Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Denver Union Station and the Value of Great Public Realm

Dateline: 2:39 pm June 19, 2015 Filed under:

Denver Union Station is up and running, and quite beautiful. I had the opportunity to stroll through on a visit to Denver last week, and it is a wonderful thing to know that thousands of people per day pass through this intermodal hub using transit and their own two feet. Most impressive is how well-designed and functional the public realm is at and around Union Station. The project is a seamless addition to the existing downtown, and a lovely place to walk. A recent Wall Street Journal article caught my eye, as it cites Union Station as a driver for a new speculative office…

We Can Make 28th Avenue Better for People

Dateline: 12:45 pm March 26, 2015 Filed under:

Driving 28th Avenue from 38th Street to Minnehaha Parkway in south Minneapolis is a pleasure, a little too much so. Traffic is relatively light compared to so many busy streets in the city, the speed limit is 30 MPH, the road surface was repaved last year and is nice and smooth. The only likely place you have to stop is the signal at 42nd Street, but even there you have close to 50/50 odds of a green light. There is the occasional cyclist trying to cross at the Minnehaha Creek crosswalk. Otherwise 28th Avenue is clear sailing. Taken in isolation, smooth traffic…

Prioritize Pedestrians at Hiawatha Avenue

Dateline: 2:14 pm February 12, 2015 Filed under:

The City of Minneapolis is asking citizens for input on the signals at major intersections of Hiawatha Avenue. Yesterday evening, when the “smart” pavement sensor recognized my car and gave me a green light, I passed a pedestrian stranded on a porkchop island who should have had a Walk signal as part of that light phase. As I drove past him, I saw him glance up at the signal, confused as to why he still had a Don’t Walk. I glanced up at the thermometer in the console of my warm car. It read seven degrees. For all I know, by the…

Transit-Oriented Development: Quality Over Quantity

Dateline: 3:08 pm November 20, 2014 Filed under:

A colleague of mine (from a more urban city) recently visited. When he arrived, I offered to show him around and he wanted to see transit-oriented development (TOD). Hmm…. I wanted to impress him, but I was stumped. Despite all our attention as a city and region to TODs, I don’t believe we have any great transit villages right off the platform where we could go that would really resonate with him. There’s Nicollet Mall and Target Field Station, but I wanted him to say, “wow, this is great!,” but I didn’t feel those would produce that response. Maybe I have impossibly high standards (maybe I’m just getting old and codgery), or…

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…

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…