Northfield becoming Cambridge

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My daughter Gilly alerted me to the bicycles locked to the railings along the walkway between the Archer House and the Nutting Block… and that someone has taped 5 paper “No bike parking” signs to the railing posts. It reminds me of all the “Don’t lock your bike here!” signs I saw last year when visiting Betsy Buckheit and family in Cambridge, UK.


  1. Dan Bergeson said:

    Even with the 11 new bike racks (capacity: 22 bikes)installed in downtown Northfield in 2006, there is clearly a need for more bike parking. Bike use is on the rise all over town, but particularly on the college campuses and downtown. The City has committed to 1/2 dozen more racks this summer downtown, but I’m not sure even that will satisfy the demand. However, this has been one of the big successes of the Downtown Streetscape Task Force so far and I, for one, am grateful.

    July 11, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Dan, that’s darn good to hear. Kudos to the NDDC. I guess I’d better ride my bike to KYMN today along with Ross and Tracy.

    BTW, who ‘owns’ that railing and put up those “no bike parking” signs?

    July 11, 2007
  3. Dan Bergeson said:

    My guess would be the City owns the railing since it’s a public sidewalk (about to be graced with a decorative arch), but I don’t know that for sure. I’m guessing that someone from the Nutting Block or the Archer House put up the signs, but again, just a guess.

    July 11, 2007
  4. Jerold Weber said:

    Actually the construction workers put up the signs.

    July 11, 2007
  5. John S. Thomas said:

    I am not 100% sure, but I think it was due to the construction.

    There are going to be some nice “arches” installed there, and I think they need the area clear.

    The Arch is to be installed right about where that bike is.

    July 12, 2007
  6. Betsey Buckheit said:

    The bike racks are great – and more will be better. But Northfield is not yet Cambridge…

    central Cambridge is closed to automobile traffic – should we “pedestrianize” Division Street?

    Gas in England is somewhere around $2.00 per litre (or about $7.60 a gallon) – which might convince more of us to bike

    Cambridge developed prior to the invention of the automobile and is much more compact making cycling distances shorter (Cambridge has about 100,000 people in about the same area as Northfield).

    Cycling is normal in Cambridge – old people, construction workers, families, school kids, business people all cycle for transportation, not just recreation or exercise. Bicycles, too, are designed for ease of city use – with covered chains, baskets, child seats (often more than one), etc.

    I loved living in Cambridge for 9 months and certainly like to see more of normal, everyday cycling happen in Northfield…but I think the odds are against it, alas.

    July 12, 2007
  7. Betsey,
    I agree that Northfield is certainly not yet Cambridge, and the odds MAY be against it, but…there is a LOT that can and should be done to encourage and facilitate more normal, everyday cycling in Northfield. And I would love to see Division Street “pedestrianized” (say from the Archer House–gotta get guests/buses there–to Bridge Square,anyway).

    July 12, 2007
  8. Ray Cox has repeatedly said that one thing that may save the small town is $5/gallon gas (that’s uncorrected for inflation, which gives you an idea of how long he as been saying it). In Dundas I am trying to make bike trail planning part of the standard worksheet for any transportation network plan, proposed plat or proposed annexation preliminary plat. Fortunately, most of our (small) developers get it, so far. We failed miserably on Bridgewater Heights and County 1 (CSAH#1), but I hope to correct that if we are asked to approve a Phase II.

    A simple thing like requiring a fixed number of bike-locking stations per table (for a restaurant) could do the trick with coffee shops and restaurants, but the trick is in transitioning to that standard when there is no space for those racks and the business already is in place and working without such. How about sacrificing one or two car spots and putting posts there? On the other hand, new businesses should see such as just part of the price of entering this market. It would be really really cool if one of the local biking groups put up some seed money to help soften the blow to a business, say as a matching grant.

    And why are there paper signs asking bikers to not use the railings? The photo seems to show bikes in a pretty innocuous location (not blocking pedestrians or presenting a safety concern).

    July 13, 2007
  9. kiffi summa said:

    If Northfield became Cambridge, would Carleton also become Cambridge?

    July 16, 2007
  10. Betsey Buckheit said:

    I hope neither Carleton nor St Olaf become Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are almost all behind high walls with gates guarded by Porters. Although many of the colleges are lovely inside their walls, and fine academic institutions, I don’t think this model of highly protected academic life would suit Northfield. Somehow, paying admission (as you must to be allowed inside the gates at most of the old colleges–unless you are attending chapel services for which you must queue) doesn’t seem very American, let alone appropriate for Northfield.

    July 17, 2007
  11. kiffi summa said:

    Comment # 10 was obviously a joke too feeble to be recognized as such………..
    But Betsy, I have a question for you; you being eminently qualified to answer: What do you think of the writing, yes the actual “writing”, of the draft principles for the comp plan revision?
    You were critical of the existing comp plan for its lack of organization, clarity, actual “literary” quality………and very vocal about that as the PC chair at the time.
    Do you think these new draft principles have a better “literary” value, as communications of values?

    July 18, 2007
  12. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Actually Kiffi, I got the joke, but I also thought that some of the ways in which Carleton and Northfield are not Cambridge are interesting. Much as I loved the pedestrian/bicycle scale of Cambridge, but I appreciate Carleton and St Olaf’s relative openness to townfolk and how Carleton’s campus is part of the neighborhood (although I also realize there are tensions there, especially as Carleton contemplates expansion) rather than guarded behind high walls. I don’t want Northfield to BE Cambridge, rather I hope we can learn from Cambridge and other cities as we seek to make change here.

    As for the development principles, that’d be another discussion thread. Perhaps Ross would like to kick it off with his view of the Council’s approval of the principles on Monday night.

    July 18, 2007
  13. Ross Currier said:

    Hey Betsey:

    Didn’t mean to blow you off…

    …been a bit busy between Taste and Harry…

    …will definitely comment on Council’s discussion of Principles…

    …before Monday.

    See you Downtown,


    July 20, 2007

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