I've spilled a good deal of virtual ink lately on how to reconcile auto-oriented land uses (gas stations, car lots, repair shops) with pedestrian spaces (sidewalks, shops, &c), mentioning how Lake Street seems overly-reliant on car lots, and that University Avenue has a similar automobili-burden which they deal with in variously successful ways.
That said, this week's Sidewalk of the Week (Lyndale Avenue somewhere around 52nd Street) caught my eye precisely because of its auto-pedestrian reconcilation. Here you have a car dealership across the street from a Midas Muffler repair shop, yet the avenue doesn't feel like a godforsaken wasteland. Instead, the Volvo dealership had done a number of nice things with to make their vast parking lots blend into the surrounding infrastructural fabric: they've got a clearly demarcated sidewalk bordered by green grass on both sides, trees along the street, a very slightly raised berm and/or flowerbeds and wooden planters.
They've done all this despite the fact that, at this point on the edge of Minneapolis proper and first ring Richfield, Lyndale Avenue is five lanes wide and rather inhospitable. It's not a street you'd want to needlessly cross. Instead, its very car-centricity makes it a good model for similarly daunting streets like University Avenue and Lake Street.
That said, you can't expect businesses to spend money on sidewalk improvement just as a philanthropic geseture. It would run counter to the very principles of market capitalism. So while it ought not to be very difficult to retrofit car dealerships, repair shops, and gas stations so that they have pedestrian amentities like these along their sidewalks, something like that won't happen unless cities adopt financial carrots (tax incentives) and sticks (assessments). It's certainly in most people interests to recognize that a little bit of foliage can go a long way to acheiving walkability.
Across the street from the sparkling Volvo dealership lies this Midas Muffler shop, which is a little bit more of a mixed bag, sidewalk-wise, offering only few wooden corner planters, and lacking the crucial demarcation between parking lot and sidewalk. But it's still better than most of what I've seen along either Lake or University. And that's why you, Lyndale Avenue somewhere in the mid 50's, are this week's Sidewalk of the Week.