Minneapolis/ St. Paul have a goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2027. Some might call it a lofty dream, but the Vision Zero organization calls it “the ethical belief that everyone has the right to move safely in their communities.” Goal – dream – belief—whatever you want to call it, some Northside residents are feeling unsafe in their communities with the current speeding on residential streets.
- A resident on Queen Avenue North in the Victory neighborhood has experienced increased speeding on side streets adjacent to Penn Avenue. Her assumption is that drivers are attempting to bypass the stoplight on Penn at Dowling, and they are driving far too fast on those streets.
- A resident on Emerson Avenue North in the Lind Bohanon neighborhood saw excessive speeds on her residential street where young children played outside. Her attempt to slow down traffic was to use orange street paint to circle two pot holes on her block. It worked briefly – until the City of Minneapolis came and filled the pot holes. Those pot holes were like the old saying, “It’s a blessing… and a curse.”
Most residential street speed limits are now 20 mph, and blue signs saying “20 is Plenty” were distributed around the City of Minneapolis during 2020. The City was replacing the existing speed limit signs where necessary, but speed limit signs have not been posted on residential streets historically. Nevertheless, those motorists speeding through our neighborhoods are not moving at the previous limit of 25 mph – those speeders are driving in excess of 40 mph.
The call for police enforcement of the new speed limit is complicated by the MPD staffing challenges. The higher incident of violent criminal activity is taking priority. It is this author’s hope that the ice and snow that comes with winter will encourage drivers to stay on the major thoroughfares where the roads are better maintained. Perhaps the residential street curse of lower plowing priority will be a blessing of fewer drivers and lower speeds.
Vision Zero Background
The Twin Cities began the journey in 2017 to achieve the goal of Vision Zero over a 10-year period. The initial efforts were focused on the who, what, where, when, and why as it relates to traffic deaths / injuries.
*Who is a combination of drivers / vehicle occupants, pedestrians / runners, and bikes / scooters/ skateboards.
*What is a combination of intersection structure, traffic lights / stop signs, biking lanes, crosswalks and people’s behaviors.
*Where is of significant importance as lower income neighborhoods have a higher rate of deaths / injuries per number of residents. The City has mapped out areas that need street improvements made based on these findings.
*When can be coupled with where if neighborhoods have poor lighting, poor line-of-sight intersections, or transit stops that may have people running to catch a bus or stepping out from the front of the bus without seeing the traffic. Shorter periods of daylight bring more risk of injury by pedestrians. Please wear light colored clothing or reflective tape when walking in Minneapolis. It can be very difficult, especially for older residents, to see people crossing the street in dark clothes during the winter.
*The Why is summarized as: “The five behaviors that lead to the most severe and fatal crashes on Minneapolis streets are: red light running, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, unsafe turning (failing to yield the right-of-way when turning), and distracted driving. (Source: Analysis of crash dataset used in the 2019 Vision Zero Crash Study.) Info: visionzerompls.com/safety-data”
For more info on the Minneapolis Vision Zero project go to visionzerompls.com.