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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. 

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - 4 hours 15 min ago
Sidewalk Rating: Pleasant
But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. "It's all about the choreography of people's attention," he said. "Attention is like water. It flows. It's liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way."

[here]


[Carriage houses along Maiden Lane, taken for this piece.]
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  *** ***09/20/0811:30aSt. PaulMN353515MN . LSFGray Buick, no HCAP id. Mail driver should no sign of need for HCAP stall use, and gave me a hard time when I questioned his need for the stall.
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Best (Urban) Articles from The New Yorker

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 8:00am
[New Yorker covers love bikes.]About two years back, my father got me a gift subscription to The New Yorker. I've been relatively diligent about keeping up on it, believe it or not.


Now that the magazine has opened all its articles to the public to read for free (for a short period), I thought I'd share some of my favorite bits that are vaguely interesting if you're interested in cities.

These are all the ones that jump out at me, and what I remember about them without going back and looking at them again.

[In chronological order.]

David Owen, Why Purell is Everywhere 3/4/2013

I guess it answers a question.

David Owen, Watch Where You Step in Florida 3/18/2013

All about Florida sinkholes, which are common there because of the unique geology. This story has some amazing details of all kinds of things coming up out of the ground! Worth a read if you're interested in Floridian eschatology, as I am.

William Finnegan, The Miner's Daughter 3/28/13

Long profile of an incredibly wealthy and secretive Australian mining heiress and magnate. You wonder where copper comes from?

Sean Wilsey, Open Water 4/22/13

Amazing true memoir of a guy who worked as a Venetian gonodlier. It has islands and gondolier codes and stuff. So cool.

Jennie Erin Smith, A State of Nature  4/22/13

OK, so there's this one tiny bit between Panama and Colombia where the roads in either direction don't go. It's kind of amazing that there's this gap. Read all about it. It sounds wild.

Douglas Preston, The El Dorado Machine 5/6/2013

History of people searching for "lost cities" in Central America. Very Indiana Jones. Great read.

Tad Friend, Crowded House 5/27/2013

This is a funny story about people trying a mythical great apartment in New York City that a scammer keeps promising people but never delivers on. It reads kinda like a Seinfeld episode, involving the apartment being rented out to multiple people at the same time.

Larissa MacFarquar,  Last Call 6/24/13

Story of a Japanese Buddhist monk who specializes in talking to people who are about to kill themselves, which is a big thing in Japan. Poignant and illustrates something about our / Japan's individualized culture.

John McPhee, The Orange Trapper 7/1/2013

Great short memoir about a life long hobby collecting golf balls outside golf courses. Very well written and interesting to think about fences and edges and golf.

Calvin Tompkins, Ed Ruscha's L.A. 7/1/2013

A short bio piece about a famous L.A. artist, talks a lot about L.A. in the 70s and 80s and the state of the art scene. Ruscha is the one responsible for this hilarious painting...



John Seabrook, The Beach Builders 7/22/2013

About how much work it takes to rebuild the beaches destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and whether we should even be rebuilding those towns any more. Kind of wistful look at Jersey shore towns.

Julian Rubinstein, Operation Easter 7/22/2013

This one was literally unbelievable. There are people who spend their lives stealing the eggs of endangered birds in the U.K. So wrong! So strange.

Sarah Stilman, Taken 8/12/2013

Civil forfeiture is when police take your stuff when they pull you over. It's straight up extortion and happens all the time in the South. Heartbreaking piece.

Ian Frazier, Walking Normally: The Facts 9/9/2013

The funniest thing on this list. Trust me, you're gonna laugh your ass off.

Rachel Aviv, The Imperial Presidency 9/9/2013

Article about the controversial president of NYU, who has been buying up swaths of Manhattan and opening up a branch in Dubai.

Andrew Marantz, The Unreality Star 9/16/2013

OK I didn't actually read this one, but it looks good about surveillance culture and paranoia.

Calvin Tompkins, A Sense of Place 9/23/2013

If you're into architecture, this is about the guy who did the African American museum in D.C.

Josh Eells, Night Club Royale 9/30/2013

Apparently there's a huge electronic dance music (EDM) scene in Las Vegas now, which is the only think keeping that city from blowing away in the wind. 

Akash Kapur, Rush 10/14/2013

Fascinating story about a big highway being built through a tiny village in India. A lot changes! Learn about roads in India.

Ian Frazier, Bus Ride 4/14/2014

The most dangerous bus in New York is the B46, which Frazier rides from end to end. The quotes from the bus driver are amazing.

Burkhard Bilger, Auto Correct 11/25/2013

Short bit about the Google robo-car.

Calvin Trillin, Mozarella Story 12/2/2013

Lovely ode to an old store in Little Italy that sold handmade mozzarella for like forever. Really well written, of course.

Ian Johnson, In The Air 12/2/2013

Air pollution in China is amazing. Seriously crazy what their cities are like.

Emily Eakin, The Civilization Kit 12/23/2013

Guy in Missouri that is trying to build his own tractor (and all other machines) from scratch.

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Red Light 1/27/2014

All about traffic jam politics and Chris Christie. Pretty hard to believe that New Jersey politics revolves around traffic jams, but it does.

John Colapinto, The Real-Estate Artist 1/20/2014

Artist who is attempting to revive a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, one of the country's largest and poorest black ghettos. Really interesting if you're into Chicago.

Dana Goodyear, Death Dust 1/20/2014

About a plague of crazy disease-inducing dust in California's central valley, another incredibly poor part of the country. Really depressing and mysterious.

Paige Williams, Drop Dead, Detroit! 1/27/2014

Bio piece on this one right-wing asshole who has been in charge of the burbs north of Detroit for years, and made his living cordoning off the white suburbs from the black city. I didn't know this history, but it explains a lot.

Jon Lee Anderson, The Comandante's Canal 3/10/2014

The president of Nicaragua is trying to build a second canal and the Chinese are helping. Incredible, really.

Evan Osnos, Chemical Valley 4/7/2014

Another really poor place, West Virginia, and how deeply rooted the chemical industry is there. it's so hard to imagine people drinking the water and taking showers during the chemical spill, and the government doing nothing about it.

Ian Frazier, Blue Bloods 4/14/2014

Unbelievable stuff about horseshoe crabs. I didn't know anything about horseshoe crabs, which live in on Long Island. I guess I really like Ian Frazier.

Sarah Payne Stuart, Pilgrim Mothers 5/5/2014

A nice memoir about living in Concord, MA, and how strange the old puritan culture is there.

Dale Russakoff, Schooled 5/19/2014

Long and interesting history of school reform in Newark involving Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg. Really. Reforming schools seems almost impossible.

Sarah Stillman, Get Out of Jail Inc. 6/23/2014

For profit work programs is when courts take your money for life when you don't pay parking tickets. It's straight up extortion and happens all the time in the South. Heartbreaking piece.





Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #95

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 2:04pm
The confrontation under the interstate overpass...



... from the finest capoeira / inner city schools film of the 90s, Shelon Lettich's (1993) Only The Strong.

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #94

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 1:31pm
Pee Wee doesn't sell Francis his bike even though it's his birthday...



... in Tim Burton's (1985) Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #93

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:53am
A clandestine Miss Piggy gets harassed by some New York City construction workers...



... and goes to town on some scaffolding, in Frank Oz's (1984) Muppets Take Manhattan.

Reading the Highland Villager #110

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 2:08pm
[A Villager watches for vandals.][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 confronts mess that Mississippi left behind; As floodwaters recede, St. Paul assesses damage
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The river flooded, but went back down. Silt must be removed and buildings cleaned. A loose giant clamshell was recovered.


Headline: New streetlights, sidewalks are in store for Village; Other amenities will have to wait for more financing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: They're installing new sidewalks at Ford and Cleveland at great expense. "The worst planters have already been removed." [Darwinian!] The new pavers will be designed to not pop out of the sidewalk. [Makes sense, but seems unexciting.] "Black ice" was planned, but proved be too pricey. [Hm.] Bike racks are planned but not funded. [Sounds about right for Saint Paul!] They're going to remove the message board on the corner because "it is a target for vandals."


Headline: TIF plan paves way for redeveloping St. Paul Post Office; Custom House apartments, hotel planned for 17-story building on Kellogg Blvd.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old post office is going to become apartments, stores, and a hotel. The city is paying $5M. There is some "contamination cleanup" involved. [What is the source of the contamination? Decades worth of junk mail?] "Some bathrooms have the original 1930s-era plumbing fixtures." They're going to have to add another doorway somewhere, but the sidewalks are really narrow. [Maybe expand the sidewalks!]


Headline: Residents review Shepard-Davern rezoning; They support efforts to attract stores, allow Sibley Plaza remodel
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting about a new plan for a [extremely auto-oriented] part of westernmost West 7th street.  People like the idea of mixed-use zoning, but the large strip mall poses a problem. Some people are worried about losing "drive-thru service" and parking in front of the building. Everyone agrees that the current strip mall is ugly.


Headline: Pawn America plans major renovation
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The pawn shop on University Avenue will get a new entrance and a new parking lot. [Wow! First the Culvers, then the Goodwill, and now this! University Avenue is on the move! Next stop, Saint Cloud.] "The decorative red pyramid above the roof will be removed." [Where is the HPC when you really need them!?]


Headline: STAR board favors several local projects
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A coffee shop, two theaters, and an old folks home will get some money for improvements. Other stuff too, like the West 7th taproom and the Asian night market. Just not the young person's circus.


Headline: Proposed Davern Hill sidewalk is now in hands of City Council
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A place in Saint Paul that has no sidewalk but really needs a sidewalk might finally get a sidewalk despite the HPC's opinion that a sidewalk would "detract from the historical appearance" of a house there. Maybe not though.


Headline: TIF change to help finance renovation of Spruce Tree
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [The city's 4th ugliest] building is on the last year of receiving city money for renovation and expansion. The existing Spruce Tree TIF district dates to 1987 [and was one of the key forces behind Saint Paul's "great Applebee's revitalization" of the 1990s].


Headline: St. Paul City Council to review streetcar recommendations
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council will vote on a plan to study streetcars. "Questions have been raised." [They approved it unanimously. It's almost like they don't read the Villager?]


Headline: Primrose introduces plan for Dayton Avenue day care
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A day care center might open near Snelby. But traffic!


Headline: Bond issues OK'd for projects in Highland Park and West End
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some city bonding process thingy is happening for expanding a treatment center and an old folks home, but apparently it won't cost anything.


Headline: Getten Credit asks City Council to allow new office on Bayard
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An odd quasi-bank is still trying to re-open somewhere.


Headline: City sells vacant Summit-U lots for the moving to two homes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two houses are being moved to places without houses.


Headline: New name in the works for library-rec center complex
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: "Hillcrest" is out. [How about "Center for Village People? Or "Highland Village Parking Lot and Village Library"?]


Headline: St. Paul proposes better lighting, sidewalks, more for tiny Iris Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A small [overlooked] park might be improved someday. "The area has a very high demand for on-street parking." There's a study, including crosswalks, speed tables [great idea!], and lights and more access for people with disabilities. [They might also try putting water in the fountain?]


Headline: Full steam ahead for Hamline station; 108 new apartments to rise on former Midway Chev site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An affordable housing project is costing more than they thought.


Headline: Midway Walgreens corners new store; Move is part of larger plan to redevelop Midway Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old bank on the corner of Snelling and University [and across the intersection from the horrible CVS building] will maybe become a Walgreen's. [No doubt with a huge parking lot and few or fake windows and only one story. Good job Saint Paul! Now if only we had a really nice pawn shop...]

TC Sidewalk Live!: Overlooked Parks of Saint Paul Bike Tour Tomorrow

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 3:50pm
[Saint Paul parks c. 1929.]Tomorrow is your chance to join in on the Overlooked Parks of Saint Paul Bike Tour, part of the Pedalopolis events going on all week.

(Note to Jenny Jenkins: apologies for scheduling this during the Replacements Tour.)

Basically, this tour came out of my curiousity about a series of small parks in the Northwest quadrant of the city. (For example, Iris Park, a former Sidewalk of the Week.) They all have neighborhoods named after them, but these parks don't seem to be very apparent to outsiders. Most people have heard of them, but never actually seen them more than once or twice.

It turns out, these parks have a fascinating history. We're going to bike to a bunch of them and see what's to be scene.

Meet up at the East side of the Franklin Bridge at 6:30. Ride will be less than 10 miles. We'll end up at the Dubliner, most likely. (Not required.)

[Facebook invite here.]

A bike ride to six (6) "overlooked parks" of Saint Paul. This will be a tour of smaller Saint Paul parks you might have heard of, but probably have never visited: Merriam Park, Hampden Park, Desnoyer Park, Union Park, Iris Park and Newell Park. The ride will be hosted by urban geographer and writer Bill Lindeke, who will lead a discussion about the history of these parks, many of which were affected by the construction of the I-94 freeway during the 1960s. 

The ride will kick off on the East side of the Franklin Avenue Bridge at 6:30, and will end somewhere near Hamden Park (just north of Raymond Avenue and University Avenue), We will be sticking to lower traffic streets. The total distance will be less thank ten (10) miles, though there are a few hills (because Saint Paul).[c. 1900]

*** Sidewalk Weekend ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 9:22am
Sidewalk Rating: Sopping
The New York I lived in, on the other hand, was rapidly regressing. It was a ruin in the making, and my friends and I were camped out amid its potsherds and tumuli. This did not distress me—quite the contrary. I was enthralled by decay and eager for more: ailanthus trees growing through cracks in the asphalt, ponds and streams forming in leveled blocks and slowly making their way to the shoreline, wild animals returning from centuries of exile. Such a scenario did not seem so far-fetched then. Already in the mid-1970s, when I was a student at Columbia, my windows gave out onto the plaza of the School of International Affairs, where on winter nights troops of feral dogs would arrive to bed down on the heating grates. Since then the city had lapsed even further. On Canal Street stood a five-story building empty of human tenants that had been taken over from top to bottom by pigeons. If you walked east on Houston Street from the Bowery on a summer night, the jungle growth of vacant blocks gave a foretaste of the impending wilderness, when lianas would engird the skyscrapers and mushrooms would cover Times Square.
[Luc Santé.]
[Crosswalk surrender flags on Grand Avenue.]


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Only seconds after I took the pictures, the two men ran over to the couple and mugged them – they simply grabbed the camera out of their hands and ran off.
[this]
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I’ve posed this question to several friends and acquaintances over the years, and the answers I get mostly fall into three categories:
  • they’re a threat to pedestrian safety
  • they flout the law
  • they interfere with an otherwise smooth-flowing system
[this]


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*** ***- Flat-billed hats
- Large chains
- Sleeveless under shirts
- Long white T-shirts
- Athletic apparel
- Sports jerseys without collars
- Excessively baggy clothing[this]
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Sidewalk Games #23: Street Cleaning Event

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:21pm

Performers are dressed in white coats like laboratory technicians. They go to a
selected location in the city. An area of a sidewalk is designated for the event. This
area of sidewalk is cleaned very thoroughly with various devices not usually used in
street cleaning, such as: dental tools, toothbrushes, steel wool, cotton balls with
alcohol, cotton swabs, surgeon's sponges, tooth picks, linen napkins, etc.

[Unknown Fluxus.]
[Street cleaners. John Houghton Hague, 1870s]

Sidewalk Games #22: Wind Water

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:03pm
Outdoors, toss the water into any wind at hand.
Trace a ripple in the page’s grit.
Smear each eyelid with a pinch of silt.[from Aaron Anstett's Spell, published in Revolver.]


[Chicago's famous fountain.]

CLOSED – Job Posting: Marketing Coordinator

Dero Bike Racks - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:59am
THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED. THANK YOU. Title: Marketing Coordinator The Marketing Coordinator will assist in the implementation of sales and marketing plans for Dero through successful marketing, graphic design, and marketing/sales coordination. This non-exempt position is also responsible for … Continue reading →

Signs of the Times #89

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 3:46pm
 PLEASE RESPECT THE FLOWERS
[Garden. Milwaukee, WI.]
Please DeliverPackages thatDon't fit NextDoor to FUEL CAFE
[Door. Milwaukee, WI.]

NOSMOKINGUnless you want to
[Door. Milwaukee, WI.]

$2.00 PARKING$5
[Truck thing. Milwaukee, WI.]

Google Glass is bannedon these premises.
[Door. Milwaukee, WI.]

 AQUAINT YOURSELF WITHHIMAND BE AT PEACE
[Church transom. Milwaukee. WI.]UNAUTHORIZEDVEHICLESWILL BETICKETEDAND TOWED
[Window. Milwaukee, WI.]

LOVE YOU 2
[Concrete thing. Milwaukee, WI.]

Reading the Highland Villager Op-Ed Extra #7

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 9:00am
[Crosswalk flags at Grand Avenue; photo by me.]Flashing signs to raise the profile of pedestrians on Snelling; Whether or not signs make them safer will depend on how pedestrians use them

by Dale Mischke

If you drive, bike or walk near the intersection of Snelling and Lincoln Avenues, you may have noticed orange flags on both sides of the crosswalk. You may also have seen pedestrians waving the flags as tjey cross Snelling, hoping to catch the attentin of approaching motorists. The flags are the brainchild of Gena Berglund, associate director of Macalester College's High Winds Fund, who crosses Snelling onfoot several times a day between her Macalester office aher Macalester-Groveland home.

For the past two weeks, High Winds Fund staff have kept about 14 of the flags in two plastic cyliners attached to the posts of the flourescent pedestrian crossing sgns at Lincoln. They are there for anyone to use to "narrow the risk" when crossing busy Snelling, according to High Winds Fund director Tom Welna.

In the last couple of years, three Malaester employees, two students and two neighbors have been hit by cars while trying to cross Snelling at Lincoln, according to Welna. Among the victims were Swinta Kay, 20, and Yacine Diouf, 19, two Macalester freshmen who were struck and seriously injured on May 28 in the southbound lanes on Snelling. Diouf was released from the hospital a day or two later. Kay suffered a traumatic brain injury and as of mid-June was still hospitalized, though in stable condition, Welna said.

Welna has been lobbying city and state officials for the past 18 months to install pedestrian activated signals at the crosswalk on Lincoln -- flashing lights that would give Snelling motrists a more visible warning of the presence of pedestrians. Installing four signs with signals on the boulevards and median would cost about $15,000, Welna said, and the High Winds Fund is willing to pay it.

Macalester's High Winds Fund -- established in 1956 by former Mac student and longtime Mac benefactor DeWitt Wallace to prevent the kind of urban blight he had seen in other neighbohroods surrounding colleges -- paid close to half the cost of the landscaped medians that were installed on Snelling between St. Clair and Grand Avenues in 2010. The medians were intended not only to beautify Snelling, but to slow traffic and provide a mid-street refuge for pedestrians, making it easier and safer for them to cross the street.

Welna met last week with St. Paul Public Works and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials to discuss possible improvements to pedestrians afety at Snelling and Lincoln. "We want to do the right thing, something all parties can agree to," said Steve Misgen, a metro traffic engineer for MnDOT.

MnDOT had been hesitant to install pedestrian-activated warning signals at Snelling and Lincoln. Will motorists confuse the flashing pedestrian lights at Lincoln with the traffic signals at Grand? Misgen asked. Will pedestrians be emboldened to cross Snelling without giving motorists enough time to stop? [How dumb do Mischke and MnDOT think that people are? Seems like the answer to that falls somewhere between a potato and an adolescent orangutan.] Nevertheless, MnDOT and Public Works officials agreed on June 18 to give the pedestrian-activated flashers a try.

Sometime prior to the beginning of school in September, MnDOT will attach at High Winds' expense four rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons to the pedestrian crossing signs on the curbs and median on Snelling at Lincoln. Once activated by a pedestrian, the beacons will flash, warning motorists of the need to stop before the crosswalk. The flashing will continue for about 15 seconds, giving pedestrians enough time to cross all four lanes of Snelling. MnDOT will also install cameras at the intersection to record how pedestrians and motorists behave both before and after the flashing signals are installed. [Hey how about automatic red light cameras, NTOR laws, streets with 20 mph design speeds...]

Minnesota's crosswalk law states that where no traffic stoplights are present, motorists must stop to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing within a marked crosswalk and at intersections where there is no marked crosswalk. Pedestrians should not make any suden moves in leaving the curb, nor should they walk or run into the path of a car so close it could not possibly stop.

In the case of the Mac students struck on May 27 -- and a local resident who was hit by a car there just a few days later -- the first Snelling motorists to approach the intersection stopped in the near traffic lane, but a second motorist in the far lane did not. Coming up from behind, the second motorists may not have seen the pedestrians starting to cross or realized why the first motorists stopped.

People may complain that too many motorists are not aware of the state's crosswalk law, but look around and it seems more people are aware of the law then ever. The problem may be in how the law is interpreted on a busy street like Snelling where stopping in traffic cam be hazardous for motorists. If you're a motorists amoung a stream of cars on Snelling, do you stop for a pedestrian on the curb and risk being rear-ended, or keep going in the belief that the pedestrian ought to wait for a bigger break in the traffic? If you're a pedestrian, do you leave the curb knowing that the law is on your side, or wait until two lanes of traffic have stopped before you cross? [I can't really comment on this paragraph. It hurts me.]

Of course, the crosswalk law can only do so much in protecting pedestrians from a run-in with a 3,000-pound vehicle traveling at 30 mph. Like the marked crosswalk or the florescent pedestrian crossing signs aready in place, the new pedestrian-activated flashing signs may not prevent another serious accident from happening at Snelling and Lincoln. When traffic is too heavy to wait for a break in the cars, pedestrians may still be safer simply taking the one-block detour ot the signalized crossing at Grand and Snelling.

Dale Mischke is co-editor of the Villager.

Ranking Green Line Stops from Least to Most Exciting

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 2:51pm
Abstract: These days, riding the Green Line is exciting. How exciting is it? Only meticulous quantitative analysis can tell you.

Overview: Excitement is difficult to define precisely. Physics tells us that excitement is the amount of heat in electrons or something like that. Picture a vibrating slinky.

Physics also tells us that there are two kinds of energy: kinetic and potential. In LRT station area terms, Kinetic Excitement (KE) is the equivalent the the currently existing vitality. I.e. how many people are walking around a given station area at this very moment? How many interesting shops presently exist?

Rough glances can easily measure the kinetic excitement of an LRT station.

Potential Excitement (PE) is more difficult because you have to use your imagiation. That said, potential excitement is perhaps the definitive kind of excitement, becasuse most everyone can imagine things more exciting than the status quo. Measuring potential excitement requires a quick glance combined with future daydeams.

Combining these two types of excitement gives us our Combined Excitement Measure (CEM) for the station area as a whole.

Methodology: Two trips taken on the Green Line on separate days at separate times, with eyes wide open and imagination engaged.

Results: [As follows]


#18: Stadium Village

Unless there's a game at the giant stadium, this place is extremely boring. Extremely boring! I can't imagine anyone spending time here willingly. There are all kinds of parking lots surrounding this station, parking lots of every variety. It's a veritable who's who of car storage.

KE: 2.0
PE: 3.2
CEM: 5.2

#17: Robert

Government employees might be the least exciting group of people. These buildings are boring too, as government buildings must be. Hard to see anything interesting ever happening at this spot, barring a large protest on the Capitol Mall. 

KE: 4.3
PE: 1.0
CEM: 5.3


#16: Fairview

Many old people bespeaks a certain lack of vitality. The vastness of the Grigg-Midway building is matched only by its shoddiness. This station is boring for sure. Can it get less boring? Doubtful.

KE: 3.0
PE: 4.1
CEM: 7.1


#15: Victoria

The single family homes along here (probably actually duplexes) make this somehat interesting, but not necessarily exciting. There is a great deal of auto-centric dullness in this area, for example the "eco-garage", Latuff Brothers, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and the massive U-haul facility. The prospect of any of these buildings being replaced with actual people-type-things fills me with anticipation. But I'm not holding my breath.

KE: 3.0
PE: 4.6
CEM: 7.6


#14: Lexington

Ugh. The PE/KE ratio here is very high. So many parking lots and auto shops, so little time to enjoy each one individually and really appreciate each one's soul-sucking architecture. There are parking lots with fences, parking lots without fences, walls with fake windows and walls with no windows... so you've pretty much got everything. The only saving grace is the payday loan store on the corner? (DQ, White Castle...)

KE: 3.7
PE: 4.0
CEM: 7.7


#13: Prospect Park

This might be the strangest station on the line. Like the Stadium Village station, it's basically parking lots without any sign of life. Yet I sense potential here missing from its neighbor. I have a tingling sensation that something could be built here that might provide a teensy catsup squirt of excitement. Nay, a dollop.

KE: 3.0
PE: 5.8
CEM: 8.8



#12: Westgate

An unexciting place whose only pulse comes from its proximity to students. The Westgate Industrial area is where dreams go to die. The row of shops on the Southeast corner account for the lion's share of excitement.

KE: 5.0
PE: 4.5
CEM: 9.5


#11: Hamline

Along with Snelling, the most dichotomous station on the line, with the crappy big box desert on the south side and occasional spots of shady historic intrigue on the north. The Town House accounts for two full points of KE all by itself. Lots of potential here too, what with all the abandoned old car dealerships.

KE: 5.0
PE: 7.8
CEM: 12.8


#10: Rice

This station sits right on the seam between one of the most derilict spots in Saint Paul and the Capitol complex, which makes it a odd mixture of lobbyists and very poor people. That's actually half exciting by itself.

Also, there are going to be lots of new buildings built on the old Sears site. I can imagine so much more besides, as the old Greyhound station or the blocks of Rice Street north of University start to get fixed up or demolished.

Future visions remain constrained, however, by incessant political parking lot fetishes.  

KE: 5.8
PE: 7.1
CEM: 12.9


#9: 10th

Surrounded by boring buildings, for example the Department of Health and the History Theater. On the other hand, there's a few very nice churches and and the McNally Smith School of Hipster. On the other other hand, it's far too close to the freeway and there's little chance of anything cool being built nearby.

KE: 7.1
PE: 6.0
CEM: 13.1


#8: Central

Surrounded by giant vacant lots, on which many things can be imagined. Unfortuantely surrounded by skyway-addled buildings, yet many pedestrians still walk past. The bus stops are quite exciting, perhaps overly so at times.

KE: 7.0
PE: 7.0
CEM: 14.0


#7: Western

This is the best intersection on University Avenue, the only one with actual buildings at all four corners (versus parking lots). It's also chock-a-block full of amazing Asian restaurants, though a bit weak on street life because of the lack of density in the area. Apart from more foot traffic (and night markets), I hope nothing changes here because it's already awesome.

KE: 8.3
PE: 6.0
CEM: 14.3


#6: West Bank

On the face of it, this stop is a complete dead zone, surrounded by embankements of dying grass, sandwiched by high speed roads. But lurking out of sight all round you is the city's most interesting neighborhood. My imagination runs wild. Think of all the things that might happen here!

KE: 4.4
PE: 10.0
CEM: 14.4


#5: Raymond

From an architectural / urban design standpoint, this is the other great University Avenue corner. I don't see a ton of new development happening here, but I can easily imagine the existing building stock getting remodeled and trebeling in excitement levels. Yet for how nice this seems to be, there isn't a lot going on. There's not even a coffee shop.

KE: 7.0
PE: 7.5
CEM: 14.5


#4: Snelling

Lots of dynamism despite everything, due to all the foot and car traffic. In fact, just sitting on this corner for ten minutes and watching the LRT conductor blast its deafening horn as cars ignore the turn signals and block the tracks is deliciously entertaining.

Still the CVS, Spruce Tree, and American Bank trifecta leave much to be desired, in every sense of the word desire. And apart from the bank, there's little hope of the wrecking ball making anything better anytime soon. Still, so many vast parking lots. So many dive bars.

KE: 9.4
PE: 6.0
CEM: 15.4


#3: Dale

On the plus side, there's a vibrant-but-ugly library and Big Daddy's BBQ. On the down side, the Uni-Dale mall parking lot and a Wendy's dominating half the space. On the up side of the down side, the Uni-Dale mall parking lot is pretty much the best mall parking lot in town. Still, I can't wait for the wrecking ball.

KE: 8.4
PE: 7.0
CEM: 15.4


#2: Union Depot

Currently as exciting as downtown Saint Paul ever gets. Likely to become better over time as, for example, the surface parking lots fill in, Station 4 gets replaced, and the TPT building de-fortifies itself.

KE: 8.0
PE: 7.6
CEM: 15.6


#1: East Bank

Well, the middle of campus is pretty much ground zero for people watching in Minneapolis. You'll never be bored here between the hours of 7:00AM and Midnight. Plus there are seemingly endless numbers of new buildings popping up. This is the station that sets the bar for excitement. If only the street design wasn't so convluted it'd be perfect.

KE: 9.7
PE: 8.5
CEM: 18.2


Conclusion: Station areas displayed a wide range of excitement. Some station areas are exciting because they're exciting right now. Some are exciting because they might be exciting in the future.  (Think about that for a second.) Some are a combination, others lack any sense of dynamism.

To make a long story short, Saint Paul is kinda boring but at least you can dream.

Reading the Highland Villager #109

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:44am
[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: St. Paul enters light-rail era with Green Line launch; Neither rain nor wind could stop long-awaited opening of transit route
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The LRT is finally open. People gave speeches about it, and then it rained and a lot of people rode on it. Article includes some nice vox pop quotes. Article includes the following [highly misleading] statement: "Stations have real time displays of information on arrival times."


Headline: Green Line is fruition of more than 40 years of discussion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Short history of LRT planning going back to the 70s. Article quote city planner saying "I can't believe it's finally opening." [Fabio accent: "I can't believe it's not better".]


Headline: Street repairs open mayor-council rift
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on fight between mayor and the city council over a pot of $4.5M in "debt forgiveness" for the RiverCenter and how it should be spent. The council wants to spend it on street repair, and the mayor wants to use it on projects downtown such as the Palace Theater, the Macy's [white elephant gift], and Pedro Park. Article cites CM Lantry complaining about street repair budget as "like putting a Band-Aid on a broken hip." [As long as, when we reconstruct our streets, we also install traffic calming and "complete streets" treatments, spending the money on street maintenance is OK with me.]


Headline: Metro Transit revises plan for new rapid transit bus route
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Metro Transit is building a [the first of its] new "bus rapid transit" lines on Snelling. People are complaining about the bus stops taking away on-street parking, including a family clinic by Highland Parkway. [Lord knows you don't want to have people walking across the street to reach your business.] The other compromise [due to complaints from Macalester College] involves moving the BRT stop to the near side of Grand Avenue. [Lord knows you don't want to have people taking the bus to Breadsmith.]


Headline: 'A' Line is just one of many projects tearing up Snelling next year
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be construction on Snelling next year, including installing new "twin lantern-style streetlighting" and "sidewalks with ramps." [That'll fix everything.] There will also be wider sidewalks on the bridge over 94. [Well, at least there's that. Sorely needed, of course.]


Headline: Council approves Car2Go car-sharing service in St. Paul
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Car2go now has a contract to operate in Saint Paul. Two Council members voted against it because of parking concerns. [But they're so small!]


Headline: Macalester withdraws funds for Marshall Avenue median; College says last-minute change was deal-breaker
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Macalester College foundation [whose mission is to improve neighborhoods around the campus] withdrew the $50K they were going to use to help pay for a [pedestrian refuge-type] median on Marshall Avenue because the owner of the liquor store complained about access to its parking lot, and the City Council changed the median to allow for this access. [But what about the drivers who want booze? Won't somebody think of the drivers who want booze?] CM Stark [whose district this is] has a quote about how they're going to build it anyway. [But he can't be very pleased.] An engineering firm studied the proposal and is worried about "increased likelihood of motorists attempting to bypass the shorter median through U-turns or illegal movements around the median." [Sounds likely.]


Headline: Federal funds launch citywide effort to adapt to ravages of warming earth [now there's a headline!]; Fifteen Mac-Groveland residents take part in first of four local forums
Author: Frank Jossi

Short short version: [Our kids are all screwed.] People met to talk about climate change. For example, window air conditioning units are wasteful. [See "hypothesized air condition feedback loops".]


Headline: Getting out of hand; Growth in panhandling, homeless camps putting neighbors on edge
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Poor people keep asking for money. Some of them live in the woods, especially around the West End. [Especially on the quite unpleasant 35E bicycle trail.] The police are concerned, and there was a meeting.


Headline: Excitement builds over reuse of brewery office, rathskeller
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Old buildings at the Schmidt brewery are going to have things in them again. Fixing them up is expensive, though.

Sidewalk Games #21: Pinball

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 07/02/2014 - 5:26am
The city is a pinball machine. You are the ball.

How many points can you score?


Dayton and the DFL Punt on Transportation (Again)

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:25pm
The Story So Far…

Back in 2010, the DFL as we know it was almost annihilated when Tom Emmer, a slightly meaner version of Scott Walker, was almost elected with trifecta control of the state government. Picture the kinds of protests they had in Madison, only without the beer on Sundays.

Thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead Mark Dayton won and then two years later, the DFL regained control of both state houses. Next, the Governor commissioned a blue ribbon panel of experts and leaders to work on a new transportation policy. They did just that, and recommended a bunch of changes to tax policy to fund roads (mostly maintenance) and metro area transit.

Next, the legislature and the governor pretty much ignored those recommendations, opting instead to focus on a bunch of other things (stadia, the income tax, refunds). Basically, they punted.

Now we’re at an impasse. The football in this last legislative sesion was the MoveMN proposal, which would have funded transit investment through a Metro-area sales tax and kickstarted aBRT and LRT investment in the region. (Though a mixed bag, I believe the MoveMN proposal is the best we can do given the present political realities.)

Anyway, that didn't happen either. The DFL punted again. Here’s the letter from Dayton's media liason:

Dear Mr. Lindeke,

Thank you for taking the time to contact our office and sharing your thoughts on transportation infrastructure in Minnesota. Governor Dayton shares your commitment to developing an effective and cost-efficient statewide transportation network.  Since taking office, the Governor has worked with the Legislature to make high-impact investments in Minnesota's road, bridges, and mass transportation systems.

In 2013, Governor Dayton signed into law the $300 million Corridors of Commerce program that funds shovel-ready highway construction projects across Minnesota.  These projects will reduce congestion, increase safety for travelers, and help businesses move goods and services – growing our economy and helping create new jobs.  Governor Dayton also understands the importance of mass transportation, which is why he worked with the Legislature to restore more than $180 million in funding for transit operations.

In his 2014 bonding bill, the Governor has proposed new investments that build on these past transportation initiatives.  The Governor's proposal would invest nearly $100 million road, bridge, and transit improvements across Minnesota.

In addition to these investments, Governor Dayton remains committed to investing in Minnesota's roads, bridges, and mass transit systems in the future.  Once again, thank you for contacting our office.  Please continue to contact us with your questions and concerns. 


Sincerely,

Yassin Omar 
Citizen Outreach Liaison
 Office of the Governor and
Lt. Governor
Chris Kluwe would be proud.

"Corridors of Commerce"


Just like in football, punting isn’t necessarily a bad option, provided the DFL can maintain control of the state house (by no means a sure thing). But the most frustrating thing is the Dayton spokesperson touting the “corridors of commerce” program as a triumph.

I’ve written before about the Corridors of Commerce (CoC) program. Basically, this is what Chuck would call a slush fund for roads, where a politicized ad hoc committee prioritizes projects for MNDOT, and bypasses the usual procedures …

Somehow this money pot was set up and supported by normally civic minded DFL legislators, and so far the CoC money has been used for the worst kind of exurban freeway expansions and rural Minnesota bypass projects.

Here’s my earlier analysis of the $300M CoC project, from a January streets.mn post:
If you look at the recently released “Corridors of Commerce” proposal, MNDOT’s seems focused on expanding sprawl. The two largest items are an expansion of I-94 by exurban Rogers (pop 10,000) and an expansion of the 610 ring road out past the edge of Maple Grove (also near Rogers). These two (very similar) freeway expansions account for over half of the $300M “corridors of commerce” budget.
Nate has done similar analysis of CoC projects, and while there might be some good safety improvements (particularly for busy 2-lane rural highways), the vast majority of Dayton’s special slush fund has gone for the worst kind of road expansion, the very stuff that we should be steering away from in the state’s low-car, high-maintenance future.

There’s Always Next Year

This is a familiar refrain to any Minnesota sports fan, so maybe I should be used to it by now. The one good thing about waiting another year (or more) for the transit stars to align is that with each passing year, the declining VMT trend becomes more clear. With each passing year, the cost of climate change becomes more obvious. With each passing year, demographic and cultural desire for alternatives to the single-passenger car grows hotter.

Given a continued DFL trifecta after next year’s election, I’m expecting that next year’s legislative session will have a very strong push for a sustainable source of revenue for transit. Anything less, Dayton’s transit failure will rank up there with great moments in Viking history.



Twin City Doorways #12

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:31am
 [Downtown, Duluth.]
 [West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]
[Milwaukee, WI.]

[Milwaukee, WI.]


[Milwaukee, WI.]
 [Milwaukee, WI.]

 [Milwaukee, WI.]

[Milwaukee, WI.]

Twin City Shop Windows #8

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:28am
[North Saint Paul.]
[West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]

[Saint Clair Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Prior Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Location forgotten.]

[Milwaukee, WI.]

 [Warehouse District, Minneapolis.]
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 4:14pm
Sidewalk Rating: Moist
 He who walks down the street, over there, is immersed in the multiplicity of noises, murmurs, rhythms (including those of the body, but does he pay attention, except at the moment of crossing the street, when he has to calculate roughly the number of his steps?). By contrast, from the window, the noises distinguish themselves, the flows separate out, rhythms respond to one another. Towards the right, below, a traffic light. On red, cars as a standstill, the pedestrians cross, feeble murmurings, footsteps, confused voices. One does not chatter while crossing a dangerous junction under the threat of wild cats and elephants ready to charge forward, taxis, buses, lorries, various cars. Hence the relative silence in this crowd. A kind of soft murmuring, sometimes a cry, a call.  
[Henri Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis.]
[The flooded Mississippi from the top of Saint Paul City Hall.]

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As for Libertarian forums, I often find that I don’t get along with other bearers of my political stripe, particularly since the internet and conventions and rallies tend to draw out the most shrill members of any faction. It’s easier for me to be a libertarian if I don’t have to be around other libertarians all the time. Which is a pretty libertarian thing to say. And probably why we don’t organize well.
[here]
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(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by 95.7 KJR.

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A postcard can be fun to send or receive in the mail. In this digital day in age, it is easy to send a text message or email, but a handwritten postcard can feel much more personal since it requires the sender to find a nice postcard,...[this]
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starting at 5 a.m. and going until 5 a.m. the next morning. We hear from the waitress who has worked the graveyard shift for over two decades, the regular customers who come every day, the couples working out their problems, various assorted drunks, and, of course, cops.
[this]
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In my mind I thought, “Good. They should be frightened. Frightened about the cold, hard truths I’m revealing about their most fundamental beliefs,” but out loud I simply kept screaming “capitalism” even louder than before and I also knocked over a big stack of paper cups.[this]
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