No, snowbanks don’t make streets more dangerous

Every winter I’m plagued with the same argument on Facebook: “Those snowbanks pile up on the curbs and then that makes the street narrower and more dangerous!” I’m sure you’ve heard a similar argument at some point or even had that idea yourself, however, the fact is that it’s not true. “Fake News” if you will.

Mankato has foolishly adopted many blanket “no parking” ordinances that cater to this misconception. Along 6th street, there’s no parking on the east side of the street from November 1 to April 1, even if there’s no snow on the ground (because you know we can’t predict the weather).

Usually, I’m not one to complain about parking, but I have a friend that I frequent on sixth street and I’m always annoyed when I can’t park there because of this misguided ordinance. Its particularly annoying because most people rely on off-street parking in that neighborhood and the city is artificially restricting a public asset for no reason.

The problem with “muh snowbank” argument is that we’ve wrongly defined what “dangerous” is. Smaller streets are not more dangerous, they are more inconvenient. It’s important to note the difference because our lazy asses think they are the same when it comes to cars.

If you’re driving down a street with snow banks and cars parked on both sides, you slow down, you have no option. You can’t go fast because you know that you have less time to react to obstacles, be they cars, cats, or cyclists (say that with a hard “c” so you get the alliteration.)

What are you at a greater risk for? Maybe scratching your paint, knocking a mirror or not carelessly flying down the road. Those things are not dangerous, annoying, sure, but not dangerous.

Even if someone were to step out in front of your car and you did hit them, the chances that you will kill them is far, far less likely. I’ve posted this image before on here and I’ll reference it again. The slower the car is going, the more likely the person you hit is to survive.

The same complaint goes for intersections. “That snow piles up and then I can’t see around the corner! It’s dangerous!!” What happens when you can’t see around a corner? You slowly ease your way into the intersection, paying close attention to see if cars are coming from either direction.

I experienced this just the other day on the way up Mulberry street. I came to the below intersection and all the cars parked on the west side of the street plus the snow made it pretty hard to see around that corner. I crept out into the intersection making sure cars had ample time to see me and brake. Guess what? I didn’t die, neither did anyone else and it would have been pretty impossible for me to die because everyone was going slow.

We’ve been fed this lie that it is narrow space that is dangerous. People constantly get up at city council meetings asking for the ordinances to be passed or rules to be made about parking and snow and this and that. The fact is that we should leave it all alone, or communicate the removal of snow and/or the temporary reduction in parking that comes along with it. In Lower North, where I live, the city did this. They came by, told us to move our cars and then they came and plowed the boulevards. It was simple, effective and non-disruptive. Likewise, it didn’t require a 5 MONTH PARKING BAN.

Interestingly enough, snow is a really good way of showing that we don’t need extra space on our roads. Sneckdowns are a natural way of showing where cars don’t drive and how we could actually eliminate the for cars and use it for people or traffic calming measures.

However, the real underlying problem here is that American urban planning and city government reward meddling. We love to enact and tweak rules for our cities, every city manager and council think they are “helping” every time they come up with some convoluted ordinance instead of letting cities grow organically. Whether it’s over zoning, parking regulation or side setbacks, city councils love to make rules (see the stupid 21+ smoking ban that thankfully died) because it looks like they are doing something, when in the long run, things usually just sort themselves out.

So next time that grumpy neighbor is telling you how someone “going to die” because of some snow on the boulevard, tell him that it actually makes the street safer and they should read this article.

No Salvation in the East

It’s not hard to recall all the headlines of Mankato’s miraculous growth over the past few years.  They were everywhere. We were told we had low unemployment and that the city was growing despite a lot of fundamental problems. Today, we’re still in pretty good shape. Check out the Greater Mankato Growth Blog’s (GMG) Q4 article (keep in mind their job is to promote  Mankato commerce, not that that’s bad) and FRED data saying wages are up.  

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Why this whole “fix our roads” thing is a crock of crap

If you’ve paid any attention to local politics (I know, it’s hard to watch anything other than “The Donald”) You’ll know that if we don’t pass “sustained road funding” everyone in the state will die from starvation as no goods or people will be able to get around anywhere. EVER AGAIN.


Don’t believe me? A quick google search will bring up some great results.

Here’s some opinion pieces from the St. Cloud Times, The Post Bulletin, and the Free Press.

I’m glad we have these local newspapers to take such a hard stance on road funding. Apparently it’s so obvious that we need road funding that it’s no-brainer when it comes to op-ed pieces. “Just get more money and build the roads, right guyz?”

Yeah. That simple. Except if it were so simple, we would have done it already.

The truth of the matter is, it’s a load of crap, pretty much all of it (with a few exceptions.) The system is broken in it’s entirety and no matter what anyone promises with new road funding, none of it will solve the systemic problem that we’ve built too much.

I’m not going to disagree with you that there are bad roads out there that need fixing, nor am I going to disagree with the fact that the system needs to be funded and funded sustainably, what I am telling you is that unless the system shrinks and we address more pertinent issues, we’ll never get out of this pit.

Iowa, our cool southern neighbor, has already realized this and is planning accordingly. If you want to read more on this and essentially a better version of the article you’re reading now click here.

Again, I’m going to tell you this, our biggest problem isn’t transportation funding, it’s terrible land use. Say it with me “TERRIBLE LAND USE”

We recently heard that Mankato is going to dump a bunch of money into a road pushing east, a road that has essentially no development on it, nor will it in the foreseeable future. It’s being hailed as “necessary” because it “will be the busiest intersection eva in 30 years or somethin’ like that. lol

Let’s not forget that, more or less, the SAME CLAIM was made about victory drive extension as promoting economic growth. So, how much “economic growth” showed up for that $12.5M extension of Victory Drive? By my count, there’s 131 acres of primo, undeveloped land abutting (or close enough) to Victory Drive. Hey, we’ve made WAY worse decisions if it’s any consolation.

Do you think our roads have magically deteriorated to the point they are in the last 10 years? I guarantee the roads were in largely the same shape 10 years ago when the city approved this ridiculously wasteful expansion of Victory Drive. Now they want the same thing for Adams. Continue Reading

I don’t hate single family housing

A few days ago was Greater Mankato Growth’s “Day at the Capitol.” Unfortunately the Capitol building is undergoing some much needed renovation so we were actually at the Double Tree in St. Paul. Cool place.

Anyway, during a discussion with someone, they told me that “You just want us to all live like you, downtown in an apartment”. While I was somewhat taken aback by the statement, I had to ask: “is this how I present myself?”

Well gosh I hope not.

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