Northfield has a well-deserved reputation for community I.Q. (I’ve heard it said that we have more Ph.D’s per capita than anywhere else in the country.) But if we’re so smart, how come it seems like we’re always behind the curve on planning and development issues? Maybe all the smart people are isolated on the campuses, leaving the fate of the community in the hands of bureaucrats. Maybe that’s what that whole “town and gown” thing is about.
In any case, regardless of why we are where we are, there’s a lot to be learned from the ways more progressive cities, small and large, have dealt with some of the issues that we’re facing.
Case in point: Today’s Locally Grown audio show featured Bill Ostrem talking about bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities, and his work with local organizations in Northfield to find what you need and create more emphasis on those features and their importance to public health, sustainability, liveability, and a host of other things.
Shortly after that, I found an interesting page with a lot of photos of Copenhagen, Denmark, where 36% of the populace commutes by bike. The photos clearly show ways that Copenhagen has chosen to develop their street and transportation system to not merely accomodate, but facilitate and encourage this.
I’m always attracted to big-picture ideas, and I like the way that Copenhagen has seemingly managed to balance the needs of multiple means of mobility with other competing needs for traffic flow, development, etc. I know there are many communities here in the U.S. which could serve as examples, too, but I really liked the photos in this piece, because I think they help us to envision how this might work in Northfield.