26.6.08

The Case of the Militant Pedestrian

[Image from Dusty Lens]

This is a story that happened to a friend of mine a few months ago.

He was walking along University Avenue near the site of the 35-W bridge rebuilding project, on his way from somewhere to somewhere else, minding his own business on the sidewalk. Now, I should mention that the 35-W bridge area is kind of a crazy place to be these days, as particularly around Rush Hour it starts to resemble Times Square with cars streaming over the river crossing willy-nilly trying to find alternatives, trying to get onto the freeway and to homes in the Northwestern suburbs along the city streets. For a while after work gets out traffic cops man the corners every afternoon throughout near Northeast Minneapolis, waving their arms like lion tamers in a routine that must surely get painfully old for everyone involved.

So my friend is walking along and he comes to one of the busier intersections near the bridge where cars are backed up, everyone trying to turn and get onto the 3rd Avenue Bridge or onto university to head towards the freeway entrance. He's walking along the sidewalk until he gets to the stoplight, and waits there, looking over at the line of cars, looking up at the red light and the pale red "don't walk" sign as it compels him to stop and smell the flowers (or exhaust fumes, as the case may be). The corner is fairly busy, and he's standing next to another U of MN student type walking back to Dinkytown.

At last the light blinks green and the sign says "walk" and he steps off the curb. And that's when the definitive event occurs.

...

Apparently a car had been inching out into the intersection, trying to turn left, and ended up stranded in the middle of the intersection, "blocking the box" as cars now started coming from the opposite direction as the light switched. This car was stuck trying to push the rules of traffic a little too far, and my friend was walking through the crosswalk obeying the signs, enjoying his right of way on his way home.

The guy next to him on the sidewalk, though, said all of a sudden, "Hey wait, let this car through", and that's when my friend turned militant.

"No," he said at least as much with his body language and continued through the crosswalk on his way somewhere. "That's rude", said the other guy.

And that made it stick in my friend's head, long enough to relate the story to me some time later.

Was it rude? Who deserves to be in the street in this situation?

You have a number of people claiming space, and asserting their right to the asphalt. You have the pedestrian, walking home on their two feet, continually paranoid about being hit by cars, looking both ways and nervously occupying the margin between the private houses and the traffic flow. You have the cars on their way home, properly obeying traffic laws, who are suddenly stuck behind a car that's in their way, trying to turn on a red light. And you have the guy who's stuck in the middle of the intersection, who thought he could make it while the light was green, now desperately trying to get out of the way of everybody else.

Something's got to give, and, at least according to my friend, it shouldn't be the person on foot.

Well, who's in the right? What should you do?

In my mind, the answer largely depends on where you are. In New York City, the pedestrian is very much in the right to walk in front of the cars without thinking twice about it. There are a ton of people who are walking around all the time, the sidewalks are packed, and the pedestrian population has achieved a "critical mass" that allows it to assert and claim for itself the space between the crosswalk lines. (New York recently passed a stringent "don't block the box" law that assigns steep fines for cars that get stuck in the middle of intersections in situations like this, meant to discourage overly-aggressive driving.)

In most of the Midwest, on the other hand, it's a lonely man who walks the sidewalk. Cars turning left almost always get their way by cheating through the intersection.

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #9

In honor of militant pedestrianism...



... the classic sidewalk scene from Midnight Cowboy (1969).

23.6.08

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #8




... It's the scene from Ladri di Biciclette (1948) where Antonio gets chased from the alley and wanders off to sit on the sidewalk and hang his head, before trying and failing to steal a bicycle in front of his young son. Perhaps the saddest of all sidewalk movies?

21.6.08

<<< News Flash! >>>

[On top: the Durham sidewalk project one year ago. On bottom: the same sidewalk today.]

Sidewalk Rating: Summertime

It's been a while, and I'm traveling the country by train again, spending some time revisiting Durham, North Carolina (among other places). Extremely devoted readers of this blog may remember a report on the sidewalk restoration project in downtown Durham that I wrote about last year.

Well, the sidewalks are finished now, and Durham looks fabulous. There is still little sign of much increase in economic activity here,r though, as the slow condo economy has prevented much investment in the historic buildings in this very auto-oriented Southeast environment.

But its a nice place to walk around, and it hasn't been too hot. Plus, Durham Bulls games are a fabulous treat.


<<<>>>


Driving around so much in my rental car, I'm really experiencing life on the road for the first time in a while. It makes me appreciate this recent post by the Strib Roadguy about the rules of the road.



So, today’s quiz show topic is “Who’s More Annoying?” The contestants:

Car 1: A law-abiding citizen, this driver went at or below the speed limit for many miles on a curvy road with few or no spots to pass. Never engaged in risky behavior, never pulled over to allow faster vehicles to get past.

Car 2: Unwilling to accept his fate stuck behind Car 1, he apparently had no ability to learn, as the butt-crawling never worked, yet he persisted.

Car 3: A large vehicle with the longest stopping distance, it had nothing to gain by riding closely behind Car 2.


I intentionally drive at about the speed limit, like they do up in Canada. I guess that makes me annoying.

You can see the lengthy discussion of this situation on the Strib site. It's an interesting mediation of the different perspectives of road behavior. It's amazing how much time we spend as a culture thinking and talking and thinking about all the microscopic details involved in driving on roads. It only makes sense given what a big part of our lives auto-commuting has become.

But still, driving is inherently boring! It's dull, dull, dull! You just sit there, and occasionally you move your arm. You can't even turn your head and look out the window for fear of plowing into something. It's probably the least interesting thing you can possibly do with your time. Sure there's a certain peaceful serenity to the experience, but were it not for the car radio, people in cars would be the functional equivalent of zombies.

Spending a great deal of time thinking about driving a car seems like a great deal of wasted energy to me. Wouldn't it be far better to be reading a book while riding a train?


<<<>>>


I helped with the video shoot for this short video on Saint Paul's Instant Runoff Voting campaign.



As the local notables suggest, IRV or Ranked Choice Voting is a great democratic system because it:

  • eliminates the "spoiler effect" for third party candidates (e.g. Nader 2000)
  • tends to minimize negative campaigning
  • is more inclusive of outside and unorthodox opinions
  • is cheaper, in the long run, because it eliminates the primary
  • tends to increase turnout
Now, it turns out there's some pushback from some of the Saint Paul city officials, who claim that IRV/RCV is too expensive or illegal. I'd like to think that it's simply a matter of concerns in a tight budget year, but isn't it likely that some Saint Paul councilmembers are concerned about job security in the new, more democratic environment?

(Turnout for city elections in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis is terribly low!)


<<<>>>


Five articles from elsewhere:



<<<>>>


Ridership is up on Metro Transit, of course.

In the Twin Cities, 11 percent of commuters have blown past their break point of $3.50 per gallon gas and already are making changes. Another 27 percent are poised to make changes if gas hits the $4 mark.
We're nearly there with the average price of regular unleaded in the Twin Cities at $3.82 a gallon, up 39 cents from a month ago and 68 cents from a year ago, according to AAA. Twincitiesgasprices.com, a Web site that compiles reports from members, showed prices above $3.90 at several area stations Thursday.

And if the price hits $4.50 per gallon, more than half of the commuters in the Twin Cities said they'll be looking at changes in their daily commute.

Even if people want to look at alternatives, the unfortunate truth for the vast majority of TC residents is that there aren't any alternatives to the long car commute. Most people live in houses ill served by any sort of public infrastructure, far away from sidewalks, corner stores, or transit. And most jobs have moved away from the kinds of places that can be easily served by mass transportation. For example, the "third downtown" along the 494 in the Southwest Metro is composed mostly of a series of isolated office parks and stand-alone buildings. How will people ride transit to jobs at the Best Buy HQ, to give but one example?


<<<>>>


Here's another blog about sidewalks from an Juneau, Alaska newspaper, called Sidewalk Blog.

It's not really about sidewalks, unfortunately.

It's mostly about hiking, environmentalism, and energy issues.

<<<>>>


Adam Platt puts the finishing touches on the U of MN's trouble with trains.

The bottom line is the U almost (still may have) jeopardized federal funding for the most important public transit effort of the decade simply because it doesn’t want to have to deal with traffic mitigation issues on Washington Ave., which will have to close to cars.

If the U is actually the intellectual hub of our state, the place where the most unbiased, forward thinking happens, might anyone there have noticed gasoline is $4 a gallon? Might they not have wondered if many of their students living hand-to-mouth and middle-income staff and faculty driving gas-guzzling cars or riding buses in freeway gridlock might not benefit by an LRT line through campus built sooner rather than later?

Personally, I can't wait for 2014. Of course, I'll be long gone from the U of MN campus by then.


<<<>>>


Three photos:

1) A deer on the sidewalk in South Minneapolis -- h/t Treehouse Party






2) What looks to be the sidewalk in front of the La Parisien condo building on Lyndale -- h/t Uptown Mpls Blog


3) The dust-ridden streets of Inner Mongolia -- h/t Benoit Aquin at Walrus Magazine

17.6.08

Sidewalk of the Week: Malcolm Avenue SE


[The Witch's Hat Water Tower towers over Pratt School in Prospect Park.]


A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be going past Prospect Park during its annual Pratt School Ice Cream Social. It was an overcast cloudy day, a bit drizzly, but it happened to be the only day of the year where the distinctive “witches hat” water tower is let open to the public. Someone in the park department manages to let the good citizens climb up to the highest point in Minneapolis, to look down on the fair city from just under the brim of the Witch's Hat. You have to wait in a bit of a line, but once you get there you're welcome to climb the near-endless spiral of stairs along with everyone else in the neighborhood.


[The car's eye view of the Pratt Ice Cream Social reveals a primary colored castle looming in the distance.]


The event, called the Pratt Ice Cream Social, is a fundraiser for the neighborhood school, Pratt Elementary, which sits in the shadow of the water tower, in heart of the Prospect Park neighborhood. The neighborhood blocked off the streets for a couple blocks surrounding the school, and root beer floats, ice cream, brownies, and a variety of other kids games mixed with food, including the beanbag toss and ‘jumpy castle’.

It made me thankful for the Twin Cities’ wonderful street fair season, part of the general spirit of frivolity that comes with the onset of summer after months of wintertime stir-craziness. Like Grand Olde Day (which just ended) or a number of other festivals in various TC neighborhoods, neighborhoods through the city tell cars to shove it for an afternoon and become street fairs, or parades, and people come out of their homes and mingle with the neighbors. Even though I don’t live in Prospect Park, I saw a few folks I knew (like State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Papa John Kohlstad, and Councilmember Cam Gordon’s assistant Robin Garwood).


[All it takes to change your street around is a traffic cone.]


I’d really like to see more Twin Cities neighborhoods do things like this… It's really terrific to see the way that, with such a simple move like putting up a yellow-and-white striped barrier, a neighborhood can transform itself into a wonderland of street activity. That's definitely what happened along Malcolm Avenue on this particular Friday. The very same pavement that had normally served to zip cars around the curving Prospect Park streets became a place for feet, children, tables, dancing, mingling, and families. Everyone packed into this little two block stretch and enjoyed the warm rain.

[The proverbial ball toss.]


Prospect Park, though, is kind of a unique case that has a distinctive, strong, and probably slightly oppressive neighborhood identity. As I understand it, the neighborhood was threatened during the construction and planning of Interstate 94, which was slated to go right through the middle of the community (and demolish a F. L. Wright house). This caused the neighbors to band together to lobby for an alternate route, and the current compromise route where 94 runs through a concrete trench around the edge of the Prospect Park neighborhood.

Since then, the neighborhood has been dealing with the ever-encroaching presence of the University of Minnesota (and their eminent domain rights) which not only constantly tries to build new properties in the Prospect Park area, but emits an endless stream of students with rent checks looking for cheap housing. As a result, the Prospect Park neighborhood has an unusually high degree of political activism and Not-In-My-Back-Yard sensibility.

[A little kid steps on the curb and, for once, his mother doesn't seem to worry.]


But even though the Prospect Park (and esp. its neighborhood group PPERRIA) has a clicque-ish reputation I was touched by the diversity of people who attended the Pratt social on a drizzly overcast Spring day. Young and old, black and white, wet and dry, happy and sad ... (well, nobody seemed really sad)... everyone came down to the Ice Cream Social!


[All ages gather and mark space along the street in Prospect Park.]


6.6.08

Sunset Clause Added

Good news!

Thanks to Noah Kunin at the UpTake, I just heard that a sunset clause was added into the "free speech" ordinance at the Minneapolis City Council meeting today.

Apparently, every other one of Councilmembers Gary Schiff and Cam Gordon's amendments were voted down. But at least they were able to make the privatization of Minneapolis's sidewalks a temporary matter.



Update:

This added note from the Mnspeak thread:

Just got this note from Gary Schiff:

In an 11-2 vote, the City Council adopted a revised resolution today that lays out a permit process for groups planning to hold demonstrations that would block pedestrians from city sidewalks or crosswalks.



The sidewalk permit process is modeled after a similar policy in Washington D.C. and calls for groups planning public assemblies that block other pedestrians from using sidewalks and crosswalks to voluntarily register the gathering with the city.



A motion made by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (Eighth Ward), successfully limited the new rules to the duration of the Republic National Convention, September 1st  4th, 2008.



While I dont agree that we need to create sidewalk protest permits, I am pleased that it is not permanent, Council Member Gary Schiff said. Schiff joined Council Member Cam Gordon (Second Ward) in casting the two dissenting votes. Sidewalks are for everyone, and police have adequate powers to separate groups if a conflict arises. Reserving a sidewalk for any one group raises questions about access for people who live, work and shop nearby.



On Tuesday, Council Members Schiff and Gordon held a press conference with the American Civil Liberties Union, Women Against Military Madness and ACORN opposing the proposed language. AFSCME Council 5 and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation have sent letters to the City Council expressing their opposition. The Star Tribune editorial board urged the council not to adopt additional permits and wrote The plan would create a strange new environment in which organizations might try to preempt each other's protests -- say, on the sidewalk in front of a convention hotel.



Portions of the resolution dealing with police process for crowd dispersal were sent back to the Public Safety & Regulatory Services committee for additional discussion.
»» Submitted by kaydubyayteetee at 2:30 PM on June 6

5.6.08

Minneapolis Privatizing its Sidewalks, Giving them to Republicans

I volunteer at KFAI Radio for Andy Driscoll's Truth to Tell radio talk show on local politics, and this week's show was about a proposed Minneapolis City ordinance to allow the privatization of sidewalks.

The "free speech" ordinance, proposed by Councilmembers Paul Ostrow and Ralph Remington, would allow any group to privatize, and take over, the sidewalks if they received a permit, effectively closing the sidewalks off to other people.

While the ordinance is intended to pave the way for the OMGWTFGOPBBQ08, the ordinance is in fact permanent. It will allow for radical changes in the way that sidewalks are used in Minneapolis. Do you trust the City, or the Police Department, not to abuse this ordinance? (After all, it's not like they've banned "lurking", panhandling, walking down an alley, or dancing in the streets.)

The City Council will vote on this anti-sidewalk ordinance tomorrow, and Councilmembers Gary Schiff and Cam Gordon are planning to offer a number of amendments that would save sidewalks for public use.

If you live in Minneapolis and enjoy walking on public sidewalks, contact your councilmember here before they vote tomorrow.

(That's my plug for civic engagement.)

Anyway, yesterday we did an entire hour show on the issue of sidewalks, protests, and the meaning of the words "public space". Here's the beginning of the discussion, but there's much more at the KFAI archive. (We podcast the program too, but the sidewalk discussion isn't up yet.)

[Ed. - Introductory words...]

9th Ward Councilmember Gary Schiff:
Thanks for having us. This series of resolutions is really bad policy for the city of Minneapolis. As you said, it does two things. It creates a permit process for people to block sidewalks. Now we are celebrating our 150th anniversary in the city of Minneapolis. Now up until now, sidewalks have been for everybody. People can use the sidewalk while walking to their apartment building, while walking to a store, while walking to a hotel, or as the city employees have been doing of late, they can picket, during their lunch hour, for a policy they see as unjust.

These regulations, sponsored by Ostrow and Remington, would allow any group to privatize that sidewalk, with 15 days notice, and essentially block other people from having access to that part of the sidewalk.

Andy Driscoll: They can actually reserve the public sidewalk for their demonstration, but that means that others cannot intrude on that territory?

Schiff: That’s correct. It clearly specifies a process to allow a permit (and I’m quoting here) “to prevent other pedestrians from using the sidewalks and crosswalks.” Why would we want to block people and change the rules that have been commonly understood? IF you’re having a large protest, if you’re having a parade, a march, you need a permit to block traffic. And we have those permits in place. But up until now you have to keep moving. You have to allow other people access, you can’t stop and block a sidewalk.

But resolution proposes that.

Simultaneously this resolution incorporates police policies for disruption of protests. That would be like treating a liquor code to allow bars and simultaneously putting instructions for how police should bust an illegal bar. These are apples and oranges. You have policies and regulations, and then you have police policies. They should be separate documents, separate at all times, and reviewed when necessary.

Driscoll: The effect of this? I’m not quite sure I see the danger of all of this?

Schiff: There will be the headquarters for the RNC in Minneapolis this year at the Hilton hotel. And as soon as this passes, the RNC will be able to apply for a permit and secure a radius around their hotel. Protestors will be … [ed. - omitted due to laziness]

So today, sidewalks are for everybody. After this passes, any group can secure a permit to block the sidewalk for their use only. That’s wrong. That’s not American

2nd Ward Councilmember Cam Gordon: If I can interrupt. One thing I want to make clear is that this won’t be just applied during the convention. In fact, we tried to amend this to make it only apply during the convention, but this will be a permanent policy in Minneapolis that will be lasting after the convention.

And I just want to throw out another unintended consequence of this that could be… let’s say you’re in negotiations with your security guards in downtown Minneapolis. And you hear a rumor that they’re thinking of doing some walkouts and protests in on the Nicollet Mall for example, which incidentally happened this year. In fact it was a powerful tool for the union.

What you could do is get some other group to apply for permits so that they could use the sidewalks all around your building, so that when labor wanted to go down, and workers wanted to go down and hold their really outside of the building, they couldn’t

So those are the kinds of things that could happen by allowing one group to get exclusive rights to hold their event.

[Ed. - There's much more of the conversation online.]




[The drunken RNC stripe-elephant crushes Minneapolis sailboats under its heavy, heavy feet.]


4.6.08

Saint Paul Sidewalk Rally

[Map from MPR's News Cut]

I've spent a lot of time in downtown Saint Paul through the years, and I've never seen so many people on the sidewalks of Saint Paul... Neither Winter Carnival, nor hockey game has ever filled the streets like last night did. People just kept appearing and flooding around Rice Park and the hockey arena* to see Barry Obama speak.

I got there about 5:30 and found myself at the end of what seemed to be a long line that snaked from the arena, looped around the Landmark Center, and ended right by the entrance to the Saint Paul Hotel at 5th and Cedar.

The line just kept growing as more and more people showed up, and I think it kind of led its own way around the downtown area, without anyone really directing which way it should go. In other words, each time the line got to a corner, there was a random chance that it would go straight, turn left, or turn right. And which way it went depended completely on which way the first person would turn. In other words, it was self-organizing! (I'm not sure of this, though, as there were a few scattered DFL people helping to shepherd particularly lost folks, and handle the intersections.)

[There are no cars in this photo.]


There was even a moment when, about an hour after I'd been standing there, a rogue line formed accidentally, stemming off from one of the lines leading around the Landmark Center. As this gradually happened, the people in our line (the real line) got really upset. "Look at those people! They're starting a new line!", muttered the lady behind me. Eventually the DFL guy who was minding the corner took off his laminated badge, and giving it to one of the people in line, "deputized" a new line marshal. Then he went over to the misleading line and broke it up, giving people the undoubtedly disappointing news that the end of the line was about a mile to the East.

[The dispersal of the rogue line, which led along the right side of the photo, from the Landmark Center.]


It was amazing, though, to see sidewalks completely jammed with people for over a mile and a half. Sidewalks rarely get this kind of use, but its really amazing that they can so easily accommodate 30,000 people without much of a fuss. It makes me realize that, if you were to pack people along all the sidewalks in the city, you might be able to fit the entire 5 million person population of Minnesota along the streets of Downtown Saint Paul.



[Trash cans outside the arena overflowed with umbrellas and full bottles of bottled water.]


In fact, one guy in line behind us did a little science, and ended up counting the exact number of people standing in the half a block between the corner of 5th street and one of the streetsigns closer to Cedar. He counted 154 people in the half-block, and then together we tried to estimate how many people were in line ahead of us:

  • If (1/2 block = 153 people) then (1 block= 300 people)...
  • We then counted about 12 blocks were in front of us, based on what we could see of the massive snaking line...
  • And adding 2 extra blocks as a buffer, and to make it a conservative estimate, bumping up the average block size to 500...
  • We decided that we were approximately, at worst, the 7,000th people in line.**
Yay!

[How many people are in this picture? And where's Waldo?]


But that's the kind of thing that was happening in the line. There was a real magic in the air, and everyone seemed happy. I talked to a dozen strangers, and even though I stood there on the corner in front of Pazzaluna for over 2 hours, I barely got bored!

And that's the magic of sidewalks. A good sidewalk can shrink time. It can make an hour seem like ten minutes, and make the world endlessly interesting.

For example, here's another thing that happened on the sidewalks while we waited and slowly walked towards the hockey arena: we let loose huge rounds of cheers and applause for every cap & gown-wearing high school graduate that walked town the street.


[A recent graduate lifts his arms in triumph, as the sidewalk crowd cheers.]


There were probably a dozen new graduates that passed our line, and each time one came by someone would start cheering, and then the whole line would erupt into applause. The graduate would blush, or tip their cap, or wave like the Queen of England. The parents would smile. It was really fun.

For a city that is so often deader than a doornail, Saint Paul was absolutely hopping with life last night.


[Feets on the streets.]





* I don't like using the hockey arena's corporate name, if I can avoid it.

** And, based on the estimates I've heard from various media, we were pretty close with our estimate. We were perhaps at the line's 1/3 point, which would make the total line 21,000 people.



P.S.

The speech was O.K. too.


[The view from our seats.]


PS Also:

Check out my friend Reid's rockin' panorama photo of the rally!





Plus:

I made the newspapers! David Brauer's piece on MinnPost features me waiting in line on the sidewalks, wearing a sidewalk-eating grin. (I'm the taller, dorky-looking dude, 2nd from left, wearing the vest.)



Also:

Check out Bob Collins' wonderful documentation of the line through Saint Paul, and the excellent comment thread...


One good comment:

Thanks for posting this! I left work early tonight to be a part of the Obama rally. I arrived downtown at 6:15 and got in line. Boy, did I! I had no idea what was in store. I walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. The line snaked throughout the entire downtown area and into Lowertown. I think the greatest thing about this experience was chatting with the people around me. Thousands of strangers walked together and it was moving to see such diversity! We all smiled and laughed and made jokes along the way. Most of us didn't believe that we would eventually get in, but we stayed in line together to just be a part of it. I'm sorry to report that I got within 5 feet of the front door of the Xcel center when the doors finally closed. Heartbreaking! I stood in front of the Jumbotron screen on the corner of Kellogg and West 7th and watched Obama's speech from there. The people left outside of the Xcel center (thousands of us!) cheered and clapped; happy to be there. I found myself in one of the photographs from this story and I'm thrilled to have some kind of record of my experience. Thanks again!

Posted by Kate Roche | June 3, 2008 11:29 PM

2.6.08

<<< News Flash! >>>

Sidewalk Rating: Puddle-Wonderful

These are the days that umbrellas were meant for. Grab your nearest, and stroll in the warm days, along splash-worthy drizzled concrete.


<<<>>>


Japanese kids love their sidewalks (shimashyo!) ...





... Though that looks an awful lot like the USA to me.


<<<>>>

Can someone explain why the gas price is such a big deal? We're talking about a few dollars here... Meanwhile, take a look at the heating bill, the cable bill, the cost of health care...

My theory is that it's the only way people trapped in their cars can have any kind of agency. Filling your take is literally freedom, especially if you patronize Freedom Gas.


<<<>>>


This week's Onion editorial cartoon is about reverse gentrification:




I heard a story on the radio a while back about the quasi-recession, and how "people were shopping at thrift stores." (audible gasp!)


<<<>>>


My two favorite articles on the end of the session are:

The Strib's piece on M.A. Kelliher and how cool she is

and This bit from the Political Animal blog on why capping property tax rates is gonna suck :

The report also said:

"Tax caps can be particularly harmful if adopted during a weak economy."

"Middle income communities might end up bearing the brunt of a cap."


<<<>>>

The TC ranks OK on the Brookings Institution's recent carbon footprint list, but we could be so much better.



In per capita carbon emissions, Northern and Eastern (i.e. older) cities tend to do badly, while Western and Sun Belt cities have smaller footprints... UNLESS those old Eastern cities are really dense and have good transit systems (e.g. NYC).

Meanwhile, Minneapolis is somewhere in the middle of the pack, at #45 right below Milwaukee. (Portland OR is in the top 5.)


<<<>>>


Gated communities are among my least favorite things, though I've never been to Bearpath. But I bet they don't have sidewalks in North Oaks.


<<<>>>


Another sidewalk blog, this time from Canada (the maritmes), with the provocative title, You Don't Own the Sidewalk. (He's right! North Oaks could learn a thing or two.)

It seems to be about hockey and Jesus, and I'm not quite sure how sidewalks fit into the picture, to be frank.

Also, it hasn't been updated in months. Maybe sidewalks aren't as interesting in the summertime. I know hockey isn't.


<<<>>>


Five global sidewalk-esque links:



<<<>>>


Cluster development v. sprawling (1 house / acre) lots duke it out in Ham Lake. Strib:

"Instead of spreading 40 houses over 40 acres, what I'd like to do is take these 40 houses, cluster them," said Mayor Paul Meunier. "Use 5 or 6 acres for housing and turn the rest back to its natural habitat. You'd have wetlands, wildlife preserves that guarantee open space forever. We'd maintain our rural character."

Cluster developments ended up being the compromise position in equally NIMBY-prone Lake Elmo. I don't see why they'd be a problem in Ham Lake... It's not like either of them have sidewalks to speak of.


<<<>>>


Three photos:

1) A sidewalk art project in L.A.


2) Uptown stencil (fm. Uptownmplsblog)



3) Some town in Europe (fm. Fffound)