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In "Minneapolis businesses, residents at 42nd and Cedar want their on-street parking back," (July 2) the Star Tribune explained how the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County redesigned an intersection to eliminate 70 on-street parking spaces serving local small businesses. Those neighborhood small businesses are now going to suffer or perish because customers do not have convenient access to them. Jobs will be lost. Wealth will be erased.

Why did these changes happen? Minneapolis adopted its Transportation Action Plan in 2020, which established the ambitious goal that by 2030, 60% of trips in the city would be taken on public transit or by walking, biking or rolling.

The only U.S. city with anywhere near this small percentage of people traveling by car is New York, and Minneapolis will never have the population density or transit options of New York.

Meanwhile, in 2017, the city of Minneapolis had adopted its "Vision Zero" plan, which set the completely unrealistic goal of zero transportation-related deaths by 2027. This was based on a program from Sweden of the same name which has achieved a 15% reduction in transportation-related deaths over the last 25 years. Vision Zero is another catchy Minneapolis slogan, but impractical in the real world.

To achieve the massive decline in auto travel it envisions, the city assumes a more than 10-fold increase in transit use in seven years. What has actually happened with transit ridership? In the eight years prior to the pandemic, local transit ridership declined 25%. And despite the Star Tribune's recent headline, "Metro Transit ridership surges this year," transit ridership is down 40% from pre-pandemic levels.

But reality hasn't deterred the city. In 2018, Minneapolis started reconfiguring city streets as if there would actually be a massive reduction in driving. These physical changes include narrowing streets, eliminating street parking, installing bicycle dividers in the middle of roads, installing bike lanes where there is no demand, bumping sidewalks into the middle of streets, concrete barriers and a myriad of other alterations that have made driving much more difficult.

Is the city safer? The data does not support that. In 2019, there were 134 severe and fatal crashes in the city. In 2022, there were 184, an increase of 37% in three years — the same three years when the city was making its "improvements." There were 11 fatalities in 2019, five in cars. There were 22 fatalities in 2022, 16 in cars or on motorcycles. It appears these "safety improvements" are making us less safe, especially drivers.

At 26th and Lyndale, for example, there were 28 accidents in 2022, 23 after the city narrowed the roadway. In December 2022 a woman was severely injured after simply exiting her vehicle on the narrowed Lyndale Avenue.

None of this should be surprising. The city has adopted plans that prioritize walking and biking over travel by automobile. And these policies are now being reflected in increased accidents and deaths.

What needs to happen? First, the city needs to acknowledge that Vison Zero is not building a safer city. Second, the state of Minnesota licensing board needs to review the licenses of the engineers who are making our city less safe. Engineers are not supposed to be making us less safe.

Third, the city needs to do a pre- and post-analysis of every roadway change to evaluate which changes are increasing injuries and deaths, which are reducing them, and which are having no effect except making travel slower and more difficult. The city should immediately stop making changes that increase harm.

The city should realistically assess how many vehicle trips can be reduced with improved transit, cycling and walking options.

How many city residents work in the suburbs or in places not well served by transit? How many parents can actually get their children to school in winter and then get to their jobs without driving? How do seniors and disabled navigate their daily lives? How many people can realistically get to a grocery store (north Minneapolis has one grocery store for a quarter of the city) and then walk, bike or roll home with multiple bags of groceries? Then it needs to adopt realistic goals about travel. If not, the loss of jobs and businesses at 42nd and Cedar will be replicated throughout the city at a time when it desperately needs to be bolstering its economy.

Tim Keane is an attorney in Minneapolis.