Opting Out of Suburban Driving Headaches

A couple of articles published recently in the Twin Cities area highlighted some of the problems with the contemporary American way of getting around.

Walking to school in Minneapolis. Photo: Alleen Brown/TC Daily Planet

One writer at the Star Tribune was concerned by the carnage he witnessed on a road by his home. Another suggested that “changing the way we drive” is the optimal way to tackle highway congestion.

Sam Newberg at Streets.mn was struck by the limited responses both writers suggested, since neither pointed out that it’s possible to drive less:

I can’t help but notice the residences of the two writers — Ham Lake and Shoreview. Both are decidedly car dependent when compared with a location like Minneapolis. The land use pattern of separate uses combined with few practical options for getting around other than the car result in frustration. But both writers seem to indicate there isn’t another choice. There is! …

Already today I have dropped my kids off at school, met a colleague, went to lunch and a seminar (three separate trips, no less) without needing my car. If that sounds smug, fine, but it’s also a lifestyle choice – I haven’t paid for gas yet today, I’ve gotten a little exercise, and have not risked life and limb on or near a highway or freeway. Sure, I have to drive for many things, but when I do it is typically on a slower-moving, sane, sometimes crowded city street.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Political Environment catches Wisconsin highway officials making telling statements about how the political climate shapes planning decisions. The League of American Bicyclists explains the progress states are making on encouraging and educating people about bicycling. And Bike Portland reports that the city’s famous “Welcome to America’s Bike Capital” mural is coming down.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Veering Right: A Cyclist on the Constant Sensation of Being in the Way

|
When she was a kid growing up in Minneapolis, biking was as natural to Alice Avidor as breathing the air. But as time went on, biking went from feeling carefree and empowering to something more like a hostile negotiation. Avidor writes at streets.mn about why she now finds herself veering to the right to avoid inconveniencing drivers: I think the driver that […]

It’s True: The Typical Car Is Parked 95 Percent of the Time

|
Cars are a very inefficient transportation technology for too many reasons to count. They take up huge amounts of space but get driven around mostly empty — the average private car in the U.S. carries only 1.6 people. A lot of the time, people drive distances that are short enough to easily walk or bike — 28 percent of car trips […]

Back Home in Coeur d’Alene, Where the Cars Roam Free

|
Pretty much everyone involved in the movement for livable streets has by now read the reports and studies about the importance of street design in pedestrian safety. But nothing can bring the point home like what happened to the writer of the Streetsblog Network blog Imagine No Cars: He was hit by a car. First […]

Q&A With Peter Norton: History Is on the Side of Vision Zero

|
Last week, a bunch of bigwigs gathered to talk infrastructure in one of Washington’s most historic and prestigious sites, the Hay-Adams Hotel across the street from the White House. I was offered an opportunity to interview former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and a host of other VIPs. But — […]

A Bus Rider’s Frustration With Transit Planners

|
Nick Magrino at Streets.mn describes what it’s like to ride the bus in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: Multiple transfers to get to a destination, waiting environments that seem to be designed to repel people — it can feel like a series of small humiliations. The people doing transit planning where he lives aren’t paying attention […]