Stupid memes and road diets

I’m sure all my loyal, die-hard fans out there are wondering what happened to their charismatic leader…no? Ok, well then for my own peace of mind I’m updating to say that yes, I’m still writing, yes I have more articles. Yes, I bought a house that’s in need of some serious repair, yes that is where all my time has been sunk lately.

I’ll give you a little morsel to wet your palate though.

This stupid meme showed up on my newsfeed last night. I’m not sure if it’s making the rounds in Mankato or if it was an isolated incident.

Did I say that it’s stupid? Because it’s stupid.

Madison Avenue is a classic stroad. A street-road hybrid looking to bring the benefits of both local streets with shops and high-speed connector roads. Ironically, it fails at both and is a massive, ugly, financially-draining pit. They’re also called “arterials” in engineer-speak.

These roads are designed by engineers to have a Level of Service: A. That means it’s first and foremost priority is to move as many cars per hour as it can. Everything else, bikes & peds, comes second.

But you’re thinking that the meme is actually right because you’re supposed to drive faster on Madison Ave, why else would the speed limit be 45?

Yeah, that’s something that needs to change. A lot of cities are implementing what they call “road diets.” It’s where you take an oversized road and trim it back to have less lanes, bigger medians and larger sidewalks. Every single time this gets talked about, a group (primarily baby-boomers) shows up and preaches fire and brimstone manifest in CONGESTION.

There’s a really great tumblr called Stroad to Boulevard which shows the transformation of these oversized car gutters into pleasant places accessible by everyone. We could do the same thing and see property values rise and an influx of new development. In fact, it’s in the city’s plan to rehab Madison Avenue so that it doesn’t suck so much.

You can find a lot of gruesome videos out there of pedestrians being hit by cars while walking along these stroads. Which is why these road diets are so incredibly necessary. Madison Avenue is central to the economic existence of everyone in Mankato, so it needs to be designed for EVERYONE in Mankato, including those not in a car.

If you’re hit by a car going 40mph, there’s an 80% chance you will die from those injuries. If you’re hit by a car going 30mph, there’s a 70% chance you’ll live. (I’ve heard it otherways as well, like an 80/80 split or 90/80. Regardless, you get the point.)

The surgeon general released the below video last week encouraging cities to be more walkable. We need to follow suit and one of the best ways to do that is to implement some road diets (Riverfront first and foremost.)

If America’s leader on health issues is calling for walkable cities, it’s time we wake up and take action.

So remember kids, never feel pressured into driving faster, you don’t save that much time and you make everyone safer.

Also don’t make stupid memes.

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.