Hope you had a Happy Halloween, and welcome to November. It's National Blog Posting Month, so this is a good time to jump into the conversation with fellow Strong Townies (or is it Strong Towners? Townites?) and be featured on the Monday Member Blog Roll. Here's this week's edition.

Small Town Urbanism demonstrates how to make a better main street by using an abandoned railroad to create a 'bike boulevard'. 18-foot travel lanes open up a lot of possibilities!

"Jeff Speck writes about separated bike lanes in his book ‘Walkable City’. The kind he discusses are located between the parking lane and the curb. But a location along a commercial street may not make sense as it separates the parked cars from their retail destinations. By locating the separated lanes in the middle of the street you can still have separated bike lanes in the center of town, but they do not interrupt the important connection between parallel parking and the sidewalk."

Is a public sidewalk the responsibility of an adjacent property owner or the municipality? A blog reader writes to say she is delaying needed sidewalk repairs because of city fees and permits. Where Do We Go from Here explores that place where the proverbial sidewalk ends.

"As I noted in the earlier post, the ability of a resident to accomplish an errand on foot depends not just on a well-repaired sidewalk in front of his home, but also well-repaired sidewalks in front of every home between his home and his destination.  Given that need, the resident has an economic incentive for his neighbors to maintain their sidewalks.

...But it’s neither reasonable nor effective for every homeowner to wander his neighborhood with donation can in hand every time a sidewalk repair is needed. So what developed instead was the communal sharing of sidewalk repair fees through the mechanism that best met the need, local taxes.  For many years, some small portion of our local taxes went to toward paying a portion of the city costs for sidewalk repairs.  When we paid our taxes, we were reducing the fees to our neighbors and thereby helping them make the repairs needed to sustain our own walkability."

Another piece, again from Dave Alden of Where Do We Go from Here, questions the rationale behind putting a signalized intersection on an arterial to facilitate pedestrian crossings, and whether the word 'investment' is appropriate in this scenario.

" 'Would the City of Petaluma spending $250,000 for a signalized crosswalk to allow safe passage between shops and breweries along North McDowell Boulevard be an appropriate quality of life expenditure?' 

As pleased as I am to have framed the question correctly, my answer unfortunately remains “No”.   Spending municipal money to remedy the flaws inherent in a brewery district taking root in an industrial area bisected by a busy arterial is throwing good money after bad.  The funds would be only a bandage on the gaping wound that is our long-time affair with drivable suburbia."

Casinos aren't exactly held up as the exemplar of the Strong Towns approach to development. But Steve Shultis of Rational Urbanism thinks the project proposed for his hometown is different. Hear him out. 

"Critics of the law keep attacking straw men claiming that the approved projects fail the “wow” test. The MGM plan is absolutely revolutionary for a casino: “Inside out” new urbanism with a residential component and off campus entertainment venues. Bottom line, the MGM plan brings to the downtown EVERYTHING it was missing. As a resident of downtown since the late 1980’s I can say unequivocally that the combination of movie theaters, retail, market rate housing and a commitment to bring in more entertainment would have been “the wish list”. Add to that improvements to Da Vinci Park and the riverfront, an open air farmers’ market in season, outdoor skating in winter, the re-establishment of a downtown trolley (Remember “The 10 Center”?) and commitments to connect to the new Union Station and I am “wowed” beyond what I believed to be my capacity to be wowed." [for further background, you can listen to the Strong Towns Podcast about this project]

Next week, we'll start the Monday Member Blog Roll cycle anew, with fellow contributor Skyler Yost picking back up. Enjoy the week.

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