11.4.09

***Sidewalk Saturday***

Sidewalk Rating: Walkworthy

It doesn't get any better than this, friend.

Spring is almost here.



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I'm not sure what the point of this is...



Here's the official explanation:
well, he's Keeping his Word. during the show he said he was gonna start at one end of the side walk and go all the way down to the other end doing this: displays example. and so, well there you have it, Foxy Shazam!, a band of their word.


It just shows you that sidewalks are the definition of punk.


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This is a sad story about the closing of the old downtown bakery in Chaska. It's too bad, of course, that Americans don't value tradition enough to keep businesses like this in business. Yet, the reasons that a business like this can't succeed are pretty complicated.

The headline on the front page reads "The Chaska Bakery, opened in 1884, is closing its doors on Saturday because of the recession".

But when you get into the meat of the article, they start listing all the other reasons why the bakery couldn't make it. Including:
  • "growing competition from supermarkets such as Rainbow"... they don't tell you that large markets often receive a bunch of hidden subsidies from cities, including free parking and automobile infrastructure, and often tax increment development money
  • "the opening last July of the new Hwy. 212, which now allows people to speed through Chaska, bypassing the bakery downtown" ... this is a common move in small towns experiencing rapid growth, but it often means that retail activity moves to corporately-owned 'strips' on the edge of town
In a typical newspaper move, the Star Tribune minimizes the economic structures stacked against independent small businesses. There are a lot of reasons why the only bread you can buy in this town is made by "Supermom", and older small town downtowns often sit empty.

In the end, though, I have to blame the people who aren't shopping at the bakery. There are a few really old bakeries in the Twin Cities that I love to go to, including Jerabek's New Bohemian Cafe on Saint Paul's West Side, Tschida Bakery on Saint Paul's Rice Street, and P.J. Murphy's Bakery on Saint Paul's Randolph Avenue. Every neighborhood and every small town downtown should have a bakery / coffee shop.


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Thankfully, the ban on couch porches didn't pass... Here's Cam Gordon's report:
The data provided to the Council by our Fire Department makes abundantly clear that upholstered furniture on porches is not a major driver of fires in our city: less than one-third of one percent of the fires in Minneapolis over the last three years have had anything to do with upholstered furniture outside. As importantly, there has been at least one fire caused by upholstered furniture manufactured for outdoor use (which would have been expressly allowed under CM Hofstede's proposed ordinance). Together, these facts make clear to me that this proposal was never really about fire prevention.


He correctly suggests that the ban wasn't really about fire safety, but doesn't really name the political motivations for the ban. Was it as simple as "aesthetics", or is there a larger project in the minds of Hofstede and her supporters?


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Apparently, people in certain parts of Brooklyn like to park their cars on the sidewalks when they can't find other parking.

It leads to situations like this:

Wheelchair-user Jean Ryan says that the ever-increasing traffic jam of cars on the community’s sidewalks have forced her to risk dangerous descents over curbs or even into traffic.

“We should not have to share any sidewalk with cars,” said Ryan, who has started to photograph offending vehicles. “The sidewalk is for pedestrians only.”


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Here's a nice video from the TCDP about TC families who keep their own chickens:



Of course, that might make us more suceptible to H5N1!

(This is a joke, people keeping chickens will not increase our proximiny to H5N1.)


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One of my favorite websites is the blog by Bike Snob New York, particularly his travelogues about commuting through New York by bicycle.

Here's
a good one.

He also shared a link to a revolting article by a MSU college student about how "bicycles should stay on the sidewalk" and shouldn't be allowed onto roads.

Having seen the auto-oriented landscapes of the South, I can see how much of an uphill climb bicycle culture has down there.


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Here's a nice piece about the interdependency of transportation systems and sidewalks. The basic point is that you can't just have transit systems OR walkable neighborhoods. You need to have both of them to really craft an alternative to the automobile.

He looks at L.A. and Savannah, GA as examples of places that can't really develop walking lifestyles on their own.

Savannah has precisely the opposite problem. Its historic core is a glorious pedestrian experience: Tree-lined sidewalks, slow traffic, beautiful greens, and median strips characterize the streetscape, while the houses all face the street and none hide behind garages. And yet you cannot get from the airport to downtown without a car. If you do not have a car it is $30 for a cab. So whereas L.A. has a bus from the airport to the central train depot, Savannah chooses not to capitalize on its own accessibility. The result is that no one, except for a few students who bike around, can live there without a car.



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Here's a U of MN study about the spillover effects of well-designed transportation projects. One of the most difficult thing to study in transportation and energy modeling is the degree to which certain changes (e.g. a new transit stop) 'trickle down' and 'multiply' to affect other systems. For example, how much does a transit station change the land use nearby? How much might it change property values? How much might it increase pedestrian traffic in a neighborhood?

These sorts of multipliers are the reason why so many studies show drastically different results about the efficacy of transit, sidewalk improvements, etc.


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This is the original version of a nice song about sidewalks that you've probably heard before...



I like image of the woman out on the sidewalk, looking in at her own reflection. There are two sides to every window.


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A photo triptych for you:

1) What the sidewalks of small town Russia looked like in 1908 -- fm. the Prokudin-Gorsky archives.


2) A William Gedney photo of a sidewalk in front of a snowy diner -- h/t Tom Sutpen


3) I'm not sure what this means (Фотограф под ником), but this is a beautiful photo of what is presumably a Russian street -- h/t Where

1 comment:

wren said...

That Suzanne Vega song has been a favorite of mine since it came out. The whole album is good though I'm not a big fan of "Luka" (probably because of overexposure). I saw her on the Tom's Diner tour in '87. She'll be at the Dakota Jazz Club in August.

Another sign of Spring, I saw a few mourning cloak butterflies at Wood Lake over the weekend. Yay for Spring!