27.9.12

Signs of the Times #60

SERVICE ANIMALS 
ONLY

(PLEASE KEEP ALL
OTHER ANIMALS
OUTSIDE OF THE
BUILDING)

[Window. West 7th Street, St Paul.]

Please Use
Ash Cans or
Trash can for your
Cigarette butts

[Window. West Side, St Paul.]


BICYCLISTS
MUST YIELD TO
PEDESTRIANS

[Bridge. Northeast Minneapolis.]


vibrant

[Hedge. Downtown Minneapolis.]


BIKE PARKING
FOR 300 FIRST
BUILDING
TENANTS ONLY

[(Doesn't look like there's room for 300 bikes?) Fence. Downtown Minneapolis.]


VEHICLES
MUST
BACK DOWN

[Wall. Downtown St Paul.]




YOU 
ROBBED
ME.

ALL I WANT BACK IS THE
EXTERNAL HD.
so please
show some COMPASSION
*ALL will be FORGIVEN
thanks, LEAH

[Tree. Grand Avenue, St Paul.]

PLANT 
SALE

[Yard. South Minneapolis.]


Free
Pop

We do not 
like it

[Yard. West 7th, St Paul.]

Today on Streets.mn: Minneapolis Accepts an Offer it Can't Refuse

[Fredo "Lake Street" Corleone goes fishing.]
South Minneapolis needs another new freeway onramp like Justin Morneau needs a blow to the head. It's like building more shipping canals in New Orleans...

But it's going to happen anyway. I wrote a new post over at Streets.mn today about the "35-W Access Project" at Lake and 1st, which was recently approved by the Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee. The project is half-good or half-bad, depending on how you look at it. Mostly, it really makes you wish for some state transportation efforts that would make one really, truly, completely happy.

Pondering the vote made me think about some of the lessons you might draw from a project like this. The most important one revolves around negativity, that cities main point of leverage is the ability to say "no" to state and federal transportation agencies. In the end, it's not much of a lever. Here's the main point from the article, entitled "Three Lessons from Minneapolis' Pyrrhic Victory on Lake Street" (check out the meta quoting):
Minneapolis, on the other hand, has a bit more leverage. As a large, politically connected city, they have a bit more room to negotiate with state and federal transportation agencies. Still, the fact remains that the main way cities can affect transportation planning is by being negative, by saying “no” to a freeway or saying “no” to a project. It drastically limits urban possibilities.
For example, Minneapolis has lots of good transportation ideas. I’m sure that if offered $10M in a federal earmark for transportation improvements for Lake Street, Councilmember Lilligren would be thrilled. Cities are overflowing with great ideas that need funding. See for example, their suggestion at the end of this week’s resolution:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Minneapolis commits to collaborating with Hennepin County, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Metro Transit to develop and deliver related improvements in South Minneapolis neighborhoods, such as traffic calming measures, including the potential conversion of one-­way streets to two-­way streets; and enhancements to the transit rider experience, including potential improvements to transit shelters in the area as soon as possible.
As it is, these kinds of projects are rarely get outside money. All Minneapolis can do is to say “No”, and hold out for a better offer. Meanwhile, federal freeway dollars hang overhead like a zepplin.
I was trying to think of good metaphors that really captured the relationship between cities and state / federal DOTs. The best I could come up with was a sane person in a old-school psych ward. I imagine Minneapolis as a quirky patient who ended up there, surrounded by stoic doctors and electroshock machines. Kind of like whats-her-name (not Angelina) in Girl Interrupted, pleading to be released, but becoming gradually destabilized by her treatments until she barely knows who she is any more.
What Minneapolis really needs is a different treatment regime, something involving massage and better nutrition. The highly invasive freeway regimen hasn't done much good.
[That's not Minneapolis, that's Winona.]

26.9.12

Reading the Highland Villager #68


[The Villager loiters.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


Headline: Park in progress sheds new light on Coldwater spring
Reporter: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The "coldwater spring" which is a American Indian site and former property of the US Bureau of Mines, is almost a park now.


Headline: Support grows for development ban on Grand Avenue
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The proposed moratorium [a reaction to the apartment building on Grand which is a reaction to the neighbors' student housing ordinance which is a reaction to students who themselves react to the presence of limitless alcohol, liberty, and members of the opposite sex] on Grand Avenue received a hearing in front of the city council, and "most of those in attendance were in support." Quote: There was some concern over "whether the study will have a predetermined outcome." [PROTIP: yes.] Article includes description of the development ban, zoning along the street, quote from CM Stark and the developer in question.


Headline: Saints be praised! Lowertown may get its stadium; $25M state grand boosts city's plan for 7,000-seat minor league ballpark [This fortnight's cheesy headline award winner, by a landslide]
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the receipt of the money from the governor for the Saints stadium in Lowertown. [I was chatting with a colleague the other day who speculated that this pot of money, and the parking lot money in Duluth, were gubernatorial pay-back for the core cities' support of the Vikings stadium efforts. -Ed.] Article references the remaining $2M shortfall describes the complex sources for the stadium funding.  Article includes full- color map of the stadium site, laudatory quotes from the Lowertown wine shop owner, CM Thune.


Headline: Discussion continues on design of new Hamline Ave. bridge
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Story about a public meeting to discuss the bridge over Ayd Mill Road at Hamline Avenue. The meeting was supposed to be about public art, but turned into a conversation about a possible 4-3 conversion for the bridge. TLC director Barb Thoman is one of the people mentioned asking for the 3-lane configuration [which really makes a huge difference to quality of life for people on foot and on bicycle, IMO; 4-3 conversions should be standard practice for city public works departments in many many places]. The story implies [but doesn't explicitly say] that St Paul Public Works doesn't seem that fond of the idea. The bridge is scheduled for replacement in November. 2013. 


Headline: Property values may slide but tax bills expected to rise
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Self-explanatory. Article includes lots of numbers.


Headline: Better locks, vigilance can help block break-ins
Reporter: Larry Englund

Short short version: In other news, cigarettes may cause cancer.

24.9.12

Neon Signs #4

[Location forgotten.]


[Location forgotten. St Paul?]


[Chicago? That looks like a Minnesota license plate.]


 [Chicago. Minneapolis]


[Chicago...]


[Chicago? No, I'm thinking New York now.]


[I want to say "Chicago."]


[Location forgotten. (Might be Chicago?)]


[Minneapolis.]

Sidewalk Game #10: Gravestone Collaboration

Walk through a graveyard, meting the people beneath the stones. I did a project with a photographer in which I wrote alternative stories, two apiece, for every suggestive gravestone he had photographed. Collaborate.


[Rosellen Brown, from Writers on Writing.]


 


Sidewalk Game #9: Write on Wall

Find or create a chalk graffito and curate it for 10 years, re-chalking it from memory after rainfall. Photograph it regularly.






21.9.12

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Fleeting
-->
At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one (such as I found, during the holidays, in Arthur) who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared. The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four.

[CS Lewis, from Surprised by Joy.]


[Parking Day 2012 on Minneapolis's semi-deserted Washington Avenue.]


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When I say the Netherlands has a much lower death and accident rate you may not fully appreciate difference so let me fill you in. It’s estimated that around 5.1 million people bike daily in the US.  In 2010 616 bikers were killed in accidents in the US. What about the Netherlands? The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe, and pretty much the entire population of 16.6 million are bike riders. Of those half (8 million) ride on a daily basis. Despite having a fraction of the US population they have more daily bike riders than we do, and around 200 a year get killed in bike accidents compared to our 616.  And the kicker is more bikers in the US wear helmets than they do in the Netherlands, a lot more.

[from this.]

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Estimate of Decline in Voter Turnout
Due to Voter Restriction Amendment

                                               Percent Decline           Number of Votes Cast

End of Same Day Registration      10% to 12%                 - 300,000 to - 360,000

In-Person Photo ID
Requirement                                    3%                                   - 90,000

Mail-in Photo ID Requirement            3%                                   - 90,000

Estimate of Total
Decline in Turnout                       16% to 18%                 - 480,000 to - 540,000

[from this.]

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