My fault that this didn’t get to the Profile earlier. Sorry. I think it’s now too late to officially comment but it would be great to get more ideas on making our community a more livable place.Redesign has been partnering with Transit for Livable Communities around the pedestrian safety work that has been ongoing over the past several months. TLC has invited Redesign to participate in a strategy session centered around the question: How do we bring maximum impact and lasting value to the Minneapolis area with additional bicycling and walking investments?
In your vision, how would residents, business owners, and visitors experience the Twin Cities as more walkable and bikeable communities? How do we know when we get there? What would the outcome of this shift look like?
We will know we have arrived when neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis have the same balance of movement as the best designed college campuses:
· Here, walking and bicycling is the primary mode of transportation and the transportation infrastructure is built around this understanding.
· Sidewalks, bike lanes and streets are bustling with commuters and recreational walkers and bikers.
· The infrastructure is profound – creating comfortable and intuitive spaces and trails for ped/bike movement.
· Bike parking is abundant, with covered options, spaces for bikes with trailers, and changing areas for bikers in inclement weather.
· The majority of parking is found at the periphery of the communities, requiring visitors and residents to exit their vehicles and interact with the landscape and each other in a more personal way.
· Public plazas, parks and malls, monuments, banners, and greenery provide a sense of identity around and within neighborhoods, subconsciously signaling drivers to slow down while creating a great place to walk or bike through.
· Crosswalks are generously placed with the appropriate signage that communicates to drivers that the road is meant to be shared.
· Traffic and crossing signals are timed with a bias toward facilitating pedestrian movement versus deference toward motorized vehicles. Drivers know that they should take the highway if they are in a hurry.
· Roads do not act as artificial barriers to walking or biking between neighborhoods. The region feels like a seamless patchwork of unique communities.
· Investments in main streets result in a strong mix of neighborhood-serving goods and services and an interesting, attractive, engaging, walkable main street.
· Businesses don’t need and don’t want massive parking lots because they are well patronized by walkers and cyclists.
· Traffic engineers, car/truck drivers, police especially, but all members of society act with respect to walkers and bike riders, understanding and adhering to the rules of the road (like cars stopping for ped waiting to cross at an intersection – revolutionary!).
· As a result of these changes, people in our communities are healthier, our cities are quieter and cleaner, we save tremendous tax dollars by not having to consistently expand and repair our roads, and there are greater opportunities for people to interact with each other because they are out of their cars.
What is core of this type of change? What needs to shift culturally? Change physically? Shift politically? Change in terms of policy? How do we move the community to embrace a vision of transportation that addresses all users?
Up until 50 years ago, cities were built primarily for walking. Older urban neighborhoods built before the days of highways and are ripe for this heritage to be reclaimed. Here, the economy of movement is much more tipped in favor of non-motorized transportation. With comparatively minimal investment, these neighborhoods can be converted into models of bicycle, walking, and transit oriented communities that are anchored by nodes or corridors that encourage active lifestyles.
There are pockets of residents in many of these communities who long to see this shift happen. Some of these folks are block captains, sit on neighborhood boards, or work in community development corporations. However, there is not yet a well known forum where these stakeholders can sharpen their expertise and coordinate neighborhood level grassroots planning to build a cohesive vision. There may be potential to build a coalition of neighborhoods that can generate community driven plans that are complementary. Together, these neighborhoods could push policy makers to set a new agenda that embraces the vision articulated above.