<<< News Flash! >>> #10

You know what? The sidewalks are really interesting right now. All those snowdrifts, snowbanks, the mounds of white black grey dirt melty freezy crustslush that have been lining the sidewalks since November are melting, and depositing their secret treasures all over the sidewalks. Coke cans and gum wrappers that were dropped or carelessly tossed aside on October have been cryogenically frozen in snowbanks all winter long, and now they're finally seeing the light of the sun again for the first time in months.

As the snowbanks vanish like Antarctic ice sheets, these little clusters of trash and dirt and butts emerge, and as you walk along the sidewalk, see what you can find. Maybe a vintage Winter Carnival Button, a lost mitten, a winning lottery ticket. Things long forgotten are re-emerging. It's the return of the repressed. The streets are paved with decomposing trash! Let's see what turns up! What will we uncover?

[White castle box, cookies, drink cups, paper, bottles, crime scene tape.]


Here's a video outlining the Rules of Sidewalk Etiquette, again from the UK... In particular, it's about "the droitwhich", a term coined by the late Douglas Adams to refer to "that thing you do where you go like this":


I volunteer at Truth To Tell, KFAI's weekly local public affairs talk show. We had a show last Wednesday dealing with mass transit and the central corridor, with Conrad DeFiebre from Minnesota 2020 and Frank Schweigert who teaches at Metro State University and works with the Saint Paul District Councils.

They talk about the difficulty of getting state and federal funding for transit, and reworking transportation. Transit projects are always such a juggling act, with so many competing interests. Frankly, I think that planners, politicans, and engineers almost always call the shots on these things. The community meeting aspects of transportation planning are almost always window dressing.

But, at least in this case, getting "roughed-in" transit stops at Western and Victoria Avenues in Saint Paul is a victory for community activists. (Including me, who lives on Western Avenue.)

Another highlight is DeFiebre talking about dealing with the "concrete paving association" lobby. How powerful are they? Apparently they're calling the shots at the capitol.

(Scroll to about 33:00 to get to the transportation discussion.)


Three articles from other places:


Like all right-thinking people, I loathe and detest the cul-de-sac. This article, though, is a ridiculous attempt from the new and unimproved online Rake Magazine to describe the death of certain aspects of suburban culture.

Here's a bit about culs-de-sac that I wrote from a while back.

While I appreciate the particularly Minnesotan cul de sac criticism, being hard to plow is just the tip of the snowdrift when it comes to culs-de-sac and their problems.

Here’s three big reasons:

  • They’re a pedestrian wasteland. Culs-de-sac, and the sprawling, disordered, difficult to navigate neighborhoods that follow them, are too non-linear to easily have sidewalks. Even if they had them, it would be too difficult to walk anywhere, and the lack of any commercial streets mean there’s nowhere to walk anyway. For a country facing an oil-induced energy crisis, this is a problem.
  • They can increase traffic congestion. Because culs-de-sac aren’t through streets, they force all the cars onto one or two main drags. Increased traffic levels often mean congestion, and without any alternative routes, there’s nothing PO’d drivers can do about it.
  • Culs-de-sac aren’t safer. At least one study has shown that the “quiet and child-friendly” cul-de-sac is statistically more dangerous. Parents, constantly forced to back out of their driveways, are very likely to back over one of their own (or their neighbor’s) children. In addition, the lack of regular traffic (or neighbor’s windows) on the street makes it more likely for a burglary to occur.


Your other sidewalk blog of the week is:

Newton Streets and Sidewalks

Mostly these two sidewalk bloggers write about crosswalks, bike lanes, creating a movement for more useable street spaces in greater Boston. Good sidewalk blog!


A MinnPost story on nefarious lobbying interests at the state capital -- the Ethanol crowd and the auto industry attempting to stop Minnesota's movement for higher fuel efficiency standards:

That's why his group and the Minnesota Auto Dealers' Association have courted ethanol producers and agriculture powerhouses like the Minnesota Corn Growers and the Farm Bureau to join the fight being waged in Minnesota and eight other states over whether the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C., or the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in Sacramento should be the guiding authority on regulating auto emissions.


I read a column on the back page of the Downtown Journal the other day by this guy, Sam Newburg, who's a local urbanist, explaining how good street spaces help the economy in Minneapolis, or something.

Anyway, I couldn't find the column online, so here's his blog: Joe-urban.com.

Most of it's focused on national urban & social issues.


The much vaunted sidewalk and pedestrian showpiece article in the Strib came out, and was better than expected, though there were a surprising number of potshots at bikers.

In an effort to make Minneapolis more "walkable," city officials are working up a pedestrian master plan, which they hope will ultimately improve the safety, accessibility and beauty of problem areas.

The process goes like this: The city holds public open houses, the first of which is today, where people can point out pedestrian challenges. Those challenges should lead to recommendations. Those recommendations will be drafted into a plan and presented to the City Council in the fall.

Already, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are putting in their two cents about potential improvements.

I like how "walkable" is in quotes. Someday, I have faith that it'll be a real word!


Potholes are the new black!

In a very surprising development, not one, but two local pothole blogs have started up recently:

Dave at Doodledee has a great new "Pothole of the Week" feature, but was trumped by the City Pages' Paul Demko, who has launched the "Pothole of the Day" segment of The Blotter blog.

Perhaps this is par for the course in the land of Pothole Pawlenty.


A great sidewalk photo from Uptown Mpls Blog:


No comments: