Winter officially arrived in my area of Minnesota this week. It snowed Sunday night and Monday morning. We got about 3 inches in St. Louis Park where I live and work. About a foot of snow dropped fifty miles to our north.
Jane and I took the kids to Washington DC last March for an educational vacation. We stayed in Old Town Alexandria and walked 3/4 of a mile every day back and forth to the LRT station. Not a big deal.
I looked up my walking route from home to work and it turned out to also be 3/4 of a mile. I walked to work the first day back from DC to give a walking commute a try. Since then, I’ve walked to work every day (ok – I did drive twice). I love it. I sold our second vehicle in June to fully commit (Jane still needs a car). I even walk home for lunch most days.
I use Uber to go to meetings when I don’t hitch a ride with one of my co-workers. I also have a work van I can drive if it’s not being used in the field. Mostly, I don’t go to meetings.
Back to my tale of the snow….
Here’s a photo of what the road looked like versus what the sidewalk looked like on my way to work Tuesday morning. This is Wooddale Avenue, a busy collector that leads down to the high school. Yes, that is a sidewalk on the left. Can you tell from this photo which mode of transportation is the priority?
I’ve slipped twice this week walking to work. Thankfully I didn’t completely fall. I also saw a teenager on a bike slip and fall on a sidewalk along 36th Street near our office (4 lane collector, 16,000 +vehicles per day, wide sidewalks, no on street bike lanes – yes I’ve mentioned it should be converted to a three lane section).
And below are two photos of what Wooddale Avenue looked like this morning, three days after the snow fall.
We are spending a tremendous amount of time and money building ADA compliant pedestrian ramps in Minnesota. Look at the last photo – how ADA compliant is that sidewalk (I can’t imagine being in a wheelchair or blind on that sidewalk).
- Improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
- Establish a citywide grid-system of sidewalks every ¼-mile.
- Establish a citywide grid-system of bicycle facilities every ½-mile.
- Close gaps in neighborhoods’ existing sidewalk networks.
- Improve citizens’ transportation and recreation choices.
- Provide an accessible, convenient, inviting and easily understood system.
I don’t think we’re living up to those goals. I realize snow removal takes money, but a city in snow country can’t be multi-modal if it doesn’t take snow removal seriously. This will be a very important issue in St. Louis Park in about three years when a LRT station opens up 300 feet from where these photos were taken.
For now, I bought a good pair of boots and I hope I don’t have a walking crash on my commute to work.