Community NewsCommunity News

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. 

One Station Down, Two to Go!

Transit for Livable Communities - Fri, 08/28/2009 - 8:45am

From Michelle Dibblee, Senior Organizer

Yesterday afternoon, the City of St. Paul agreed to fund one of the three missing stations on the Central Corridor light rail line. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Council members Russ Stark and Melvin Carter III will find $5.5 million in city resources to build one of the three stations at Hamline, Victoria, or Western. In exchange, the Metropolitan Council will spend $8 million to purchase a segment of land in downtown St. Paul which would allow trains to make an easier turn (the city had originally offered to make the purchase). Further agreement on the part of the Metropolitan Council would make the second station the first priority of contingency funds available to St. Paul.

In September 2008, the Transit for Livable Communities board voted to support the addition of the three stations. Transit for Livable Communities’ staff and members have participated in efforts to draw public attention to the need for these stations to serve the communities along the line.

Transit for Livable Communities exists to make real a compelling vision of a region with access to transit, biking, and walking. In the twelve years since our founding, volunteers, board members, staff, and allies have worked hard to make progress in this area. Along the way, we’ve participated in the tough choices that are made when we invest significant public resources in our communities. When we do weigh in, it’s always with an awareness of the opportunity that a successful regional transit system will bring: access to jobs and school, concentrated economic development, reduced congestion, less pollution and reliance on oil, etc.

So why did an organization with a regional vision weigh in on the stops?

Transit for Livable Communities weighed in because a regional transit system must also serve the local community. With the stops, this community, like others along this and future rail lines, will experience greater access for community-based trips as well as work commutes. A light rail train that bypasses large concentrations of local businesses and transit-dependent people on University Avenue compounds the negative impacts of previous decisions, like the one to build I-94 through the Rondo neighborhood. We can’t undo the consequences of decisions made in previous generations. But as we build a regional transit system in the 21st century, we can ensure that our new investments strengthen communities and increase access for all.

Action Opportunities: Southwest Light Rail

Transit for Livable Communities - Fri, 08/21/2009 - 12:54pm

From Michelle Dibblee, Senior Organizer

It’s decision time for the Southwest Light Rail project between Eden Prairie and Minneapolis – the region’s likely third light rail project. Elected officials will recommend one of four proposed routes this fall. The recommended route will have to meet criteria for the federal New Starts program that is expected to fund 50% of the capital costs.

Transit for Livable Communities and our allies will be hosting a community meeting on Wednesday, September 9th, from 6:30-8:30. Learn about Southwest LRT, proposed routes with cost and ridership information, discuss with your neighbors, and ask questions of Hennepin County staff. Location not determined yet; register here and we’ll let you know.

You can weigh in at the public hearing scheduled for September 17th or in writing. All four routes run between Eden Prairie and downtown Minneapolis, with two variations on the suburban route between Eden Prairie and Hopkins, and two variations on the Minneapolis route from the station at Calhoun Commons to downtown. The success of light rail transit depends on many factors: good ridership, a strong bus system, compact development concentrated around stations, connections to employment/housing, and safe bike and pedestrian access to the system. TLC supports light rail along the SW corridor, as well as all these supporting components. We do not have a position on a preferred route.

If you’re talking with elected officials, you might want to find out more about the factors listed above – or ask some of the questions that have come up in our discussions about the possible routes:

  • Optimizing development at Van White and Royalston stations will depend upon relocation of the Minneapolis impound lot. What will be the city’s plans to find an alternate location?
  • On the south Minneapolis alignment, in order for the LRT to make the 90 degree turn from the Midtown Greenway into a tunnel, pedestrians and cyclists would have to be routed up to street level and back down. What process will be used to address this significant change?
  • How important is the Mitchell Road station at Highway 5? Could the region save money for other regional transit needs by expanding the current parking structure at SW Station and ending the line there?

Ridership and Cost Information from Hennepin County for each route:

1A (Eden Prairie west and Kenilworth)
CEI: $24-26
Capital cost: $850-950 million
Operating cost (per year): $18-20 million
Daily ridership: 24,000-26,000
Reverse commute: 5500-6500

3A (Golden Triangle and Kenilworth)
CEI: $28-31
Capital cost: $1.1-1.25 billion
Operating cost (per year): $23-25 million
Daily ridership: 28,000-30,000
Reverse commute: 7500-8500

3C (Golden Triangle and Nicollet)
CEI: $39-44
Capital cost: $1.5-1.7 billion
Operating cost (per year): $27-29 million
Daily ridership: 24,000-26,000
Reverse commute: 7500-8500

3C1 (Golden Triangle and Nicollet loop to join Hiawatha line)
CEI: $44-48 Capital cost: $1.6-1.8 billion
Operating cost (per year): $27-29 million
Daily ridership: 28,000-30,000
Reverse commute: 7500-8500

TLC Welcomes New Organizer: Owen Duckworth

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 08/20/2009 - 2:24pm

From Owen Duckworth, Organizer

The Transit for Livable Communities organizing team has doubled in size as of August 3, 2009, with the addition of a second organizer.

Originally hailing from the great city of Milwaukee, WI, I came to the Twin Cities in 2002 to attend school at Macalester College, where I graduated with a degree in political science in 2006. From there I worked a variety of campaign and organizing jobs, including work on the Vote Yes Campaign for the Minnesota Transportation Amendment in 2006, which was my introduction to some of the Transit for Livable Communities staff and the work that they do. More recently, I worked with Sierra Club on their Power 2 Change campaign in spring of 2008, and as a conservation/political organizer with them during the summer and fall Election season and into early 2009.

I have a great passion for organizing and working with volunteers and members and I am extremely interested in the possibilities of expanding transportation choices in the Twin Cities region and greater Minnesota. Given my experience with Sierra Club and its membership, I look forward to helping Transit for Livable Communities increase their grassroots capabilities by expanding their base of members and helping to develop even more leadership within the existing member base.

In my free time, I enjoy producing music, especially hip-hop and r&b/soul. I am also an avid collector of music new and old, with vinyl being my preferred format of listening. I’m also a sports fan, having grown up playing soccer, tennis, and basketball, and despite some years of residency in Minnesota, my football loyalties still lie with my beloved Green Bay Packers.

Congressman Oberstar Presents a Good Transportation Vision in Minnesota

Transit for Livable Communities - Wed, 08/19/2009 - 11:36am

From Dave Van Hattum, Advocacy and Policy Program Director

Congressman Jim Oberstar, Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, visited the Twin Cities and stressed the importance of getting a transformative federal transportation bill done this year!

Congressman Oberstar pointed out that the federal stimulus has done its job to get many transportation industry people back to work, and that we simply can’t wait 18 months to provide the vision and funding for a new multi-modal transportation system.

While Congressman Oberstar has a promise from Speaker Pelosi to get his bill to the House floor in late September, and has bipartisan support in the House, getting to the finish line soon will be very challenging given both President Obama and Senate leadership’s sense of appropriate timing for this bill.

For numerous transportation reform and transit/bicycle/pedestrian advocates in the audience, Congressman Oberstar’s bill and presentation shows important progress (for a quick summary, click here). Expediting the time line for completion of New Starts rail projects, providing substantially more funding for transit by putting it on a level playing field with highways, and creating an Office of Livability to move innovations such as Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, and new transit oriented development design are critical changes that simply can’t wait.

At a state Capitol press conference, Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate Transportation Chairs Rep. Bernie Lieder and Sen. Steve Murphy, respectively, complimented Congressman Oberstar’s past efforts and stressed the urgency of completing a federal transportation bill. Transit for Livable Communities is part of the national Transportation for America campaign and is co-convening a Twin Cities table (Transportation 4 Minnesota) to provide input on the federal transportation bill. For more information on Transportation 4 Minnesota, e-mail Christine.Goepfert@t4america.org.

As discussions of a new federal transportation bill move forward, it is important for transit and bike/walk supporters to contact their congress people. One opportunity to weigh in on the federal bill is ISAIAH's People's Hearing for Transportation Equity: 

6:30 - 8:30 pm
Monday, August 31, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Mount Olivet Baptist Church, St. Paul

Minnesota Town Featured in National Report on Transit Cuts

Transit for Livable Communities - Wed, 08/19/2009 - 9:16am

From Katie Eukel, Communications Manager

Marshall is a beautiful community in the far southwestern corner of Minnesota. Renowned for its outdoor recreation opportunities, Marshall is a wonderful place to settle down, raise a family, and retire comfortably.

Marshall also used to be a relatively easy place to get around. That is, until the price of a monthly bus pass skyrocketed from $25 to $80 per month. The reason? Western Community Action, the nonprofit that operates the Community Transit program serving the City of Marshall and Lyon, Redwood and Jackson counties, receives much of its funding from state sales taxes on motor vehicles—and in Minnesota as in other places, car sales have been falling fast (passes were also funded in part by a Department of Human Services grant, which recently ended.)

“Transportation services are not a luxury for people living in rural areas – they are a necessity," says Jeanette Porter, Transit Director with Western Community Action. "When transit providers are forced to shift so much of the financial burden onto our passengers, or agencies helping their clients, it creates a devastating cycle that is already beginning to take effect. Services are meaningless if people can’t access them and when people can’t afford to get to social events, medical appointments or jobs, their quality of life is compromised. Often people must move to a larger area where more options are available. This not only affects those who depend on public transportation, but the economic and social vitality of their communities, as well.”

A new report released yesterday by Transportation for America and the Transportation Equity Network shows that service cuts and fare increases in Minnesota’s public transportation systems are part of a national epidemic, making it harder for families as well as some our most vulnerable citizens to get to work and access essential services.

In 2009, the Minneapolis/St. Paul area faced the 5th highest fare increase in the country, with bus fares going up 25 cents over the past 10 months. Governor Pawlenty also unalloted over $1.7 million from Metro Transit’s budget on Friday. Although this won’t immediately result in service cuts or fare increases, it further demonstrates the lack of a long-term funding plan to maintain, let alone grow, the bus system.

“There is absolutely no excuse to cut transit service or raise fares,” said Sarah Mullins, a member of ISAIAH.  “The success of our region depends on a transit system that works for all of its residents, ensuring that all can access opportunity and participate fully in our communities. Our state agencies have developed a long-term transit plan, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we dedicate the long-term operating funds needed to make it happen.”

“With the majority of transit systems across the country facing drastic service cuts and fare increases, in addition to the passage of another infusion into the broke Highway Trust Fund, it is clear that the current funding mechanisms will not meet future needs,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “Congress needs to support legislation to allow for greater flexibility in transportation spending for operating assistance, in addition to a serious overhaul of our current funding mechanism and a renewed vision for our transportation system.”

The upcoming transportation authorization is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the safe, clean and smart transportation system necessary to move America forward. Congress is considering legislation that cuts the red tape preventing local transit agencies from spending already existing public transportation funds on maintaining service and keeping fares affordable. Americans simply cannot afford to wait any longer for changes to our national transportation system that will save and create jobs and help us tackle long term economic, energy, climate and health challenges.

Are Bicyclists and Pedestrians a Special Interest Group?

Transit for Livable Communities - Tue, 08/18/2009 - 4:13pm

From Steve Clark, Bicycling and Walking Program Director

In a recent report to Congress, Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn lambasted current transportation policies that promote “extraneous transportation spending” for things like bike lanes and walkways.

I heard this same sentiment expressed by a high ranking official in Minneapolis several years ago who jokingly said, “We know how to deal with you special interest groups…”

Even bicyclists will occasionally refer to themselves as a special interest, and most accept the premise that first and foremost streets are for moving cars, so we can’t expect all streets to safely accommodate non-motorists.

I say it’s time to challenge this mindset and restore the original paradigm of the public right of way.

Say what?

You know, the public right of way. The concept of streets as places for people to move, gather, and exchange goods and services goes back long before the car. Today it seems we simply accept that our public-right-of-ways have become “private-fright -of -ways.” Private? Yes, because the automobile is not universally accessible. There are vast numbers of people (children, disabled, elderly, low-income, those with intellectual disabilities, etc.) who cannot use a car.

Unfortunately, as our streets became dominated by private cars, the public right of way –a “commons,” if you will--has become unrecognizable in all but a few places.

Getting back to the concept of the ‘special interest’:

If you think about it, the bicycle, (including all of its variants, like the adult tricycle) is actually more accessible than any other form of transportation.

  • Those who cannot walk can use pedal power.
  • The bicycle is theoretically the most sustainable form of transportation (3 times more efficient than walking and four times faster); bikes can even be made out of bamboo!
  • The bicycle provides youth with their first real taste of freedom; as my grandmother discovered, there comes a time when a car becomes impossible to handle in a responsible way and the bike awaits you.

Walking, of course, as the most benign form of transportation (meaning it’s really hard to kill somebody when you run into them on foot), will always be at the top of the pyramid. In my opinion, only people moving at a pedestrian speed should have any true inalienable rights in a public right of way, (the other modes should be viewed as guests with privileges that our laws provide). To call pedestrians a special interest group is to call people a special interest group.

The reality is this: Even here in the United States, the automobile is only available and operable for a minority of the population. Now that’s a special interest!

And if this special interest group was as prevalent in all other nations on this planet as it is in this country, it would require the resources of six more planet earths!

So, sorry to all who think so, but I will not accept the premise that walking and bicycling are frivolous activities. As far as transportation goes, they are the beginning and the end.

Transportation Choices Will Save Billions within Ten Years

Transit for Livable Communities - Mon, 08/17/2009 - 3:46pm

From Dave Van Hattum, Policy and Advocacy Program Manager

Reducing travel by expanding transit options, along with cleaner cars and cleaner fuels, is considered one of the three legs of the stool of reducing transportation’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent report shows that a range of travel reduction strategies can both expand transportation options and provide net savings to consumers. Moving Cooler, completed by Cambridge Systematics, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Public Transit Association (APTA), and the Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDC), found that the climate friendly transportation system of the future is not only a good investment for our environment, but a good investment for taxpayers’ pocketbooks and for the national economy.

The authors found that by 2018 a package of strategies--including expanded public transit, ridesharing and bicycling options, transit-supportive land use, and various road pricing and emission pricing schemes--will save U.S. consumers approximately $80 billion per year. These savings exceed all capital, operations, maintenance, and administrative cost to implement the travel reduction strategies.

So, what stands in the way of making these important investments today? First, the willingness to invest today for a productive and sustainable future. Second, the view that transportation has to be driven by nearly market-wide private ownership of cars.

Public transportation--along with supportive community development and land use planning--can get us all to our important day-to-day destinations. And this approach, unlike the status quo, will allow us to meet critical greenhouse gas emission reductions – i.e. “moving cooler.” Not insignificantly, this approach also increases our opportunity to know our fellow citizens, to build community, and to move in healthier modes.

You can see a summary of the report at http://movingcooler.info/

Be Your Own Engine Lawn Signs/Posters Available!

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 08/06/2009 - 10:27am

We know that TLC members love bicycling and walking (and transit!). We also know that ya'll have some serious bike/walk pride...so we're giving you an opportunity to showcase it.

Help Us Help You
Part of shaping a long-term vision for a new transportation system involves talking to people. Your neighbors. Your barista. Your dog.

That's why our Bike Walk Twin Cities initiative is spearheading the Be Your Own Engine campaign. To spark imaginations, and to help our friends and neighbors envision new ways to get around town.

Hit the Streets...or Your Front Lawn
Here are two ways to help:

  1. Put Up Some Posters. We need volunteers to distribute posters throughout neighborhoods in Minneapolis and its surrounding communities. We figure that you know your neighborhood better than we ever could, so we need your help in asking local business owners, recreation centers, schools, places of worship, and other neighborhood hotspots to put up a poster. Interested? Contact Katie at KatieE@tlcminnesota.org, and let her know the neighborhood where you'd like to put up posters.
  2. Pick Up a Lawn Sign. TLC members are awesome. Many have volunteered their homes as pick-up locations for lawn signs; check out the list of places to pick up a lawn sign at the bottom of this email. This hopefully makes it easier for you to walk, bike, or take transit to pick up a lawn sign for your own home. Contact ArtA@tlcminnesota.org to find out the distribution center nearest you.

This is also a great opportunity to talk to your neighbors about bicycling and walking. Why do you care about it? Why is it important to have better bicycling and walking opportunities in our communities? You can also share your story about bicycling and walking on our website, and help other TLC members learn why you care about more transportation options in our region.

Thank you so much. Your efforts to make the Twin Cities area an even better place to bike and walk are very much appreciated!

Say Hello to Jan Lysen, Interim Executive Director

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 08/06/2009 - 9:40am

From Lea Schuster, Executive Director

As I finish my final month here at Transit for Livable Communities, I am so pleased to be able to introduce you to the extremely talented individual who will be serving as Transit for Livable Communities’ Interim Executive Director. Jan Lysen has served on the Transit for Livable Communities Board of Directors for the last year, taking leadership as the Board’s Treasurer early in her tenure. Jan joined the board as she transitioned from a 23-year career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which culminated in her service as the Vice President of Network Management. In this position, she supervised a 130-person division responsible for provider contract and relationship management. Jan has also served as board member and Treasurer of the Minnesota Institute of Public Health and the Twin Cities Academy Charter School.

In addition to her extensive management experience, Jan will bring a passion and commitment to building livable communities with great transportation options. She is currently completing her Masters of Public Administration at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota where she has been studying transportation, land use, and development. She previously earned her MBA at the University of St. Thomas, and her BA in Latin American Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Jan and the rest of the Transit for Livable Communities staff will implement the directives of the Transit for Livable Communities board while the search for a permanent Executive Director proceeds. The new Executive Director is expected to begin work around the beginning of November.

I am excited to be able to leave Transit for Livable Communities’ management in such capable hands – Jan is also a lot of fun to get to know, so I hope you will have a chance to do so in the next few months. Jan can be reached at 651.767.0298 ext 106, or at janl@tlcminnesota.org.

Calling All Bikers and Walkers!

Transit for Livable Communities - Tue, 07/28/2009 - 11:31am
From Katie Eukel, Communications Manager

We need your help.

Our Bike Walk Twin Cities initiative is launching the Be Your Own Engine campaign this summer, and we have hundreds of lawn signs and posters to move out of our office and into the community!

We have three ways to help.
  1. Volunteer to Distribute Posters/Lawn Signs. We want these lawn signs and posters to appear at busy intersections and local business in Minneapolis and neighboring communities. To do that, we’ll need your help! Let us know if you’d like to help us get the word out, and we’ll follow up with you.
  2. Serve as a Lawn Sign Distribution Center. If you’re willing to distribute lawn signs or posters from your house or apartment, that’s fantastic! We’ll deliver the signs to your place (or you can pick them up at our offices), and you can work with us in getting people to pick one up. You can either leave them on your front lawn for people to grab, or you can have people come to your door.
  3. Pick up a Lawn Sign. Just want a lawn sign in your yard? Wonderful! Stop by and pick one up from the Transit for Livable Communities offices at 626 Selby Avenue in St. Paul, MN. We’re right above the Mississippi Market Co-op at Selby and Dale.
Curious? Check out www.beyourownengine.org.

If you're interested in helping out, contact Art Allen at arta@tlcminnesota.org.

Transit for Livable Communities Awards Over $2 Million in Bike Walk Infrastructure Funding

Transit for Livable Communities - Wed, 07/22/2009 - 2:49pm

By Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Director

On July 20, the TLC board funded three pedestrian and bicycle capital projects totaling over $2 million. All three projects resulted from planning studies previously funded by BWTC, received the recommendation of the Bike Walk Advisory Committee (BWAC), and involved consultation by the BWTC technical advisory team. All have a completion timeline of 2010.

  • $1,050,000 to the City of Golden Valley for a complete street project on Douglas Drive between Golden Valley Road and Medicine Lake Road (Golden Valley city limits). The project incorporates designated bikeways and sidewalk improvement elements of the Douglas Drive Corridor Improvement Study. This award is conditional on successfully reducing the posted speed limit from 40 m.p.h. to 35 m.p.h. and a good faith effort by the city to obtain approval for a reduction to 30 m.p.h. The redesign of Douglas Drive is seen as opportunity to implement a model project under the Hennepin County complete streets policy approved as part of its Active Living initiative. The project area has a bus line and serves a significant number of transit-dependent riders. For the bicycling population, the project will connect to the Luce Line trail, providing greater access to Minneapolis.
  • $400,000 to the City of St Paul for the Griggs Street Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities project. This project resulted from the Central Corridor Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and will provide better north-south access to destinations including the new bridge over I-94, Dunning Fields, Central High, Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, and Concordia College. It will provide safer pedestrian and bicycle travel for the residents of Skyline Towers and the students at Gordon Parks High School, and it will connect to the proposed Ayd Mill Road Trail, the proposed Jefferson Avenue bikeway, and other regional bikeways including Marshall Avenue, Summit Avenue, and Minnehaha Avenue. 
  • $765,000 to the City of Minneapolis for the Cedar/Washington Avenue intersection project. This project was a high priority of the new Minneapolis Pedestrian Plan and will transform the busy, complex intersection of 7-corners where additional high-density housing is planned. The project will have significant safety features including leading pedestrian interval traffic signal operation (giving pedestrians priority in crossing the street), medians, and accessible curb ramp improvements. The project scored high on the pedestrian improvement needs evaluation of the plan, especially due to crash incidence, pedestrian generators, and transit priority.

These projects modify existing streets to make them safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and complete important connections in the bike-pedestrian transportation system. The moral imperative of our Bike Walk Twin Cities investments keeps me riveted to the task. You can read metropolitan visionary Neal Pearce’s eloquent response to the question he raises: “Why should we seriously consider federal support for sidewalk widenings or new pathways for city dwellers and suburbanites?” Or you can review recent research; consider the low-income kids in NYC who, exposed to higher levels of prenatal motor vehicle exhaust, register lowered intelligence significant enough to affect performance in school. Or even turn to the story of one of our TLC members:

“I date myself when I relate that I was vertical by the time I was a year old and that I was born (a twin) before anyone knew much about Retinopathy of Prematurity! Once I was upright, there was no stopping me! I have walked many miles, ridden even more and I will ride the bus over letting someone drive me, any day! When sidewalks are user-friendly, curb cuts made according to the ADA, walking with six feet is a joy! SIX FEET? Yup, my car is often my dog guide and my bicycle has room for two passengers! So...I have found the communities with wonderful walking and biking routes to be my best transportation buddies! I got my first tandem bike when I was almost too short to put my feet on the pedals and my first dog guide right after college! The Twin Cities Area is becoming more and more accessible for those of us who require some pedestrian accommodations (like APS and the announcement of bus stops by drivers so I want to be a part of active living in Ramsey County. Don't tell me there's somewhere I can't go...because that's all the more reason for me to try to go there...WITHOUT A CAR!”

Our news: more funded projects, more possibilities, more promise of a Twin Cities region more livable for all.

Wrapping Up the Minnesota Release of the Blueprint

Transit for Livable Communities - Wed, 07/22/2009 - 2:17pm

*Cross-posted from the Transportation for America blog*

July 22, 2009
By Christine Goepfert

P1000963 Originally uploaded by Transportation for America

On Monday, June 29th the Minnesota Coalition of Transportation for America welcomed community, city, and state leaders to learn more about the T4 America vision for the next federal transportation bill — and how Minnesotans would benefit from a reformed federal transportation program.

The event, hosted by the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, was attended by city officials, state legislators, congressional offices, business leaders, labor groups and advocacy organizations from across the state. The packed room heard from Anne Canby and Mariia Zimmerman, the Washington, D.C. representatives of the T4 America campaign, as they walked through the campaign’s Route to Reform, a detailed blueprint for the transportation bill.

The meeting came on the heels of Chairman Oberstar releasing a draft 775-page transportation bill he hopes to pass before the current federal bill expires in September.  In describing how Oberstar’s bill fits in with the T4 America vision, Anne Canby said that the draft is “on the right track,” and that “Oberstar is full of fire and ready to go. He has filled a vacuum with his leadership.”

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin and State Representative Frank Hornstein highlighted how Minnesota communities would benefit from sweeping reforms in the transportation bill. In describing the need for new federal transportation policy as proposed by the T4 America campaign, Mayor Rybak indicated that “we shouldn’t strive for less” but that Minneapolis and the State have to be ready for it.  Michael Lander, a developer with many projects around the Twin Cities, also spoke about the need to include land use discussions when planning any transportation project because “transportation has always driven development.” He noted that the T4 America vision is “planning to meet the coming demand” for housing in convenient, walkable locations with access to public transportation.

“The market is changing dramatically, and walkable urbanism is what the market is looking for. …Central to the T4 America reform is planning to meet the coming demand.” — Michael Lander

In attendance were representatives from Chairman Oberstar’s office, Congressman Ellison and Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s offices.  State legislators, including Rep. Hausman and Rep. Kahn, county commissioners and city staffers from St. Paul and Minneapolis were among the crowd eager to hear about the work being done to create federal transportation policy that would benefit their communities.

It was not a strictly metropolitan affair as the Mayor of Independence and a representative from State Sen. Clark’s office from St. Cloud came to hear about how smaller and more rural communities could also get their transportation needs addressed in the federal bill.

One concern all of the elected officials shared was making sure Minnesota’s roads, highways and bridges were in a state of good repair.  Rep. Hornstein noted that we cannot invest in a “fax machine on the dawn of the internet revolution” indicating that we need to reach what he calls “infrastructure 2.0.”

“Infrastructure 2.0 is what is in this Transportation for America plan.”


Ellison Secures $750,000 for Two Local Transit Projects

Transit for Livable Communities - Tue, 07/21/2009 - 10:22am

By Katie Eukel, Communications Manager

Just ran across this press release from Congressman Keith Ellison's office. Great news from Washington:

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) secured another two major appropriations for the Fifth District - $500,000 to help develop a new transit hub in downtown Minneapolis and $250,000 to begin planning for the Bottineau Transitway, a new light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and the Northwest Suburbs.

"I could not be more pleased to have this provision included for the Bottineau Transit project and thank Congressman Ellison for his leadership," said Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat. "This appropriation will take us one step closer to building a major transit investment and transportation equity in the North Minneapolis and northern suburban communities."

These appropriations are included in the draft House Transportation and Housing, Urban, Development Appropriations bill. This bill is expected to be considered on the floor this week.

For the full release, go here.

Bike to School? Parking May Be a Challenge

Transit for Livable Communities - Thu, 07/09/2009 - 9:14am

From Tony Hull, Program and Evaluation Specialist

Students attending Washburn and Roosevelt High Schools in south Minneapolis may live close enough to bike to school; indeed they may have a working bike to ride to school. It is entirely possible that their loads of homework could be accommodated in a back-pack on this bike trip. But what are they going to do with the bicycle when they get to school?

Teachers would frown on bringing a bike to class. As for bike parking, the students who do ride are learning to be creative. The racks that do exist are generally hidden away from view and, if not home-made by a long-ago shop class, they tend to be the old comb-style rack that is generally not effective for securing a bike today.

But soon all of this will change. Over the summer, the city of Minneapolis will oversee the installation of bicycle racks across the city including several locations at schools, funded by the Bike Walk Twin Cities program. As a result, returning students next year will be pleased to find new, convenient, and secure parking at Washburn, Roosevelt, and other Minneapolis schools.

Bike Walk Twin Cities staff were out before the end of the school year observing the current conditions and counting the number of bikes and how they were parked at the two schools. We will follow up next spring to measure the impact of the investments.

Additionally, to clear the back log of bike rack requests, the City of Minneapolis will be installing racks at locations city-wide with funding from Bike Walk Twin Cities supplementing the city’s 50/50 cost sharing program. Bike Walk Twin Cities staff will be conducting an evaluation of these investments at several key locations, including Lyndale Ave/Lake Street, Hennepin/Central Ave, Broadway/26th Ave, and 13th St NE/University Ave. Staff have compiled an inventory of existing facilities and will be counting bike parking and distributing a “spoke” survey in the target areas to measure the impact of the new bike racks.

For more information about the city bike parking program contact Donald Pflaum, City of Minneapolis Department of Public Works (612)673-2129 or donald.pflaum@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Check out our Flickr set of Minneapolis bike parking photos.

Minneapolis Releases Pedestrian Master Plan

Transit for Livable Communities - Tue, 07/07/2009 - 10:08am

From Tony Hull, Program and Evaluation Specialist

The city of Minneapolis Department of Public Works has released the draft of the Minneapolis Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan, funded in part by the Bike Walk Twin Cities program, goes far beyond just looking at sidewalks, addressing trees and boulevards, crosswalks and intersections, street lighting, bridge design, street furniture, accessibility, snow and ice clearance, sidewalk cafes, construction zones, and funding pedestrian improvements.

This plan will provide a framework for addressing walkability in Minneapolis for years to come. The plan is now available for public review and the department of public works is looking for feedback. There are many ways that you can participate:

Thursday, July 16, 2009 Open House and Walking Workshops
Walking workshops at 5:30 p.m.
Public meeting 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Master plan presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Minneapolis Central Library 300 Nicollet Mall

Attend the July 16, 2009 public open house
Learn more about the Minneapolis Pedestrian Master Plan at a public open house The meeting site is wheelchair accessible. If you need other disability related accommodations, such as a sign language interpreter or materials in an alternative format, please contact Anna Flintoft at (612) 673-3885 or anna.flintoft@ci.minneapolis.mn.us before July 9.

Attend the July 16, 2009 walking workshops
Come early to the public open house for two walking workshops conducted by the Bike Walk Ambassadors at 5:30pm: a neighborhood walkability audit and a workshop on staying safe as a pedestrian.

Comment on the plan
Let us know if we’ve captured the most important issues and solutions for improving and increasing walking in Minneapolis. Send your comments to anna.flintoft@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Sign up for e-mail updates
To receive notification about pedestrian plan updates, sign up for e-mail updates or check this website.

For more information, contact:

Anna Flintoft, Transportation Planner

Minneapolis Dept of Public Works - Transportation Planning and Engineering
309 2nd Avenue South - Room 301, Minneapolis, MN 55401

(612) 673-3885

Transit for Livable Communities and Allies Issue Report on Stimulus Spending

Transit for Livable Communities - Mon, 07/06/2009 - 12:35pm

From Barb Thoman, Program Consultant

At the end of June, Transit for Livable Communities and three local partners (1000 Friends of Minnesota, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and Fresh Energy) released a report entitled Minnesota and the Stimulus to coincide with the national release of Smart Growth America's The States and the Stimulus. The Minnesota report details how Minnesota allocated its $600 million in federal transportation funding under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (also known as The Stimulus) and the process used to make the decisions. The national report identifies the spending patterns for all 50 states at the Act’s important 120-day deadline.

According to the Minnesota report, MnDOT investments in Greater Minnesota focused on road and bridge repair, but in the metro area nearly 30 percent of the stimulus went for roadway expansion, including the sprawl-inducing Trunk Highway 610 expansion. There was strong demand for money for bicycle and pedestrian projects--a number of cities listed a trail or sidewalk project as their highest project priority.

The national report got great press and was discussed in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal's blog, Fox Business and dozens of other media outlets. The Minnesota report was discussed in the Pioneer Press and Home Town Source.

For more information on the reports, contact Barb Thoman at barbt@tlcminnesota.org