Rochester Chamber opposition of safe streets

I was disappointed that the John Wade representing the Rochester Area Chamber came to Monday’s city council meeting to oppose safe streets.  I support safe streets and safe neighborhoods.

The area in question is the neighborhood around the East Frontage Road in NW Rochester.  This stretch of roadway has absolutely no safe way for the 40% of Minnesotan’s who do not drive to get around safely.  While the area is known for automotive dealerships here are some additional facts.  The area contains retail and restaurants on both ends of the stretch.  700+ employees work on the stretch.  There is a school in the area.  Traffic moves faster than most areas with sidewalks.

Here is what the Chamber says:

The Chamber in their press release suggest that having sidewalks is more dangerous than not.

The proposed sidewalk would line the east side of the frontage road of Hwy 52 North by 41st St NW. Due to the close proximity of the proposed sidewalk to the road, the snow plows clearing the streets would routinely plow unmanageable amounts of snow onto the sidewalk, causing a safety hazard for pedestrians. Also, the businesses in the area (mostly car dealerships) are designed to be accessed by vehicles. The pedestrians will be in harm’s way considering the number of vehicles visiting the drive-thru restaurants, car dealerships and mechanics.

Their comments about snow removal were already debunked at the meeting, but if you repeat a lie enough times…

Instead of encouraging pedestrians to use a proposed unsafe sidewalk, we believe it would be safer for them to continue to utilize the sidewalks in the adjacent residential area.

If you wanted to walk between Dairy Queen and Menards, it would be 0.9 miles.  If you wanted to stay on pedestrain sidewalks / trails like the Chamber says, it would be 3 miles and you would have to walk through Kings Run, East of 18th Ave and use trails that are not cleared in the winter.  Yup, that is the Chamber solution.  If you wanted to walk from the school to the Dairy Queen, you would have to cross a stream, walk through yards, etc.  There might be a shorter pathway through the park West of 18th, but you get the idea…

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  1. I have actually walked this stretch a few times – e.g. once when I was waiting for a car to finish being repaired and needed to get some lunch. I walked from the car dealer to Dairy Queen, the closest food place I could think of, traipsing through all the car lots, which did not seem very welcoming or pleasant or safe. And it was a really hot day, especially on all that asphalt. So I decided to return via the residential streets, but as you noted, had to meander away form my destination, then cross through somebody’s private yard, then through a marshy ditch, getting my shoes wet. I was very annoyed at how pedestrian-unfriendy this part of town is. Even sidewalks would probably not make this area any more aesthetically pleasing to walk, but they would definitely be safer and much more convenient.

  2. I spent some time to go for a walk in that neighborhood also while waiting for my car being fixed. It was winter and I tried many ways that were blocked. If it isn’t safe to walk on side walks in the city then we have an even larger problem with how people drive.

  3. Dear Ms. Mona: While I (as a neighborhood activist here in Rochester) understand Why our Chamber wishes everyone to know/think that they consider themselves “pedestrian-safety friendly,” I would also suggest that it’s entirely appropriate for Councilman Wojcik’s to use Twitter [which btw, by 140-character-post definition, is always “cryptic”] to otherwise, and accurately, characterize the C-of-C’s powerful opposition to frontage-road sidewalks. If, as you suggested in your newsletter comments, the Chamber really bases this opposition to “snow-plows throwing unmanageable amounts of snow onto the [proposed] sidewalks, causing a [fear-mongered?] safety hazard for pedestrians” then I say “Welcome to Minnesota & When did you folks arrive from Florida?” As a longtime S.W. Rochester homeowner on Sixth Street, I can attest that such plows–even when “throwing” the white stuff over 12 ft of parking & boulevard space–routinely deposit on pedestrian sidewalks deep piles of formidable-but-still-manageable snow. It falls, it gets plowed, we deal with it. All of which begs at least a couple questions: Why doesn’t the C-of-C just admit that it’s primarily basing this lobbying effort on the objections of certain Hwy-52 businesses; and simply drop its “safety” pretense? And–since the truth matters to you–do you also worry about snowplow deposits left on sidewalks in those “adjacent [but somewhat distant] residential areas,” where you’d glibly consign pedestrians wishing to walk along Frontage Road??

    Thanks for considering my views & give my best to John Wade.

  4. I used to work at one of the dealerships. We had a few cars damaged every summer due to bikes trying to shoot the gap between the tightly spaced vehicles. A legitimate path for pedestrians would be superior to the current setup.

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