• 24Jul

    Section 2 (of 3) of the comprehensive plan is now available. I spent a good portion of the weekend reading it. It appears outstanding. Section 3 is still a little rough. This is the first full update to the plan the guides community development since the mid to late 1970s. This plan appears to significantly improve the City of Rochester’s focus on the responsible use of financial resources.

    Comprehensive Plan Section 2

    I hope that section 3 will be coming shortly. It is imperative that the council adopt a strong plan, and stick to it.

    Expect that I will organize many community listening sections to discuss this topic.



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  • 15Nov

    For 2 years I have worked with the Urban Land Institute, Rose Center for Public Leadership, and National League of Cities on a project to provide guidance on best practices for urban / suburban commercial corridors. I was approached to be part of the project after a presentation of the Uptown project, which is held up as a national best practice. That project is featured starting on page 22 of the report.

    ULI Building Healthy Corridors 


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  • 20Oct

    Topics discussed:

    1. Development
    2. Affordable Housing
    3. Transportation
    4. Broadband

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  • 12Jun

    Thursday join me at the government center (room 104) from 5 – 7 PM to discuss this concept. I encourage you to bicycle to the meeting if you are so able; and then join me on a ride through the Kutzky Park Neighborhood to Cascade Lake Park at 7 PM.

    June 16, 2006 was a sad day for Rochester. At an intersection that was designed unsafe for pedestrians, a young girl lost her life when she was hit by a careless driver. In the 10 years since this happened Rochester & Olmsted County have done almost nothing to improve pedestrian & bicyclist safety in this area.

    Thank you to Andy Masterpole & Mark Miller of SEH for their volunteer efforts in putting these conceptual materials together. Also thanks to many members of BPAC & We Bike Rochester for providing suggestions and encouragement that factored into these recommendations.

    The best part of this is that most of these improvements are low cost, address other issues like neighborhood speeding and unsafe crossings, and can be implemented on a trial basis. Our goal is to deliver improved bicycle and pedestrian safety to the thousands of people that live in the Country Club Manor & Meadow Lakes areas.

    West Rochester Bikeway Map photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.14 PM_zps7dr6mr4n.png

    We are proposing a pedestrian bridge and a number of on street improvements to safely connect neighborhoods on the West side of West Circle Drive. The proposed improvements will provide connections between Harriet Bishop Elementary School, Rochester Montessori School, Judd Park, Manor Park, Meadow Lakes (future trail), and Cascade Lake Regional Park. The number of people served by these improvements is greater the number living in Stewartville, Kasson, or Byron. In short, these improvements are intended to serve an enormous number of currently unserved people.

    West Rochester Bridge Options photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.26 PM_zps5thzziyu.png

    Because the main roads targeted (36th Avenue, 7th Street NW, and 3rd Street NW) are built overly wide; we have the opportunity to add bike lanes protected by significant buffers and physical separators. The current curb to curb width is so large that we can achieve this while still maintaining all current driving lanes and parking along every roadway except a single section of 7th street that has no homes fronting on it.

    Protected Bike Lane Design photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.39 PM_zpsrvohoaj5.png

    Our hope is to also begin planning for and seeking funding for a pedestrian connection over West Circle Drive. I hope that Rochester, Olmsted County, and the School District would all participate in this effort. Potential sources of funds may include state bonding, safe routes to school, federal TAP funds, or sales tax dollars.

    A future four way intersection at County Road 34 and the entrance to People of Hope will serve as an opportunity to safely cross that roadway and continue this network along Cascade Creek to the South and West.

    Here is the original data file.

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  • 29Nov
    Another pedestrian was killed by an inattentive driver on Civic Center Drive & it was not an accident. It was a collision in a location that offers no safe crossings. There is no safe place to cross Civic Center drive between 6th Ave and 11th Ave and frankly those intersections are not that safe. There is a trail underpass in the area that may have been slick, wet, or snow covered at the time. I have not yet seen the incident report on this since I am in Europe, but here is the likely case:
    1. A pedestrian crosses at a location of convenience. Regardless of actions, it is almost always illegal to hit a pedestrian.
    2. Any intersection of 2 roadways is a crosswalk regardless of whether it is marked or not, pedestrians have the right of way a crosswalks. This is not well understood. In this case because there are pseudo frontage roads there may have been no crosswalks.
    3. A car is moving too fast or the driver is too inattentive for this location, usually both. The latter appears to be the case and a different car did see the pedestrian and stop.
    4. A lack of lighting or crosswalks in an urban area is not an excuse to be used to protect the driver, but rather the very reason why the driver should have been going slower. At 20 MPH a pedestrian usually lives at 40 MPH they usually die.
    I get criticized for immediately discussing this every single time it happens, but the reality is that the driver rarely faces any consequences and the public forgets about the killings shortly after they happen. I predict that the person who took a life will be driving within 1 year. In all the times that I have ever spoken up when one of these happens, I have yet to be wrong… This is not because I am a profit, rather it is almost always the same…
    This is the only time where there is any focus on the issue, the ruble will be back to not caring in a week. For example we are approaching the 10th anniversary of a death on West Circle Drive and Olmsted County has basically absolutely nothing to address existing safety issues at 3rd St NW.
    Most media has stopped using the counterproductive term “accident” but in this case KAAL TV (which is a great organization and one of the best in the region) used that term. This needs to stop. While a driver would never choose to hit a pedestrian, they often choose to drive distracted or at speeds where by they can not react to the conditions that are present. City roadways are not freeways.
    I can tell you that city staff has been working to increase speed through the Civic Center Drive corridor without consulting neighbors.
    Within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US DOT/NHTSA), the word “accident” will no longer be used in materials published and distributed by the agency. In addition, NHTSA is no longer using “accidents” in speeches or other public remarks, in communications with the news media, individuals or groups in the public or private sector.

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  • 06Aug

    In short, an overwhelming amount of real world data and experience shows that it is more efficient, safer and better for almost every user.

    I have written on this before and have spoken on the topic many times, but since this issue is current I thought I would revisit the topic.   Often people look at something and claim common sense would dictate it was the incorrect decision.  In reality the correct solution is counter intuitive and the “common sense” actually represents “common ignorance.”  Two of these incorrect assumptions I commonly hear are whether a 4 to 3 conversion is better and whether bike lanes should be inside right turn lanes and intersections.  As it turns out the correct solutions to both are crystal clear.  Ignorance can be due to a lack of education or willful, I do my best to respect and address the first; I can’t do anything about the second.  Most people upon learning the facts can make an informed choice (as did the neighbors and businesses on 2nd street), however there are still a few people that will remain willfully ignorant…

    Real world data: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/fhwa_sa_12_013.htm


    Read more…

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  • 22Jul

    New Eastside bike trail out for bids
    Stormwater in Ward 2
    Ashland Village Affordable Housing Project Passes 7-0
    “Criminalized Polite Panhandling” Ordinance passed
    No sitting in median ordinance passed.

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  • 20May

    Obviously we have lost far too many cyclists and pedestrians in Rochester as well.  The city of Rochester and ROCOG have adopted Complete Streets policies, but we are still waiting for Olmsted County go take action like some many others around this county.


    American communities are poised for a renaissance in walking. We’re walking more often, for fun and to get to places in our neighborhood. We turn to WalkScore when figuring out where to live and our most walkable places often are among the most economically vibrant in the country. Hundreds of cities have adopted Complete Streets policies to ensure walking is in the forefront of our decisions regarding street design. Public health officials from the Office of the Surgeon General to the local doctor’s office are encouraging us to get out for a walk for physical activity and to combat chronic disease.



    Read more…

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  • 05Mar

    Were shutting down Broadway to remind people that our public spaces can do so much more!

    The RDA is proud to partner with PRIME, Design Rochester, Olmsted County Planning, and Olmsted County Public Health to support the first ever Broadway Stay & Play event this May 18th from 12:00 to 5:00pm. This free event open to the public will close the 300 Block of S Broadway for a family-friendly, healthy and active living festival. Read more…

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  • 26Feb

    Since you made some claims in the Postbulletin, I thought I would share what the actual conversation was. The bottom line is that you own property in Rochester, when you bought that property there was an obligation that you would be responsible and clear the sidewalks, you failed to do this and as such we cleared it for you at your expense.

    Let’s run through your statements:

    A little more than a month ago, I received a $40 fine and $150 contractor fee for failure to remove a half-inch of snow from my residential sidewalk. I contested this injustice to the best of my ability, but to no avail.

    Nathan, You admitted many times that you violated the ordinance.  Your fine and fees are not an injustice but exact justice.  This picture shows how your neighbors cleared their sidewalk and you did not.  This might not be a big deal unless you are a senior coming off hip surgery.

     photo 10014AVESE201401032_zpse3308676.jpg

    To me, this is no different than receiving a $190 ticket for going 2 mph over the posted speed limit and then stripping you of your rights to appear before a judge to make your appeal.

    Not even police officers are granted this final authority, but apparently, RPW can function without higher accountability.

    Funny thing Nathan, actually if you get a speeding ticket for under 10 MPH in Rochester you go through the exact same administrative fine process.

    After research, I discovered that Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik is the driving force behind this ordinance. I asked him, “Why not afford the decency of a warning to first-time offenders?” He stated that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to do so.

    I have been one of many champions for this policy, but it passed with the support of the mayor and all but 1 council member.

    As Nathan knows here is what I actually wrote:

    I can not explain why one property was fined and another was not (perhaps it is the direction the inspector went through), however what happens to another property does not have an effect on your own.  I do agree that this should be handled in a uniform manner.  If a complaint had been lodged against a neighbors house or if the inspector saw it,  it would have been inspected and dealt with in a fair manner.
    The reason that we do not issue warnings is because we incur costs in enforcing our ordinances.  This same cost is present whether we do fines or warnings.  I do not feel it would be appropriate for other taxpayers to fund the expense of having inspectors deal with properties that are not complying with the rules.  The fines are aimed at covering this city expense.  We did our best as a community to highlight what the law is, but it has not changed since you bought your home.  Ultimately it is the property owner who is responsible for knowing and obeying the laws.

    Wojcik also claimed that 75 percent of Rochester residents were in complete support of his ordinance.

    I made no such claim, here is what I wrote:

    My communication with you is not intended to insight you but rather explain my position.  I understand that we disagree on this.  In terms of the people that have contacted me for or against this policy those in favor are running ahead about 4 to 1. If there was a way for us to give a warning without adding taxpayer cost I would do it, but because we incur cost I am committed to try to recoup that cost.  I do thank you for writing, and I do understand your position.

    I make no claim as to know what percentage of Rochester supports the policy.  People contacting me are in favor of this policy by about a 4 to 1 margin.  Not only is the statement incorrect, but the basic math is too (even if the rest of your statement was true, my math skills say that would be 80% :-))

    I have a simple suggestion for you Mr. Allen, fulfill your civic duty and clear your sidewalk within 24 hours.

    Most people who contact me are supportive of the safer walkways.  Here is a note I received today:

    I am a person who enjoys taking long walks in Rochester as a part of my program for staying physically fit. In the past, walking along our city sidewalks became quite the challenge when homeowners did not meet their responsibility of clearing their walk in a timely manner after a snow event. Some folks NEVER cleared their walks. In the past three weeks, in daily walks that covered 5 to 8 miles, I can say that I have encountered only one stretch of sidewalk that had not been cleared: about 30 yards long in front of a house that is up for sale and had no one is living there at this time. I say, “Good work” on the part of the city council for establishing and enforcing the present sidewalk clearing laws. Do not give in to the irresponsible few who fail to clear their sidewalk and then complain when they must meet the consequences.

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