Nicollet Ave - Template
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8/6/2019 Nicollet Ave - Template
August __, 2011
Dear Council Member __________,
I have been following the evolution of the conversation about the reconstruction of Nicollet
Avenue between Lake and 40th Streets, and I strongly believe that what should be built is what
the City initially proposed: 42-foot roadways with bulb-outs at each intersection. A group of ushave created a website to advocate for this outcome (www.nicolletfriends.org) and we are
mobilizing on facebook as well. Our neighborhood needs the reconstruction of Nicollet to be a
catalyst for redevelopment of the corridor Nicollet is at the heart of the Kingfield and Lyndaleneighborhoods, and so we must do whats in the best interest of all of the neighborhood
stakeholders, not just an outspoken few.
We should be trying to maximize the boulevard space, not minimize it. The greater theboulevard space, the easier it will be to accommodate all of the lights, trees, bus shelters, etc.; the
healthier the trees will be; and, perhaps most importantly, the slower and safer vehicles will
likely travel. Motorists currently see a 50-foot speedway that is barely lined and has plenty of
room for parking and travel. Vehicles speed regularly along stretches of Nicollet, mostly wherethe lack of potholes allow for it. If Nicollet is paved and the roadway is not narrowed as much as
possible, speeds will likely increase along parts of the corridor since motorists will see asmoothly-paved, wide roadway. Studies have shown that motorists drive faster on these kinds of
roadways compared to other, narrower roadways. As was done on Lyndale, a line should be
painted between the travel and the parking lane to visually narrow the roadway as well.
The roadway lane widths are, in the words of the City, more than adequate. City staff who I
consider career professionals/experts on these matters call for a 11-foot travel lane and the state
calls for a 10-foot parking lane. That equals 42 feet of roadway, which would allow for 12 feetof amenity space on each side of the road: 6-foot sidewalks and 6 feet of boulevard for
everything else that must be accommodated with their necessary setbacks (bus shelters, lights,trees, etc.). Reducing the boulevard space to 5 feet is, also in the words of the City, doable, butaccommodating everything will be tight. Why should that have to be the case? Why should the
boulevard be minimized? The parking and travel lane widths are perfectly adequate at 10 and 11
feet, respectively. It seems like the best choice is for everything not to be too tight in theboulevard: 6 feet will allow for everything to be accommodated and, in addition to more
stormwater absorption/diversion, will likely result in healthier, bigger trees along the corridor,
which is something most everyone would like to see.
Representatives of the businesses have been saying that businesses are willing to accept a
roadway width of less than what they have now, but they are pushing hard to go from the
initially recommended 42-foot width to not only to the current compromise of 44-foot roadwaywidths (which I believe is still too wide), but to 46-foot widths. Two feet more of boulevard
space on each side of the roadway hardly narrows the street. And even a 44-foot width is
hazardous for people along Nicollet cars, which can be seven feet wide, tend to park as close tothe curb as possible. That leaves up to 15 feet open for travel, which is more than enough
space even for the widest of vehicles. The hazard is that if a vehicle is turning left or is
otherwise stopped in the middle of the block, a motorist may think that there is enough space to
pass between them and any parked cars on the right. This may cause any number of accidentshttp://www.nicolletfriends.org/http://www.nicolletfriends.org/
8/6/2019 Nicollet Ave - Template
the passing car may not be able to see a pedestrian who is passing in front of the stopped car, the
passing car may not be able to see a car traveling in the opposite direction that is making a turn
in front of the stopped car, or the passing car may not see someone getting out of their parkedcar. Recommended travel lane and parking widths are recommended for a reason they can be
hazardous if they are wider than recommended. If the business representatives succeed in getting
46-foot widths, the boulevards, and the pedestrians who use the corridor will suffer.
And there are a lot of pedestrians along the corridor, and there will likely be more after Nicollet
is reconstructed. Nicollet is a very busy bus route, and everyone who takes a bus has to walk onboth sides of their bus trips they have to walk to the bus stop and then they have to walk from
the bus stop to their destination. Also, there are a lot of pedestrians of all ages and abilities
up and down the corridor: people taking kids to daycare, senior citizens in wheelchairs, etc., who
need the roadway to be as pedestrian-friendly as possible. Furthermore, the motorists who stopalong the corridor are pedestrians, too, since after they park they must walk to their destination.
More and more people will be walking along the corridor, especially if the streetcar someday
arrives. Several studies have shown that once streets like Nicollet are reconstructed, businesses
along these corridors start seeing more foot traffic and sales receipts grow. Vacancies have alsodeclined along these corridors. The boulevard space needs to be as wide as possible to
accommodate not only the current amount of pedestrians, but the future amount of pedestrians aswell. A pedestrian friendly street will attract more foot traffic and, in turn, more revenues for
local businesses this is a win-win for everyone.
Businesses are an important part of the neighborhood, but for every outspoken businessperson orbusiness representative, there are dozens of neighborhood residents and people who use the
corridor who would undoubtedly prefer a narrower roadway to more than adequate roadway
widths. The neighborhood residents are not as well organized as the businesses, but there aremany more of them and even though some of them might not understand the intricacies of
roadway redevelopment, even the surveys showed that neighborhood residents want a narrower,
more pedestrian-friendly Nicollet Ave. Plus, businesses should be pleased with widerboulevards since that equates to more snow storage so that parking near their businesses is not
affected as much in the winter. For some reason that I cannot understand, some people seem to
think that narrower roadways mean less snow storage that is illogical because a narrowerroadway means less snow to clear off the roadway and more space to store it.
Id like to now turn to bump-outs. Studies show that bump-outs make roadways much safer for
pedestrians. They significantly shorten the distance pedestrians must cross to get from curb tocurb. They also make pedestrians more visible since when standing on a bump-out to cross the
street, they are not shielded from motorists vision by parked cars. They also significantly
visually narrow the roadway: from curb to curb, the distance between bump-outs is much lessthan from corner to corner (without bump-outs). Nowadays people are more and more distracted
while theyre driving, with cell phones, texting, and multi-tasking; the less distance pedestrians
have to be on the roadway, the better, and the safer they will be.
People have said that they are concerned about bump-outs because of their width for bicyclists
and for snowplows to navigate. If the bump-outs protrude into the street no more than the width
of a parked car, then this is a non-issue for bicyclists since bicyclists should be traveling parallel
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to parked cars anyways (and not so close to them so that they might get doored). Therefore,
there should be plenty of space for bicyclists to pass a bump-out and not be shifted into the travel
lane. For snowplows, the City has said the plow drivers are getting better and better atnavigating bump-outs. The Lyndale bump-outs may have a few nicks, but snowplowing is only
one part of the entire equation, and it is becoming increasingly a non-issue. Some people are
concerned about bump-outs making snow removal more difficult, thereby causing a loss ofparking along the roadway. To the contrary, bump-outs (especially when coupled with wider
boulevards) provide more space for snow storage, and if plow drivers are continuing to improve
their navigation of streets with bump-outs, it would be a shame to not have bump-outs onNicollet today when in a few years plowing around bump-outs may be no problem at all.
Some people have expressed concern about how truck deliveries will be hindered by a narrower
roadway and bump-outs. On the contrary, a narrower roadway and bump-outs may actual helptruck deliveries. With a narrower roadway, the City has more space in the boulevards to design
curb radii that allow for trucks to make their necessary turning maneuvers. Bump-outs at
intersections help prevent cars from parking too close to the corner, so instead of a truck
potentially being unable to make a turn without hitting a parked car, the truck can simply driveover the bump-out if necessary.
In closing, the Council should stand up to the expressed interest of a handful of wrongly-
informed yet well-organized businesses and business representatives and should stand up for the
desires of the residents and for the safety of the multitu