Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


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…

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…

The Great Stop Sign Experiment

Dateline: 3:48 pm May 21, 2014 Filed under:

An important experiment is going on in my neighborhood. The city of Minneapolis is performing a 30-day trial to test the intersection of 42nd Street and 28th Avenue. They have shut off the traffic signal, put hoods over the lights and installed a temporary four-way stop. The reaction has been mixed, with most criticism from people who observe traffic congestion at rush hour. There has been spirited discussion online at the Standish-Ericsson Facebook page and E-Democracy site. As for changing from a stop light to four-way stop sign scenario, let’s look at the pros and cons (observed, overheard and perceived): PRO – traffic…

The Answer Won’t Be Found Further on Down the Road

Dateline: 5:42 pm May 7, 2014 Filed under:

Last summer I filled my gas tank on June 30th and didn’t have to fill it again until September. I’ll let that sink in a little. This is the only way I have to explain to my relatives about how my “alternate lifestyle” pays off. By alternate lifestyle, of course, I mean “urbanist.” I figure that in conversations with my extended family, they imagine me aspiring to a crunchy, car-less urban hell, going for joyrides on light rail, owning a bike – it’s all very abstract until I toss in the anecdote about filling my tank so infrequently, and they suddenly snap to attention. And…