3 Simple Ways to Make Streets More Walkable

Although leaders in the Twin Cities seem to agree on the need to improve the appeal of city streets for those on foot, turning those words into actions seems difficult. Bill Lindeke offers three easy solutions that don't involve touching the street.
February 1, 2013, 6am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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Though 'improving walkability' seems to be in every comprehensive plan developed in Minneapolis and St Paul, when it comes time for implementation it's a different story. Bill Lindeke explains, “when it comes down to any one particular project, the situation seems to change. A proposal goes out for traffic calming (say, on South Nicollet Avenue), and all of a sudden each parking space becomes crucial to the city’s economy, each lane of asphalt becomes vital to the regional transportation network, and (I’m sorry but) there’s no money to do anything at this time.” So, when it comes to improving sidewalks for enhanced pedestrian safety, “talk is cheap, and change is hard, and that goes double for concrete," he writes.

In light of the reluctance by cities to explore changes to the actual roadway, such as “road diets, sidewalk extensions, [and] lane narrowing”, Lindeke proposes three alternatives for improving pedestrian safety that can be achieved at little expense: adding red light cameras, installing "no turn on red" signs, and banning the use of cell phones while driving. 

For Lindeke, these are no-brainers -- simple and inexpensive solutions that make immediate progress in supporting traffic calming, promoting walking, and increasing safety. He concludes, “All of these tactics are the equivalent of 'calling the bluff.' Sure there are some political challenges, but if cities and governments really meant what they said, they’d do one or all of these things."

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Published on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in Streets MN
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