How do we create spaces and systems that allow people to move in different ways?

Dear neighbors, 

There’s something special about where I live in Fargo’s historic Hawthorne Neighborhood. It’s something so subtle that you may hardly recognize it as you pass through its streets, but it’s one of the main reasons that I chose to live here. What’s special about where I live is the freedom of mobility that this neighborhood offers me within the city.

For example, on more temperate days, I am able to walk or bike to either University and 13th Avenue or Downtown Fargo from my home; the lovely Island Park makes up the majority of the Downtown commute. On colder days, it’s less than a five-minute drive to these places. What this means is that I am able to access many day-to-day resources – the grocer, bank, work, barber, coffee shop, daycare, school, etc. – by way of biking, walking, bussing, and driving. This is freedom of mobility. 

 
The distance from Fargo Billiards to Scheels Arena is 1.1 miles down 32nd Ave. That equates to 3 minute drive or a 7 minute bike ride, or 20 minute walk.

The distance from Fargo Billiards to Scheels Arena is 1.1 miles down 32nd Ave. That equates to 3 minute drive or a 7 minute bike ride, or 20 minute walk.

 
The distance from Hawthorne Elementary to US Bank Plaza is also 1 mile through the neighborhood, Island Park and the downtown district.

The distance from Hawthorne Elementary to US Bank Plaza is also 1 mile through the neighborhood, Island Park and the downtown district.

But it’s not just this proximity to some of the best that Fargo has to offer that makes this neighborhood such a special place to live. For example, consider that the 1.1 mile walk from dinner at Fargo Billiards and Gastropub to a see a Fargo Force game at Scheels Arena wouldn’t present an appealing set of options for travel on a fun night out, even though the distance from my home in Hawthorne to Downtown is relatively the same. What creates the contrast between these two commutes are a variety of factors ranging from a pedestrian’s feeling of safety, aesthetic of environment, speed of nearby traffic, signage and designated paths for travel, just to name a few. 

I often think about the question, “how can all Fargoans experience a freedom of mobility from their own neighborhoods to places they want to visit throughout the city?” This question leads me to ask:


How do we create spaces and systems that allow people to move in different ways?


Watch Joe's bicycle commute from the Hawthorne Neighborhood to City Hall in 30 seconds.

In GO2030, a comprehensive plan that represents the community of Fargo’s vision for the future, there are a set of initiatives dedicated to improving the ways in which we might move about the city. These transport-focused initiatives address needs ranging from the creation of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, to the funding and activation of parking structures, to the mapping out of necessary bus routes. All kinds of mobility are being addressed. 

In agreement with the goals of the GO2030 initiatives, I believe that, in order to make Fargo the best place on Earth to live, we must build a network of transit that allows people to move in all ways. 

Unfortunately, most residents are beholden to their automobile not because it’s their favorite choice for transportation, but because it’s their only choice for transportation. For those who cannot afford an automobile, their options are limited even further. 

I dream of a Fargo where every citizen is within a safe 10-minute walk to something that connects them to the city as a whole; a Fargo where everyone has the option to walk, bike, bus or drive to any number of services that improve their quality of life, whether it be a corner store or a coffee shop. I envision streets that are designed to be inviting to everyone from 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds. I imagine streets that are marked with helpful signage and instill a sense of safety for everyone traveling upon them, whether that may be a cyclist who bikes to work daily  or a parent out for a ride with the kids, or a pedestrian walking to the grocery store or out for a stroll with the dog. 

We need a network of streets that invites all forms of transportation.  

Right now, the city is fragmented by its lack of an interconnected web of transit opportunities.

Fortunately, GO2030 is addressing this need to provide ways for people to move in all ways. And, as a resident who enjoys the freedoms that accompany a well-connected neighborhood, I am championing the efforts to create an integrated transit system that serves all forms of mobility so that all Fargoans can enjoy the freedom, and pleasure, that comes with being able to move how they want, when they want.

Now, I have another question to ask and would love to hear your feedback: 

What is your favorite way to move about our city?

On the move,
Joe 

PS: If you’re interested in this topic, and want more on it, I recommend these resources:
Smart Growth America: What are complete streets?
Photos illustrating complete streets
Fargo Comprehensive Plan GO2030 (specifically, visit page 166)