Blog Articles 161–165

Minneapolis is alt-transit awesomesauce

On my commute in to school today, there was a green-vested City of Minneapolis employee handing out survey cards to bicyclists on 15th Ave. SE.

Bicycling (and other alternative transit), while amazing and lots of fun, isn’t all roses. Last April, a bicyclist was killed by a semi truck at 15th Ave. SE and 4th St., an intersection I ride through every day.

But shortly thereafter (in response?), the city did some major work on 15th Ave. through Dinkytown, adding additional signage, painting the bike lanes bright green when they go through intersections, and other paintwork to increase bicycle path visibility (including a nice big box for bicyclists waiting to cross University). With the exception of the bike lane-bus interaction as southbound buses approach the on-campus bus stop, I think that these improvements have greatly improved bicycle visibility and navigability of this street.

And today’s survey? Now that the new signage and paint has been in place for a year, they’re surveying bicyclists to see whether they have noticed the new features, and whether they feel safe on the street.

Walkability as Freedom

Lee argues well that, while drivers enjoy freedom in a variety of environments, walkable urban settings (often with good transit) provide freedom for those unable to drive to live full and independent lives.

We’re somewhat in this situation ourselves - Jennifer cannot drive at night, but in a walkable environment, she can still go places in the evening (which, in Minnesota, is much of the day during some parts of the year).

I’ll just add that, though I can drive, I generally feel more free on foot, bike, or bus/train than in a car. I enjoy the wind on my face, the feeling of truly being in the city, the ability to take shortcuts and paths inaccessible to cars. I also have the freedom to enjoy my journey, destination, and company without worrying about where to park, or if I paid the meter enough. When I am finished, there will be another bus to take me home. I can live with freedom from worrying about if I need to fix the car, or how much registration and insurance will be.

Basically, I’m free to live rather than maintain, care for, and worry about the state and location of a silly metal box.