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Minneapolis: A City of Children, except in the 2040 Comp Plan – Transportation

Minneapolis is a city of children.  20% of our population is under the age of 18. Another 20% of our population are parents of children.  But where are they in the proposed 2040 Comp Plan?

The Comp Plan does talk about Minneapolis Public Schools. But it is a red herring to presume that talking about schools covers everything kids need.  We need to also look at how families with children live in our city under this Plan.

The Metropolitan Council’s 2010 Travel Behavior Inventory found that families with children take about 14 trips a day while families without children take about six.  In addition, Minneapolis adults with children are 15% more likely to travel by car, half as likely to travel by transit and 25% less likely to walk than adults without children.  If you want to read more about how parents travel more and drive more, follow this link:

https://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Publications-And-Resources/Travel-Behavior-Inventory.aspx

Why do parents disproportionately drive instead of taking other modes of travel?  First, many kids are not going to school close to their homes.  A quarter of Minneapolis children are at charter schools, which can be located anywhere, including outside of the City.  Many children go to magnet schools, which were created to reduce school segregation, which also means the school is not near their home.  Parents of children attending Minneapolis Public Schools are given an option of roughly eight schools generally near their home.  The one I was guaranteed to get into was over a mile from my house. The one I got into was about three miles from my home.  The charter school I chose is about eight miles from my home.  If you do end up with a school near your home, your child will go to a middle school and high school probably nowhere near your home.

There are other reasons why parents overwhelmingly drive. Few schools are on a bus line.  Parents are pressed for time, needing to get their child to school then get themselves to work, which means they don’t have the extra time required to bike or walk or take transit.  Kids also have activities and summer care, which are often outside of the neighborhood.  Kids need clothes and shoes and school supplies, which require additional trips.  Parents just have to make more trips and often outside of their neighborhood.

Over the last three years, the City has been making it harder to drive around the City. It has narrowed streets like 26th/28th, Blaisdell and Washington Avenue. It has narrowed bridges to one lane, like Franklin and Plymouth. It has put in bike lanes and bike lane barriers even in places with few bikes just to make driving more difficult.  The 2040 Comp Plan continues this by stating that biking, walking and transit will have priority over all other travel.  There are no goals to make travel better for everyone in the City – only walkers, bikers and transit users.  In fact, cars are not mentioned except to say that car usage should be reduced.  This directly affects families with children who take more trips and are more reliant on cars.

The Plan also states that residents must walk and bike more because of climate change.  Yet every major auto maker has announced that they will be producing primarily electric cars in the next five years.  General Motors will have 20 all-electric cars by 2023.  Ford plans 16 fully electric cars by that same date.  Yet the 2040 Plan clearly makes driving more difficult, not less.  This is short-sighted.

When we force people to spend more of their lives driving, where does that time come from?  Parents can’t work less.  They can’t shop less.  They can’t sleep less. That extra time spent in travel is taken from their families.  In many ways, it is one of the cruelest things about the anti-car actions that the City is taking – that they disproportionately harm parent’s time with children.

Minneapolis needs a transportation system that works for everyone, including families.  That means working to improve all transportation modes, walking, biking, transit and driving.  The proposed 2040 Plan does not do this.

 

 

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