Minneapolis is laughing at all other Midwestern cities as it builds out its bike network

With one of the highest rates of biking in North America, Minneapolis already should be proud of its accomplishments in diversifying its transportation network. Instead, the city that averages around 54 inches of snowfall each year is looking to double down on the effort. The newly released plan from the City of Minneapolis calls for adding 55 miles of bike lanes to the city’s existing 37-mile network. More from Streetsblog USA:

The 30-mile plan is expected to cost about $6 million, with funding coming from city, county, and federal budgets. Minneapolis will also save money by folding bike lane construction into regularly scheduled road resurfacing projects, according to the Star Tribune. The paper notes the entire plan will cost less than building a single mile of roadway.

The city has tentatively identified 19 corridors that will get protected bike lanes. About half are in downtown or the University of Minnesota area. The other half are in outlying neighborhoods that aren’t currently well-served by bike infrastructure, said Fawley. The city had hoped to install 8 miles of protected bike lanes this year, but it doesn’t look like it will quite reach that goal, due to some construction delays.

The huge demographic shift that is changing the face of America

Between 2000 and 2013, an additional 78 counties throughout the United States joined the rank of those where whites no longer made up a majority of the population. In total there are some 266 counties nation-wide, including Ohio’s three most populous. More from CityLab:

By 2040, the country’s white population will no longer be the majority. But for many regions around the country, this demographic shift has already arrived. A new map created by the Pew Research Center pinpoints the 78 counties in 19 states where, from 2000 to 2013, minorities together outnumbered the white population.

Pew crunched Census numbers from the 2,440 U.S. counties that had more than 10,000 residents in 2013. Whites made up less than half the population in a total of 266 counties. Even though these 266 counties made up only 11 percent of the counties analyzed, they contained 31 percent of the country’s total population, with many of them home to dense urban areas.

The amount of cement China is using will blow your mind

A strange combination of events and economic circumstances, combined with China’s rapid urbanization, have resulted in an absolutely massive use of cement. We all know that China’s cities have been growing rapidly over the past several decades, but the fact that the People’s Republic used more cement in three years than the United States did during the entire 20th century is stunning. More from the Washington Post:

It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively.

The statistic seems incredible, but according to government and industry sources, it appears accurate. What’s more, once you dive into the figures, they have a surprisingly logical explanation that reveals some fascinating differences between the two countries, and some ominous realities about China.

Boston has shed thousands of parking spaces in recent years, and most aren’t coming back

Boston has experienced a center city revival that is right up there with the best of ‘em in North America. In particular, the South Boston neighborhood has seen a dramatic change in fortunes. Where thousands surface parking lot spaces once sat are now mixed-use buildings housing new residents and jobs. So what happened to all of that parking? No one is really sure, and only a few seem to care. More from the Boston Globe:

One large landowner in the Seaport, the Massachusetts Port Authority, offers a startling estimate of the changes afoot: Roughly three years ago, there were 6,000 spaces in surface parking lots in the South Boston neighborhood. Three years from now, there will be just 750.

For some, it may be hard to understand how we got here. How did a city of technology wizards, big-data gurus, and parking apps for smartphones lose track so utterly of its parking plan? How did the city of “pahk the cah” become one bereft of places to put the cars? Blame a booming economy, low interest rates fueling development, and a demographic shift to younger urban dwellers willing to live without wheels.

Complete Streets are more equitable, safer and improve economic outcomes

Over the past several years the idea of taking a new approach toward designing our public streets has been gaining traction. For many decades roads were built almost exclusively for people driving cars. But historically speaking, streets have always been much more egalitarian – accommodating all modes of transportation of the time.

While the idea of designing streets for all users has gained attention, it has not always gained supporters. This includes Cincinnati where a Complete Streets policy has yet to be realized. More from Streetsblog USA:

Redesigning streets to make room for people is a no brainer. “Complete streets” projects that calm traffic and provide safe space for walking and biking save money, reduce crashes and injuries, and improve economic outcomes. Need further convincing? Smart Growth America has done some number crunching, looking at the impact of 37 complete streets projects from communities across the country.