Minneapolis needs to go much, much further with its 2040 plan if it hopes to come anywhere close to meeting the plan’s stated goals on equity and climate change.
It is embarrassing to everyone involved that polemical in-bad-faith arguments made by residents of wealthy white neighborhoods have significantly reduced the allowable density in the second version of the plan. I am ashamed of my fellow citizens for their support of the racist — oops, apparently to appease the insurgent racists we are now calling it “racially restrictive” — status quo.
If Minneapolis wants to move forward into the mid-21st century as a livable city, its sights need to settle on vastly increasing housing while even more aggressively reducing personal automobile traffic. The 2040 plan alludes to this, which I applaud. However, it does frustratingly little to address it.
I have a few suggestions. First, do everything possible to favor sustainable methods of transportation. Cars are not one of these. Lower the speed limit to 15mph, the speed which has proven to be about where drivers stop killing each other and the vulnerable, not-car-driving users of the street. Convert swathes of existing streets to pedestrian-only arcades, bikeways, and green spaces to ensure the safety of people using their own two legs safe and begin to cool our urban heat island.
Reduce all streets to at most 2 car lanes. Once multi-lane through streets have been greatly narrowed to calm vehicle traffic, add substantial bus capacity in the vacated space. Convert requisitioned car lanes into bike lanes that will be safe for everyone from eight months to 108 years old. Maybe then the radical fringe who are today comfortable traversing our deadly streets by bike (3-5%?) will increase to an unremarkable majority!
Close freeways to reclaim the hundreds of acres they dedicate to spewing toxic waste while also ensuring the wealth gap by gifting the well-off unfettered access to jobs and opportunity and leaving the vulnerable with few adequate transportation options and virtually no chance of any such affluence. Replace them with dense affordable housing and useful equitable transit. Address the damage done long ago to minority communities when I-94 and 35W slammed through the beating heart of vital minority neighborhoods, destroying them. [Sidebar: Where was the piteous citizenry who now shout with their red lawn signs “Don’t bulldoze our homes”? Do they realize the despicable irony in their attempt to maintain the white supremacy they have so long enjoyed?]
Re-wild and restore once sacred places and traditions of the indigenous who for thousands of years and hundreds of generations stewarded the land we have stolen from them and brutally colonized
If you are reading this you are a person with some amount of power to begin to reform the vicious landscape of American capitalism into something better. It’s our job, whether through politics, urban planning, or otherwise, to begin to redress racial disparities and address climate necessity. As bold and forward thinking as the current iteration of the 2040 plan is in naming some of these violent historical forces, it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. We, and this plan, need to do more than point out today’s ills. We must take measurable action to heal ourselves, our fragmented relationships, and our broken culture. If we can’t do this, we risk heating up our earth until it boils over, resulting in the massive chaos that is predicted upon our likely failure to stem catastrophic climate change.
This plan is a tiptoe in the right direction when we need to be making leaps and bounds.
[submitted to the city 2018-10-29]