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Victory Neighborhood Celebrates Long-Awaited Pedestrian Improvements

11/25/2014

 

By Barb Thoman, Executive Director

 

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Enjoying a more pedestrian-friendly Victory neighborhood. Photo credit: Val Escher.

 

A complex intersection in the Victory neighborhood in North Minneapolis has a safer, more community-oriented design. The new design was aided by a planning grant Transit for Livable Communities awarded back in 2011 through the federal Bike Walk Twin Cities program we administered.  

 

Long-awaited pedestrian improvements at Penn Avenue North, Osseo Road, and 44th Avenue were the focus of a community celebration last month. New bike lanes on Osseo Road were added just a couple of weeks later. The center of the neighborhood is where these three roads come together. Victory 44 coffee shop and kitchen is there, along with The Warren art gallery.

 

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Community members came out to celebrate a walkable intersection years in the making.
Photo credits: Val Escher. 


 

Previously, the double intersection and the diagonal nature of Osseo Road formed “a complex geometry,” to quote one planning study. Residents who wanted to get to businesses found it “unwelcome for walking,” with poorly marked or missing crossings, complicated traffic signals, and missing sidewalk segments. Pedestrians were actually prohibited from crossing the street in several important places, reducing access to an area with potential as an economic hub.

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The intersection, before recent improvements. 

 

For years, the Victory Neighborhood Association pushed for a solution to the complicated intersection.  Various options had been under consideration since 2008. Local residents and business owners called for a redesign that worked better for people walking and for bus riders, bicyclists, and motorists. Community members also wanted an easier connection to the Grand Rounds trail, which is just a block north of the intersection. The Hennepin County Bicycle Plan included a bike route on Osseo and Penn.

 

At a 2012 community meeting, residents brought shovels to signify that they were serious about turning improvement plans into reality on the ground.

 

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The intersection, after recent improvements! Photo credits: Val Escher.
 

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New bike lanes on Osseo Road also were added a couple weeks after the community celebration. Thanks to TLC members Val Escher and Peter Bretl for attending, trying out the new infrastructure, and reporting back! Photo credit: Peter Bretl. 

 

Today, with support from the community and funding provided by Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis, Osseo Road is safer for all users. It has dropped from two travel lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction (a design treatment called a 4-3 conversion). The stop light at Osseo and 44th has been removed and bike lanes and a pedestrian median have been added. Now, a person crossing the street has to deal with only one lane of traffic in each direction. Other pedestrian improvements include:

 

  • Reconstructed pedestrian ramps at all corners of the intersection.
  • New bump-outs at corners to shorten street crossings.
  • Improved street lighting.
  • More visible crosswalk markings.

 

Thanks to the City of Minneapolis for taking the lead on implementing this valuable project. Congratulations to the Victory neighborhood and to everyone who will safely bike, walk, and drive this much-improved intersection going forward.

 

Success: Making Transportation a Top Issue

11/24/2014

 

By Bethany Winkels, Move MN Field Director

 

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With a new session on the horizon, elected officials are primed to address Minnesota's transportation needs, which span all modes and all areas of the state.

 

The last few months have been busy for the Move MN campaign. We have been traveling the state, meeting with supporters, businesses, and community groups—from Minnetonka to Duluth, Owatonna to Moorhead, and Worthington to Burnsville. It’s clear that people throughout Minnesota want to see greater investments in transportation. Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved in the campaign, we successfully made Minnesota’s urgent transportation needs a key issue this fall.

 

As we move forward, we are excited to report that transportation funding will be a top issue during the 2015 legislative session! Governor Dayton, Presumptive House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk have each acknowledged the need for a transportation solution next year. The type of solution will be up for debate. Move MN will continue to advocate for a funding package that is balanced, comprehensive, sustainable, and gimmick free. We know that we need investments statewide, from Greater Minnesota to the metro region, and suburbs to cities.

 

Minnesotans also favor a multi-modal approach. A recent poll released by the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition showed that a majority of Minnesotans from every region in the state want bicycle and pedestrian investments included in new transportation funding. We also need more public transit options both in the metro and in Greater Minnesota, and we need safe roads and bridges in all of our 87 counties. Our transportation system needs to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year. We need reliable, predictable funding to make sure that it can. No gimmicks!

 

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 Are you among the significant majority of Minnesotans (65%) who support additional funding for bike/ped infrastructure? 

 

The only way to ensure that we see the right solution come out of a bill this legislative session is by staying engaged and organized. On February 12, Move MN will be holding a rally for Transportation Day at the State Capitol. Mark your calendars! We will be delivering 10,000 postcards to lawmakers in support of transportation funding. If you can’t attend in person, there will be other opportunities to get involved. In the meantime, check out the Move MN website and take action online. You can let your local community know that you support investments in transportation by writing a letter to the editor, contacting your lawmaker, or signing our petition. We can move Minnesota forward, but only if we have strength in numbers! Keep up the good work!

 

For more opportunities to get involved in the Move MN campaign, contact me at 651-789-1406 or bethanyw@tlcminnesota.org.

 

 

Texting & Driving: Riskier Even Than Drinking & Driving

 

By Barb Thoman, Executive Director

 

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Distracted driving puts all road users at risk, including people walking and bicycling.
Photo credit: TLC

 

Over 900 people gathered in Duluth in mid-November for the Toward Zero Deaths Conference focused on improving safety on Minnesota roads. The conference brings together law enforcement, state and local transportation practitioners, safety advocates, and providers of emergency medical services. The keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Atchley, Director of the Cognitive Psychology Program at the University of Kansas, gave a sobering presentation on distracted driving.

 

Atchley noted that drivers who are talking on a cell phone while driving are four to five times more likely to get in a crash; texting is even more hazardous. Atchley said people can't multi-task, they simply task-switch. This means that when someone uses a cell phone while driving, their brain reduces its focus on the complexity of driving and effectively narrows their field of vision.

 

Research shows that cell phone use while driving has an even higher incidence of causing a crash than drinking and driving. Atchley said cell phone users have little awareness of impairment and are even more likely than drunk drivers to simply drive off the road or into the back of another vehicle (or a bicyclist or pedestrian).

 

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The 2014 Toward Zero Deaths Conference drew nearly 1000 attendees focused on improving safety on Minnesota roads. Photo credit: TLC.

 

Distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use. Another TZD conference presenter, Vijay Dixit, spoke about his 19-year-old daughter who died as a passenger in a car crash after the driver, her college friend, reached for a napkin. Any action that takes a driver’s attention away from the road can be dangerous. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration suggests, however, that because texting requires a driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention it is a particularly high-risk distraction.

 

Distracted driving poses great risks for the most vulnerable road users: people walking and bicycling. Bicyclists and pedestrians lack the protection that a vehicle—with its many airbags and safety features—provides a motorist. A recent tragic example is the death of young mother Andrea Boeve who was bicycling in rural Rock County, Minnesota, this summer when she was struck and killed by a distracted driver. The driver was using his phone at the time of the crash.

 

Despite cell phone use being linked to one of every four crashes, Dr. Atchley noted that the United States and individual states, including Minnesota, have weak laws and weak enforcement about cell phone use behind the wheel. Existing laws are notably weaker than laws pertaining to drunk driving.

 

What can you do? Silence the phone and keep it out of reach when you are driving a vehicle (or riding a bike or walking across the street); encourage others to do the same. Support stronger laws and enforcement pertaining to distracted driving.

 

More information:

 

Our Newest Program: Rethinking Transportation in the Workplace

 

By Hilary Reeves, Strategic Advancement and Communications Director, and Erin Kindell, Minnesota GreenCorps Member (TLC)

 

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Our newest initiative will focus primarily on nonprofits along or near the Green Line.
Photo credit: Allison Osberg, TLC.

 

Surveys show that many people consider their trip to work part of the workday. They may not be paid for that time, but it affects how they feel when they get to work and when they get home. With the opening of the Green Line and more bicycle routes and options for car- and bike sharing, more people have a choice about how they commute. These same new options also can open up new ways of approaching the workday, with results that are more environmentally friendly, save money, and create better connections with the community.

 

This year, TLC is launching a new program to encourage nonprofit organizations to be leaders in re-thinking transportation in the workplace. We’ve teamed up with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) with the goal of establishing transportation best practices and certifying nonprofit transportation leaders.

 

In this first year, we’ll be focusing primarily on nonprofits along or near the Green Line in Minneapolis and Saint Paul We want to encourage employees to consider options other than driving alone. And we want to help organizations foster an equitable, sustainable, multi-modal workplace and establish themselves as leaders in innovative transportation best practices. We’re particularly excited to work with nonprofits because of their commitment to community and to squeezing the most out of hard-won funding.

 

Earlier this month, we attended the MCN conference to share plans for the program and hear about the ways transportation comes up in the work of nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits already have pioneered ways to reward cleaner, greener transportation choices—or to think creatively about how visitors reach their location. We’re eager to document these stories and hear more.

 

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TLC's certification program will encourage use of options other than driving alone. 
Image credit: Erin Kindell, TLC.

 

Transit for Livable Communities also collaborated with MCN on a recent survey about how nonprofit employees get around. We received 1,328 completed surveys that will inform our work on this new program! A few of the survey results include: the distance and time of employee commutes, their typical mode of transportation, the number of vehicles in their household, and current barriers to using modes other than driving alone. The survey helps us get a baseline picture of commuting habits for the certification.

 

Nonprofits enrolling in the program will receive an assessment of their current conditions and options, attend a Transportation Options workshop, and create an action plan with goals for shifting trips and encouraging options other than driving. We’ll also work with organizations to track changes in travel habits. Nonprofits that complete the certification will be recognized at the 2015 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Conference!

 

Our intent is not only to shift trips (work and otherwise) for employees, but also to make sure that organizations incorporate the full range of transportation options in the way they carry out their work. This initiative is designed to benefit nonprofit staff and organizations as a whole, as well as the communities, volunteers, visitors, and clients they serve.

 

TLC’s new certification program will continue to develop over the winter months as we encourage nonprofits to sign on and participate in this leadership opportunity.

 

If you are interested in learning more, contact us!

 

  • Hilary Reeves, 651-789-1415 or hilaryr@tlcminnesota.org
  • Erin Kindell, 651-789-1403 or erink@tlcminnesota.org

 

 

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