The Surprisingly Rare Sanctuary From Urban Freeway Noise

There are precious few places in the Minneapolis region where you can escape the whirr of speeding cars. Map: Adam Froehlig at Streets.mn

There are precious few places in the Minneapolis region where you can escape the whir of speeding cars. Map: Adam Froehlig at Streets.mn

Bill Lindeke at Network blog Twin City Sidewalks says he grew up in a rather bucolic setting. Even so, he wasn’t able to escape the constant whir of speeding cars. The old farmhouse on a half-acre lot where he grew up is just three-quarters of a mile from Interstate 35E. And in that way, he was like almost everyone else in the Twin Cities, he points out:

It made me realize that freeways are surprisingly close to most houses. It’s increasingly difficult to find anywhere within the 494-694 ring of the Twin Cities where you can’t hear the high pitched whir of tires all hours of the day and night… Cars are a backdrop to every outdoor conversation, every rustle of leaves, and every birdsong day in and day out forever.

The other day at streets.mn, Adam Froehlig made a map that answered one of the questions that’s been nagging at my earlobe for years: Where are the respites from the whir? Is there anywhere in Minneapolis or Saint Paul where you can escape the sound of tires, if even for a brief moment in the middle of the night?

While it’s not perfect, Alex’s map [above] does point to a few small places where freeways might be at least a mile off.

There are precious few of these freeway-free pockets in Minneapolis: a pie slice of Northeast Minneapolis, a halo surrounding Lakes Harriet and (Haystacks) Calhoun, a few tiny pieces of South, and a peripheral edge of North Minneapolis. Is there a silent way that these neighborhoods help with delicate sanity?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Forward Lookout warns that a proposed constitutional amendment in Wisconsin could exacerbate the state DOT’s roads-only approach. TriTag says that despite what some opponents are saying, canceling light rail plans in Waterloo won’t actually save taxpayers any money. And the State Smart Transportation Institute points to a new study demonstrating the impact of the federal Safe Routes to School Program on travel habits.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Minneapolis-St. Paul: Ripe for a Highway Teardown?

|
When I was a college student in the Twin Cities, I moved between Minneapolis and St. Paul on the 21 bus or the 16 bus or by bike, traversing vibrant corridors like Lake Street and Washington Avenue. I rode past art cinemas and pancake houses and Mexican supermarkets and puppet theaters. Or I didn’t ride […]

More Urban Developers Question the Wisdom of Building Parking

|
A San Francisco developer made headlines a few weeks ago when it offered tenants $100 a month toward Uber and BART in an attempt to reduce the usage of on-site parking. Brandon G. Donnelly at Network blog Architect this City says this type of arrangement will be increasingly common in cities where building parking attached to housing makes less and less sense: When I was […]

Mapping Accessibility: What Can You Get to in 20 Minutes?

|
In the U.S., one metric dominates the public discussion about transportation: traffic congestion. Rankings are published every year assessing how clogged the streets are in different cities, and transportation agencies devote a great deal of resources trying to reduce congestion. The outcome of all this effort, however, doesn’t even help people get places. In metro […]

Fixing a Blank Wall Streetscape With Storefront Retrofits

|
Every city has places where the buildings present a blank face to the sidewalk. A dark, recessed arcade deadening the pedestrian environment or a soulless concrete wall fronting a windswept plaza. Consultant Brent Toderian, formerly the planning director for the city of Vancouver, pointed out a cheap and easy solution to this problem. He calls them […]

Fighting Freeways: War Stories From Portland

|
Rail~volution is underway in Portland, Oregon, bringing together more than 1,000 city planners, engineers, transit advocates, bike policy experts, and elected officials to strategize about making cities and towns better for transit, walking, and biking. Monday started with 15 different workshops that took place around the city, including one highlighting Portland’s “Lost Freeways” – the […]