Transit-oriented development: Quality over quantity

A colleague of mine (from a more urban city) recently visited. When he arrived, I offered to show him around and he wanted to see transit-oriented development (TOD). Hmm…. I wanted to impress him, but I was stumped. Despite all our attention as a city and region to TODs, I don’t believe we have any great transit villages right off the platform where we could go that would really resonate with him. There’s Nicollet Mall and Target Field Station, but I wanted him to say, “wow, this is great!,” but I didn’t feel those would produce that response. Maybe I have impossibly high standards (maybe I’m just getting old and codgery), or maybe the Twin Cities is lagging a bit in the TOD quality department. So I took him for a drive along the West River Parkway and to West River Commons, which impressed him. This begs the question what is TOD and how can we do it better?

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Suggestions for a safer Jefferson Bicycle Boulevard

Here is my open letter to Saint Paul Public Works and Mayor Coleman.

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A quick fix for Minneapolis transit

Last week, David Levinson asked whether we are “building a city” in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. He noted that rail investments only make sense in areas where there is sufficient density to support those investments. He further wondered whether Minneapolis and St. Paul could achieve those requisite densities for a majority of residents in core areas in 20 or 30 years.

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Restore the grid! A vision for the center of Downtown Saint Paul

I live and work in Lowertown. Frequently my errands and wanderings take me up to the Rice Park/Landmark Center/7th Place areas. I’m always either on foot or bike. Over the last two-plus years of living here, I’ve become increasingly annoyed with the presence of the two “SuperBlocks”. These are the blocks that have 7th Street as the northern border, Wabasha Street as the western, 6th Street as the southern and Minnesota Street as the eastern border (See map). They house the Wells Fargo tower and the Bremer Bank tower on the north ends, facing 7th Street. The vacant Macy’s store and DoubleTree by Hilton face 6th Street on the south end. If you are coming from the mostly-pleasant 7th Street pedestrian mall and you want to go over to the eastern side of downtown, the most direct way is through the indoor “shopping” mall and skyway configuration of the SuperBlocks.

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Snowlessons

We can learn a lot from snow. I had a lot of thoughts as I drove around during and after our instant winter (text is above photos).

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Treacherous roads: Should Minnesota employees stay home in bad weather?

(Photo by tux0racer published under Creative Commons License)

Can we all agree that driving is the worst part of snowy weather? The soft coating of white would make our city feel like a magical snow globe were it not for the havoc it wreaks on our roadways.

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Neighbors and buses sideswipe 36th Street Bikeway project

(Photo by Tony Randgaard) The new bikeway east of Lake Calhoun on 36th Street in Minneapolis is separated from the rest of the road by bollards.

For bikers and motorists merging on to the new and improved West 36th Street in Minneapolis the view may be a Tale of Two Cities. For bikers, the best of times and excitement over a separate, partitioned 10 foot wide expressway; for motorists relegated to the other half of the roadway, "Wow, the new repainted traffic lanes look awfully narrow?" Minneapolis recently completed construction of the model 36th Street West Bikeway Project, which converted half of the street into a protected bikeway and pedestrian corridor.

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The impending decline of second-ring suburbs

There is a small war going on in America’s second-ring suburbs.

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Transpo convo: Gardens in the mist

The “Transpo Convo” series asks people how they get around the city, how they would like to get around the city, and what could improve their transportation experiences around the city.

When one asks Jeanne Weigum what could improve her transportation experiences around the city, a conversation about public gardening ensues.

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The case of the missing Lyndale bike connection

On the outskirts of many large, expensive, complicated public works projects, there are often examples of easy little things we could do to improve our cities for very little money. A couple blocks from my humble apartment, the City of Minneapolis is moving ahead with a rebuild of the Hennepin/Lyndale bottleneck that looks to be a real improvementfor pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Just south of that, though, is another thing we ought to do something about.

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