New feature: Ranking NoMo

June 3, 2011

This site has been dormant for some time, but I’m going to kick it off again by ranking Northfield-area nonmotorized accommodations and projects.


Where the sidewalk ends: Roosevelt Drive

October 30, 2009

Roosevelt Drive West at Truman Court

Roosevelt Drive is a residential street started in the 1970s and completed in the early 2000s. Though not considered a collector street by the City’s transportation plan, it is the primary access for 14 “presidential” streets. The older portion of the street has no sidewalks whatsoever. The southernmost portion (from Truman Court to Tyler Court) has a sidewalk on the south side.

Roosevelt Drive is walking distance to three schools, the NCRC, and arguably the downtown. There is some redemption in that there are shared-use paths that connect at several points to Jefferson Park and the sidewalk along Jefferson Parkway West. (This is the reason it was not included in my top 10 list.)

One particularly irritating issue with Roosevelt is that the road itself is very wide — I have not measured, but at least 40′ (32′ is standard). With little on-street parking used and no marked bike lanes, all this width serves to do is increase runoff and encourage cars to drive faster.

The Idaho Stop

October 22, 2009


I saw an excellent piece in Slate last week about getting bicyclists to better-abide by traffic laws. One of the things brought up is something we’d discussed a few times on the Task Force: stop signs. Officially, in Minnesota and almost all other states, a bicycle is required to stop at stop signs like a vehicle. However, actually recommending this to bicyclists is problematic, because, as anybody who has ridden a bicycle knows, it’s extremely inefficient to stop completely and start again.

The Slate article contained a link to a video made for Oregon about the “Idaho Stop.” The Idaho Stop is a law that allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as if they were yield signs — they can’t violate cars’ right of way at the intersection, but they don’t need to stop if there are no cars in the vicinity. A law like this (HF4245) was proposed in 2008 in Minnesota, but it never made it past committee.

Here’s the video; it’s definitely worth a watch.

Mill Towns Trail Friends Oct. meeting

October 16, 2009

Cub scouts at the dedication of the MTT Cannon River Crossing Steve Hennessy, DNR, reported that the Metro Federal Enhancement grant for the other half of the Byllesby park connection bridge is almost certain to be awarded in November. This would mean construction in 2013. Dakota County is applying for $1,000,000 in state bonding to complete the trail connections in Byllesby Park on the north side of the Cannon River.

With the assistance of the Parks & Trails Council, property negotiations with owners on the south side of the Cannon west of Cannon Falls, are moving along. Kent Skaar, DNR, confirms that Mr. Goudy is willing to sell the river front piece. Steve says that engineering for trail from Cannon Falls, across the Wienrl property, under Highway #52 will be done this winter. Funding for these purchases and trail development was certified last bonding session, 2008.

The Friends group will submit support letters to Dakota County for their bonding request, to the Joint Powers Board for the $550,000 for acquisition between Dundas and Faribault, and to Northfield for the Legacy application for trail along the east side of the Cannon River, Northfield to Dundas. Meg Otten and City personnel are writing that grant application, due Nov. 13. Steve Janusz shared the Fillmore County/Root River lodging tax progression. Amazing what a good trail network accomplishes in tourism.

We discussed the construction of the new bridge on Canada Avenue, underpass space for the trail and preservation of the old Iron Bridge for pedestrian use. We discussed trail alignment in/around Northfield.

Treasurer John Stull will be cashing CD’s to repay the City $121,086, the Friends share of the Total $1,025,449 bridge cost. About 1/3 Federal funding, 1/3 bonding, 1/3 city & Friends.

Just Foods sent a check for $424 from their re-used bag project. Thank you.

MTT Events October 14th and 15th

October 12, 2009

Mayors of Northfield and Dundas cutting the ribbon for the Mill Town Trail In 1998 we opened the Mill Towns Trail; 2000 it became a state trail. Wednesday, Oct. 14, 6:30 PM, Dundas City Hall, come hear about the next big steps.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, 9:00 am, Legislative Bonding committee at the City of Northfield Transit garage. We’re requesting $850,000 for right-of-way acquisition!

Northfield celebrates Walk to School Day on Thursday, October 8

October 2, 2009


I’m the lead organizer for Walk to School Day here in Northfield, Minnesota, again. It promises to be a fun event, as usual!

Here is our press release for this year:

Students at Northfield Middle School and the three public elementary schools will celebrate Walk to School Day again this year on Thursday, October 8.

It promises to be a fun event for many students who have a safe route available from their homes. Not only will they get to walk with their friends, but there will be prizes and recognition as well.

The event is part of the district’s Safe Routes to Schools program, which is designed to help students and communities gain the benefits from increased walking and biking. Those benefits include improved health, a stronger sense of community, and reduced traffic congestion and air pollution.

The event also helps to illustrate the benefits of “complete streets”–streets that are built to accommodate all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and the handicapped. Unfortunately, all too often streets in our society are incomplete.

Students will receive maps of recommended routes, and adult volunteers will be stationed along the routes during the morning and afternoon travel times. A Northfield police officer will be located at the intersection of Jefferson Parkway and Division St./Highway 246 during both the Middle School and Bridgewater travel times. Bridgewater students who live east and northeast of the school are asked to ride the bus as usual due to concerns with that intersection. Read the rest of this entry »

A Nonmotorized Solution to School Congestion

September 26, 2009

Jefferson Parkway and South Division Street

The Northfield News ran an article this week — Late starts lead to traffic jams outside schools — about congestion around the South Division Street school strip (High School, Bridgewater, and Middle School). Reading it, I had trouble feeling sympathetic for parents “forced to find an alternate route” in the crowded traffic. Even more grating were the suggested solutions:

[District Superintendent Chris] Richardson said the high school is also encouraging students to use a “back route” to Raider Drive through Koester Court. The alternatives, Richardson believes, should help separate traffic going to the high school from traffic going to Bridgewater and the middle school.

Getting people to drive to the schools in a slightly different way might alleviate some of the symptoms, but the real problem here is that there are just too many cars on the road. Every child has access to the school bus. If they must drive due to extracurricular activities, they can certainly carpool. And of course, they can bike or walk.

Now part of what prevents biking and walking is an infrastructure problem. Division Street south of the High School is just generally terrible, and 2200 Division is simply a bad location for the Middle School, at least until some significant growth occurs on the south edge of town. Though these are important — and I plan to write more about the issues with this stretch of Division in a future post — the main issue here is the choice to not walk or bike. The main access for the schools — Jefferson Parkway or Division St — are busy roads, but all three have alternative routes.

Northfield High School

NHS can be accessed from Linden Place to the north (shared-use path that cuts through the tennis courts), or Raider Drive to the west.

Bridgewater Elementary

Bridgewater can be accessed from Roosevelt Drive (by way of Tyler Park) to the west. The sidewalks on Jefferson Parkway are also perfectly adequate for walkers.

Northfield Middle School

This has the most unsafe main entrance, but there’s a smaller west entrance off of Carter Drive (Roosevelt to Fillmore to Carter) which is perfectly safe for walkers and bikers.

It’s not always viable to walk or bike, but this was a nice September morning. I see no reason why more kids couldn’t have been getting themselves to school with their own two feet.