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Great Rides Bikeshare Leading Austin TX and Others to Better Bike Systems

Since our Great Rides Bikeshare record breaking launch in 2015 (awarded nations most rides per bike per day three years running) we’ve met with the leaders of Bikeshare around the country at B-Cycle World and received inquiries and had discussions with cities and Universities over the years. We’ve been open and eager to share our innovative student led, easy access model.
Cool to see Austin TX is another system we’ve worked with that has adopted our model to help reduce campus congestion and add value and their ridership is exploding!
So fun to see our student led, innovative Great Rides Bikeshare model that took us from 2011 – 2014 to develop, gain student support along with strong community sponsors is now helping lead the nations bikeshares toward easier to use and more robust systems.
We’ve been delivering on the demand for sharing economy solutions to reduce transportation costs and congestion and having a positive national impact.
Let’s keep making it a Great Ride!
Mike
Here’s a quote from the article:“Some people were looking at Fargo as if is this an outlier, a one-off,” he said. “I think what we’re showing is, no, if you integrate a campus system with a larger city system — if you remove some of those barriers, this can really work.”
PlacesForBikes helps U.S. communities buil
First in a series of profiles of the Big Jump Project’s 10 focus areas. Central Austin seems to have everything: a massive research university, the world’s biggest annual media festival and one of the country’s strongest local job-creation engines. But when a city sees so much success, it runs …
peopleforbikes.org

Campus bike sharing in the United States seems to have hit a new high water mark on the flagship campus of the University of Texas.
Forty days after launching a free pilot program for UT students with 85 new bikes to serve them, Austin B-Cycle says it’s on track to more than double the ridership of its entire 530-bike system.
Austin Active Transportation Program Manager Laura Dierenfield said 7,800 students have registered for the program so far — 15 percent of the UT campus’s entire student body.
“We were hoping for, like, 3,000 for the life of the pilot in the first 18 months,” Dierenfield said. “We had twice that in the first week.”
Students aren’t just signing up for the free program, either. They’re biking. In the program’s first 40 days, the campus bike docks averaged 12 checkouts per bike per day.
For comparison’s sake, the average New York Citi Bike is ridden five to six times per day during the spring.
“It’s been increasing in general because the weather’s getting even nicer,” Austin B-Cycle Director Elliott McFadden said. “We have 11 campus-area stations, and they are the top 11 stations in our system now.”

UT’s rapid embrace of bike sharing already puts the campus in striking distance of ridership at maybe the nation’s most successful university-linked bike share system, at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. During that system’s season, its 100 bikes average 13 checkouts per day.
“We’re close to their kind of usage, and that took them about six months to get there,” McFadden said. (NDSU’s program is also free for students to join, paid for out of student services fees.)

Density and desirable, affordable, and walkable neighborhoods

Some folks seem to think density automatically means skyscrapers. It’s just not so. Density is just one way to measure land use.
For perspective, in 1960 Fargo’s population was 47,000 in less than 8 sections of land. Now with 115,000 people we have 50 sections of land. 2.4 times the number of people, over 6 times the amount of land. Poor land use makes flood protection, transportation, and efficient deliveries of city services more expensive and difficult.

Letter: Growing smartly in Fargo:

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation, and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a bit over 1 percent population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.
It’s difficult to change the decades-old ingrained philosophy that leapfrog development works and that quality land use doesn’t matter, but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.
A Forum editorial (Oct. 27) said dividing the 50 sections of land (32,000 acres) by our population is not an honest way to determine density and that there is no cost to the city or taxpayers for skipped-over undeveloped or underdeveloped land where there is little or no infrastructure. The editorial incorrectly stated the number of people per acre in 1950 was 50. The correct number is 10.7.
Where is market?
The editorial didn’t raise any objection to encouraging development farther into new greenfields that would not likely be protected with certified flood protection until the diversion is finished. They cite this is the development the market wants. This “market” is skewed by our current growth policies that subsidize premature expansion into the flood plain.
Where is the market in Fargo? Realtors nationwide cite Fargo’s 58103 as a top ten housing market in the entire country. That’s the older traditional neighborhood design area from Main Avenue to 32nd Avenue South.9th St Fargo pic
The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just over 50 square miles with a population of about 115,000. Fifty square miles = 32,000 acres divided into 115,000 population = 3.6 people per acre.
A recent Forum article correctly says that in 1950 Fargo had 10.7 people per acre. This is common in walkable traditional neighborhood design. For perspective, San Francisco has a smaller footprint than Fargo with more than 1 million people = 33 people per acre.
In Fargo’s comprehensive plan, there is a goal of nine people per acre – this is similar to the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.
Projected growth in Fargo by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.
Enough land
When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our population estimate and more if we achieve our nine people per acre density goal – 32,000 acres X 9 people per acre = 288,000 population just in Fargo’s current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years, it would be 64,000 more people added to our current 115,000 = 179,000 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected for Fargo.
Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 50 sections – 259,950 population estimate by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.
Thirty-two thousand acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 50 sections.
Floods and FEMA
The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Avenue are lower than the new FEMA 100-year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 8-10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in-town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500-year event.
We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42 feet 5 inches to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low-lying land south of 70th Avenue.
How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with more than 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030.
The top 5 are:
1) Flood protection; 2) infill/strong neighborhoods; 3) arts and culture; 4) bike and pedestrian facilities; 5) quality design standards.
Strategies
What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:

  • Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.
  • Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer-in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services.
  • Target incentives on mixed-use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in underused areas with existing infrastructure and services.
  • Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27 percent of income on transportation, higher than 24 percent for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.

Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well.

Thousands enjoy the biggest vehicle ever in another great Holiday of Lights Parade

Thousands of smiling faces at the Parade of Lights enjoying a guest appearance from a super cool, 60′ long vehicle on it’s way to San Francisco. Thanks to a great working relationship with locally produced New Flyer, Gregg Schildberger and our Matbus team arranged a guest visit of the 60′ Hybrid Electric articulating bus we got a chance to ride and test for a fun filled day.
Thanks to all the presenters and folks that came to our Transportation Symposium!
Fargo’s moving forward in all sorts of ways. Thanks to good work by many, we’ve added Link FMGreat Rides Bike Share, North Dakota’s first protected bike lanes, and Uber Fargo just in the past 9 months

Here’s a nice TV clip on the event. Thanks Adam, Patrick and KVRR!

Buses, Bikes Keep Rolling as Public Transit Takes Off in F-M Area

Adam Ladwig, Weekend Anchor / News Reporter, aladwig@kvrr.com
POSTED: 10:16 PM CST Nov 24, 2015 The future of public transportation rolls into Fargo.

Public transit, both two–wheeled and four–wheeled, has grown a lot in the last few years. The hope is that even more people hop on for a ride in years to come.
The bus is 60 feet of people moving power and it’s in town to show what public transportation can do.
“The Fargo–Moorhead community has really expanded its options for the way that we move, which is really exciting,” says Sara Watson Curry with Great Rides Bike Share.
Just in the last year, the LinkFM made getting around downtown easier, and cheaper, and the Great Rides Bike Share program set records for the number of riders per bike per day in its first year.
“We’re sort of the darlings in the bike share world,” adds Watson Curry.
Ridership in Fargo has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, going from 800,000 riders to 2.1 million per year.  City leaders want to use new big bad boys like this to increase ridership even more in the future.hybrid articulated 11-25-15               ^Click on the photo to see how the articulated bus pivots for a sharp turn^
“Instead of having two buses, you could almost carry as many with one bus, one driver,” says Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams.
City officials aren’t resting on the past success of public transit.
Williams says, “We want to double it again.”
They say the benefits of public transit are two–fold. One, it’s cheaper, which is popular with the college crowd.
“Residents on average spend more on transportation than on housing. 27 percent on transportation. 24 percent on housing,” Williams explains. “Students have figure out, and so have others, that you can save a lot of money not having to drive every day.”
Two, it clears up traffic, letting everyone move around sooner.
Williams adds, “So when you see people taking transit, walking, or biking, give them a good wave because there’s more room on the road for you.” See the TV Clip
So don’t be surprised if you see more buses or bikes on the roads soon.
Fargo city leaders say it’s possible the city might purchase articulated buses in the future. As for the bike share program, there is talk of expanding across the river to MSUM and Concordia in the next couple years.
IMG_6983

Sandy's Donuts, more Sandy's Donuts, hot cocoa, to celebrate Fargo's evolving transportation options

Now that got your attention! Swing by the Fargo Public Library’s community room Tuesday November 24th at 1:30 p.m.. We’ll learn about and celebrate the many new ways to get around town, user friendly parking info and tools, housing tips and programs, and the positive impact Great Rides Bikeshare has made and how they’re all related.
You’ll also get a chance to look and step inside a super cool new sixty foot articulated bus being demonstrated at this event. This bus is being delivered to San Francisco. New Flyer’s are made in St. Cloud and use several components made right here in Fargo!newflyer_xcelsior_xn60
In one short hour, we’ll hear quick hitting updates from experts like:
 

  • Jeremy Gorden Fargo Traffic Engineer will talk about complete streets and the first protected bike lanes in Fargo and North Dakota. The progress with more on street bike facilities has helped increase number of people biking and fewer bike related accidents. NP Ave protected bike lane
  • Sara Watson Curry of Great Rides Bikeshare will talk about their national record setting, matbus inspired, student led business model and how it works. Great Rides kicked off with a grand entrance at this years St. Patricks Day parade on a 70 degree day on March 15th with over 17,000 happy folks

Great Rides at St. Patty's 2015
Just in the past year, all these cool new options to get around town.
Thanks to good work by many, Fargo’s added several new options for the way we move around our community with expanding transit, the fun, fast, and free Link FM, Great Rides BikeshareUber Fargo, and Fargo’s and North Dakota’s first protected bike lanes all just in the last 9 months.
These improvements and continuing to focus on infill, complete streets, and mixed use will make them even more efficient and easy to use.
Hope to see you on Tuesday!
cropped-space-required-to-transport-60-people.jpg
 
 
 

Growing well matters. Let's do the math update

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.
I’m updating this earlier post I wrote in April 2014 with our current numbers.
Here’s an apt cartoon from Trygve Olson of the Forum:

Maybe we’re gaining some traction on improving land use? It’s hard to change the status quo but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.

Some say development in new greenfields that can not be protected with certified flood protection until the diversion is finished is the development the market wants. This “market” is skewed by our current growth policies that subsidize pre-mature expansion.
Where is the market in Fargo? Realtors nationwide site cites Fargo’s 58103 as a top ten housing market in the entire country. That’s the older traditional neighborhood design area from Main Ave to 32nd Ave S.

Here’s some of this weeks articles and interviews on our need to improve land use to grow well:

Forum article on how far south should we grow? 10-26-15

KFGO News and Views Adding value with infill: 9-29-15

KFGO Joel Heitkamp interview on growing well: 4-28-14

 Some basic math shows why we need to improve our density and land use in Fargo

Fargo’s been growing for years and we’re in a fantastic situation thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that.
The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just under 50 square miles with a population of about 115,000.
50 square miles = 32,000 acres divided into 115,000 pop = 3.6 people per acre.
The recent Forum article correctly cites that in 1950 Fargo had 10.7 people per acre. This is common in walkable traditional neighborhood design. For perspective, San Francisco has a smaller footprint than Fargo with over 1,000,000 people = 33 people per acre.
In Fargo’s comprehensive plan there is a goal of 9 people per acre, this is similar to the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.
Planning Director Jim Gilmour recently informed us the that Fargo’s projected growth by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.
When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our  population estimate and more if we achieve our 9 people per acre density goal.
32,000 acres X 9 people per acre = 288,000 population just in Fargo’s current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years would be 61,440 more people added to our current 115,000 = 175,440 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected.
Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 50 sections.
259,950 pop est by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.
32,000 acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 50 sections.
The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Ave are lower than the new FEMA 100 year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 8 – 10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500 year event.
We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42′.5″ to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low lying land south of 70th Ave.
How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with over 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030. The top 5 are:
#1. Flood protection
#2. Infill/strong neighborhoods
#3. Arts and Culture
#4. Bike and pedestrian facilities
#5. Quality design standards
What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:
Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.
Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services of Fire, Police, Garbage, Street cleaning/snow removal, Forestry.
Increase incentives on mixed use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in under utilized areas with existing infrastructure and services.
Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27% of income on transportation, higher than 24% for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.
Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well!

Best city for recent grads? Boston, D.C., Madison, Austin, San Fran, with Fargo at the top

Several cool peer cities are in this list. Madison, D.C, Austin, San Francisco, Boston. Fun to see Fargo on top! The students learning, living, working, and playing downtown have helped drive the revitalization of Downtown and there are a ton of underdeveloped flat lots ripe for mixed use development.

 Continuing to target and prioritizing the core helps us recruit and retain talent. All these high rankings have a common denominator, it’s the vibrant core and opportunities to engage that differentiates us from the rest, not the anytown USA strip-malls and sparse segregated cul-de-sac developments.

 We have some new opportunities/offers to work with peer cities to leverage this further to continue to recruit and retain working and competing with some peer cities.

Let’s grow well and target areas where we get the most value and create the most interest for interesting people. http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-college-grads-2014-5?op=1

 Another example of becoming a more dynamic city is the unique student led bikeshare program announced May 16th 2014. It’s been so much fun working with them and Tom Smith for these past 3 years. This was a key initiative listed in Fargo GO2030Forum story on how Great Rides Bikeshare developed> http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/434858/

The Great Rides Bikeshare system will be installed in the fall. You’re all invited to learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatRidesBikeshare.

 Let’s keep pedaling Fargo forward!

Here’s the article in Business Insider this week:

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

 The 13 Best Cities For Brand-New College Grads

  • MAY 12, 2014, 12:20 PM
College Students Graduates GraduationOli Scarff/Getty Images

 
For people in their mid-20s to early 30s who have finished their education and are starting their careers, figuring out where to live can be difficult.
With local economies varying from place to place and recent grads potentially looking for a partner to start a family, it’s good to be around other people in your age range.
To try to figure out where newly minted young professionals should live, we evaluated the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. on a variety of measures that might be important to recent grads.
We used six measures to evaluate the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. From theCensus Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, we took the share of the population of each city that had young adults between the ages of 20 and 34, the percent of people who had never been married as a proxy for single people, the share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the median earnings for a worker in the city, and the percentage of rental households that paid less than 35% of monthly income on housing expenses as a measure of apartment affordability.
We also took the March 2014 unemployment figures for each from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics.
Each city was given a ranking score from 0 to 100 for each of these measures, and then those rankings were averaged together to find the final ranking.

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

Wikimedia Commons
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls had an extremely low unemployment rate at 3.9% in March. Sioux Falls also, by one measure, has the most affordable apartment rent in the country: 71.1% of apartment households spent less than 35% of their monthly incomes on housing costs, a much higher proportion than in any of the other cities.
Something that might give a 20- or 30-something college graduate pause is that Sioux Falls has somewhat fewer highly educated people than the other cities on this list, with just 29.2% of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Investor Warren Buffett

Similar to Sioux Falls, Omaha has very low unemployment, at 4.5%, and very affordable apartments, with 63.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of monthly income on gross rent.
Unfortunately, for single college grads trying to decide where to settle down, Omaha has fewer singles than the other cities on this list, with just 32% of its population having never been married.

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The Twin Cities are economically dynamic, home to Target and many other large employers. It’s not that surprising that Minneapolis and St. Paul are very well educated with 39.5% of residents having a bachelor’s or higher. Median worker earnings are solid at $36,358 a year, and unemployment is relatively low at 4.9%.
On the downside, there are fewer people in the earlier stages of their careers in Minneapolis, with just 21.1% of the population falling between 20 and 34.

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA

Shutterstock

Over the last decade, the Bay Area has become a natural destination for ambitious and highly educated people, being the heart of the tech industry. A full 45% of San Franciscans have at least a bachelor’s degree, and median earnings for workers are a very impressive $41,265.

9. Columbus, OH

9. Columbus, OH

YouTube
Ohio State University’s marching band forms a man firing a cannon.

Columbus scored reasonably well on each of our measures. Unemployment was at 5.0%, the median worker earned $31,589, and 34.1% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman

Seattle has solid median worker earnings, at $36,864, and 37.7% of Seattleites hold bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees. However, there are fewer singles than most of the other top-ranked cities, with just 32.8% of Seattleites having never been married.

7. Durham/Chapel Hill, NC

The research triangle is very well educated. A full 44.7% of the population of Durham/Chapel Hill holds at least a bachelor’s degree, as one might expect from the home of Duke and the University of North Carolina. There are also a fair number of single people in the area, with a better than average 36.3% of residents having never been married.

6. Lincoln, NE

6. Lincoln, NE

l’interdit via flickr Creative Commons

Over a quarter of the population of Lincoln falls in our young-adult age range: 25.2% are between the ages of 20 and 34. Unemployment is very low at 3.5%, but having a job is not as lucrative as in many of our other cities. Median worker earnings were just $27,100.

5. Boston, MA

5. Boston, MA

Reuters
The 2014 Boston Marathon

Boston is home to a ridiculous number of colleges, and this is reflected by the 42.9% of Bostonians with bachelor’s or advanced degrees. Jobs in Boston also pay well, with median worker earnings at $37,954.

4. Madison, WI

4. Madison, WI

U. of Wisconsin
The law building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Like the other college-centered cities on this list, Madison is young and well educated. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 make up 24.7% of Madison’s population, and 42.6% of the adult population holds at least a bachelor’s. Madison has a fairly low unemployment rate of 4.7%.

3. Austin, TX

3. Austin, TX

Flickr / Visualist Images
People walking around at Austin’s South by Southwest festival

Austin looks a lot like Madison by our measures. Just over a quarter, 25.1%, of Austinites are between 20 and 34, and 40.5% of Austin’s population have bachelor’s or advance degrees. Austin had a solid unemployment rate of 4.4% in March.

2. Washington, DC

2. Washington, DC

AP Photo

Protestors gather for the 1963 March on Washington

The capital had the highest median worker earnings of any of the 200 cities we looked at, with the median worker making $44,452, much higher than the national median of $30,155. Washington attracts the educated, with 48.2% of the adult population holding at least a bachelor’s degree.

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-college-grads-2014-5?op=1#ixzz31mcRMqiB

Growing well matters, let's do the math‏

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.
Here’s an apt cartoon from Trygve Olson in today’s Forum:

Maybe we’re gaining some traction on improving land use? It’s hard to change the status quo but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.

Here’s some of this weeks articles and interviews on our need to improve land use to grow well:

KVLY Planning/Commission piece 4-25-14

Forum “We want to make sure we grow well” 4-25-14

KFGO Joel Heitkamp interview on growing well: 4-28-14

 Some basic math shows why we need to improve our density and land use in Fargo

Fargo’s been growing for years and we’re in a fantastic situation thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that.
The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just over 48 square miles with a population of about 112,000.
48 square miles = 30,720 acres divided into 112,000 pop = 3.6 people per acre.
In Fargo’s comprehensive plan there is a goal of 9 people per acre, this is the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.
Planning Director Jim Gilmour recently informed us the that Fargo’s growth by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s growth is projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.
When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our  population estimate and more if we achieve our 9 people per acre density goal.
30,720 acres X 9 people per acre = 276,480 population in our current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years would be 61,440 more people added to our current 115,000 = 175,440 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected.
Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 48 sections.
259,950 pop est by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.
30,720 acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 48 sections.
The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Ave are lower than the new FEMA 100 year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500 year event.
We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42′.5″ to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low lying land south of 70th Ave.
How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with over 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030. The top 5 are:
#1. Flood protection
#2. Infill/strong neighborhoods
#3. Arts and Culture
#4. Bike and pedestrian facilities
#5. Quality design standards
What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:
Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.
Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services of Fire, Police, Garbage, Street cleaning/snow removal, Forestry.
Increase incentives on mixed use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in under utilized areas with existing infrastructure and services.
Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27% of income on transportation, higher than 24% for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.
Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well!

Fargo on its way to the new American dream

People from all over the country are intrigued by what’s going on in Fargo. We’re consistently topping lists for quality of life and vibrant economy.
Perhaps some of the reason we’re attracting more attention is that we’re incrementally becoming a more diverse community demographically and economically with a focus on our greatest resource, our youth and students.
Many young people and others interested in more active and engaged lifestyles see the huge value in vibrant downtowns and close in neighborhoods. Some ways we’re doing that is by making areas more people friendly for walking, biking, and transit opportunities instead of just having to drive wherever you go.
Livability Magazine ranks Fargo #8 for best city for recent graduates for 2014.  Here’s a sample:
“The range of things to do in Fargo swings from cross-country skiing to attending food festivals, visiting art galleries and kayaking. Downtown Fargodraws a hip crowd, including students from North Dakota State University and four other colleges. The downtown area features a collection of bars, music venues, shops and restaurants located close to apartments and condos.
Snapshot
Number of 25- to 34-year-olds: 19,581
*Number of available jobs: 2,579
Hot jobs: Health care, software, farm/construction equipment
Top employers: Sanford Health, Essentia Health, CNH America, Microsoft”
~End quote from Livability~
We’ve got a lot of room for improvement, but we’re well on on our way to becoming America’s dream town.

Here’s an excellent article by Robert Stueteville of Better Cities and Towns:

Top 10 reasons for a new American Dream

Blog post by Robert Steuteville on 21 Apr 2014
Better! Cities & Towns

For three generations, the American Dream was largely defined by continual suburban expansion. The dream was based on exclusivity and “keeping up with the Joneses.” Driving was so essential that all other means of getting around became practically impossible. Privacy was everything.
A new America Dream has emerged in recent years. It is based on social and cultural diversity and the idea of community. This dream is more about great streets than highways. You can drive if you want, but you can also walk, ride a bike, take transit, or join carshare. In this dream, the things you are connected to are more important than who you are separated from.
The old American Dream has not gone away, but it has been eclipsed. Here are 10 reasons why the new dream is here to stay, in a countdown list:
10) Driving has been declining for 10 years. “Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf,” wrote Lewis Mumford in 1961. Driving per person continued to rise steadily for 43 years after that, and then it stopped.Automobile miles per capita have declined every year since 2004. Also, those concrete cloverleaves have become expensive maintenance problems. One could say the national flower has begun to wilt.

9) Millennials want urban place.
Today’s young adults – the Millennials — were the first generation to be born and raised mostly in communities where the indoor mall was the main street and the parking lot was the town square. As adults, this generation rejected the isolation and generic character of drive-only suburbs. Millennials aren’t the only people today embracing compact, mixed-use neighborhoods — but a dramatic shift in youth preference points to a long-term trend.

8) Walkable places help you climb the ladder of success. The story of ambitious young people going to the city to make something of their lives appears again and again in our literature, movies, and theater. This story is not just a literary device, according to a 2013 study. Social mobility is higher in compact urban places, Arizona State University researchers found. The more walkable the census block — as measured by Walk Score— the more likely someone from the bottom fifth of income will reach the top fifth in their lives. It is no wonder then that New York City — America’s most walkable city — is a magnet for immigrants and other folks pursuing the American Dream.
7) Productivity and innovation thrive as density rises. Studies in recent years have shown that in compact places with good transit, economic activity rises due to more face-to-face contact with knowledgeable people (linklink).
6) You are more likely to be famous if you are born in an urban place. Tiger moms take note! If you want your children to be successful enough to be profiled in Wikipedia, the odds rise substantially if you raise them in a big city — or small city anchored by a university. The New York Times came to that conclusion in a geographical analysis of Wikipedia biographies. Ironically, for several generations, parents have moved to distant suburbs to give children a better chance of success. Notes the Times, “growing up near ideas is better than growing up near backyards.”
5) You are less likely to die in a pool of blood if you are raised in an urban place. Parents have long moved to quiet suburbs for safety. Some are questioning whether this quest for safety has gone too far. The entire culture of childhood has changed, according to a recentarticle in The Atlantic. Children no longer have their own places to roam and explore. Moreover, a 2013 University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) study challenges the entire notion that suburbs are safer. The study examines, for the first time comprehensively, all kinds of accidental and violent deaths in America. Contrary to conventional wisdom, urban streets are significantly safer than leafy suburbs and rural areas. While counterintuitive at first glance, the finding is not hard to fathom if you think about it. The number one US cause of death from ages 5 to 34 is automobile crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Deadly automobile crashes are far less likely on lower-speed urban streets.
4) Bicycles: The new status symbol.
A generation ago, bicycles were considered to be a child’s toy. Now they are a status symbol for communities. As Jeff Speck writes in Walkable City, “A bold green stripe down the side of a street — or many streets — tells residents and potential residents that a city supports alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles and cycling culture, and that it welcomes the sort of people who get around on bikes. For the most part, those people are the millennials and creatives who will help a city thrive.”

3) McMansions are losing their luster.
In the 1990s, a McMansion was the ultimate symbol that the homeowner had “made it.” Inside, the house was luxurious. But the chief selling point was the message it sent from the curb: The owners, and all of their neighbors, have so much money that they can afford to be wasteful on lawn and landscaping, excessive architectural details, pointless variety in rooflines and materials, and general bloat. Today, we have endured a Great Recession and climate change is an ongoing concern. The McMansion’s underlying message of wasteful spending, poor taste, and big carbon footprint projects a less flattering image on the homeowners. As Billy Joel once said, “Is that all you get for your money?”

Photo by Lee Sobel
2) Downtown and in-town neighborhoods are home to the “creative class.” Coming up with this term has made the career of author, academic, and researcher Richard Florida. Whether urban or suburban, big city or small, communities want the educated people that provide the economic spark — known as the “creative class.” Seeking the creative class, businesses have begun moving back into town from suburban campuses.

And the number one reason why we have a new American Dream:
Would you rather have this?

Van Buren Street, Phoenix, today
Or this?

Van Buren transformed, by Steve Price of Urban Advantage
The first image, a commercial strip arterial, has one big advantage: It is legal.
The second image is not technically difficult to achieve. Most zoning codes and the automobile-oriented practices of departments of transportation stand in the way. This new American Dream has the market on its side, but will require coalitions in local communities to muster the political will for reform.
I could come up with 10 or 20 more reasons for the new American Dream. Could you?
~ End Article~
Fargo, we’re on our way!! 

Where are folks moving to from the Twin Cities? US Census says……….Fargo!

No surprise to some of us that have seen these trends evolving as we become a more active, attractive, diverse, and interesting community! We’re not only attracting people and talent from the Twin Cities, but several other counties spread around the US.
In several earlier posts, Fargo has received high marks for quality of life. One of my favorites is this “Best places for 20 somethings” 
Here’s a recent article in Minnesota Public Radio ~
“Outside the state of Minnesota, the biggest net recipient of Hennepin County residents was not Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix), not Harris County, Texas (Houston), not Broward County, Florida. It was Cass County, N.D., home of Fargo.
You can see these net gain and loss population statistics with this cool tool from the Census using the Census Flows Mapper. Click on any county in the country and see where everybody’s going.

http://blogs.mprnews.org/ground-level/2014/02/where-did-everybody-go-literally/

~ End MPR article ~
We also have more folks choosing to build their lives in our Fargo area like the 143 people that moved here from Washington County Oregon, and 90 from Weld County Colorado for example.
The trend of outmigration has changed 180 degrees over the past decade. At the last Commission meeting, I mentioned some of these very positive changes from our area students to Jim Gartin of the FM EDC.
In annual Fargo Public Schools surveys asking students if they plan to stay in the Fargo area, the student responses have changed from about 35% 8 years ago saying they want to build their life here, to now around 65% with more wanting to live, work, learn, and play in our region.
Our culture is evolving and we’re becoming a more active and interesting community where people can engage and reach our potential.
It’s fun to see people realize our excellent quality of life and the many opportunities to dream and work together as we design our community for happiness.
Let’s keep growing well!
 

Where are the folks moving to from the Twin Cities? Census says………Fargo!

No surprise to some of us that have seen these trends evolving as we become a more active, attractive, diverse, and interesting community! We’re not only attracting people and talent from the Twin Cities, but several other counties spread around the US.
In several earlier posts, Fargo has received high marks for quality of life. One of my favorites is this “Best places for 20 somethings” 
Here’s a recent article in Minnesota Public Radio ~
“Outside the state of Minnesota, the biggest net recipient of Hennepin County residents was not Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix), not Harris County, Texas (Houston), not Broward County, Florida. It was Cass County, N.D., home of Fargo.
You can see these net gain and loss population statistics with this cool tool from the Census using the Census Flows Mapper. Click on any county in the country and see where everybody’s going.

http://blogs.mprnews.org/ground-level/2014/02/where-did-everybody-go-literally/

~ End MPR article ~

We also have more folks choosing to build their lives in our Fargo area like the 143 people that moved here from Washington County Oregon, and 90 from Weld County Colorado for example.
The trend of outmigration has changed 180 degrees over the past decade. At the last Commission meeting, I mentioned some of these very positive changes from our area students to Jim Gartin of the FM EDC.
In annual  Fargo Public Schools survey students asking if they plan to stay in the Fargo area. Those surveys have changed from about 35% 8 years ago saying they want to build their life here, to now around 65% with more wanting to live, work, learn, and play in our region.
Our culture is evolving and we’re becoming a more active and interesting community where people can engage and reach our potential.
It’s fun to see people realize our excellent quality of life and the many opportunities to dream and work together as we design our community for happiness.
Let’s keep growing well!