On Tuesday, October 15th, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is sponsoring a mayoral forum on the Future of Transportation in Minneapolis. Our partners include Streets.mn, Minnesota Urban Studies Students Assocation, Interdisciplinary Transportation Student Organization, UrbanMSP, and the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. It will start at 7 pm in the Cowles Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. Please RSVP on Facebook. Also, please keep in mind the following points:
1) There are some big rail projects in the pipeline. City Council is moving toward building a streetcar on Nicollet and Central avenues. The Southwest Light Rail Transit corridor, which would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, is in trouble. Some critics say that it's bad that the corridor bypasses the people who use transit the most in Uptown and Whittier. Others say it's bad because it will threaten the Kenilworth bike trail, a useful and beautiful path that connects the Midtown Greenway and the Cedar Lake Trail. Many Star Tribune commenters believe it to be a boondoggle.
2) Minneapolis has an awesome climate action plan. City Council adopted a climate action plan in June, and it has some great plans for reducing the city's carbon emissions while improving our quality of life. For example, the plan calls for Minneapolis to build 30 new miles of protected bikeways by 2020, to reduce the amount of driving in the city, and to make neighborhoods more walkable.
3) Parking is an important issue. Many people overlook how parking impacts everyday life. Mandatory parking requirements make new developments more expensive than they would be if the amount of parking were determined by the free market. Surface parking lots blight much of Downtown East. A prominent professor of urban planning at UCLA, Donald Shoup, wrote a long but engaging book, The High Cost of Free Parking. His basic idea is when parking is mandated or subsidized, this distorts the market and causes people to drive more than they would otherwise, which has all sorts of negative consequences.
4) Equity matters. Minneapolis is a beautiful, thriving city, but some neighborhoods are being left out. Better transportation infrastructure and services could ameliorate this inequity by giving underserved communities easier access to employment and education. Our next mayor will need imagination, empathy, and resolve to expand economic opportunity to the marginalized areas of Minneapolis. For more on this topic, check out Next City's article, Building Equity by the Tracks.