Last week, former Council Member Meg Tuthill pushed back against new development with an interesting theory:
Tuthill and her husband, Dennis, moved to the Wedge over 40 years ago, a time when older homes were being demolished and replaced by two-and-a-half story walkup apartment buildings. Now, she’s concerned redevelopment could make the neighborhood less bike and pedestrian friendly.*
This may just be a pandering attempt to round up some unwitting allies, in the vein of Anders Christensen’s pretend defense of “vulnerable adults.” But let’s take the argument at face value.
As a non-driver who walks to quite a few public meetings, my long-time neighbors tell me that traffic and parking in Lowry Hill East is a nightmare (and I believe them, because their calves appear dangerously atrophied from hours of sitting in traffic and waiting for a prime spot to open up). On the other hand, everyone can agree that it’s a great neighborhood for biking and walking. It’s the kind of place that tends to repel the car-centric, while attracting quite a few avid pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a major neighborhood selling point.
Contrary to Meg’s theory, this dynamic is good for safety. Studies show that drivers are “less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling when there are more people walking or bicycling.” This is attributed to “behavior modification by motorists when they expect or experience people walking and bicycling.” As a result, I’m pretty enthusiastic about how my new neighbors will impact my personal well-being.
Sponsored Content: Let’s reinforce this positive dynamic by ditching parking minimums. The City should allow new apartment buildings in neighborhoods like ours to cater to residents who’d rather forego the expense of parking the car they don’t own. I hope Meg reconsiders her position on strict parking minimums when she understands the effect it will have on cyclists and pedestrians.
*Meg’s bike/ped advocacy reminded me of two things:
1. Nicole Curtis’s pre-election warning that candidates like Lisa Bender would lead to children “getting ran over because they are preaching prodensity and packing as many rental units in one square block as they can.”
2. A story I heard recently from a source close to the Minneapolis biking community. During the 2013 campaign, Meg bragged about a bike rack she installed at her old store on Hennepin Ave. She left out the part where it was installed for her children, and removed when they got older and no longer had use for it.