Ave. and Wilder St.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city wants to install a median on Marshall to make it easier to cross the street but it might affect U-turns so people are worried.

Headline: Rezoning sought as part of Midway Chev redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A group wants to build an affordable housing building but needs to sell a tiny part of the land next to a parking lot to a neighboring single-family property and it thus needs to be re-zoned from TN to R. [If you have to ask...]

Headline: Goodwill's plans for former Whitaker Buick site reviewed
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Goodwill wants to build a two-story store at an old car dealership site on University by Hamline. It needs a variance for a large parking lot.


Headline: Light-rail line launched June 14 [Note the past tense.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Finally.]


Headline: Metro Green Line by the numbers
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Stats about the LRT. Best one is: "Projeted ridership is more than 40,000 boardings each weekday by 2030." [They'll break that number by 2020, if not sooner.]


Headline: Land Bank purchase boosts effort to rescue historic Victoria Theater
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People got some money to restore an old theater on University Avenue. It might become an arts center. [Very cool building, this.]


Headline: Federation purchases eight more West End properties to revitalize
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The West 7th neighborhood group is still buying old houses to fix up.


Headline: City OKs permit, variances for Waters of Highland plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Plans for a new old folks home passed the city council.


Headline: City seeks a redesign of intersection of West 7th Street and Shepard Road; The aim is to steer more traffic onto Shepard Road
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Public Works has a proposal to redesign the intersection of Highway 5 as it goes into Saint Paul, and wants to route more of the traffic onto Shepard Road instead of West 7th Street. [This is a great idea. West 7th South of 35E is a dangerous unwalkable disaster.]



Headline: SPA to expand its upper school with new performing arts center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An expensive private high school is building a new building.





Signs of the Times #85

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 02/05/2014 - 5:18pm

Full BarNext WeekWe're GonnaDo it BIG
[Door. Uptown, Minneapolis.]

NOTICEIF YOU DON'T LIVE HERESTAY OFF THIS PROPERTYUNWANTED PERSONSWILL BE ARRESTEDFOR TRESSPASSING
[Fence door. South Minneapolis.]

THIS AREA UNDER 24 HR VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
[Garage. North Saint Paul.]

 DO NOTBLOCK my shineDRIVEWAY
[Shrubbery. Location forgotten.]


COLD?Buy a BOOK!You'll still be coldbut you'll have a BOOK!
[Duluth?]


 MOTHERWEBB
[Steps. West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]
WAITINGfor the bus inBangkok Thai Deliis PROHIBITED!
[Door. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]

You WILL beBanned from the BarIf you Lock or Park Your Bike Here.
[and]
Do NOT ParkOR Lock yourBike HERE!
[Fence. Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis.]

Reading the Highland Villager #100

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 02/04/2014 - 12:39pm
[Yay!][Can you believe it? 100 Villagers! Oh how the time flies. I feel like its only yesterday that I picked up my first Villager and began to type. Maybe that's because I often get deja lu when reading the Villager?]



Headline: Parks Commission OKs leasing Como, Phalen golf courses to private operator
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two of the city owned golf courses have been losing money and will be run by a private company now. The City Council vote was close. [...for some reason.] Article includes quote from attorney, "this is about privatizing our city assets. Instead we need to demand better management from the city." [I agree with her sort of. I don't like privatizing city assets! But this is really about golf's waning popularity, and the City Council not wanting to make the tough choice of closing the course for good.]


Headline: Snelling-Selby traffic safety concerns draw a crowd; Solutions are offered, but the elephant in room is Ayd Mill Road
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a community group meeting [ostensibly] about the new Snelby Whole Foods development, [that was really about Ayd Mill Road]. People challenged the traffic study [that claimed that the new store wouldn't generate much traffic]. Article lists many different traffic engineering solutions [except getting rid of the road altogether].  Most interesting idea: "a 'walk-in' where motorists get ticketed for failing to yield to pedestrians." [I was at this meeting. We filled O'Gara's.]


Headline: Consensus on Ayd Mill Road proves to be elusive [Hell, people can't even agree on how to pronounce it!]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Piece on the Ayd Mill Road task force goings on in a neighborhood group, advocating for a connection on the North end. Article includes ADT counts for different intersections [but not for Ayd Mill road itself, for some reason]. Quote from neighborhood group director, "we seem to be really stuck here." Article includes [long] history of previous Ayd Mill Road task forces and studies. [Stay tuned to this one, folks.]


Headline: Master plan for Victoria Park nears completion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The plan for a new park by the bluff by West 7th Street is almost done. Article includes "concerns about soccer."


Headline: Western Avenue reconstruction finally coming to fruition; Stretch from University to Selby avenues to get upgrades, bicycle route
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: From University to almost Selby, Western Avenue will get a bike lane. They're adding an extended bumpout at the strange Marshall Avenue corner, too. [Western is one of the best / only north-south routes in the city, folks!]


Headline: Montreal to get major makeover from Snelling-St. Paul aves
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The western part of Montreal Avenue will soon have bike lanes and / or sharrows [in the low-traffic part of the street].


Headline: Ramsey Hill residents weigh expense of retaining their brick-paved streets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There are two block with old paver bricks on it, but they need to be re-done. It'll cost about $1M, and the [wealthy] residents of the two streets are deciding whether to pay for it. There are debates. [Holy crap, that's expensive.]


Headline: Highland to lose more ash trees in battle against borer
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bug is eating old trees, again. 200 more of them, in fact. People were hoping that the winter would kill the bugs, but it seems a bit doubtful.


Headline: Power of milk; New life awaits the Old Home building that still stands as a symbol of MN's dairy industry
Author: Lisa Heinrich

Short short version: The old milk factory on Western and University is becoming a mixed-used development. Article offers long history of the building and a few cool old photos. Best detail: the art deco building facade features a bas-relief sculpture of a "young girl and boy, whom the company's advertising christened Mistress Polly Plump and Master Henry Husky." [Yay!]


Headline: Committee favors variances, permit for Waters of Highland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A funeral home is going to be replaced with an old folks home on Snelling Avenue. [From a literal vitality standpoint, I guess that's progress!]


Headline: Federation opposes plans for combined Caribou-Bruegger's
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a coffee shop / bagel place where the abandoned Dairy Queen is on West 7th Street, but nobody likes the idea because it includes a drive-thru. [I've heard that they developer is going ahead anyway, trying to re-use the old building as-is instead of going ahead without the drive-thru. Because if you can't have a bagel without getting out of your car, you shouldn't be having a bagel in the first place.]


Headline: Hearing set on next phase of making Marshall Ave. greener
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A meeting will happen about traffic calming and medians on Marshall Avenue by Cleveland Avenue. [A friend of mine hates these Marshall medians because they narrow the street too much for bicyclists in the winter.]


Headline: Variance sought from city's student housing ordinance
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A homeowner is trying to establish a new student housing residence despite being too close to another student housing residence. [I hate this ordinance.]


Headline: Open house set on plans for Snelling Bus Rapid Transit line
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A meeting will happen about potential [yet unfunded] bus improvements on Snelling.


Headline: City Council allows new Summit Hill carriage house on appeal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A property owner will be allowed to convert their carriage house into an apartment after all. [This is exactly the kind of thing we should be doing all over our city.] They will have to build a parking space somewhere.


Headline: St. Thomas to break ground on new engineering building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a new building on the UST campus instead of a parking lot.
[There goes the neighborhood.]

Dero ZAP 2013 Year in Review

Dero Bike Racks - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 4:10pm
Looking back at 2013, it was a great year for Dero ZAP. We’ve come so far since 2009. We’re proud that our system has made it possible for universities, cities, and schools to track and incentivize bicycling around the country … Continue reading →

Twin City Neon #8

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 01/22/2014 - 5:26pm
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]

[Northeast, Minneapolis.]

[Northeast, Minneapolis.]

[South Minneapolis.]

[Highland, Saint Paul.]

[Lake Street?]

[Two Harbors.]

[Downtown, Duluth.]

[Downtown, Duluth.]

Reading the Highland Villager Op-Ed Extra #5

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 01/16/2014 - 11:48am
The Vintage: Paving the way to Ayd Mill Park

by Mike Madden

Neighborhoods First appreciates the attention that the Vintage/Whole Foods Market project has brought to the congested traffic conditions at the intersection of Selby and Snelling avenues and the unfinished business of Ayd Mill Road. yet, of the six potions that have been considered for reconstructing or replacing Ayd Mill Road, it is the linear park that best complements The Vintage and delivers the greatest benefit to the people of St. Paul.

With the adoption of the Central corridor Development Strategy in 2007, it seemed the city of St. Paul had turned a corner in understanding the relationship between transportation and land use and the need to reduce reliance on the automobile as a strategy for growth and environmental protection. The transportation infrastruucture supporting The Vintage, nominally a transit-oriented development, is almost entirely automobile-oriented, with the proposed $50 million extension of Ayd Mill Road as Exhibit A.

The St. Paul Department of Public Works has also recommended converting a portion of the Selby Avenue sidewalk to a right-turn lane and extending the left-turn lane on southbound Snelling Avenue north to Dayton Avenue. This is the sort of 1950s transportation planning that hollowed out our cities. It beckons automobiles and discourages walking, biking, and transit use.

At one-fifth the cost, replacing Ayd Mill Road with a linear park would deliver the same relief from traffic congestion on Selby as would connecting Ayd Mill Road to I-94. The linear park also provides green space and reduces emissions.

There are several transit plans on the table that would complement The Vintage. Snelling Avenue bus rapid transit is one. The Central Corridor EIS also envisioned new bus routes on Fairview and Hamline avenues. Together with a Route 21 that no longer detours to Midway Center, these transit improvements would move us closer to a transit grid.

A Canadian Pacific Rail alingment of commuter rail thorugh Merriam Park is a project found in the region's 2020 Transitway Plan. It would connect the Red Rock and North Star commuter rail lines, and with its proposed station at Snelling and Marshall, it would be of obvious benefit to The Vintage and to the people of St. Paul

Neighborhoods First commends Ryan Companies and Whole Foods for providing ample and protected bicycle parking, but once again we see that a good redevelopment project is not being supported with the proper infrastructure. Snelling Avenue is not bikeable, and Selby is not much better.

The extension of the Midtown Greenway bike trail is widely recognized as the most important piece of bicycle infrastructure yet to be built in St. Paul. It would run along the northern edge of the Snelling-Selby development. The city of St. Paul's past efforts to negotiate with CP Rail for biek trail right-of-way have been thwarted; however, with the help of the federal givernment, this project could be realized.

A four-lane extension of Ayd Mill Road to the I-94 frontage roads would do more harm than good. It would take land from Concordia Universituy and displace several businesses, costing St. Paul jobs and tax revenue and offering little if any opportunity for redevelopment. It would result in measuable increases in traffic on St. Clair, Grand and Marshall avenues, and a 130 percent increase in traffic on the residential portion of Concordia Avenue. It would remove the Pascal Street bridge over I-94, and among the alternatives for Ayd Mill Roa,d it would result in the highest level of emissions.

Neighborhoods First recognizes that the linear park would result in traffic increases on Lexington Parkway. That is regrettable. But as we debate the best use for the Ayd Mill Road corridor, let's understand the pros and cons of every alterantive and bear in mind that we can't build our way out of congestion.

Mike Madden, a resident of Merriam Park, is a co-founder of the local advocacy group Neighborhoods First.

Reading the Highland Villager #99

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 01/15/2014 - 8:13pm
[A Villager lurks.][Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]



Headline: Union Park council pushes for solution to congestion at Ayd Mill Road's north end; Local residents hope to avoid a traffic nightmare with the opening of Vintage on Selby [TRAFFIC NIGHTMARE!!!!!!!!... I have those sometimes.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There'll be a new development on the corner of Snelby, with a Whole Foods in it. Ayd Mill Road (AMR) is still there too, with traffic that just pours onto Selby Avenue. [Note: AMR is a road for people going to and from the suburbs to get to Minneapolis a bit faster.] There are going to be meetings about this situation.  Article includes the "F" LOS grades [without any context, or explanation of what this means]. Article states that the traffic studies are "paid for by the developers of the Vintage." [Q: Is that even true? Didn't the city do these studies?] Article states that "local residents are dubious" about the traffic generation claims. The local neighborhood group is requesting $350K in city money to study a solution to the traffic pattern on AMR [though apparently closing the freeway altogether (like this) isn't on the table]. The neighborhood group sees these problems are interconnected [which is certainly true]. There will be meetings. CM Thune is quoted as saying that "you can't have one district council making the decisions." [...which is true.] Article cites long long history of AMR studies, quotes Public Works engineer saying "it could take a decade to complete the traffic studies, get the financing lined up, and reconstruct the road." [What I've heard is that Public Works wants a 4-lane connection to the freeway, the Mayor and some City Council members are on the record (from a few years ago) as supporting a 2-lane "parkway" version, and there are two competing neighborhood groups, some of which are calling for a linear park, and one of which just seems to piss everyone off. Don't quote me on any of this...] CM Thao is quoted as simply saying "A decision on AMR is going to require broad community support." [Amen.]


Headline: Ford to save facade of plant's original showroom; Developer will be invited to incorporate facade in memorial to Ford plant's 85-year history in St. Paul
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Ford plan closed, but they kept the most beautiful part of the [huge] facility. An architectural historian wanted to save the whole showroom, but that didn't happen. Nobody knows who is going to develop the site, but people hope they will use the saved facade. Article includes some details about the history and architecture, and a quote from a Ford spokesperson about the "decision." Article includes photos. Debris is being removed. There will be environmental cleanup, but nobody knows how much. Two men were arrested for stealing metal from the site.


Headline: 7th Street favored for city's first streetcar line; But construction and operating costs threaten to derail St. Paul's dream of a streetcar network [A bit presumptuous here...]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city completed a $250K "streetcar feasibility study" and recommends West and East 7th Streets as its first line. The proposed line is 4.1 miles and runs from Randolph to Arcade. There will be public hearings. [Joe Soucheray is beside himself.] Article includes the rough cost estimates. Article includes quotes from a few skeptical planning commissioners. Article includes some details about the plan's process, and comments about the other potential lines. Article includes a map of the proposed network. [Wow, the Villager only captures the skeptical comments from the discussion. Streetcars are controversial, but it seems like one-sided reporting, IMO.]


Headline: Employment on the line; Study finds job connections lacking on University
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [They reused the photo of me riding in a pedicab for this piece! My right knee is famous again!] The county completed a study about economic development and job availability along University recently. Not enough is being done to cultivate jobs along the LRT line, which is one of the key ideas to providing good transit access for people (so the y don't need a car). Article quotes one county commissioner saying that "more needs to be done to entice employers." Said commissioner talks a lot about call centers. [Ugh. I temped at one of those once. Horrible work.]  The study recommends putting more "job resource information" along the line, and to "locate more job centers in the central cities." [Downtown!]


Headline: Proposal for the Vintage ripens; Commission OKs site plan for Snelling-Selby development ["Ripens"? That's kind of a loaded verb... Maybe the Villager is ripening, too?]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The site plan for the Vintage on Snelby [see above] was approved. Article includes a lot of detail about the development. The project will be complete in 2016. Article includes  information about the size of the parking lots (265 underground spaces, and 150 surface spaces). ARticle includes detail about the truck loading dock [which involves a complicated dance with planters and the bank parking lot]. Article includes discussion of the bumpout. [Public Works wanted to remove the ped bumpout and add a turn lane, but that was stripped out in the Zoning Committee vote. Thankfully...] 


Headline: County holds the line on tax levy; Biennial budget forecasts no property tax increases in either 2014 or 2015
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Your county taxes probably won't go up.


Headline: Commission backs rezoning for The Waters of Highland; Council vote, permit still needed for four-story senior building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new assisted living building was approved for Snelling Avenue. there was a debate about whether the building was "mixed use," and it was decided that it wasn't.


Headline: St. Paul to begin single-sort pickup, other recycling changes in 2014
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You can just put all your recycling in one bin now.


Headline: RAS receives entertainment license, but with conditions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A lounge on West 7th Street can have music and dancing, but only if they have video cameras.


Headline: Federation awarded $100,000 grant for brewery renovation
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The neighborhood group got money for the Schmidt brewery project.



*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 01/03/2014 - 11:27am
Sidewalk Rating: On the Up and Up"All along the narrow cluttered streets of the river flats this spring, you'll see vacant houses. That robins egg blue house with the red and yellow window sashes-- you can pick it out from the street car window as you cross the Washington avenue bridge-- is empty now. The windows that used to look so gay with their flower plants stare at you lonesomely as you pass. Empty, too, is the snug little brown house with the wide porch and green window sashes, down where the waters edge used to be. So is the gray cabin with the sky-blue door that S. Chatwood Burton, the artist from the university, used for his studio. The salmon pink house with the green window sashes is not going to get a new coat of paint this year. There's a for sale sign on the quaint dark little grocery store, and a spirit of moving is in the air." -Minneapolis Tribune march 1924 quoted in "The Bohemian Flats"

["Rosie's Christmas Window" on West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]



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Dero Releases New Bike Racks to Solve Common Bike Parking Complaints

Dero Bike Racks - Thu, 01/02/2014 - 10:15am
The U-Lockit Rack replaces the dreaded “wheel bender,” and  the Switchback Rack saves sidewalk space Minneapolis, MN – Say good-bye to old-style “wheel bender” racks that people hate to use and say hello to Dero’s new U-Lockit Rack – a small, modular, affordable … Continue reading →

The Top 23 Twin City Sidewalks Posts of 2013

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 12/31/2013 - 12:00pm
A personal list of highlights from the following calendar year, presented in chronological order, include the following.

November 2013 set a new all-time monthly record for Twin City Sidewalks readership, with a confluence of popular stories that surpassed even my Kottke moment. It's a record not likely to be broken anytime soon...

[see last year's list: The 19 Best Twin City Sidewalks Posts of 2012 here.]




1. On Windchimes

An ode to windchimes, and how they make you feel when listened to late in the night or through a window, especially in winter, especially in the dark, but other times too. After I wrote this, someone left a windchime under my porch staircase. (No lie! Thanks Mom.)


2. All I Really Needed to Know about Dinkytown, I Learned at Al's Breakfast

The Dinkytown density debate was one of the top stories of 2013, and this was a commentary on the situation (the change of which, in retrospect, seems to be only accelerating into 2014). That said, I'm obsessed with Al's Breakfast, not because of their food (which is good), but because of the social and spatial dynamics of the place. This was an attempt to use Al's as a metaphor for urban spaces in general. Probably not the last time I'll try to use Al's Breakfast as a Minneapolis synechdoche.


3. Using Psychobabble to Justify Anti-Bicycle Rage is Dangerous

A diatribe reaction to one of those Malcolm Gladwell-esque pseudoscience columns (this one from the BBC, called "neurohacks") that attempted to defend anti-bike road rage (good example of this here). Article includes history of jaywalking, vented spleen.


4. If Cars Are the New Tobacco...

This is the trend piece to watch in coming years. Cars are just as bad for individual and public health as smoking used to be, and have some of the same structural and economic social defense mechanisms. Here's an attempt to make that connection more explicit. Maybe someday we'll have non-car sections of our cities, and people will feel silently guilty for driving because they realize they're ruining the health of those around them...


5. In Defense of the Pedal Pub

The title speaks for itself. Sometimes one has to jump on the grenade and take one for the team. In spite of everything, I like the pedal pub, albeit in an admittedly condescending way.


6. Notes from the Empire Builder II

The train makes me want to write. Gamers, graffiti, long list of objects seen from windows... My ride to and from Boston last Spring was eventful, and feels like only yesterday.


7. Rough Sketch of a Solution to Downtown Saint Paul's Parking Problem

An attempt at wonkery, this time in reaction to the parking barking in Lowertown following a few development proposals. Four easy steps to a Shoupian solution... The neat thing is that Saint Paul policymakers almost kidna tried to implement this 'parking benefit district'-style plan in the Snelby area, but failed to adequately follow through with the details or incentives.


8. Sidewalk of the Week: 27th Avenue South

One of the my two favorite SOTW features from the past year. Confronting the abyss. A mysterious part of the city indeed!


9. Details Uncovered from 1906 Minneapolis

Someone tweeted this amazing photo this year, taken from the top of the newly completed City Hall in 1906. Sometimes you can get lost in a single photograph, and I did.


10. Minneapolis/St Paul Taprooms As If They Were Characters from a High School Movie

Fun followup to the Streets.mn taproom bike tour last Spring. It's always fun to anthropomorphize beer.


11. Four Suggested Skyway Improvements

Fun with photoshop, displaying some mad skillz here. I still want to follow through with Improvement #3, guerrilla style. Any artists out there?


12. Palmer's PROTIPS for Wall Street Journal Readers

Um, the WSJ recommending Palmer's has to be one of the best moments from last year. Many of my ideas come from my highly snide friends, and this is no exception.


13. TCS Interviews Avidor on the Block E Free Speech Mall

In retrospect, this will be the one that got away. Imagine what coulda been! Avidor is great, and here's another piece of evidence that proves it.


14. The Best and Worst Saint Paul Intersection Neologisms

Sometimes you're stuck in a three-hour long meeting with MNDOT where they pretend to care about (slash fund) pedestrian and bicycle safety programs. What else are you going to do but jot down all possible combinations of Saint Paul street names?


15. Sidewalk of the Week: Lauderdale

This is my favorite SOTW column from last year. Lauderdale is a special place.


16. Nine Thoughts You Have While Doing a Bike/Walk Traffic Count in a Vacant Lot for Two Hours

This is the single post that took the most out of me. I was depressed for days after writing this down. But it's probably my favorite post of the year.

Incidentally, a follow-up to this situation: I never actually submitted my traffic count results for some reason. (Nobody told me how or when?) Instead, in a panic, I emailed them to the city bike/ped guy just as the report was being collated, at the very last minute.


17. Minneapolis Voters Reject Disturbing Hair Trend

I'm starting to get more interested in making graphs and charts. This is one of the best so far... Side note: I'm really sorry for what happened to Mark Andrew at the mall!


18. Together We Can Re-Name Lake Calhoun

I am serious about this, people! 121 votes so far. Voting is still open for the re-Calhouning of Minneapolis for another 22 days.


19. Four Things Everyone Should Know About Block E

This is probably the best post I wrote all year, in terms of research, original content, and writing quality. It also was very timely! This was the #4 most popular post of the year.


20. Seven Reasons Conservatives Should Embrace Bikes

Actually, following even more discussions with my conservative cousins over the holiday season, I may have to write a few more like this very popular post (went viral) on bikes and libertarian values. This was the #1 most widely read post of the year.


21. The Gentrification Paradox

A follow-up to a conference on art and gentrification I attended in October. Turned out to be very popular with a national audience (#2 most read post of 2013), which came as a complete surprise. I intended to write a few more posts on the same topic. Here's hoping!


22. Q: Why Don't Bikers Stop at Stop Signs?

This just came out of trying to answer a question that I am routinely asked. It turned out to be the #2 post of the year. Maybe I'll try to answer a few more questions about bicycling... Does anyone have any? The more blunt and honest, the better. (E.g. Why are bicyclists so smug? Do bicyclists realize that they literally stink? Etc.)


23. The Last Holidazzle

I dunno. I have a soft spot in my heart for the snowman + C.D. Friedrich image. It's so sad and beautiful.

[Despite everything, still shoveling sidewalks...]

Ode to the Metrodome

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 12/30/2013 - 12:06pm
Think for a moment about the parallels between the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome and the Space Shuttle.

Both are white.
Both are made of technologically impressive materials.
Both are creatures of late-70s liberal values.
Both represent a technocratic achievement of the highest magnitude.
Both are designed to be flexible and re-usable.
Both feature advanced hydraulic systems (e.g. pitcher's mound, satellite bay arm) and a pressurized artificial atmosphere.
Both offer awkward views of beautiful things (baseball, Earth).
Both have seen moments of triumph and moments of complete failure.
Both forcefully eject you when you open the door (which is far less pleasant in space, mind you).

And in the 21st century, both are unsexy and obsolete, abandoned by the societies around them. Both have been mothballed and/or destroyed. Both have seen their egalitarian pragmatism phased out, replaced by elite speculative fancy (luxury boxes, space tourism).

It is fitting that the last day of the Metrodome be a remorseless gray winter one. It's not that I love the building, or find myself fond of it. The dome represents both good and horrible aspects of our particular strain of Minnesotan modernism. On the one hand, you have practical efficiency, a culture of sharing (for post-industrial capitalism, anyway) with all seats being equal, except for those that aren't, but even they aren't all that great...



I've lots of fond memories. I grew up going to baseball games. I remember being at the '85 All Star Game. I remember chanting during Game One of the '87 ALCS, when the Twins scored four on Doyle Alexander, the Tiger's ace. I was with my sister  in the left field nose bleeds during Game Seven of the '91 series (best Series ever) when soon to be non-Hall of Famer Jack Morris was famously stubborn. In that era, we used to sit just over the general admission line in left field, moving closer at some point during the 5th or 6th inning. Sometimes, my brother and I would circumnavigate the dome like Magellan, going up to the top of the upper deck and gradually walking all the way around the half-empty place.

Later during the 2000s, I camped myself in Section 212 for five-dollars-a-game to see Johan Santana's filthy change-up. I remember watching Torii hunter slam himself into the outfield wall trying to rob another dinger in the 8th inning of a blowout against the A-Rod era Rangers. Tee sound of his body reverberated through the clunky outfield. For a while I had a friend who had a friend who worked for the Twins, and he'd get us tickets to Royals games behind home plate, sitting with the players wives. (According to him, Mientkeiwicz's wife was the hottest one...) I was there are the Knoblauch hot dog game, I saw Matt Garza's debut, and Corky Miller's only at bat. I've also been to one Vikings game (the '08 playoff loss against the Eagles), a few Gopher football games (including one in a luxury box provided by the U). There's a appealing simplicity to the building that seems out of place in the 21st century. The Metrodome is DOS prompt internet, a glamourless world of disembodiment that requires a charitable imagination. We're not to see its like again.

On the other hand, I'm still not fond of the place.  Andy Sturdevant recently called the Metrodome "sterile, in the non pejorative sense," but I wish to embrace the pejorative. The building embodies the Minnesotan fascination with escape and artifice. Like the skyways and the 'dale malls, the Metrodome is a statement of self-loathing, an abdication of our environment. We will replace the sky and make it average! We will create ourselves a grey and tasteless San Diego. I loathe this strain of the Minneapolis psyche.

[Alien crash site on top. "Take me to your leeeder" on bottom.]




At this moment, it's tempting to declare the death of the Dome to be the beginning of the end of Minnesotan techno-modernism. It'd be nice to watch the building demolished, preferably by monster trucks (Sunday! Sunday! Sunnn-dayyyy!) and think, no more will we attempt to escape ourselves, replace our world and its sometimes extreme diversity with false techno-babble fantasy.

The problem is that its replacement will be no improvement. If the Metrodome is a space shuttle of egalitarian self-delusion, the new stadium is an otherworldy post-modern intrusion. The new stadium resembles nothing if not an alien spaceship crashing into a distant planet with half-hostile intentions. It will be equally atmospherically false, only far better guarded. It will have advanced technology, and harbor a race with strange hierarchical codes that our people will not understand. I fear it will sit like un-exploded ordinance for generations, making me miss the days of the vast white marshmallow techno-bubble surrounded by faded asphalt.



Welder Needed – [update: position has been filled]

Dero Bike Racks - Mon, 12/16/2013 - 1:29pm
The welder position has been filled.

Dallas Doubling Light Rail Transit

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:14am

From Barb Thoman, Program Consultant.

Dallas is on pace to double its 45 mile light rail system to 90 miles by 2013. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART, the agency that plans and operates that region’s rail and bus system, is currently building three new light rail lines. The Green Line is the longest at 28 miles running northwest to southeast and includes a stop at the Baylor University Medical Center. It has an estimated cost of $1.8 billion and an expected completion date of December 2010.

The DART web site identifies $7 billion in current, planned and projected transit-oriented development along its rail system. DART also operates an 84-mile network of HOV lanes and 34 miles of commuter rail. DART provided 117 million transit rides in 2008 (compared to 95 million in the Twin Cities). DART is funded with a one cent regional sales tax, fares, and federal funding.

For additional information on DART, visit the DART website.

Tell Google Maps Which Car-Free Areas to Capture

Transit for Livable Communities - Tue, 10/20/2009 - 9:39am
by Art Allen, Online Communications Coordinator

Ever get frustrated that you can't see the Midtown Greenway on Google Street View? Or how about Nicollet Mall? Google Maps is correcting this. They are sending out their awesome Google Street View Trike to capture car-free spots:

There are only a handful of pedestrian- and bicycle-only areas covered by Google Street View so far. But that will change soon, and you can help influence what areas are captured.

Tell us where to ride!

The Street View trike has already collected some imagery, but now we're accepting your suggestions for where to send it next in the United States. Send us your most inspired suggestions for the places you really want to see featured in Street View.

So go! Promote your favorite car free spots! Submissions are due by October 28th... and then the voting starts!

In the meantime, you can still plan your walking trips with Google Maps and it will take you along the Midtown Greenway. But don't ask it to give you directions on the Kenilworth Trail, unless you want to walk to Georgia. Or you can plan your bike trips with the more complete Cyclopath

Request for Qualifications: Nice Ride (Minneapolis Bike Share Program) Market Feasibility

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 10/15/2009 - 11:03am

From Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Director

Transit for Livable Communities is issuing this Request for Qualifications to obtain professional services assistance to research, assess, and summarize the financial and programmatic feasibility of Nice Ride.

The scope of work shall include the development of a 5- to 10-page report that includes, at a minimum, the following:

1. An assessment of the soundness of the business plan

Review the business plan to determine if the assumptions and business plan are sound. Review the cash flow analysis and assess if the necessary elements have been appropriately taken into consideration.

2. An assessment of whether the projected subscriptions rates and proposed locations are justifiable in light of local pedestrian activity levels.

Considering the overall mode share mix in the service area, proposed bike share kiosk locations, existing infrastructure, and cultural attitudes, assess whether subscription rate/price and usage assumptions are reasonable.

Key indicators of success for bike sharing are pedestrian activity, high density and mixed-use. The report should assess the correlation between these indicators and bike share demand, and determine how the Minneapolis service district compares to the service district in other cities. This analysis should address key differences between U.S. and European cities -- especially volume of transit trips, automobile ownership, bicycle ownership, cultural attitudes to walk longer distances.

3. An assessment of what level of mode shift is probable and possible.

Mode shift is difficult to measure, since it is dependent on generalized survey data, and difficult to extrapolate to other cities due to differences in infrastructure and culture. The report should assess projected mode shift possible for Nice Ride and compare it to relevant data from other cities.

4. Recommendations that would enhance the Nice Ride Program.

In addition to an assessment of the soundness of the business plan, we are seeking general recommendations regarding strategies to improve the sustainability of the business model and maximize usage of the bike share system. Areas of particular importance: proposed pricing, strategies to limit losses due to theft and vandalism, and kiosk locations.

To read more about this RFQ, please visit the career page on the TLC website or download the RFQ here (PDF).

A Note from the Interim Executive Director

Transit for Livable Communities - Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:57pm

From Jan Lysen, Interim Executive Director

Jan Lysen here. I just wanted to give you a little update about what has been going on since I've been Interim Executive Director at Transit for Livable Communities. Looking forward, the search is being completed for a permanent replacement for Lea Schuster. Lea moved to Washington, D.C. in August and recently started as the Field Director for Transportation for America (also known as T4A).  Good to have a friend like Lea in D.C.!

Since August, I have had the pleasure of working with fabulous TLC staff who are making lots of good things happen in concert with our partners and members. Our advocacy and organizing team hosted a member team kick off meeting in August and are working with members in the east and west metro areas on topics ranging from the Southwest LRT corridor to Complete Streets to planning for the 2010 Governor’s race. Our Bike Walk team advanced an award to the Sibley Bike Depot for a bike lending library and is planning for awareness campaigns for 2010. Our membership and fundraising manager concluded a successful spring member appeal and is gearing up for our end of the year appeal to our donor base. And our Business Manager guided us successfully through our audit and is heading into the 2010 budget. One of my best experiences was opening the letter from McKnight Foundation awarding TLC a two year grant. Having served previously as a TLC Board Member, this has been an invaluable experience to see TLC’s work from the other side of the table.

TLC is on track to select its new Executive Director by early November. Until then, please feel free to call or write! I can be reached at 651-767-0298, ext. 106 or janl@tlcminnesota.org.

Free Tickets for the Northstar Commuter Rail Grand Opening

Transit for Livable Communities - Fri, 10/02/2009 - 4:57pm

From Michelle Dibblee, Senior Organizer

Metro Transit is giving away more than 1500 free tickets to ride the Northstar Commuter Rail on November 14th! Register online for up to 4 tickets per household for a roundtrip ride from one of the suburban stations. Entries must be received by 5pm on Friday, October 9th. Provide your contact information, the number of tickets requested and your preferred station location.

On November 14th, every station will host a special event for the grand opening, including a program, transit information, and family-friendly activities. Transit for Livable Communities will join the festivities at each station. We’re looking for transit supporters to help spread the word about TLC and invite others to join our efforts to bring more and better transit to the metro area! Email Michelle to be part of the fun!

For more information, visit the Northstar Commuter Rail website.

Check Out an Upcoming Open House for the Bottineau Transitway!

Transit for Livable Communities - Fri, 10/02/2009 - 4:29pm

From Owen Duckworth, Organizer.

The Bottineau Transitway is a proposed transit corridor which will be either a light rail line or bus rapid transit and would run through the Northwest suburbs and North Minneapolis into downtown. Much is yet to be decided about this corridor, so this is a chance for community members to find out more and have their voices heard going forward.

If you are interested in learning more about Bottineau Transitway, asking any questions, or voicing your concerns, please attend one or more of the open houses!

Each open house will begin at 6:00pm, with presentations by project managers and consultants beginning at 6:30pm, followed by a question and answer period. For more information about the Bottineau Transitway, visit www.bottransit.org.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Owen (651-767-0298 ext. 130 or owend@tlcminnesota.org).

Bottineau Transitway Open Houses:

Tuesday, October 6, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Harrison Neighborhood Association Community Room
503 Irving Avenue N, Minneapolis. (map)

Wednesday, October 7, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Brooklyn Park City Hall
5200 85th Avenue N, Brooklyn Park. (map)

Thursday, October 8, 6:00 pm 8:00 pm
North Regional Library
1315 Lowry Avenue N, Minneapolis. (map)