A pop-up protected bike lane was set up at the Open Streets event

First Open Streets Event of 2015 Kicks, Peddles, and Skates off Summer

The pavement of Lyndale Avenue was packed with bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, strollers, wheelchairs, and feet of all ages this Sunday during the first Open Streets Minneapolis event of the year. The Lyndale event also included activities along the avenue for people of all ages, including art projects, games, music stages featuring local artists, BMX and skateboard competitions, a bouncy house, and a pop-up theater. Continue Reading

Leslie Ann Crosby spoke about her four hour a day commute

Transit time hinders upward mobility

Community members, along with leadership from Neighbors Organizing for Change (NOC), Take Action Minnesota, ISAIAH, and several State representatives presented the report It’s About Time: The Transit Time Penalty and Its Racial Implications, which was written by The Center for Popular Democracy, along with additional assistance from local partners. It highlights the racial disparities in the transit system and adds that extra time spent on commuting actually hinders people’s ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Anthony Newby, the executive director of Neighbors Organizing for Change, cited, “the need for more and better funding to get to the heart of racial disparity in transit.” All public transit users spend more time than drivers on their commute alone, but black and Latino transit users spend the equivalent of 3.5 weeks of work more than white drivers on their commute. A May 7th New York Times article reported that commuting time is the single strongest factor that changes the odds of escaping poverty. Continue Reading

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Shut down the train: Newberger’s concerns about prison visitors and metro date back to 2008

As we reported in Mention St. Cloud & visions of prison & North Minneapolis pop into Jim Newberger’s head, the Becker Republican gained unwelcome attention from linking North Minneapolis and the state prison in St. Cloud via the North Star Rail. A review of sources reveals that that Newberger’s concerns about trains carrying visitors to the prison from the metro go back to at least 2008.  It appears what popped into his head in his floor remarks was the specific urban neighborhood, rather than the more general “metro.” While Minnesota state representative describes himself as an evangelical Christian, he doesn’t seem very keen on some of Jesus’s schtick in Matthew about how visiting people in prison is like visiting Christ Himself. Continue Reading

A rally for transportation funding at the state capitol this year.

Transportation bill focused on roads, bridges motors toward full House

A transportation bill that places heavy emphasis on roads and bridges — and, its critics say, neglects metro area transit needs — is headed for the House Floor.The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved an amended version of HF4, the omnibus transportation funding and policy package that proposes to spend $6.6 billion on the state’s transportation system over the next two years and makes Minnesota’s roadways its top transportation priority.The bill proposes to redirect existing revenue streams toward funding roads and bridges. Those measures — the proposed shift of more than $410 million in revenues from vehicle-related sales taxes over the next two years out of the General Fund — were amended out of the bill earlier this week and could be carried in an omnibus tax bill.MORE: What’s in the bill? Previous Session Daily coverage of HF4HF4’s passage would set up potentially difficult negotiations with the Senate, whose DFL majority has proposed a much different funding package that would introduce a new fuel tax and expanded metro area transit-dedicated sales tax to provide more transportation funding.Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing), chair of the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, praised the bill as a step toward moving away from an “antiquated” transportation funding system that relies heavily on the state’s gas tax.“We’re very proud of the bill in front of you,” he said.Included in HF4 are measures that would increase funding to the Corridors of Commerce program aimed at busy commercial routes in Greater Minnesota; create a program for aid to cities under 5,000 residents that aren’t eligible for municipal state-aid street funds; and transfer $228 million of the state’s budget surplus from the General Fund for local highway and Greater Minnesota transit projects.The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday adopted an amendment that removed two further tax-related provisions — sections that would reduce base appropriations related to the motor vehicle sales tax to the Metropolitan Council and restrict the council’s ability to issue debt. Those may also be included in an omnibus tax bill.Painful transit reductions?Opponents repeated their displeasure with a bill they say will force painful reductions in Metro Transit bus service and that takes from the state’s General Fund at the expense of other funding needs.Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) also criticized the bill’s level of investment in funding rail crossing improvements along heavily-traveled oil train routes. An amendment adopted by the transportation committee Monday would appropriate $5 million for grade separation projects at busy crossings; the Department of Transportation has identified more than $300 million in needs.“That’s not even enough to fund one grade separation” project, Hornstein said. Continue Reading

NYC turnstile. Image source: Planyourcity.net

Mainstream Media Misses the Point on Green Line Fare Enforcement

You’re probably reading the various news stories out there regarding the Metro Transitstudy finding between 4.6 and 9 percent of Green Line Riders evade their fares in some way. Blue Line evasion rates are lower, between 2.6 and 3.6 percent. Go ahead and read the click-bait articles for a bit more information, and as always read the study itself to understand the methodology and conclusions.Articles like these bring out the region’s finest; excellent terms like “hoodlum,” “Shiny Toy Train,” “free-loaders,” and “bums” are de rigueur for any worthy internet commenter. But how does the Green Line stack up against other transportation systems?Well, for starters, we know fare evasion on proof-of-payment transit systems is extremely common. The report points out that 1994 fare evasion in the NYC Subway – a completely closed system with turnstiles and transit police – had fare evasion rates between 2.3 and 2.6 percent.Los Angeles had fare evasion rates of 6% before spending millions installing turnstyles with marginal results. Continue Reading

Dan Lubben, co-founder of the University's chapter of the Minneapolis Bike Coalition, leads the group down Southeast Oak Street to discuss ways to improve bicycle traffic. Photo byJames Healy

New bicycle advocacy group aims at students, protected bikeways

From improving existing bike lanes to giving city officials suggestions on upcoming projects, a new advocacy group at the University of Minnesota is working to address cyclists’ concerns.The group is a collaboration between members of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and the Minneapolis Public Interest Research Group. It aims to formulate plans for improving campus-area infrastructure and raise people’s awareness of bicyclists’ issues.“Our goal is to have bike infrastructure that works for students and connects them to the rest of the city,” said Daniel Lubben, an urban studies junior and co-leader of the group.He said the group is focusing on several bike projects that city officials are pushing forward in the coming years, including the Oak Street Southeast Bikeway — a city-funded project that will begin construction this year. The project will create a bike path along the west side of the street. According to a city report, the road carries more than 1,100 bicyclists a day.The group met earlier this month to discuss the new bikeway and examine its potential problems.“It is important to get the earliest generations of bike lanes correct,” said Steve Sanders, the University’s alternative transportation manager.Sanders suggested the group discuss challenges the new bike lane could pose at the busy intersection of Washington Avenue and Oak Street.Lubben said members of the bike coalition asked him and Bailey Shatz-Akin, an environmental science policy and management junior, to lead the bike advocacy group.Shatz-Akin said the group will also focus on proposing updates to the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, a plan aimed at improving bicyclists’ safety and increasing the amount of them in the city.She said the group will analyze the plan and offer suggestions to city officials.About 30 students and bike advocates showed up for the group’s first meeting on March 12. Laura Kling, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s community organizer, said the turnout represents the high amount of involvement people have in cyclists’ issues on campus.Among those who attended the meeting was Rob DeHoff, owner of Varsity Bike and Transit in Dinkytown.DeHoff said he hopes the group can expand on existing bike projects in the University’s area, like the 15th Avenue Southeast bike lane.Chris Stanley, a neuroscience sophomore and member of the group, said the group’s goals will ultimately benefit everyone traveling in the campus area.“We’re a community of people who want to improve the way our street systems work by making it friendly for both cars and bikes,” he said.[See original post here: http://mndaily.com/news/campus/2015/04/08/new-group-rides-student-bicyclists] Continue Reading

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36 Lyn Refuel Station in Minneapolis saves big with LED lighting improvements

The Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) is spearheading a statewide campaign,Light Up Your Station & Save, to help convenience stores reduce energy and maintenance costs and improve their businesses with LED lighting. We spoke with Lonnie McQuirter, owner of the 36 Lyn Refuel Station at 36th Street & Lyndale Avenue in south Minneapolis.  Joel Haskard: Why did you decide to upgrade your canopy lights to LEDs?We have been familiar with LED technology for some time. However, price and financial incentives as well as the long-term reliability of LED lights became clear to us a couple years ago (2013). I was tired of pulling out our 24-foot ladder in the brisk winters to change out our old metal halide bulbs. The ballasts, which use even more energy beyond the bulb itself, also were a pain to deal with.Joel Haskard: Have you seen a reduction in your energy bills?Lonnie McQuirter: We have seen a significant reduction in our energy bills, despite us using our current lights for longer periods than we had with the old metal halide bulbs. Continue Reading

A taxi in Minneapolis; image from City Pages.

Uber protests have precedent

Uber, a ride-sharing business that has been in the Twin Cities since October 2012, is protesting a proposed bill that would require its drivers to have additional insurance coverage.  To be exact, the bill would require online ride-hailing companies to cover their business’ vehicles with $1 million insurance policies.  Current Uber policies do not cover accidents in which the other driver is uninsured, but its drivers are constantly at a high risk for traffic accidents — they’re driving in unknown areas while looking at their phones for directions.  However, Mike White, the general manager of Uber, believes the bill would be both unfair and unreasonable, saying it may cost the state jobs. There is now an online petition against it, and many Uber drivers rallied outside the Capitol last Thursday. Officials on both sides are nearing a compromise, but it’s likely this back-and-forth will continue. Despite Uber’s protests, the bill, which is now out of contention in favor of a different measure, wasn’t unprecedented or out of reach. The required insurance policy mentioned in the Minnesota Legislature is almost identical to the policies that limousine and taxi companies pay. Furthermore, Utah passed a similar bill last week, and Uber announced that the policy was acceptable. Continue Reading