Lars Christiansen discusses Friendly Streets Initiative

Lars ChristiansenAssociate Professor Lars Christiansen teaches courses in Augsburg’s Department of Sociology and Urban Studies Program. Christiansen puts his scholarship into practice as director of the Friendly Streets Initiative, a St. Paul-based organization that facilitates community organizing through creative public engagement events. The group aims to help communities envision positive change to public spaces, collect and analyze data, and assist neighbors in navigating city planning processes.

Christiansen described the successes of the Friendly Streets Initiative to author Jay Walljasper for a chapter of the new book, “America’s Walking Renaissance: How cities, suburbs, and towns are getting back on their feet.” Walljasper serves as a senior fellow in Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and his writing explores how new ideas in urban planning, tourism, community development, sustainability, politics and culture can improve citizens’ lives.

An excerpt from “America’s Walking Renaissance” was published by MinnPost and included a photo of Darius Gray ’15, a community organizer with FSI.

Read, “Friendly Streets: Bottom-up St. Paul project changes the way people look at their city” on the MinnPost site.

 

Lars Christiansen adds expert opinion to MinnPost article on crosswalk laws

MinnPost recently published an article covering efforts by the City of St. Paul to more strictly enforce crosswalk laws and change a driving culture that places drivers and vehicles ahead of pedestrians. State crosswalk laws dictate that drivers should stop for pedestrians at every crosswalk, marked or unmarked, but drivers in the city rarely comply. This has led to fatalities and, more recently, sting operations designed to ticket drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians.

Lars Christiansen, associate professor of sociology and urban studies at Augsburg College, feels that the problem is larger, and less easily addressed, than simply ticketing individuals. “This isn’t about an individual flouting the law, it’s a very real feeling of pressure from motorists,” he said. “One feels the heat of the other cars around you as you’re moving, so to do something unusual [like stopping for a pedestrian] feels dangerous.”

Read St. Paul launches effort to change the city’s driving culture — by enforcing crosswalk laws on the MinnPost site.