Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Dreaming of Hennepin/Lyndale Avenue

Dateline: 2:11 pm September 10, 2014 Filed under:

I had the most beautiful dream a couple months ago. In my dream I was strolling through the Loring Park neighborhood in Minneapolis. It was a lovely warm summer evening, and I wandered past the mix of mansions, apartment and commercial buildings and through the park we all know. Then a strange thing happened. In the dream, I emerged from the neighborhood at Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues, but instead of the car dominated, treeless bottleneck of a stroad we know today, Hennepin/Lyndale was instead a lovely, tree-lined boulevard. Running down the middle of the boulevard was a broad median and…

Minneapolis Can Salvage the Hiawatha Crosswalk “Improvement” Project

Dateline: 4:03 pm September 3, 2014 Filed under:

The City of Minneapolis can salvage the Hiawatha Crosswalk “Improvement” project. All they have to do is send out a traffic engineer to reprogram the signals so the Walk signals automatically appear. Pedestrians deserve the right to an automatic Walk signal, particularly in a city-designated Pedestrian Overlay Zone near the Blue Line, a nearly $800 million transit investment that is approached on foot by every single rider. Hundreds of pedestrians cross Hiawatha Avenue every day, and not just to access light rail. We deserve automatic Walk signals. An early review of the pedestrian “improvement” project appeared on this site in July. As you can see, the results of the…

Missing the Point on Transit and Land Use

Dateline: 3:43 pm August 29, 2014 Filed under:

I took exception to a few reader comments in today’s Strib Opinion page. First off, Carol Adelmann Linders of Arden Hills applauds the improved transit hub at the Minnesota State Fair, as well she should. However, her beef are with park-and-rides that are “bursting at the seams.” She calls for parking spaces at park-and-rides that match the number of riders. And who will pay for these additional park-and-ride spaces that are used just 12 days a year? From a perspective of capacity, perhaps the best State Fair park-and-ride locations are shopping malls with excess parking. Or just suck it up…

Better Block, PARKing Day and Cities for People

Dateline: 4:19 pm August 27, 2014 Filed under:

On Saturday September 20th I’m helping put together a Better Block event at the corner of 42nd Street and 28th Avenue. September 20th is also PARKing Day and Max Musicant at the Musicant Group is planning a large PARKing Day event in southwest Minneapolis. Both events are one day, and use public space on sidewalks and streets in a different way to encourage people to come out, mingle, enjoy themselves, lobby for change, and most of all to see and enjoy their city in a new way. Come and join us! Better Block (sometimes called Tactical Urbanism) is a grassroots effort to demonstrate how…

Target Field Station

Dateline: 1:44 pm August 13, 2014 Filed under:

With the emerging debacle of The Yard prominent in the press (Strib and blogosphere), it is natural to overlook the fact that downtown Minneapolis just opened a brand new public space. It is called Target Field Station (formerly The Interchange), and despite Tom Fisher’s review on MinnPost, people actually use it and it is pretty nice. So considering downtown Minneapolis, with its skyway system, failed parks over the years, largely treeless sidewalks, and overall general inability to produce a good downtown park or public space, Target Field Station is a huge victory for the city. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Target Field Station shouldn’t win any awards…

Ben Hamilton-Baillie, Shared Space and Lying Down in the Street

Dateline: 2:04 pm July 31, 2014 Filed under:

At CNU 22 in Buffalo last month, I met an Englishman during a pub crawl. He was a pleasant enough chap, but kept wandering in to the quiet streets of downtown Buffalo, as if to demonstrate how much space we waste in our cities by giving it over solely to cars. Little did I know this Englishman was Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a traffic and urban design consultant, and that he’d be giving the keynote lunch address the following day at lunch. Well, Hamilton-Baillie, shown below lying on Bank Street in Ashford (he does this everywhere), knocked it out of the park. Among the many provocative and relevant…

I Am Induced Demand (and So Can You)!

Dateline: 7:16 pm July 16, 2014 Filed under:

“Induced demand” is the “build-it-and-they-will-come” theory of driving. If you add a lane, that lane will fill with traffic. Essentially, if you make it easier or faster to drive, people will do just that, and do it in droves. So the latest discussion of the future of 26th and 28th Streets has prompted me to realize that I’m proof of induced demand. For example, I live near the 38th Street light rail station, and if I need to get to get to anywhere north of the Midtown Greenway in Uptown or Whittier, I’ll take Hiawatha Avenue to 26th Street. Why? 26th Street is…

Hiawatha Avenue Crosswalk Improvements*

Dateline: 7:41 pm July 2, 2014 Filed under:

The Hiawatha Avenue crosswalk improvements at 38th, 42nd and 46th Streets are largely complete. For a reported cost of $850,000, curb bumpouts have been created in most places to reduce crossing distance, pork chop islands have been enlarged and center refuge islands widened, curb cuts are now ADA compliant, the crosswalk along the south side of 46th Street has been restored, and new crosswalk activation buttons (“beg buttons”) are in the process of being installed. As well, new trees have been planted along both sides and in the median of Hiawatha. I’ve been active for several years with the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood…

The Green Line is a Sweet Ride – The Problem is Getting There

Dateline: 4:49 pm June 25, 2014 Filed under:

Cruising high above the Mississippi River on my first Green Line light rail ride was something I may never forget. It felt so…right. Some may find it absurd to hear me say it is worth the billion dollars just to ride it across the Mississippi. But think about it – a meaningful transit investment connecting the state’s largest downtown with its largest University (and on to St. Paul!) makes sense, and it only took 150 years and $1 billion to do it. Despite some timing issues, the train ride itself is sweet. The problem lies in getting there. $1 billion later, the Green…

Scenes From CNU 22

Dateline: 4:18 pm June 13, 2014 Filed under:

Attending CNU22 in Buffalo was for me a combination of therapy and inspiration. Therapy to simply be around like-minded urbanists for a few days, comparing notes and recovering from the real world. It was also inspiration, both hearing colleagues speak about successful cities around the world and transforming Buffalo itself, even if it was just temporary. Why Buffalo? The City was once one of the prominent cities in the United States. Much has changed, but Buffalo certainly hasn’t given up. They have a new form-based code and a lot of initiatives to move past being just another down-on-its-luck rust belt city. The…