Twin Cities

Monday Photo: Paris vs. Dallas and Mankato

Streets.MN - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 2:40pm

Here is the Tweet seen round the globe, or at least in urbanism circles … writer, Matthias Leyrer, went viral two weeks ago with this directed at a co-worker heading to France for holiday (feel free to check it out and RT it some more). This even sparked a clever Google Streetview Mashup (by Ben Lundsten). The left side of the street is Paris, while the right side is Mankato’s main drag Madison Avenue. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Video: Express Bike Shop

Minnesota 2020 - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 1:39pm

By Briana Johnson, {related_entries id="article_author_blogger"}Briana Johnson, Video Production Specialist

Minnesota 2020 went to the Express Bike Shop in St. Paul to learn more about Youth Express and their apprenticeship program for young adults. Youth Express, a program of Keystone Community Services, is a program created to help young adults develop entrepreneurial skills, work ethic and leadership. Keys Stone's investment to Youth Express helps provide a paid employment opportunity for youth who are joining the work force or those who may have already had a little work history.


Categories: Twin Cities

People Sitting on Things that Aren't Chairs #1

Twin Cities Sidewalks - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:39pm
[Lowertown, Saint Paul.] [Lowertown, Saint Paul.] [Downtown, Saint Paul.] [Downtown, Saint Paul.] [Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.] [Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.] [West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]
Categories: Twin Cities

Podcast #71: Saint Paul Meets Copenhagen with Amy Brendmoen and Jessica Treat

Streets.MN - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:02pm

The podcast this week is a conversation with Amy Brendmoen and Jessica Treat about their recent visit to Copenhagen Denmark. Amy Brendmoen is a City Coucilmember for Saint Paul’s Fifth Ward, which is made up of the Lake Como, North End and Railroad Island neighborhoods. Jessica Treat is the executive director for Saint Paul Smart Trips, which is a nonprofit that runs a bunch of different programs aimed at boosting walking, biking, and transit in Saint Paul.

They were both part of recent delegation from Saint Paul to visit Copenhagen to learn about urban design based around walking and biking, and we sat down in Amy’s office at City Hall to talk about their trip. As you probably know, Copenhagen is the world’s leading city for bicycle mode share, and Amy and Jessica had a lot of things to say about what they learned from meetings with the city’s planners and from their experiences traveling through Denmark and Sweden.

The link to the audio is here.

** Also, we’re in the middle of a fundraising drive for better equipment for this podcast. Please consider joining and contributing a few dollars to help out with costs via the blue button on the right side of your screen! Thanks. ** is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

The Sidewalk Show #2: History and Culture from KFAI's Fresh Air Community Voices

Twin Cities Sidewalks - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 11:42am
One of the things I've been doing on and off over the last year is producing short radio pieces on Twin Cities' arts and culture for KFAI's 10, 000 Fresh Voices program, often about local urban history.My first ever local sidewalk radio piece was a half-hour documentary about Snelling and Selby that I called the "sidewalk show," and I've continued to be interested in telling our city's stories on the air.    For example, I turned last year's East Lake Wok Walk into a 5:00-long piece that you can listen to here.Others include this great piece about Wakan Tipi, the Dakota center of the universe and the ex-cave on Siant Paul's East Side where the womb of the world used to be.  Making compelling radio is a lot of work, and it's great that KFAI and the state's Legacy Fund has helped to provide this treasure trove of stories for all to hear. Check out the archive for yourself. It's full of treasures.
Categories: Twin Cities

Map Monday: Population Change 2000 – 2010

Streets.MN - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 10:12am

This data is starting to get a bit old, but (thanks to a link from Aaron Renn’s great article on race and demographics in Indianapolis), I was clicking around this morning using the NY Times’ interactive census and demographic map.

Here is a map of change in population for Minnesota as a a whole, and the East Metro specifically. You can zoom in to individual census tracts. Yellow is a decline and blue is an increase.

[Minnesota and surrounding borderlands.]

[The East Metro.]

Basically many suburbs were still growing, and apart from downtowns, most cities were still shrinking. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Dancewalk! The Better Way to Cross Snelling Avenue

Streets.MN - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 7:30am

Recently, some crosswalks in Saint Paul have seen pedestrians raising the flag in hopes of a safe crossing. With this video, the SoulPancake Street Team suggests the dance walk as a superior way to cross the street. Might this be a more effective way of catching the attention of distracted motorists while crossing the street? is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

One Way to Deal With a Desire Line

Streets.MN - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 7:00am

Soon enough it will be Winter. Again a landscape covered with white powdery snow will reveal where travelers want to go. The first figure is an aerial shot of the former environment around the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The second figure is in front of (behind) McNamara . Though there is a sidewalk just on the right of this image, pedestrians prefer the straight line path between the Scholars Walk and the diagonal path across Walnut from Beacon Street to the intersection of Oak Street and Washington Avenue. And why shouldn’t they? It’s cold outside. The extra few feet (extra few seconds) are not worth it, even for a cleared path.

In this Aerial photo via Google Maps you can see what the scene looked like before the recent “improvements”. Pedestrians could walk diagonally across Walnut to the Scholars Walk

The 2009 Campus Master Plan for the University of Minnesota is a very clear document regarding transportation. It prioritizes pedestrians, as is completely appropriate for a campus. There is nothing about “modal balance” or other nonsense. [I was involved with the development of transportation elements of the plan. I am also an employee of the University.]

Guideline 35 says:

Develop pedestrian connections that will:

  • Continue to share corridors with other modes of movement along streets or paths;
  • Enable pedestrians to take the most direct route between major destinations;
  • Prioritize pedestrian movement over other modes of travel whenever possible.

Guideline 57 says:

Design signature streets to accommodate all modes of travel, with walking as the highest priority followed by bicycling, transit, and private vehicles.

So you would think when a desire line emerges, it would be considered for improvement since it is evidence of a direct route. Certainly you would think direct paths would be preserved rather than removed.

Desire line at McNamara Alumni Center

Sadly, this desire line used to be the regular sidewalk path until recent landscaping work done at the McNamara Alumni Center. But the people (well about 20% of the people based on my springtime count) could not be kept down by a mere four inches of concrete, they rebelled, in the typically passive-aggressive Minnesota way, by walking across the desire line rather than the rat run of the planner, especially in Winter when the curb is so conveniently hidden under snow, but even in summer, when there were dying plantings showing the ineffectiveness of the curb.

Still, I complained to campus facilities staff about the remodeling (1) making it a worse pedestrian condition, and (2) flying in the face of the campus master plan.

I am told this change was to slow down bicyclists coming from Washington Avenue to the Scholars Walk. I personally never noticed much of a bicyclist problem on the Scholars Walk, and there is Beacon Street right next door (and now Washington Avenue Mall a block away) so I doubt this will continue to be a significant problem. But perhaps a regent encountered a bicyclist.

I am also told that this was not a University of Minnesota, but a University of Minnesota Foundation decision. See the distinction? Me neither, and I work there. They share the domain and the Foundation Board is in part appointed by the Regents. I am sure this is important for tax purposes or some such.

A tree! That’s how we solve a desire line.

Staff said they would try to get this fixed. In spring I even met onsite with a campus planner, who agreed there were better solutions. This summer there was to be work here (to fix some poor construction in the remodel I am told), so there was an opportunity to rectify the situation.

Thus I am surprised to see at the end of this past summer a tree planted where once there was a path, and later a desire line despite curbs aimed nominally at slowing bicyclists and actually just extending the trip of pedestrians (if not increasing the likelihood of their tripping). Now I like trees, but I don’t see them being planted in the middle of streets. So why is it planted where once there was a sidewalk?

Sidewalk at McNamara 1

Sidewalk at McNamara 2

Here we have a tree giving the figurative finger to pedestrians who want to take the most direct route between major destinations (like the Stadium Village Campus Connector Bus Stop on Oak Street and the East Bank of Campus, for instance) in direct contravention of the guidelines of the University’s officially adopted plans.



1. If 1200 people  are each delayed three seconds, that is 1 person hour per day that is lost. I don’t know the pedestrian count, but that seems the right order of magnitude. (I know, this is America, and we don’t value the pedestrian’s time).

Just for Future Reference: Another Desire Line at Nano Building leading from the Rec Center is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Improving LRT Signal Timing in Downtown Minneapolis

Streets.MN - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 8:58am

Almost every train stops at 3rd Avenue N., yet only one car per minute crosses the LRT here.

Although St. Paul’s traffic signals deserve most of the blame for slowing the Green Line, there’s room for improvement in Minneapolis as well. To be fair, Minneapolis deserves praise for its signal timing through the University of Minnesota campus, where trains are seldom delayed. They’ve also established a very good progression for westbound trains from the city limits to the Prospect Park Station, including the right turn from University Avenue onto 29th Avenue SE.

In downtown Minneapolis the results are mixed. As in downtown St. Paul, part of the problem is that intersections that previously split green time between two streets now have that time split three ways—the LRT, the cross street and auto turn movements across the LRT with the LRT stopped. With one-third less green time available, keeping the LRT moving is a greater challenge. This is the situation at 3rd Avenue N., 2nd Avenue N., Nicollet Mall, Marquette Avenue, Park Avenue and 4th Street-Chicago Avenue.

After examining the city’s own reports on traffic volumes (including intersection turn movements by hour of the day), I’ve concluded that there are opportunities to give more time to LRT in downtown without unreasonably disrupting auto traffic. The basic premise is: if auto movements don’t need all the green time allocated to them, that time should be reassigned to LRT. In some cases, the auto movements are small enough that their signal phases can even be preempted without causing undue delays.

The Green Line opening is the catalyst for making this proposal, because it has doubled the number of people traveling on 5th Street. LRT now carries many more people than the autos on most of the streets that cross the tracks. LRT also has to compete for green time with the small number of autos that share 5th Street. They currently get a third of the green time at several intersections, despite carrying a tenth of the LRT’s volume. For those reasons it’s time to take a fresh look at 5th Street signal timing.

Starting at Target Field Station, let’s take the intersections one at a time. To get an apples-to-apples comparison, each LRT passenger is given the same weight as an automobile.

3rd Avenue N.

3rd Avenue N. frequently stops the trains. The signal cycle is divided into three phases, for 5th Street and LRT, for 5th Street left turns across the tracks onto I-394 and for 3rd Avenue N. The left turn and 3rd Avenue N. movements are tiny compared to the LRT, or to any other intersection in downtown. Left turns across the tracks amount to only 5 per hour in the midday and 22 per hour in the PM peak. Traffic on 3rd Avenue N. is only 8 cars/hour in the AM peak, 31 in the midday and 69 in the PM peak. That may seem like a lot, but it’s only one car per minute. They’re holding up trains for one car per minute?

2nd Avenue N.

2nd Avenue N. is a three-way intersection. It’s busier than 3rd Avenue N. Auto and LRT volumes are about the same, but that’s only about 5400 cars and buses on 2nd Avenue compared to 3900 LRT passengers. Although the counts are about even, a review of the auto counts by time of days show only 3 cars per minute on 2nd Avenue in the AM peak, 2 per minute in the midday and 7 per minute in the PM peak. Those are spread over two traffic lanes, so it’s really 3.5 cars per lane per minute.

The other source of delay at this intersection is the 5th Street auto traffic, which crosses the tracks here. It amounts to only 2 cars per minute, except in the PM rush hour, when Garage B empties into a single lane on 5th Street. Then volumes reach 5 cars per minute.

1st Avenue N.

1st Avenue N. green time is only split two ways. 1st Avenue carries twice the traffic as 5th Street in a single lane, so there’s really no room for improvement.

Hennepin Avenue

The same goes for Hennepin, which is the busiest street the LRT crosses. Including 5200 daily bus passengers, Hennepin carries twice the volume of 5th Street. No change possible here. Thankfully, Hennepin has only two signal phases, so delays aren’t bad.

Nicollet Mall

Nicollet Mall is a 3-way signal. The Mall is bus-only and 9000 bus passengers cross 5th Street compared to about 10,700 LRT passengers. We don’t want to slow down the buses. However, there are only 2500 daily autos on 5th Street, 2-3 per minute, so that phase can definitely be squeezed.

Marquette Avenue

Marquette Avenue and 2nd Avenue S. are the paired contraflow bus lanes that carry an enormous volume of passengers on the rush hours, so they’re off limits for peak period cuts to the cross street. However, in the midday there are few buses and Marquette averages only 5 cars per minute divided between two lanes (2.5 cars/minutes/lane), so there’s room for more LRT green time. Marquette is a 3-way light, and the 1600 daily cars on 5th Street get more green time than they deserve (only 3-7 cars per minute), so there’s an opportunity.

2nd Avenue S

2nd Avenue S. is a 2-way light that seldom stops the trains. As with Marquette, rush hour buses need all the green time they currently receive, but off-peak hours offer an opportunity to help the LRT. Like Marquette, In the midday, 2nd Avenue S. sees only 5 cars per minute divided between two lanes.

3rd Avenue S.

3rd Avenue S. has 11,100 cars and no buses. That’s fairly busy (5-7 cars per minute per lane) and more LRT green time may be difficult to justify, even though 5th Street crossing 3rd Avenue S. is now up to 22,500 LRT passengers.

4th Avenue S.

The numbers for LRT versus autos improve greatly at 4th Avenue S. because the Government Center Station passengers have boarded. Now it’s 28,200 LRT passengers plus 2239 cars on 5th Street (total 30,400), against 8500 cars and 638 bus passengers on 4th Avenue for a total of 9138. These lopsided volumes argue for signal preemption.

5th Avenue S.

5th Avenue S. is somewhat busier, 9800 cars and 1455 bus passengers (total 11,255). Auto volumes vary from 7 cars/minute in the midday to 17/minute in the PM peak. Although that may seem high, there are three through traffic lanes on 5th Avenue, so each lane is handling about 6 cars/minute. It would not delay autos to reassign more green time to 5th Street, which has 28,200 LRT passengers and 2239 cars total 30,400. 5th Avenue is another 2-way signal, so there’s more green time to reallocate.

Portland Avenue

It’s even better at Portland Avenue, a 2-way signal that has only 5246 cars and no buses. That makes it almost as low as Victoria Street in St. Paul, where the city is reluctantly experimenting with full preemption (which is working well for LRT, it turns out). LRT combined with autos has almost 6 times the traffic volume.

Park Avenue

Park Avenue is a 3-way signal with 6700 cars and no buses, now that the 94 express has been rerouted. The Park Avenue phase has only 5-11 cars per minute, spread over three lanes, therefore lowering the per lane count to no more than 4 cars/minute, even in the PM rush hour. There are 4 LRT passengers for every car on Park. The right turns from 5th Street onto Park, which get their own phase, amount to only .5-1.5 cars per minute, a tiny volume that could certainly be preempted.

4th Street and Chicago Avenue

The situation at 4th Street and Chicago Avenue, where trains cross diagonally through the intersection, is somewhat more complicated. This has proven to be a real bottleneck for trains. When Blue and Green Line trains to Minneapolis converge at the junction at the same time, one has to wait for the other to clear. The first train then hits a red light at 4th/Chicago that can last two minutes. Once clear of the intersection, there’s the Downtown East Station stop, followed by the light at 5th and Park. This has turned into a cascade of delays for both lines.

Chicago has only 3300 cars (3-5 cars/minute) and will never be a busy street. Reducing Chicago’s green time, even preempting it, is probably the best way to reduce LRT waits.

4th Street has 6800 cars, along with 2083 bus passengers. 4th Street car volumes decreased dramatically when Washington Avenue was closed through the U of M campus. Bus volumes are also down sharply, because Routes 16 and 50 were replaced by the Green Line. Bus passengers on 4th Street declined from 5210 before the Green Line to 2083 now.

However, more express buses and car traffic may soon be shifted to 4th Street to access the new on-ramp to northbound I-35W under construction near Seven Corners. If so, bus passengers will rise by 1500 per day, all in the PM rush hour. If half of the car traffic to northbound I-35W is diverted from Washington Avenue, 4th Street’s car volume will increase by 5000 to 11,500 plus 3600 bus passengers, totalling 15,100. That is divided between two lanes. If my projection is correct, 4th Street will see 4 cars per lane per minute. That rate would permit more green time for LRT.

To summarize 4th & Chicago, I project that their combined auto and bus total will be 18,400 per day, assuming all possible buses are rerouted to the new on-ramp. However, LRT volume is 36,300, thanks to boardings at the Downtown East Station. That 2 to 1 ratio, plus the potential to reduce train delays, argues for more LRT green time.

Time of day variations

Most of the streets that cross the LRT are only busy in the rush hours, with the PM rush hour being noticeably heavier than the AM. Even where preemption cannot be justified in the rush hours, it should be coinsidered during the off-peak. I was recently at 5th and Marquette at 9 PM on a Saturday and watched a train wait at both 2nd Avenue S. and Marquette, even though there was no cross traffic at all. That’s unnecessary. The result will be much faster LRT travel times during the large majority of service hours, hopefully permitting a train to be removed from the schedule, a major savings.

Is priority counterproductive?

Priority can only shorten a red light or lengthen a green by a modest amount. I’m starting to suspect that priority can’t effectively move the LRT through downtown when the LRT green phases are too short. This is particularly true since the added Green Line trains are producing calls for priority every couple of minutes.

I watched the signals on 5th Street to get a better idea of how the LRT signal phases compared with those for autos at each intersection. Disclaimer–Not having access to the city’s actual timing programs, my conclusions are empirical and certainly not precise. Even so, I don’t think my conclusions are too far off.

At the 2-phase intersections (1st Avenue N., Hennepin, 2nd Avenue S., 3rd Avenue S., 4th Avenue S., 5th Avenue S. and Portland) the LRT “Go” signal was on whenever the light was green for 5th Street. That’s good as far as it goes, but out of a 110-second signal cycle, the LRT seemed to get about 30 seconds, or less than 30 percent of the green time. Giving the LRT half the 110-second cycle would double what they presently receive.

30 seconds was generous compared to the 3-phase intersections. The LRT would sit through the other two phases meant for autos, then have maybe 15 seconds of green time, less than 14 percent of the cycle. It appeared that the LRT phases were intentionally only long enough for the train to clear the intersection. If LRT simply received 1/3 of the time, it would more than double to 36 seconds.

It occurred to me that active priority with small LRT windows may be self-defeating. With so many trains moving in both directions, it’s not possible to thread that particular needle, unless the hole is made much larger. Longer fixed LRT green phases with no priority might produce fewer delays than at present.


LRT in downtown Minneapolis was never given green time proportional to the number of people it moves through an intersection.

The opening of the Green Line has greatly increased LRT’s share of the people passing through downtown intersections. At most intersections, LRT transports many more than do automobiles, yet it still receives a small minority of the green time.

At many intersections, green time is wasted on low volume auto phases that could be shortened or preempted with little or no harm to auto flow.

Signal priority with extremely short LRT green time (the current practice at 3-way intersections) is less effective at moving LRT’s than longer LRT green time without priority. Of course, both would be even better. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Sunday Summary – September 28, 2014

Streets.MN - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 7:00am

All the week’s posts arranged, explained and prioritized to help you read what you need:

Important ideas department: has trying to expand the conversation about transportation and land use by increasing equity and intentionally including voices not usually heard. This week, On the Politics of the Rhetoric of Choice analyzes how we describe public transit (and how we might change that conversation). For a personal perspective, read the latest Transpo Convo: Rashaad on Snelling (earlier Convos are here) Finally, for a video look at early transportation equity, watch the short video Women’s Independence and the Bicycle.

Current events: On Tuesday, September 30, joins the Railvolution with a panel discussion at the annual Rail-volution conference with bloggers debating pros and cons of the Skyways, regional transit expansion, and streetcar growth. I’m betting a future post or two will recap the discussion for those of us who didn’t attend the conference.

Citizen engagement department: On the positive engagement side, A Better Block Indeed! PARKing Day Rocks! celebrates one observance of 2014 PARKing Day in Minneapolis where local residents try to improve their space and publicize issues about parking, parks and public life. Some not so positive citizen participation is documented in No Need for Vandalism on the Greenway & Kenilworth which photographs recent anti-Southwest light rail transit statements on the bike paths (with multiple links to past posts which more thoughtfully consider and criticize the project).

Infrastructure improvement department: Recent headlines announced that bridge inspections reveal the St. Paul Kellogg Bridge is structurally deficient; asks how much bridge is required to address the problem Infrastructure Opportunists and the Kellogg Bridge. Motivation For Safer Roads, the comment winner of the week, considers changing how we evaluate the level of service (LOS) of roadways and making transportation engineers’ compensation partly dependent on improvements. Commenters discuss the former with specific examples of possible improvements around Minneapolis.

History department: Minnesota Gadgetbahn – When the Future of Twin Cities Transit Was Up in the Air chronicles the history of Personal Rapid Transit and where it went (mostly nowhere); commenters provide some defense of PRT, additional criticism and a few examples.

Quick looks: The Friday Photo: Two Views of Minneapolis’ Historic Churches shows dramatic scenes not usually appearing on postcards. Gas Stations: Where have they gone? shows one repurposed gas station and wonders what happened to other interesting bits of vernacular architecture which used to be part of the urban landscape. The Urbanist’s Dream City looks at user-friendly density, transit and design in Tokyo. Behind the Green Line takes us on a bike ride from Summit Hill to the Green Line’s starting point (other photo-rides are here). Also take a look at Women’s Independence and the Bicycle describing how bicycles helped women go more places without depending on (male) others for a ride. This week there is one Chart of the Day: Single-family Home Vacancy Rate and one Map of the Day: The Railvolution Guide to Transit Accessible MSP.

The streets of Minnesota have been particularly lovely this week with changing leaves against warm blue skies.  Enjoy it while it lasts and have a great week! is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

No Need for Vandalism on the Greenway & Kenilworth

Streets.MN - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 7:33pm

The Southwest Light Rail debate has been heated. Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of opinion. The debate on was mostly polite. This was either a victory for civility or Minnesotans being Minnesotans.

The best way to understand the complicated debate would be to read Nick Magrino’s “A Southwest Light Rail Explainer” and Jeremy Mendelson’s “Southwest Light Rail: What Are We Trying to Accomplish?” or Bill Lindeke’s “What Southwest Light Rail Conversations Get Wrong. also ran “pro and con” stories back-to-back by Alex Cecchini and Kasia McMahon. I recommend reading both.

Things changed, but not really, this week with the spray-painting of both the Greenway and Kenilworth trails. While paint color differs, the hand-writing is the same (notice the similar “K”), which leads me to believe that this is merely one upset neighbor (and not the doing of any group).

To you angry neighbor, I must applaud. No better way to preserve a beautiful trail than to cover it with poor penmanship. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Friday Photo: Two Views of Minneapolis’ Historic Churches

Streets.MN - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:57pm

Acting on a suggestion from Matt Brillhart, here are two noteworthy views of Minneapolis two most beautiful and historic churches, the Basilica and the Hennepin United Methodist Church.


The former is from Andy Sturdevant’s recent column in Minnpost, and the latter (I think) is from my friend Peter (though I cannot quite recall). is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin Cities Sidewalks - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:08pm
Sidewalk Rating: MagnificentWoolf was fascinated by city life—by the feeling of solitude-on-display that the sidewalk encourages, and by the way that “street haunting,” as she called it, allows you to lose and then find yourself in the rhythm of urban novelty and familiarity.[fm Joshua Rothman's essay on Virginia Woolf's essays on privacy.][The American Queen riverboat docked in Saint Paul.]*** CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LINKS! ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** *** *** ****** *** *** ****** *** *** ****** *** *** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ****** ***
Categories: Twin Cities

Chart of the Day: Single-family Home Vacancy Rate

Streets.MN - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:05am

Here’s a chart about the rising vacancy rate for single-family homes (in general) around the US.

It comes from this interesting article about whether or not there’s an oversupply of single-family homes. Here’s the punchline:

In fact, it turns out that it isn’t only economically struggling areas that have stubbornly high single-family vacancy rates. Many faster growing metros overbuilt during the bubble still have lots of vacant homes.

Your thoughts? is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Women’s Independence and the Bicycle

Streets.MN - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 7:00am

This video is an excerpt from the feature documentary, Victorian Cycles-Wheels of Change, produced and directed by Jim Kellett. The following is the director’s description from Youtube:

Today the bicycle is mainly known as a recreational vehicle and is enjoyed by people in every corner of the world. But at its outset, this controversial machine forged roads into society that revolutionized politics, fashion, and social policy as well as paved the way for the mechanized world of motion to come. Victorian Cycles, Wheels of Change is a fascinating documentary about the bicycle’s coming of age and its tremendous impact on society. It is filled with images of a bygone era, and the people who embraced its change. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Infrastructure Opportunists and the Kellogg Bridge

Streets.MN - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:01pm

Earlier this week, news surfaced that the Kellogg Ave-3rd Street bridge connecting Lowertown and Dayton’s Bluff is structurally deficient. The bridge, built in 1982 by MnDOT, has four vehicle lanes, the outer two largely supported by concrete cantilevers with pier supports built in the middle.

It took only one day before the Infrastructure Opportunists in our state started taking advantage of this situation, and St. Paul officials were happy to play along. Doesn’t this example show the need for more money for roads and bridges? Isn’t this bridge a prime candidate for replacement? Of course, we need to maintain safety for bridge users. But let’s not get tunnel vision when looking at rational responses.

So Far, Irrational Responses

Can’t I Lever?

What happens when a bridge overbuilt for capacity and underbuilt for structure becomes a liability after merely three decades? It becomes a battle cry for the wrong reasons.

City Council president Kathy Lantry says St. Paul is working with “county, state and federal partners to identify funding sources to build a new bridge as soon as possible” according Finance & Commerce.

The City of St. Paul seems set on replacing an already-too-big bridge with an even bigger bridge. “Do we have to repair the piers or not to widen the deck?” asked city engineer John Maczko. He notes that the existing bridge is not suitable for walk/bike/bus. Well of course it’s not, on a bridge where 80% of the deck profile is used for unneeded lane capacity for motor vehicles.

And maybe if MnDOT had invested in a design with a longer lifespan for the city rather than a wider wingspan for cars that never showed up, we would have been able to avoid this jam in the first place.

Yet a rational response must look forward, not backwards.

Four lanes not needed

Concrete Gateway to the East Side

This bridge carries 9,900 vehicles per day (MnDOT, 2013) less than half the traffic of parallel E 7th St four blocks north. By comparison, the 2-lane Smith Ave High Bridge over the Mississippi carries 13,900 vehicles per day – 40% more vehicles with half the lanes. 9,900 vehicles per day falls squarely into the space where two lanes is more than adequate, especially considering that this half mile stretch has no turns or conflict points.

One complicating factor is the Gateway BRT project, designed to connect park & rides in undeveloped Lake Elmo with our urban transit network. The locally preferred alternative would approach Downtown St. Paul by way of Mounds Blvd and this bridge. But this isn’t much of a complication: signal prioritization at the bridge approaches would be likely sufficient to keep buses moving. Dedicated turn lanes at 3rd Street/Mounds Blvd intersection or even a dedicated bidirectional transit lane on the bridge would ensure transit advantage even if there was some shocking increase in vehicular usage of this bridge, despite the overall trend that we’re past peak car use.

Human-scale connectivity to the east side

It’s true, this bridge is hostile to those who walk or bike across it. It has a narrow sidewalk, sandwiched between a curb and a guardrail, and no bicycle facilities. Luckily, there’s a large amount of bridge deck that is not structurally sufficient to support the loads of massive steel cages moving across it, nor is it needed for vehicular capacity even if it was structurally safe.

Our broken funding process is making things worse

CC-A 2.5 / Wikimedia

The strange way we fund infrastructure repair contributes this current irrationality.

If the city spent $8 million to get the bridge to last for another four decades, it would then forfeit the opportunity to get a new bridge (estimated at $40 million) with “outside assistance,” as Public Works spokesman Dave Hunt notes in the Finance & Commerce piece.

So it sounds like St. Paul would rather have someone else build them a larger, fancier bridge that costs at least $32 million more because it would potentially save them from a $8 million expense – at least until the next bridge is due for repair. Don’t listen to the Infrastructure Opportunists: the root of this problem is not a lack of funding, but the inefficient way we plan and fund projects.

A cheap, effective rational response

To recap what we know about the Kellogg bridge:

  • Structural issues with cantilevered piers means no vehicular traffic on outside of bridge deck. Emergency striping change will reduce four lanes down to three, causing Mayor Coleman to direct agencies towards “short-term traffic flow alternatives until a new bridge can be built.”
  • The traffic isn’t there to begin with – seriously, Mayor Coleman. The bridge had far too much lane capacity. The Smith Ave bridge by comparison carries 40% more vehicles on half the lanes.
  • The bridge is hostile to bicyclists and pedestrians, a major factor separating the thriving Lowertown neighborhood from the downtrodden East Side. Stronger links could encourage placemaking on the hill and encourage private investment in the neighborhood which would result in long-term growth of tax base for St. Paul.
  • The city and the Infrastructure Opportunists are already salivating at a $40 million+ replacement rather than a $8 million repair.

Considering this, the obvious solution is to repair the existing bridge in a way that accommodates existing traffic, welcomes new walkers and bikers, and prepares the way for future transit service — for about 75% less than a new bridge. Seriously, it’s that simple. Here are a few potential ideas which would enhance the bridge with sidewalks and cycletracks on both sides, while saving a cool $25-30 million.

St. Paul: Take some of the money saved and invest it elsewhere. I hear you have some potholes that need filling. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

A Public Role in Rail’s Big Battles?

Minnesota 2020 - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 6:00am

By Conrad deFiebre, Transportation Fellow

It's been a while since an oil train exploded anywhere in America, so the red-hot controversy over shipping North Dakota crude by rail has cooled, only to be replaced by another involving the Engine that Divides Us. This one's a heavyweight slugfest between the railroads and the giants of U.S. agriculture and industry.

While about 50 unit trains of Bakken petroleum keep chugging through Minnesota every week en route to distant refineries, practically every other commodity has been plagued by rail shipment delays or prohibitively higher carload rates. As bipartisan federal lawmakers reviewed decades-old railroad deregulation, 24 trade groups representing chemical, steel, cement, plastics, paper and fertilizer industries wrote Senate leaders to complain about a costly, time-consuming process for challenging rate increases before the Surface Transportation Board, Bloomberg News reported.

Then, leaders of the National Farmers Union descended on Washington to protest a railcar shortage that, at a time of bumper crops and depressed grain prices, is further eroding profits, in some cases due to fines for late deliveries. "It should really be imposed on the railroad that did not deliver on time, not the grain deliverer," Doug Sombke, the South Dakota Farmers Union president, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Industrial companies are fighting the railroads mainly over price and relative profitability. Depending on where you set the baseline, rail shipping rates have almost doubled (since 2001, according to the American Chemistry Council) or fallen by nearly half adjusted for inflation (since the 1980 Staggers Act deregulation, according to the Association of American Railroads). Stock-market appreciation for the railroads, which have consolidated from about 40 Class I lines pre-Staggers to seven today, has far outstripped that of chemical firms as measured by Standard & Poor's indexes, however.

"There will always be an ongoing debate between the shippers and the rails," transport analyst Justin Long told Bloomberg News.

That's been true since the 1800s, but the challenges Upper Midwest farmers face to ship their crops today may be unprecedented. With Bakken oil hogging the rails, allegedly in exchange for under-the-table payment premiums, 100 million bushels of grain sat in Minnesota elevators and another 100 million bushels were stored on farms, the Star Tribune reported in late August.

"When you're sitting in a grain elevator waiting for cars to load, and every day you see oil trains pass by, it just adds insult to injury," Bob Zelenka of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association told the newspaper. Meanwhile, a state corn harvest estimated at 1.3 billion bushels is about to begin.

Not all of that bounty will move by rail. Much of it usually goes downriver by barge, and it's likely that some along rail lines will be switched to big trucks. But that may pile more costs on Minnesota farmers who lost $109 million in revenue during just three spring months this year, mainly because of shipping problems, the state Department of Agriculture reported.

The Bismarck Tribune reported in August that access to rail cars was fetching up to $4,000 on a secondary market, and that some millers paid an extra $1.50 a bushel for over-the-road trucking when their grain supplies ran short. North Dakota officials signed a deal with the Port of Vancouver, Wash., to send non-farm products from the Pacific Ocean port by 180 dedicated rail cars that will regularly return loaded with Peace Garden State grain.

"We cannot store our way to prosperity," Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told the Forum News Service. Some critics questioned the food safety of shipping grain in boxcars that also carry cement, fertilizer and other products, but desperate times call for desperate measures. 

How desperate is it? The Surface Transportation Board can order railroads to prioritize some shipments over others but rarely does so, according to another Bloomberg News report. A board spokesman said it intervenes only to avoid "substantial adverse effects."

In recent weeks, bipartisan elected leaders from conservatives in the Dakotas to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton have suggested the time for action has arrived. As an anticipated record harvest approaches, "There's great apprehension in how things will go this fall," North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple told the board at a hearing in Fargo. Dayton wrote to the board of "the dire circumstances that Minnesota farmers face and the need for increased accountability and clarity" from the railroads.

Balancing the transport needs of the nation's agriculture, energy and industrial sectors -- as well as Amtrak passenger timetables severely disrupted by rail bottlenecks -- is a difficult but necessary job. An opaque deregulated market seems to be making a mess of it. Could some old-fashioned government command and control do any worse?

Categories: Twin Cities

A Better Block Indeed! PARKing Day Rocks!

Streets.MN - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:58am

Last Saturday some neighbors, local business owners and I put on a Better Block event, and for one glorious day a pretty darn good commercial corner of Minneapolis (42nd Street and 28th Avenue) was made a much better place with trees, an on-street bike rack, a PARKlet, live music, a Ping-Pong table, and most of all, people enjoying themselves in our public space. There were even bubbles.

Here is what we did (above). A few rolls of sod, table and chairs, a bookshelf with books and games and bench for reading. Hay bales demarcate the bike rack and flowers to form the edge of the PARKlet. We borrowed four trees and placed them on the boulevard where we thought permanent trees should be. The result was an instantly transformed place. That first cup of coffee and game of checkers at 7:30 was wonderful.

Soon more people began to show up. By 9AM people were congregating in spaces never used before. Above you see a guy sitting on the bench reading, a kid playing himself in chess, people heading to the Angry Catfish and A Baker’s Wife for their morning java and pastry, and kids sitting in the grass and the mats reading and playing games. I was pretty happy that so many parents were willing to let their kids be so close to moving traffic. Keep in mind that we strategically placed the PARKlet (AKA “The 28th Avenue Terrace”) and bike racks in front of existing businesses A Baker’s Wife, Busters and Angry Catfish not only to capture energy from their customers but to enhance those customers’ experience. Time and again during the day this relationship produced wonderful synergies with how people used the public space.

Now look at the above photo. Not only are people sitting on the curb with their feet on the PARKlet grass, but perhaps more impressive are the people next to them who sitting on the curb with their feet in the regular old street with the dirt and cigarette butts. They’d never have done this if the space next to them wasn’t comfortable for people. I find this very fascinating and quite heartening.

Continually through the day people sought out the precious shade provided by these little maples. I saw people of all ages sitting or standing, doing a variety of activities, and they instinctually found shade. And kids just sat down on the sidewalk and played games…imagine that!

One of the many goals of Better Block is to attract attention to a vacant commercial property, which may one day lead to a new business. Across the street Randy’s lot and building at 4201 28th Avenue has sat vacant for years, and one of the rumors that has swirled about is that an ice cream shop would go in there. So we activated the gravel lot for a day with table and chairs, Ping-Pong, and beanbag toss. Hoodstarter showed up to crowdsource neighbors’ votes for what should go in to the space. See the results here. And for one day only…

…we listened to the crowd and opened a pop-up ice cream store.

And there was music on the 28th Avenue Terrace, including a jazz quartet from South High. The “terrace” was strategically located within earshot of the Busters and Catfish patios, but people of all ages also gathered close to listen. Kids naturally sought out mats to sit on, and folks again migrated to the shade. One person remarked to me that he hadn’t even noticed that the trees were in pots; they seemed so natural, it was as if they had always been there.

By late morning the bike racks were full, kids (and Busters) had drawings all over the sidewalk in chalk, books and games were strewn about, people took the liberty of jaywalking between the PARKlet and Ping-Pong, and the Police showed up (thankfully to chat with neighbors, not to see my obstruction permit!), and the band played on.

At high noon Ward 12 Councilmember Andrew Johnson read a book to the kids. Take this image in for a moment. Johnson is sitting on a bench on the grass in the street and the kids are sitting on mats on the sidewalk right next to the curb, some of them in the shade. This would never happen without the provision of a few simple things like a tree and bench, etc., in other words, a reason to be there! On any other day a car would be parked in this very spot. Just imagine how much better our public spaces could be with a few simple permanent additions.

In the early afternoon Busters was open and people sat on the patio drinking beer and listening to the Family Three play a barefoot set on the 28th Avenue Terrace. Shortly thereafter Friends of Roosevelt Library showed up with more books and to lobby for longer library hours. The librarian read yet another book, and once again, they naturally selected a spot in the shade. We need these trees! As well, all day I noticed a drastic reduction in the speed of cars passing by. Time and again, people, flowers and music caught drivers’ attention and they slowed down. It’s true, rock ‘n’ roll stops the traffic! Actually, our intention was never to shut the street down or stop the traffic entirely, but simply to have traffic move slower, making it safer and more pleasant for all.

In one sense Better Block is a one-day demonstration of all that is possible in our cities. In another, it is simply providing a little extra incentive for people to stick around and enjoy themselves in our public spaces. What if every day there were trees, a bike rack, a PARKlet, a bench, and chess? And what if some of it was indeed in the street? And maybe a new business at 4201 28th Avenue. Imagine that. As Better Block showed, this is all possible.

This was crossposted at Joe Urban. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Motivation For Safer Roads

Streets.MN - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 8:00am

Motivation is an interesting thing. As a manager I was always interested in how best to motivate employees to achieve what was most important for our company. Many people that I hired were motivated simply to do a great job and for these folks the best thing to do was to give them what they needed and get out of the way. The result would consistently be phenomenal.

This hasn’t seemed to be the case with traffic engineering in the U.S. The result hasn’t been phenomenal. It’s been a failure. In fact, we have the the most dangerous road system of all developed countries and, thanks to gobs of lanes and high speed traffic, some of the most uninviting places.

In The Goal Eli Goldratt makes a point of the problems that are caused by focusing too much on one single metric—efficiency. This may also be key in the failure of traffic engineering in the U.S., the seemingly single-minded focus on Level Of Service, or LOS.

One problem with LOS is that it is not a measure of level of service at all but only of level of delay for motor vehicles.

LOSDelay (Seconds) A< 10 Seconds B10 - 20 C20 - 35 D35 - 55 E55 - 80 F> 80 Seconds

MnDOT and other agencies talk a lot about safety and about serving the needs of ‘all users’ but what apparently happens when things get down to the drawing board is the only thing left is this lone number and that is what drives the design. Safety is apparently no longer so critical. Nor are the needs of all users. Nor is the impact on people who live, shop, or work nearby. Only LOS.

This certainly makes life easier for traffic engineers. And more dangerous and unpleasant for the rest of us.

People be damned, just get the cars through.

True LOS

Let’s make LOS a better measure and align it with our goals.

Along with good flow of traffic, we want to reduce deaths, injuries and the negative impact of traffic on people who live, work or shop near our roadways. We’d like to better serve all users including pedestrians, disabled, and bicycles. Fortunately these are mostly mutually beneficial, for instance, increasing the mode share of walking and bicycling reduces motor vehicle traffic, noise, pollution, and danger. Less motor traffic decreases delay at junctions.

First, let’s include delay for all users, not just cars.

On the safety side let’s add four measures; motor vehicle (MV) deaths per capita, MV injuries, Pedestrian/Disabled/Bicycle (PDB) deaths and PDB injuries[1].

We also want to make things more safe, comfortable and inviting for active transportation — people walking, riding bicycles, or disabled — so let’s include a mode share element. This will be measured for each junction whenever possible and will be a reduction in points (improvement). Each percent improvement will be worth 3 points.

Some Motivation

Since traffic engineers don’t seem to be motivated by doing a good job and creating a great roadway system, perhaps we can motivate them with money.

Note: Though I would lump most traffic engineers I’ve encountered in to this group, there are a growing number who are fighting hard to bring the profession out of it’s antiquated 1950’s belief system that has given us the world leading death rates we have today.

Similar to pay in the private sector, let’s set the pay of traffic engineers so that 30% of their current salary is ‘at risk’ and based on the LOS that they achieve. For easy math let’s assume they currently make $100k so now $30k will depend on how well they do their job.

Since they don’t seem to like too much change let’s keep the basic LOS scoring system where the goal is as low a score as possible. So, a LOS of zero is ideal and about 25 is still their initial target and achieving that will pay 100% of their target pay. For each point better (lower score) they will receive an additional 3% and for each point worse (higher score) they will lose 2%.

LOS AttainmentPayout % 1172% ... 23106% 24103% 25100% 2698% 2796% ... 750%

Since we are so far behind other developed nations and it will take some time to catch up, it wouldn’t be fair to engineers to dump this expectation on them all at once. Let’s phase it in over 5 years at 6% per year. So, in 2015 6% of their salary will be based on LOS achievement, in 2016 12%, etc.


County 96 and Hodgson Rd in Shoreview, MN. Lower right is a grade school. Other corners are a mix of office and retail. There are two senior housing coops just to the north of the image as well as a middle school. This area gets fairly high pedestrian, bicycle, and disabled traffic for a suburb thanks to the generally very good MUPs in the area.

County 96 and Hodgson Road in Shoreview.

Current LOS is B with an average delay of 19 seconds[2]. Average delay for bicycle riders and pedestrians however is about 64 seconds which gives us an overall average of 41.5[3].

Add 14.42 points for motor vehicle deaths in Ramsey County, 17.64 for pedestrian/disabled/bicycle deaths, 12.77 for MV injuries and 14.80 for PDB injuries which all gets us to 101.13.

The mode share for this specific junction is a guesstimated 0.5% for pedestrians and 1% for bicycle riders so we get a 4.5 point reduction leaving us at 96.63 points for this junction.

County 96 & Hodgson Rd (Current) 96 & Hodgson (Current):ValueWeightingPoints Delay: MV19 Delay: Ped/Bicycle/Disabled64Avg41.5 MV Deaths (per 100k population):2.88514.4 Ped/Bicycle/Disabled Deaths:0.712517.75 MV Injuries638.470.0212.7694 Ped/Bicycle/Disabled Injuries:59.210.2514.8025 101.2219 Pedestrian Mode Share:0.0053-1.5 Bicycle Mode Share:0.013-3 Total Score:96.7219

So, what’s a traffic engineer to do?

Their initial goal is to get this and other junctions down to 25 or lower. Neither increases in safety nor mode share alone will likely get them there, but modest improvements in each will.

One slip lane plus 7 other lanes to cross this thing. A safe left turn for pedestrians, disabled, or bicycle riders using crossings and signals can take up to 4 minutes. I ran this junction, including MNDOT traffic volumes, by a Dutch engineer. He said that Hodgson Rd (the north-south road) would likely never be more than two lanes at any point (it’s 4 to 6 lanes here). Ramsey Cty 96 (east-west) is borderline but would likely be two lanes if this were a roundabout (which he said could be either a single or two lane roundabout) though might be four. They would never have the slip and turn lanes we have.

As a department their first focus will be on decreasing deaths and injuries across the county since this will effectively improve LOS at every junction. They’ll lower some speeds[4], begin eliminating rights-on-red and slip lanes, and introduce a lot more roundabouts. We’ll likely see fewer lanes in general and many fewer turn lanes (especially at junctions with high numbers of people).

I wonder if they’ll discover that narrower driving lanes and roundabouts decrease distracted driving and improve safety since they require a bit more attention than our wider lanes and intersections? Whatever they do, we’ll have the traffic engineers attention and now they’re focusing on our safety rather than just speeding us through intersections.

An initial target of a 33% reduction in both deaths and injuries would seem attainable (we’d need a 59% reduction to be average for all OECD nations, but that might be asking a bit much). This gets us to 61.95 and more importantly saves about 140 people from being killed by drivers each year.

I wonder who these 140 will be? Will you or I know one of them?

Increasing mode share may be the easiest. Make this and other nearby junctions very safe, comfortable, and efficient. Make walking or riding a bicycle just as good as or a better alternative than driving for short trips. With much of traffic through this junction being somewhat local (rather than long distance commuting) a mode share of 5% for pedestrians and 6% for bicycles and disabled should be reasonable and now we’re at 33.45.

Let’s not forget the mutual benefits of most of these changes. Less MV traffic, shorter light cycles, maybe a simultaneous green for people riding bicycles, and both MV and PDB delay have decreased to 18 seconds.

The result of all of this is a score of 24.95, a 103% payout, and thus a well deserved $3,000 bonus (before taxes) for our traffic engineers.

A bit more reduction in injuries or deaths gets us another point and a 106% payout.


If you wonder how we’ll pay for these bonuses, the savings for Ramsey County from fewer crashes alone will more than cover the costs[5]. And that’s only the beginning of the monetary benefits not to mention all of the other benefits.

Fair? It’s not like we’ll be asking our traffic engineers to be as good as their peers elsewhere, but only about half as good. Is that asking too much?


[1] To guard against uncontrollable fluctuations one year to the next these will be three year running averages. We’ll use deaths and injuries per capita instead of per vehicle mile travelled because our overall goal is not just safer roadways but safer communities. This will help keep traffic engineers and planners focused on their role in the big picture not on one disconnected element. For instants, they will become interested in city planning elements that reduce the need to drive as much or as far. These will be calculated on a county-wide basis.

[2] The numbers used in this example are as accurate as I’ve been able to quickly obtain. Highly accurate numbers are not critical for our example purposes.

[3] Note that these are not necessarily comparable since motor vehicles often go through without even slowing while pedestrians, bicycle riders, and disabled must always stop to push a button and wait. A MV not slowing gets a delay of 0 while a bicycle rider who gets an immediate crossing gets a 1. However, the delay for the bicycle rider is actually much greater than this one point indicates.

[4] Note I didn’t say speed limits but speeds. The need will be to reduce actual speeds not just change speed limits.

[5] Costs of police, fire, and other services for each crash as well as damage to county property. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities

Transpo Convo: Rashaad on Snelling

Streets.MN - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:52pm

[This is part of's "transpo convo" series, which aims to be an oral history of getting around the Twin Cities, one person at a time.] 

Rashaad, on tour of northbound Snelling Avenue.


“I bike for everything,” Rashaad says, heading north on Snelling Avenue.  He had just crossed I-94 on the Snelling Avenue bridge.

“I like to look at the scenery.  There are some nice areas to bike down by the river.”

Rashaad estimates he bikes about 15 miles per day.  “If I gave up tobacco products, I think it would help,” he admits.

“I moved to my current place in the White Bear area about three years ago.  Before that I still lived in the area,” Rashaad states, noting that he has lived his entire 27 years in the metro area.

“I wanted to have a car.  But, I’ve been biking so long and now that the train is here and there are buses, I don’t really need it,” he shrugs.

Rashaad finds many benefits to biking.  Besides being able to enjoy the scenic parts of the city, he says, “It’s good exercise.  I save money.  I’m preventing pollution.

“See those ‘no parking’ signs?” Rashaad asks, pointing.  “There could be more of those and these bike path lines could be made brighter so people could see them,” he notes, describing ways that biking could be made easier for him.

He adds, pointing southward, “The Summit area– they do a better job.”

“I bike everywhere,” Rashaad reiterates.  “I use my backpack for carrying things.”

“I make a lot of small trips to get just what I need.  I could save money by going for one bigger trip.  I’ve got to figure something out for that,”  Rashaad describes how he carries things home after running errands.  “I bus it a lot for groceries.”

Rashaad rides away, heading west and north on some side streets before re-entering northbound Snelling Avenue. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

Categories: Twin Cities