Are streets too inviting to cars?

Snowy ride
Greg Cochrane rode his 6-mile commute through the snow in St. Paul to the University of Minnesota on Friday, April 4, 2014: a week and a half ago.
Jeffrey Thompson / MPR News

It's been only weeks since the streets of the Twin Cities were buried in hard-packed snow, with parking limited to one side and intersections made hazardous by icy surfaces and obstructed sight lines.

Now, with the streets mostly free of snow even in Duluth, we can revert to our spring and summer hazards: potholes deep enough to deploy our airbags and car doors swinging open in the path of our bicycles.

Some urban experts think it's time to reconsider the way we use our streets. As they exist today in most U.S. cities, the roads are primarily — if not solely — for cars. Is it time to rethink that? Might we, for example, want to limit parking to one side year-round?

LEARN MORE ABOUT CARS AND CITIES:

America's Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing
The question is really how far we can get down the path of least resistance, pursuing only the politically easy tactics. If the goal at the end of the day is changing behavior, how much can you really achieve by showing people a nice new bike lane? ... Carrot-like improvements to transit in New York City have significantly changed behavior because disincentives to drive are already built into the environment. New York is expensive and crowded, which means that parking is costly and congestion is bad. But elsewhere — in cities where driving is systematically subsidized in so many ways — the disincentives would have to come from more explicit policy. (The Atlantic)

The Met Council Will Burden You Now
The Metropolitan Council sees economic storm clouds on the Twin Cities' horizon. We are in danger of losing jobs and creative young professionals to more enlightened metro areas, like Portland and Seattle, the council warns. ... Its proposed solution? "Thrive MSP 2040" — the council's new 30-year comprehensive plan for development in our seven-county region. The council has released a draft for public comment and will vote on the plan in May. ... Thrive MSP 2040 will give the unelected Met Council the green light to play "Sim City" with the lives of Twin Cities residents. Its unprecedented, top-down controls will transform many neighborhoods; push us increasingly into "stack and pack" high-density housing, and reorganize our region around mass transit. The plan will pour huge sums into light rail, increase congestion, and limit parking to push us to give up our cars and take public transit, walk or bike to work and leisure activities. (Katherine Kersten, Center of the American Experiment)

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