Melting snow a welcome relief for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders

More can still be done to make the city easier to navigate, transit advocates say

Sloane Martin
March 13, 2019 - 7:57 am
Heres some snow

Entercom

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The melting of record-setting snow is a relief to many, but especially for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

It's been a long several weeks of improperly-cleared crosswalks and bus stops, as well as shrinking bike lanes in parts of the Twin Cities.

St. Paul transit advocate Alicia Valenti, who is also a cyclist and board member of the transportation blog streets.mn, says she's seen people, including those with disabilities, have to use the street because the sidewalk was impassable.

"And there are other people that we never see who stay in their homes because there's not a way for them to get around," she said.

Minneapolis released a study last year evaluating how it maintains pedestrian and bike areas with proposals for improvement. The city depends on reports to 311. In St. Paul, people can contact the Department of Safety and Inspections for complaints. The city will first contact the property owner, and then clear the sidewalk and send them the bill. Valenti says more accountability from private property owners could help pedestrians better navigate the city.

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"It's frustrating for me personally because it's annoying to play mountain goat any time I'm trying to go somewhere, but it's also a massive equity issue," she said.

While Minneapolis and St. Paul make resources available and are aware of the issues around winter mobility, part of the problem, Valenti says, is that cities are designed to prioritize vehicles above all other modes of transportation.

"One of the best ways [to improve things> is to have more pedestrians and cyclists," she said. "And the way to do that is to change the road design and the road environment to promote walking more, whether that's traffic calming, which is different design changes that you can do to encourage cars to slow down, or if it's greater enforcement."

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