City’s plan for Nicollet makes sense
Mr. Perry’s well-intentioned defense of a wider Nicollet Avenue from Lake Street to 40th Street (Aug. 22 edition) uses safety as a canard to defend what is already a generous street width of 44 inches proposed as a compromise by the city.
Perry’s suggestion of a 13-inch driving lane is excessive and unnecessary, even on a major commercial corridor like Nicollet. But don’t take my word for it, a quick Internet search for Complete Streets will satisfy that this is a widely accepted construct of urban planning.
By trimming the fat on Nicollet as the city proposes, one loses no safety and gains a proportionality that will aid in transforming Nicollet into a safer, inviting place that people will actually want to linger. Perry’s defense of wider streets is a backward-looking fallacy that equates width with safety. The contrary is true. Years of academic and public works observation in cities across the globe have shown that narrower (but still proportionally sound) streets compel drivers to adjust to their surroundings.
If it’s truly about safety, as Mr. Perry suggests, then wider streets are not the prescription. Wider streets foment the idea that it’s safe to drive faster, and further reinforce the disconnect between driver and pedestrian behavior. One need look no further than present-day Nicollet to see how egregious and detrimental this paradigm is to street character. Street-width envy withers when the light of day shines and a proportional street emerges. The city puts forward a reasonable compromise between commercial and human considerations, Mr. Perry and his business association colleagues would do well to recognize a win-win when it’s on the table.
Jeremy Jones, Planning Analyst, Hennepin County
Support for city’s bicycle coordinator
There’s a lot of outcry about Minneapolis hiring a bicycle coordinator. This is understandable because people feel that it’s a luxury expenditure at a time when the city can’t even afford the necessities. However, I am in support of creating the position because Minneapolis cannot continue to grow as bike-friendly city without continued governmental support, including someone designated to be responsible for bike-related issues.
You may wonder why such growth matters at all. The reason is that the continued vibrancy of the Twin Cities culture and economy depends on attracting young people and businesses to the area. One of the major selling points of the Twin Cities is their livability. This livability must be stewarded and one way to do this is to work hard to increase transportation alternatives.
An increasing portion of the population is making an increasing number of trips by bike. Using a bicycle for transportation is preferable because bike transit is environmentally friendly, healthy, cost effective, safer than car and truck traffic, and it reduces congestion and wear on our already over-stressed roads.
Just because biking somewhere may bring a smile to your face doesn’t mean that bicycles are toys. They are viable transport, but only if we have the ability to use them. A bike coordinator will increase that ability and make Minneapolis a truly 21st century city.