Looking for Collaborators

It’s been a while since I’ve put out an explicit call for other bloggers, so here it is!  This blog needs some fresh blood, new insights, and careful commentary on the state of the streets in the Grand Forks area.

To be clear:  You do not have to agree with me, with the complete streets movement, or with anything that has been previously posted.  If you live here, you have a valid viewpoint.

Drop a comment if you’re interested.  You’ll need a Gmail address to be able to post.  Post once or several times a week, it’s up to you.


One Less Car


If you predominantly drive, you might take offense at stickers that say “One Less Car,” but that shouldn’t be the case.  “One Less Car” isn’t a comment on whether you should drive or not, or whether cars are good or bad.  Although reeking of smugness (and it is smug), it’s not being smug at your expense; think of it rather as someone saying “I’m doing my part, how about helping me out?”

For drivers, “One Less Car” means:

  • One less car between you and your destination
  • One less car to wait for at the next stoplight
  • One less car circling the parking lot and slowing you down
  • One less car using fuel and driving up the price for everyone else
  • One less car that can hit your kids as they cross the street
What makes me most sad about unthinking motorists is… If only they would think.
When I ride my bike, they’re not stuck behind a car. And when I divest of my car, because options like public transit, car sharing, Citi Bike and better biking/walking infrastructure… Well, that’s one fewer car competing for the alternate side free parking.
If only they would think.
If I were car dependent, I’d be falling all over myself to get my neighbors out of cars. More parking and less traffic for me!

Fewer cars on the road means happier people.  “One Less Car” means a better community.

Carbon Storage Value – What does it mean?


In case anyone else is wondering what “Carbon Storage Value” is, in relation to the $50 billion worth of trees in American cities, here is the explanation by Nowak et al. (2013):

To estimate monetary value associated with urban tree carbon storage and sequestration, carbon values are multiplied by $78.5 per tonne of carbon (range = $17.2-128.7 tC-1) based on the estimated social costs of carbon for 2010 with a 3% discount rate (Interagency Working Group, 2010).
I’ll have to dig a little more into the “estimated social costs of carbon,” but the detail of what that $50 billion number actually means seems to have been lost on many media outlets.

Photo by PhotoA.nl, CC.

GFK Traffic Death Memorials Formalized

Although roadside memorials have not reached epic proportions in Grand Forks (as far as I’ve seen), the city council today has approved a plan to formalize the memorial process:

For the [$30] fee, families would see a sign featuring a public service message such as “Please drive safely” or “don’t drink and drive” accompanied by their deceased family member’s name.
At least one person objected to the city continuing to allow roadside memorials in the city.
“I don’t think people of the city need to be reminded of an accident,” said an email from a resident read by council member Bret Weber.

As a complete streets advocate, I think these types of signs are the best way to remember someone who has died in traffic.  Each sign may help one more person to actually think before texting or drinking and driving, or be more vigilant.  It’s a far cry from enacting real complete streets legislation to improve safety for all road users, but anything to remind people of the “acceptable losses” we as a nation deal with every day is a good plan in my book.

Columbia Road Overpass Pedestrian and Cyclist Update

More straightforward news on pedestrian/cyclist access to the Columbia Road overpass during construction this summer:

Impact to Pedestrian & Bicycles from the Construction on Columbia Road 

 Have you been wondering how the road construction on South Columbia Road and DeMers Avenue will affect your non-motorized travel on the Columbia Road overpass? Here’s the good news: the overpass will be open for pedestrian, biking, and roller blading traffic during the beginning phases of the construction.

Here’s the bad news: access will not be available from South Columbia Road. If you are coming from the south, you will not have access to the overpass in the construction area. You will need use the DeMers Avenue trail and enter the ramp on the west side of Columbia Road. If you are coming from the north, you will not be able to access the trail south of the overpass. You must exit at the off-ramp on the south end of the overpass.

We’ll do our best to keep you posted on any changes to the pedestrian access to the overpass.

(via the latest Greenway update)

In fairness to anyone who will hop curbs and cross grass on a bicycle to continue traveling south, I think it will still be possible to get onto the hospital campus and continue south, but it is still unclear exactly what areas will become impassible during the construction.  We’ll do our best to let you know the best way to get through this mess as it changes this summer.

Nowhere to Go but Up

The 2013 League of American Bicyclists state rankings for “bicycle friendliness” are out.  To start out National Bike Month (May) on a good note, here’s the ranking for North Dakota:

50.  Out of 50 states.

Our report card is pretty generic, because there’s a lot that can be done.  There are no bicycle-friendly businesses, no bicycle-friendly cities, and not a lot of concerted action (although we reportedly have an active state advocacy group?).

If you’re interested, here are some ideas for taking advantage of National Bike  Month from the Cascade Bicycle Club.  Nowhere to go but up, right?