Transpo convo: Phyllis in the snow

“It’s nasty out here,” Phyllis proclaims after crossing University Avenue at Pascal. She was dragging her shopping bag suitcase on wheels in one hand and using a cane in the other. She had started crossing at the green light and the 22 seconds of crossing time didn’t quite allow her to get all the way across, but the cars waited patiently for her to get to the sidewalk.

MORE »

OPINION | What to do with Penn Avenue?

Seems like soon as I arrive at one of these open houses for community transit planning, there’s a particular biking enthusiast who pounces and bends my ear for a few minutes. The Nov. 13 open house for Penn Avenue planning held at the Harrison community center was no exception.

MORE »

A call for sales tax on cars and gasoline

No, I’m not joking. David Levinson wrote about an often overlooked but important subsidy* given to drivers: the lack of sales tax on gasoline and auto/truck purchases. I’m surprised this hasn’t received more attention given the other distortions that see press. Yes, we pay a motor vehicle sales tax when buying a car, but that is supposed to be a user fee for funding roads (well, 60% of it at least). Yes, we also pay state and federal gas taxes, but again those are user fees (the MN gas tax is 100% dedicated to the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund).

MORE »

Minneapolis is hitting the trifecta

If you’re a millennial and you’re looking for a job in a new city, you might have read (or want to read) the November 19th article in The Atlantic about “why it’s so hard for millenials to find a place to live and work”. The problem, it seems, is that the cities with the most upward mobility and the highest median incomes are also the cities with the least affordable housing.

MORE »

MN GOP beware: Biking and pedestrian improvements have broad appeal

Minnesota Republicans captured control of the Minnesota House of Representatives in part by fueling urban versus rural resentment: “Those metro-centric DFLers give everything to Minneapolis and St. Paul.” The truth is, turnout trends associated with non-presidential year elections were a much bigger reason why the DFL lost control of the Minnesota House.

MORE »

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?

MORE »

Suggestions for a safer Jefferson Bicycle Boulevard

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

MORE »

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.

MORE »

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.

MORE »

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).

MORE »
Syndicate content