Signs of the Times #154

will be closed
due to weather conditions
We'll open again 4/12 @ 12pm.
Stay safe and have
a smiley day!!!

[Door. Highland, Saint Paul.] 

 Sorry NO


Bicycles Allowed!

[Door. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]


Step Repairs
are in Process

[Stoop. Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]


[Boulevard. South Minneapolis.]


[Tree. West Side, Saint Paul.]


[Yard. Rosemount.]


[Dirt road. Dundas.]


West Bank Bar History Walking Tour Tonight

I'm leading a little walking tour of bar history in Minneapolis' West Bank tonight. It'll be a bit different than the dive bar tours in the past, as we'll be looking at what's left of the historic landscape of the area as much as visiting current saloons.

This part of the city (or was) one of the hearts of Minneapolis bar culture for at least a century, and there's are a few stories to share about it. I hope to see you there! It'll be at least three (3) bar stops and a mile or two stroll.


What: walking tour of west bank bars
When: 6:20pm - 9:00
Who: anyone
Where: Republic at Seven Corners (I know it's not a dive, but there's something there I have to share)
Why: because it's the last part of town I haven't done a tour of...


Public Character #9: Philip Carlton, Sidewalk Painter

[Philip Carlton is a plein air painter who has lived, on and off, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. When he's not traveling the west painting landscapes, I've seen him on the sidewalks and breweries of Saint Paul painting, and here's a short chat with Philip.] 

Q: How did you get into plein air painting, aka painting stuff outside?

I discovered painting early in college. I had intended to get into computer science and engineering, and then I when I started my undergrad freshman year, I fell in love with studio drawing and figure drawing, especially from live models. And got into art from that. I started painting a year later, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Q: Why do you paint outside? How did you start doing outdoor work?

So I actually in college, I was taught painting from an indoor perspective. And it was all about using photographs and sitting a studio and not necessarily sitting in front of what you want to paint.

After college, I realized I enjoyed painting from life, whether its a person or a landscape or a still life. I like seeing something and translating it onto a canvas. Also I realized I really liked being outdoors, I like exploring and going and finding something to paint and dealing with all the elements that may or may not constrain that search.

Q: How long have you been at this? 

I’ve been painting now for 15 years, and the last year and a half it has been full time, pretty much been my day job so to speak. I spend some time here painting urban stuff in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, but I also travel for various painting events in the western states. I’ve been painting a lot in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Arizona.

There’s a cool story behind all of this, Originally when I got into outdoor painting, people were like, “go to the nature center, go find a lake, a forest.” Traditionally pretty things to go paint, and for a while that was an easy thing. I was living south of the Cities, by Prior Lake, and there was a lot of that traditional scenery. But then I ended up moving up to live right off I-94, by 94 and Cretin, and I had an art studio there for year. And started to simply paint in the Creative Enterprise Zone, the industrial area by the train tracks, by my art studio. All these broken down palettes pallets and power lines and industry, and I was like, oh I can go to my backdoor and there’s all this old urban stuff to paint that not too many people are painting. One of my favorite paintings a few years ago was the old Rock-Ten plant, that has a cardboard pile 24 hours a day, with a giant front-end loader. I did a painting of that 2 years ago, and thought this is kind of cool.

It turns out that’s a cool area too, that plant. When it gets cold out the smokestack makes this awesome billowing clouds, and the colder it gets, the prettier it gets.

Q: What conditions do you paint in? How cold are you willing to go? 

I have painted in temps as low as like 15 or 10 degrees. It’s not particularly fun, but I’ll paint down to about that. In truth, these days I chase warmer weather in the winter, but you never know. One day I was in the Grand Canyon. It was 5 degrees that morning. Around 15 or 20 is where I feel like I can paint decently a good job

Q: How long does it take you to paint a painting, in general?

It varies a lot. I would say, around 90 minutes or 2 hours is probably the minimum amount of time, I feel like I can do a complete painting then. My sweet spot these days is 3 to 6 hours, sometimes multiple days. I’ve spent up to 16 hours working on them over a couple of days.

Q: So I bet you have some stories about running into people while you're working...

I do have interesting encounters. One time that was memorable was over by the McDonalds on University and Vandalia, and this guy came up to me. “Oh, your an artist? he said. “I’m an artist too,” and he started to freestyle rap for 3 minutes. I was floored by it, in the middle of winter, on University. Thee’s some fun stuff for sure. People seem generally amused to see it. I like being out there. I like showing people that, hey painting is a thing. It’s fun and this neighborhood that you think is mundane is really cool.

Another funny story: I was out in Moab , a beautiful place by the side of the road. Some guy came by on a bicycle to tell me it was too close to his property, but he was too drunk and fell over and then disappeared.

Q: Is there anything else people should know about your work?

You might mention, its kind of the style. The idea of painting outside is called plein air. It’s kind of a one of the things that’s coming back into vogue.

It’s something that I used to avoid. I thought it was like the realm of like stuffy old white men, the Monets and the bearded fresh men from 1890. But we can make this accessible and cool and exciting for people of all ages and living in all places, like to do it differently. Like I’ve been having fun lately doing a series of work for Insight Brewing. It’s just cool to realize that these are people that aren’t artists, they’re just stoked to see this cool part of their backyard turned into interesting art.

[Carlton finishing a painting on the Bad Weather patio.]


Reading the Highland Villager #235

[Villagers lurking in Longfellow.]
[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]

Headline: GABA rallies to get Grand Old Day back on track for June 2; enough sponsors, volunteers step up to repeal cancelation
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Grand Old Day will happen after all. Even the parade. Neighbors are concerned about drunken behaviors. A guy named Randy has been really helpful.

Headline: MPCA signs off on pollution cleanup of Ford site; Certification is major step toward its redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Ford Motor Company cleaned up the land under its old factory. The developer is going to probably buy the land now. Boring article. [Haha. Soil borings.]

Headline: Taking aim at climate change; City drafts plan for cutting carbon emissions; Goal is to reduce car trips, make buildings more energy-efficient
Author: Frank Jossi

Short short version: The city has a plan now for reducing CO2 emissions. There were "neighborhood discussions." Reducing energy use in homes is one big thing. Reducing car trips is the other. [Um, maybe don't re-pave Ayd Mill Road then?] Xcel is going to be carbon-free by 2050, they say. A climate change group says the city has not "assigned accountability" for the goals nor has it created "defined incentives." Article includes some info about how climate instability has been a problem for the city around things like landslides. [It's a nice plan. Basically, we need to make much larger transportation changes. Are we doing that yet? No. Not close, really. See also: my list here. One thing to do would be to build more housing in walkable areas, like Grand Avenue for example.]

Headline: Lawsuit seeks citywide referendum on organized trash system; County to decide whether voters should have the power to repeal system
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The trash lawsuit case is in County District Court. There was a petition. The City Attorney says the council can decide things without a vote. [Literally a garbage lawsuit.] 

Headline: After street fest, GABA will focus on regaining its strength
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The business association is losing members. Older businesses are closing. [Friendly reminder once again that that in 2015 GABA spent a lot of money -- $75K or so -- paying a right-wing PR firm to fight parking meters that IMO would have helped businesses on the street, especially the newer ones.]

Headline: Summit Hill Assn. to lead study of redevelopment on Grand
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors hired someone to think about development on the area. The zoning code is 13 years old and limits height to 3 stories. [Older buildings on Grand Avenue are at least that tall, are they not?] 

Headline: SHA asks Lunds & Byerlys to consider four stories for Grand Avenue project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a building above a grocery store on Grand Avenue. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, height, and  "negative impacts."

Headline: Residents seek more bike lanes on Cleveland; Instead of sharrows that are called for in city plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is going to mill and overlay the [concrete] part of South Cleveland Avenue. Some neighbors want bike lanes there, but it would require getting rid of some street parking. People did a traffic count and found there were not many cars parked there. The City would rather put in bumpouts. The lane is not on the bike plan, but sharrows are. Quote from a bicyclist: "sharrows mean nothing to me." [Same, lady. Same.]

Headline: Outdoor futsal courts planned for city parks, schools
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might make courts for a small-scale version of soccer. It won't cost very much. Quote from a neighbor: "if a basketball court can be blighted, this one is it." [Please note that basketball is also very popular and there are not a lot of courts.] 

Headline: Council approves variance to use Summit-U church as event center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An abandoned church can become an event center and child/adult daycare. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: City withdraws charter change regarding administrative fines
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might or might not change how it levies fines and citations. DSI would like them to be stricter.

Headline: City studies weekly overnight parking ban on Summit Ave.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might ban parking on Summit on one night a week in order to make it easier to plow. [Good. The bike lanes disappear almost completely in winter time. I still doubt they will be able to plow them though. Protected / buffered lanes without parking there is the way to really fix that problem.]

Headline: Emergency homeless shelter to remain open this summer
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who do not have a place to sleep can sleep in the basement of the County building still. CM Noecker is the one pushing for it.

Headline: Self-storage facility to replace EMC  Publishing in West End 
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A publisher is going to be converted into a self-storage facility. [The lowest possible land use for a Port Authority project right here. Still better than a tax-free one, though, I suppose.]

Headline: City's 20340 Plan praised for promoting housing density, variety
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people like the Comp Plan. There was a public hearing at Council. Lots of ideas for affordable housing listed in the article. [Lots more needed though.]

Headline: 145-year-old Ramsey Hill home may be saved from demolition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old house is vacant and in bad shape but might not get torn down. Article includes lots of details about it. [Not sure exactly what's going on here or who owns it.]

Headline: Pates retires after 36 years at Villager
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The long-time Villager admin person is retiring to "spend more time with her family." Article includes details of her life.

Headline: Waiting for you; Park's revitalization gives St. Paul another reason to go downtown
Author: Anne Murphy

Short short version: Rice Park is getting fixed up. Article includes some park history.


City Council Update: Dai Thao Calls for Busuri to Step Down

In my post earlier this week about Interim Saint Paul City Council Member Kassim Busuri, I stated that Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao had not castigated his colleague. This was the best information available at the time, based on the May 16th article in the Pioneer Press, which had said that CM Thao was "unavailable for comment."

I have since learned from Council Member Thao's office that he is calling for Busuri to step down.

Here is his statement:
I’m disheartened by Mr. Bussuri’s decision to not step down from this appointed seat. My vote to appoint him was based on his promise to not run. He needs to step down if he’s not suspending his campaign.
I have updated my earlier post to reflect this fact.

Finally, Interim CM Busuri was symbolically sanctioned this week when his name was removed from some committees.


Kassim Busuri's Broken Promise is Worst than Most

We live in an era of brazen political mendacity, where President Trump's lies, denial, and fabrication has become an everyday event at the top of government. So far that level of explicit duplicity hasn't made it to Saint Paul city politics, where, believe it or not, elected officials generally operate in good faith. But with Interim Council Member Kassim Busuri's announcement this week, that might be changing.

The Ward 6 City Council election was already a weird one. Back in December, long-time Council Member Dan Bostrom made a surprise announcement that he was not going to run for re-election in 2019. The move caught his colleagues off-guard, even more so because, importantly for this story, he also announced he was not going to serve out the rest of his term. Bostrom, a former cop and soporific old-school law-and-order East Sider, could have slept through finished the rest of his term and let the election play out. I'm not sure why he did not do this, but when Bostrom decided he was going to step down immediately, it left a nine-month Council vacancy that would have to be filled by appointment.

[Some of the people that could have been an interim Council Member.]
For good reason, Saint Paul has a firm policy when it comes to interim Council vacancies.  Council Members do not want to anoint political successors. People believe -- and rightly so -- that Council Members should be decided through a open democratic process and a ward election, where as many people as possible decide who will represent them. At the local level, where everybody knows everybody else, having an open election process is fundamental to democracy.

So the rule is straightforward: anyone who wants to be considered for an interim City Council appointment explicitly promises not to run. I have talked to people interviewed for interim City Council positions, and this is made crystal clear for the candidates. It's one of the first questions that the City Council asks during interviews, and applicants pledge on the spot.  

And as far as I know, this rule has never been broken. Interim Council Members have thought about running in the general election in the past, but nobody has gone back on their pledge until last week, when Interim Council Member Busuri, who received a letter of recommendation from Police Chief Axtell, who was appointed in January on the condition that he not run in November, announced he was running in November.  (For the record, I have never met or spoken with Busuri. In fact, I've never even heard him speak at a City Council meeting.)

This is the biggest lie I've seen in years of Saint Paul city politics. Certainly there are levels of dishonesty in government, where politics is full of vague promises and debatable language. You might see a politician promise to do something difficult, and then not do it, or only follow through symbolically. You might have a politician say they are against a thing, and then vote for it anyway after some hand-wringing. All that is to be expected.

And there are always people who pledge to abide by the party endorsement, and then run in the general election anyway when they don't get it. That's happened more than once on my watch. To my mind that kind of promise is a bad sign, to be sure, but it's also part of the game when it comes to DFL conventions, a deeply flawed system that we'd all be better off without. (That's especially true now that Saint Paul is a city with ranked-choice voting.) 

What Busuri is doing is worse than that. There were many qualified and deserving candidates who applied to be the interim Ward 6 Council Member, and each was considered on the condition that they not run for office in the fall. That was the agreement, and this week Busuri brazenly broke it. Going back on that promise is a huge black mark, and that's why five of the six Council Members have castigated Busuri in the press

[Busuri trying to create an incumbency advantage.]
Not only is Busuri breaking his word, his campaign is misleading about his position as an incumbent. In his official statement, he states that "my colleagues on the City Council chose me as the best candidate earlier this year." His campaign logo, too, makes the technically-accurate claim that he is the Council Member. In both cases, it's seems to me that Busuri is attempting to use his incumbent position as an advantage in the general election. To me, that's dishonest.

I believe in the intelligence of Saint Paul voters, and doubt Busuri will do well in the election. I wish he had not listened to whomever told him to run for office, because having strong Somali-American voices in city politics would be great improvement. But if Busuri were to be elected, he would start his career on a foundation of dishonesty. That would not bode for Saint Paul's future.


I have since heard from Council Member Thao that he is calling for Busuri to step down from his post. See his statement on Busuri.


Twin City Doorways #48

 [Summit Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Downtown, Minneapolis.]

  [Downtown, Minneapolis.]

 [Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis.]

 [Downtown, Saint Paul.]

 [Seward, Minneapolis.]

 [West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[Southeast, Minneapolis.]


Sidewalk Poetry #62: You'll Never Walk Alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone

You'll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone


Reading the Highland Villager #234

[Villager blowin' in the wind.]
[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]

Headline: After 106 years, St. Mark's to close grades K-8 school for restructuring
Author: Melanie Soucheray

Short short version: A Catholic school is closing due to low enrollment

Headline: Grand Old Day is thrown into doubt for 2019; GABA pulls plug on June 2 street fest, then says it will strive to pull it off anyway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The annual street parade / festival on Grand Avenue was cancelled, and then un-cancelled, maybe. It's put on the by business association [the same one that paid tens of thousands of dollars to a right-wing PR firm to try and keep the city from installing parking meters on Grand Avenue back in 2015, leading to a vitriolic public meeting where people talking about the importance of action on climate change, biking, and walking were mocked by a mob]. Reasons for the cancellation and un-cancellation are unclear. They are fundraising from businesses. There was a brief effort to go a gofundme by a group led by someone. Someone thought about asking for volunteers like during the Super Bowl, but nobody did.   The event is expensive to put on. Business owners are upset or not upset, depending. The business association board and membership seems really volatile. [From the folks who brought you the parking meter mob. At least they seem to be changing.] The parade will still happen, probably [but yeah also might not].

Headline: Next Chapter's Nick Ballas is bullsih on bookstores; New proprietor carries on in tradition of Common Good
Author: Anne Murphy

Short short version: Someone bought the bookstore that Garrison Keillor owned. [I hope they get rid of the dirty limerick board. Good luck to them!] 

Headline: Sizing up organized trash; City reviews performance of system in first 6 months
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article about the organized trash situation and whether costs will go up because of the County. Quote from person in charge [and boy do I feel bad for him!]: "high quality service and consistent pricing... however some glitches remain." Smaller garbage companies are being bought out by larger ones. [I do not think they were negotiating in good faith from the very beginning.] People still complain a lo about trash stuff.

Headline: Developer hopes third time is charm for housing proposal at Laurel-Dale
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A guy wants to build some homes on Dale Street. They would be small homes and apartments in a "cluster development."Neighbors are concerned about traffic.

Headline: Thao gets party's not, but fellow DFLers will still challenge; City Council hopefuls Bowie, De La Torre exist convention in protest after incumbent's strong polling on first ballot
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: CM Thao was endorsed by the DFL.

Headline: Union Park seeks more permit parking near soccer stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who live near the soccer stadium want to make it impossible for anyone to park on their streets. [Note that these districts are bad for the city, because they make it difficult to for the public to use public space, effectively privatizing the public streets. That's certainly bad for any businesses that might exist, let alone equity. Also, the city's disappointing "revision" of the permit parking system did not do much to change a broken system. The #1 problem with these districts are that it's impossible to enforce in an non-arbitrary way. The #2 problem is that it creates more demand for parking lots elsewhere.]  

Headline: BZA grants height variance for Cretin-Derham Hall expansion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A Catholic high school will be allowed to make some changes to its building.

Headline: St. Paul tweaks how it awards charitable gambling proceeds
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will require some pull-tab charities to be more equitable in how they get the pulltab money.

Headline: St. Paul waits to assess flood damage in wake of 2nd crest
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Mississippi river flooded and there will be dirt and sediment and other things left behind when it recedes.

Headline: Commission grants permit for 6-story building near stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a six-story building in an old one-story shop on Snelling Avenue. There will be 122 apartments and 72 parking spots.

Headline: Rehab draws closer for Goodrich house
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A really old and really small house is getting fixed u and renovated. There are public funds going into it. It dates to 1856.

Headline: Council upholds variances for lot spilt, new garage on Heather Place
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A guy on Summit hill can "split" off a carriage house into apartments and build a new garage. The homes date to 1910.

Headline: St. Paul reviews comprehensive plan for development over next 20 years
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Comprehensive Plan will have a public hearing. [Today!] Article goes over some of the details of the plan.

Headline: City gives heed to renters' needs
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting about how renters can get involved in the city processes and whether they should have more rights. [Long overdue. There should be designated renters' seats on every neighborhood group and commission.] CM Jalali Nelson organized it, and is quoted saying "too many tenants are afraid to call their landlords for basic repairs because they fear retaliation." Rents are going up all across the city.

Headline: Prepare for detours during yearlong work on Summit bridge over Ayd Mill
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bridge over Ayd Mill Road is being replaced. There will be a detour. It's really expensive, $8.2M. [Too bad we could not have figured what the city is doing with Ayd Mill Road before doing this project.]

Headline: Grand specialty market seeks rezoning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A food market that used to be a second-hand clothes store wants to use the second floor as a restaurant. CM Noecker would support a zoning study. [Seems wise, given all the changes on Grand and the 1980s-era zoning code that seems out of date to me.]

Headline: City delays vote on plan to use former church as event center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council has not yet decided whether an old church can become an event center [and day-care facility]. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.


Another Rant About Cars

So you saw a bicyclist run a stop sign. It upset you.

Honestly, that doesn't upset me. It's inconsequential.

Do you know what upsets me? When people driving in cars exceed the posted speed limit.

You're thinking: "Wait, really? But you're not serious?"

I'm serious.

But, you say: "That happens constantly. Everyone speeds."

Yes, almost everyone does. And it upsets me.

I get viscerally upset when I see people drive 35 or 40 or 45 or more miles per hour in a 30-mile-maximum residential street with sidewalks and people living on it. It makes me mad because it's dangerous and it happens constantly, all the time.

Have you ever tried to drive under the speed limit consistently? I have, and I do.

It's a deeply upsetting experience. People tailgate and pass you dangerously on the right and left and sometimes honk and rev their engines, and it happens every time. I have a mantra that I use when driving my car: "ignore the asshole." I'd like to get a sticker up on the rear-view mirror that says that. I'd have to ignore half the city. Instead, I just get upset.

"But everyone speeds," you say. "That's just normal."

Its true. You're right. Well over half of people driving on any street in my city right now are going faster than the maximum legally allowed and safe speed.  Did you know? Any time you are driving faster than 25 miles per hour, probability and data make it clear that you are going fast enough to kill a person if you hit them. That's especially true if they are older or younger.

[40 kilometers per hour is the same as 25 miles per hour, by the way.]
I believe that 25 miles per hour should be the absolute maximum people are allowed to drive on a street with a sidewalk next to it. Anything faster than that is a surefire recipe for killing or maiming human bodies. I believe cars should be technologically limited to 25 miles per hour on city streets. I believe our streets should be designed so that it's nearly impossible to drive faster than that. I believe basic human rights and social justice demand that we change our cities and our cars, making speeding impossible.

And yet...

Ha ha, that'll never happen.

People drive at deadly speeds every minute of every day, putting people in danger right now, nearly everywhere. It upsets me even thinking about it from the comfort of my desk.

"How can you live like that?" you wonder. "Everybody drives like that."

Yes, nearly everybody does. I get angry thinking about drivers in this country, and I get angry experiencing speeding and deadly cars whenever I leave the house.

This happens every time.

I get upset viscerally in the pit of my stomach when I see people make a left turn around a corner without slowing down and there's a person standing five feet away. I get angry and sad when, as happened yesterday, a driver honked at me before turning around my bicycle through a "no turn on red" sign by a freeway onramp. I get upset when people speed up at a yellow light instead of slowing down, when people pass me on my bicycle too closely while speeding, when drivers pass through an intersection using the right-turn lane, when they swerve around a driver stopping for a pedestrian nearly killing that person, when people speed up to pass another car on a four-lane death road, when people gun it down a residential street between stop signs.

"But that happens all the time," you say.

It sure does.

"Well everyone needs to obey the law," you say.

Not really. People driving cars in cities need to change.

Bicycles and pedestrians kill and injure a tiny handful of people each year that are not their own personal selves. Meanwhile, people driving 3,000-pound petroleum-powered 100-mile-per-hour vehicles kill over thirty-thousand and injure millions of Americans, every year, for five generations. And it's only getting worse. Millions upon millions of lives changed or ended for what? Getting home a bit sooner to watch another episode of Law and Order?

These are not abstract or made-up people. Every one of those numbered data points are actual people with names and lives, and I can personally name the ones killed recently in Saint Paul off the top of my head. I have their names memorized: Channy Kek, Shelby Kokesh, Elizabeth Dunham, Scott Spoo, Kunlek Wangmo, Alan Grahn, Robert Buxton, and Merideth Aikens who were just trying to live their lives. I can picture their faces. I know how they died. I'm forgetting a few.

There's no both sides-ism here. There is no equivalence from either the laws of physics or basic ethics.

I get upset that we still design cities that make it convenient to speed, kill, and maim people. I'm upset that nearly everyone -- young old black white rich poor left right -- nearly everyone drives at yes illegal and yes deadly speeds on the city streets where people are walking or riding bicycles, and that I have to take this for granted and mentally hold my breath just to cross the street or cross the river every day.

This thing that happens all the time is upsetting to me all the time, and when I see someone complain about a bicyclist ignoring a stop sign and how those people are out of control, it just makes me all the madder and sadder and want to scream and I feel it in the pit of my stomach and I hold it there like an old walnut and swallow and take a deep breath until hopefully it disappears.


My Schieferdecker List for Saint Paul

[From here.]
I was inspired by precocious soccer and urbanism fan, Alex Schieferdecker, who was in turn inspired by Our Streets Minneapolis, to create a list of ten "transportation action" priorities for Saint Paul. It's a bit bittersweet, given that the city is making decisions that are the opposite of things on here, but I did want to share it.

First, check out Alex's list, for some inspiration.

Note also that these actions lie in the vaguely realistic realm, of things which the City or County could actually accomplish, albeit with some bureaucratic help. Big ticket game changers like a new rail transit or the Rondo Land Bridge would be on another list of moonshots (though this line is certainly debatable).

In no particular order...

1) Make Ayd Mill Road into a greenway / park / anything else

I've already written about this way too much not enough of course, and it's not worth kicking a dead horse when it's a down zombie from the 1960s.

But this would be a step Saint Paul could take unilaterally, and one that would be a significant action to align our transportation priorities with our stated values right away. In fact, Saint Paul could accomplish this simply by *not acting*, and letting entropy take its course.

(But anywhooo.....)

[At the low low cost of some concrete barriers + a visioning process + a fundraising campaign.]

2) Safe connections from downtown to the east

Railroad Island and Lafayette "Park" are two areas that are directly next to downtown Saint Paul and could, with a few changes, be connected well to Lowertown and the State Capitol area. Doing so could provide lots of new land and benefits for the constrained and growing downtown core. Currently, walking or biking in these areas is terrible and dangerous.

What if the underused industrial buildings in these areas were artist studios, for example? What if you would walk there easily?

3) One-lane the 94 frontage roads

The I-94 "frontage roads" of Concordia/Rondo and St. Anthony are currently high-speed two-lane one-way roads that are often used as freeway congestion relief. Anything is better than that... These should be calmed streets that make the neighborhood safer, not more dangerous. Put anything there: bike lanes, curling rinks, decorative bollards... Ask the community what they want to see.

This could be a first step toward a Rondo land bridge.

4) Extend Greenway over river

This one is directly from Alex's list. As he wrote:
Building a greenway river crossing would not only benefit St. Paul. Entirely within Mpls, the city could create a direct bike highway connection between the U and Uptown, all in rarely used ROW.

5) Road diets on arterials and low-hanging fruit

[From here.]
Let's end four-lane Death Roads in Saint Paul, beginning with streets like East 7th, White Bear, Maryland, South Robert, Hamline, Cretin, and the rest of the list...

These deadly streets are morally indefensible, unless you value traffic flow over the lives and safety of people in the city. That's an extreme position that flies in the face of equity and justice, and it's long past time we rid ourselves of these street designs.

[Deadly McKnight.]

6) Shrink Shepard / Warner Roads downtown & simplify connection

Shepard Road has been completely closed for a month and everything was pretty much fine. What if these barriers between downtown and the Mississippi were two lanes in the downtown core? We could used some of the extra space for other public purposes, and Saint Paul might finally be connected to the riverfront.

7) Complete the downtown bike network

At least there's a plan to connect the city's key bike trails through the dead zone that is Downtown Saint Paul. The first part of the network on Jackson Street is great, but does not have a great deal of utility without an additional east-west connection.  If Saint Paul can build a east-west link through downtown, and up to Summit Avenue, a bike network will really be in place and will be well-used.

After that, the Kellogg and the final north-south legs will be the icing on the bicycle cake.

7b) Get the through-cars off 4th Street

Turn one-lane 4th Street into a "test woonerf". It would be easy do this with some signs, closing the street off between Robert and Sibley. It could happen this summer, and would be a low-cost bike/ped connection through the heart of downtown.

[Start with weekends, if you must.]

8) Bridge the railway gap in Midway

A bridge somewhere in this area would be a tremendous asset for bicycling in Saint Paul.

9) Bike/ped trail along CP rail corridor

The CP Rail Spur would also be a tremendous asset for bicycling in Saint Paul, while also being a key walking connection for people living along the West 7th corridor.  This one seems easier and Ramsey County should get a move on with this project!

10) Protected bike lanes where possible (by removing on-street parking or a travel lane)

I love the Pelham Boulevard bike connection, and the relatively obscure St. Anthony protected bike lane is another piece of affordable quality bike infra.  More of this please. Protected bike lanes could and should be standard when possible.

That's it. There are a lot of things that could be added here, but as Alex said, these are just some ideas. We could use a lot more!


Twin City Dog Poo Signs #4

 [West Saint Paul.]

 [New Orleans, LA.]

  [New Orleans, LA.]

  [New Orleans, LA.]

 [Boston, MA. Somewhere in Minnesota, duh.]

 [San Diego, CA.]

[West 7th, Saint Paul.]