Tag Archives: saint paul

NiceRide2012_cyclopath_routing

2012 Nice Ride flows revisited

For the last two years, I’ve mapped the flows of the Nice Ride bikes.  I’ve always been slightly dissatisfied with the results, since bikes were obviously shown taking routes that any sane Nice Rider would never take (Hennepin Avenue between Lake and the bottleneck, for example).  Try as I might, I could never get ArcGIS to prioritize trails, lanes and bike boulevards sufficiently.

Enter the good people at Cyclopath.  Cyclopath is something like a bike route wiki, in that it is constantly updating it’s database of bike routes using ratings from users.  So every street in their database has a rating from bad to awesome (actually 0 to 4).  And this database includes the whole metro and beyond.  Best of all, they were willing to share it!

The latest version of ArcGIS has a new “restriction preference” setting, meaning there are six levels of preference for a link from “Highly Avoid” to “Highly Prefer”.  So I combined cyclopath’s street ratings with these preference settings and got a new and better route analyzer.  Here are the results:

NiceRide2012_cyclopath_routingAs a reminder, here is what the old version looked like:

2012 Nice Ride FlowsA few changes of note:

  • Hennepin is obviously not so popular anymore, save in downtown where there are more Nice Ride Stations.
  • The Cedar Lake Trail got a little more popular, perhaps 500 trips in some locations, since it was a Highly Preferred route.
  • West River Parkway south of the Washington Avenue bridge got a lot less popular (although crossings at Franklin stayed nearly the same).
  • There is generally just a lot less jigging and jogging on small streets as trips tend to condense onto major routes (see the major difference on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul).

Here is a version with a base street map for orientation:

NiceRide2012_cyclopath_routing_greybase

Where do the Nice Riders go?

Nice Ride released their 2011 ridership data in January, and I’ve been itching to map it ever since.  Flows (don’t call them fluxes) are a particularly interesting way to visualize the ridership over different route segments.

I used ArcGIS with Network Analyst on a heavily modified Open Streets Map metro shapefile to generate routes between the start and ending station of each Nice Ride rental. The Open Streets map file allowed me to include off-street trails (very important in Minneapolis), which weren’t included in my previous attempts. I set Network Analyst to prefer off-street trails, bike lanes and regular roads (in that order).

Other than being pretty, you can draw a few interesting conclusions from the flows:

  • The most traversed segment, with over 16,000 trips, was the off-street trail through the Hennepin-Lyndale bottleneck (although likely some of this traffic went to the Cedar Lake Trail in real life).  In my opinion, this is a horrible segment for bikes and peds and if we’re trying to attract visitors back to Minneapolis, we should do something about it.
  • Other heavily-traveled areas are the Mississippi River bridges, downtown streets, and Uptown.
  • Men and women take similar routes.  I mapped both, but the flows looked very similar.
  • People are using Nice Ride even in the middle of the night. They are sticking even more closely to the southwest-to-northeast spine common during the day.
  • 30-day and Annual subscribers are getting into the neighborhoods more than casual subscribers (single day), pointing to the obvious conclusion that they are full-time residents who are using Nice Ride to go to and from homes more often.
  • Since Saint Paul only had a partial year of service, it’s hard to draw many conclusions yet.

What else do you see?

Cross-posted at streets.mn

Central Corridor HIA shows risks, opportunities

Policy Link, Take Action MN and Isaiah have released a health impact assessment for the coming Central Corridor light rail line.  In my opinion, this seems more like an economic impact assessment, but the argument can be made that economics drives health.

My summary of the findings:

  • Jobs in the corridor will increase, particularly retail and office.
  • Population and housing will increase.
  • Jobs with skills matching those of current residents will be low-paying.  Higher wage jobs will increase too, but won’t be available to many current residents.
  • Low-skill, higher paying jobs (in manufacturing, for example) will be forced out.
  • Commercial rents may rise, forcing out small/independently-owned businesses.
  • Additional density could be in the form of housing affordable to current residents, but not without careful planning.
  • More people walking and biking is good, but existing pedestrian conditions are “hazardous”.  The city (St Paul) has some plans to address this.

I question comments like this: “The reduction in allowable densities east of Lexington Parkway along University Avenue, however, will help to reduce the pressure on existing small and minority-owned businesses in the east submarket.”  I understand the issue of redevelopment pushing out existing businesses (they might not be able to afford rent in new mixed-use buildings), but isn’t density good for any business (save auto dealers)?

The report also has five policy recommendations for creating a healthier environment moving forward.  Here’s my (very abbreviated) summary:

  • A modified inclusionary zoning ordinance.
  • Codify affordable housing goals in the Traditional Neighborhood zoning category.
  • Give a density/height bonus or reduced parking requirements to developments with affordable housing component.
  • Allow temporary parking lots on vacant lots during construction.  In theory, this would help businesses during LRT construction.
  • A local hiring action program giving preference for construction jobs.

What this seems to leave out is any recommendation on how to incorporate small businesses into new development.  Is it impossible/very difficult to program space in new mixed use developments for small/independent businesses?  Do developers only want chains?  Are rents simply too high?  Has any city every adopted an affordable commercial space policy to set aside a certain portion of commercial space for smaller businesses?  Smarter folks than I surely must have thought about this.

Kids in the city presentation available

A big thanks to everyone who attended the ULI Minnesota Kids in the City Program on March 10th.  The panel was excellent and the discussion was great.  Below is the intro presentation that was given during the event.

ULI YLG Kid-Friendly Cities 3-10-10(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js?1300479309″; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtowns grow as city-wide population stays flat

Minneapolis

This week, the US Census released 2010 data for Minnesota.  I haven’t had much time to dig into the data, but I did check a few things.  First, I checked the health (in terms of population) of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, our core cities.  We seem to have bucked the trend, being seen in many midwestern core cities, of population decline.  Minneapolis is down 40 people since 2000 and Saint Paul lost 2,083 (-0.7%).

Although our core city population growth seems to be flat or declining, Minneapolis and Saint Paul also seem to be experiencing the “downtown renaissance” being seen in other parts of the country.

Using Census tracts that approximate the areas of each downtown (Minneapolis: south of Plymouth Avenue, inside the freeway belt, south of the river; Saint Paul: inside the freeway belt, north of the river) I compared population from 2000 to 2010.  The results are shown in the table below.  Both downtowns seem to be healthy and growing.

[table id=4 /]

Beautiful Map of Historic Twin Cities Streetcar Lines

What, no Kennilworth alignment?

From City of Lakes Urbanism, a link to Brett McKean’s map of the 1933 streetcar routes in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  We do still have a lot of this infrastructure, it’s just in the form of buses now.  If someone could dig up the old time schedules, that would be an interesting comparison.  The busiest routes in the metro look to be Hennepin Avenue north and south of downtown, with three lines running all the way to Uptown and East and West 7th Street in Saint Paul.

How Does Child Care Access Affect Active Living in the Twin Cities?

How Does Child Care Access Affect Active Living in the Twin Cities?
One of the easier ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life is switching from an auto-powered commute to a foot-powered commute.  This might mean walking to transit or biking to work.  Although many people’s commutes are bikeable, if you have kids, the availability of child care near you can mean the bike stays in the garage.
So how accessible is child care in the Twin Cities? In the first post of this series I proposed that child care needed to be within 1/4 mile of your home in order to make an active commute feasible.  About 45 percent of households in Minneapolis and 42 percent in Saint Paul are within 1/4 mile of at least one child care center (using 2000 Census data).  Of course, all of these households don’t have kids, but if you look at where children under 5 lived in 2000, about 50% of them are close to child care.  Child care data from 2008 was provided by DEED and mnchildcare.org.
Where can Twin Cities residents with kids in child care commute actively?
Where can Twin Cities residents with kids in child care commute actively?

One of the easier ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life is switching from an auto-powered commute to a foot-powered commute.  This might mean walking to transit or biking to work.  Although many people’s commutes are bikeable, if you have kids, the availability of child care near you can mean the bike stays in the garage.

In the first post of this series I proposed that child care needed to be within 1/4 mile of your home in order to make an active commute feasible.  So how accessible is child care in the Twin Cities?  Where are the best and worst neighborhoods for parents who want an “active” commute?  I think I have some answers below the break.

Continue reading How Does Child Care Access Affect Active Living in the Twin Cities?

Midwest HSR/Stimulus run-down

I’ve been collecting articles since mid-February, so this post is way overdue.

Remember when Congress approved $680 million a year for high speed rail projects?  Well that’s peanuts now, with the stimulus bringing in $8 billion.  Back then, Oberstar said Chicago to the Twin Cities could happen in 5 years.

As usual, NYT has the best rundown of the details.  Autopia also has a little more analysis.  The Boston Globe talks to some people who say that HSR will be tough to get started in the US because of our old friends low gas prices (love of foreign oil?) and low population density (also wide open spaces and a lack of historic government support).  Governor Jim Doyle went to Spain, rode their ultra-fast trains and declared a Chicago-Minnesota route possible “within 5 to 10 years“.  Finally, feeling left out, the Hennepin County Board last week approved a resolution asking that proposals be developed to include Minneapolis in high-speed plans (current plans have the line ending at Saint Paul’s soon-to-be-renovated Union Depot).

If $680 million = Chicago-TC HSR route in 5 years, shouldn’t $8 billion = Chicago-TC route in 5 months?