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City Official Rips New Minneapolis Transportation Plan

It’s already tough enough going for drivers attempting to navigate city streets in Minneapolis. But it’s only going to get bumpier, according to a resident who vented in the Star Tribune about the implications of the city’s proposed new transportation road map for those who depend on a car for work and family.

The proposed comprehensive plan in Minneapolis does not support a balanced transportation system in which the needs of all travelers are considered. It doesn’t talk about the need to help people move quickly and easily around the city. It doesn’t talk about helping people get to jobs or parents getting their kids to school. Instead, it diminishes the ability of many people to live in the city. It supports narrowing streets, reducing lanes and slowing traffic. It reduces parking lots. It allows buildings to be built without parking. It proposes jacking up parking meters to discourage people from driving. It proposes replacing single-family homes with fourplexes, substantially increasing street parking. It makes it less likely that you can park next to your house or park at your destination. It literally says the needs of drivers come last.

Who is harmed by this? Me. And people like me.

The author, Carol Becker, works for the city as President of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. She’s a member of the DFL who’s broken with the liberal establishment before. For her, cars are the means most of us have no choice but to rely on to meet our obligations.

I don’t have the privilege of taking a lesser-paying job that I can bike or walk to. I have known what it is to be hungry and not know where you will sleep. My dad entered retirement with no savings, and my mom works at Kmart at age 78. I have a child. I have a partner whose company has been on shaky ground. Finding the best-paying job that I can means being able to drive. I often work 12-hour days — eight hours at one job and four hours at another. Two-thirds of Minneapolis residents are like me, having to rely on a car to get to work.

I have an 11-year-old daughter. Twenty percent of Minneapolis residents are children under the age of 18. Another 10 percent to 15 percent of residents are parents. It is almost impossible to survive as a parent without a car. Not only do you have to get a cranky 6-year-old to school in the middle of winter, you have to get them to their grandparents, to soccer, to camps, to their friends, to the doctor. And being a parent, I don’t have the luxury of extra time to walk or bike. This plan makes it harder to be a parent and harder to be a child in our city.

Becker makes the case that city planners and elected officials should not put road blocks in the way of those who need to get where they’re going. In short, stop using Minneapolis streets to score political points and making daily life more difficult than it already is by definition.

We need to stop pretending that everyone is young, childless, physically able, male, white and privileged enough to give up job opportunities. We need to work to reduce travel time so people can be with their families. We need to ensure that people can park near their homes and at the end of their trips. We need policies that make people’s lives easier, not harder. We need a balanced transportation system that works for everyone.

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