A mid-February evening—in all of its snowy, frozen winter glory—found the Our Streets Pedestrian Work Group (PWG) once again at the Lakes and Legends Brewery in Loring Park. After kicking off 2019 with a rousing discussion of our new top priorities, group members built on that momentum with a meeting that centered around winter sidewalk maintenance.
Before discussing winter sidewalk issues, the group touched on Minneapolis’s ADA Transition Plan and Transportation Action plan. As of our meeting:
- There were no further updates on the city’s ADA Transition Plan. Several group members expressed some frustration with the lack of communication on the plan’s status, given its importance in making Minneapolis a safer and more equitable place to walk and roll for all.
The city had started preliminary engagement on their upcoming Transportation Action Plan (TAP) update. We discussed the TAP website, where citizens can view the plan’s goals, topics (pedestrian, bicycle, and even freight!), and learn about upcoming engagement opportunities. Folks noted that each specific topic page has at least one survey question on transportation choices; visit the pedestrian page for a good example.
- It’s never too early to plan: The City’s first ‘community workshop’ on the TAP is on April 9th at the Richfield Lutheran Church!
The main topic of the night, though, was engaging the community—and Mayor Frey—around winter sidewalk maintenance issues. Although the Minneapolis Department of Public Works declared sidewalk shoveling at 95% compliance in early-mid February (a week or so before our meeting), members found that this statistic did not accurately reflect their experience navigating city streets. Everyone present took time to share their frustration with blocked sidewalks at corners, generally unshoveled sidewalks, and other common areas of concern. During this conversation, the group:
Spent time thinking about the most effective forms of engagement for both the public and elected officials on this issue
- Group members aim to reach out on social media and contact/schedule meetings with elected officials. Generally, we wanted to elevate our community’s concerns about impassible, dangerous sidewalks in a way that framed walking as a normal, necessary, and even fun winter activity—not as an afterthought to cars and driving
- Discussed reaching out to Mayor Frey on his draft 2020 budget, with a goal of urging him to increase investment key winter sidewalk maintenance priorities such as corner clearing. We are all working on this!
- Spent a significant amount of time strategizing and planning around a potential special PWG meeting in April. We aim to find a larger venue and invite Mayor Frey to our meeting to discuss Minneapolis pedestrian issues, both in the context of the TAP update and recent winter accessibility challenges.
- This would likely be a regular work group meeting; members would have a question or two for the Mayor. PWG members are currently reaching out to begin this conversation with the Mayor’s office.
Do these priorities, activities, and issues sound amazing and exciting to you? Are you a fellow rolling/walking issues nerd with ideas of your own to contribute? Are you 350% fed up with uncleared sidewalks and massive frozen slushy snow walls? Come and join us for the next Pedestrian Work Group Meeting, on Monday, March 18th. Hope to see you there!