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It’s splashy out. Of my too-many interests, one that’s been on my mind is how sidewalks and crosswalks aren’t designed to drain. At all. It’s an especially odd oversight for a city like Minneapolis, where water isn’t just in our name (“mni” is Dakota for “water”) but in our tagline (“city of lakes”) and in our daily conversations about weather.

This sidewalk was adjacent Fair Oaks Park, a particularly rare combo of water over ice over water, so each step was a splash/crack/float sensation. It made for the most kinetically interesting portion of my walk, but amusement parks and transportation networks are two different beasts. And even amusement parks have sidewalks to get between the thrill rides.

With our climate crisis, Minneapolis is likely to see increased freeze-thaw as we cycle more frequently between above and below freezing temperatures through the winter. Some studies suggest we might also start experiencing even more severe and prolonged sub-Arctic temps as the Arctic oscillation shifts, pushing us into the range where sidewalk salt stops melting ice effectively.

For a city whose identity is so tied in to its water in all forms, our lack of attention to drainage is a glaring omission, once you start paying attention. There’s no easy solution when you realize the utility of your extensive walking network is predicated on warm desert conditions, but at least we could start talking about it!

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