Strong Towns Sioux Falls holding citizen meetings for walkability, review data to present to city

Strong Towns Sioux Falls hosting meetings to review city code, present findings to council
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:04 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Jordan Deffenbaugh says his daily walk is the perfect example of pedestrian access and safety needing improvement.

It is very dangerous to be a pedestrian in Sioux Falls,” said Deffenbaugh.

“I cross Minnesota every single day, and there are no painted crosswalks at any intersection that I interact with from 33rd all the way down to 14th Street.”

A report released on Omaha’s pedestrian needs is prompting a study of Sioux Falls city codes. The group Strong Towns Sioux Falls, a local chapter of a nationwide organization, is looking through the data. Deffenbaugh is the lead organizer of the group.

“We have a lot of the same zoning codes, but a lot of these codes are very dated,” said Deffenbaugh. “The problem is, is as you increase the density of a lot, you have to add more parking, which that means you have less space to actually build housing.”

Sioux Falls city councilor Greg Neitzert welcomes the group’s input.

“I really encourage the effort. I like seeing another set of eyes on our zoning code, looking at our zoning code and our engineering code,” said Neitzert.

He has ideas to share as well.

“One of the principles of walkability is that it has to be comfortable, and it has to feel safe,” said Neitzert. You can’t just build a sidewalk and make it ADA-compliant and assume people are going to use it. People are not going to walk along a sidewalk that is riding against people driving 40 miles an hour with no buffer whatsoever.”

Deffenbaugh is so passionate about safety for pedestrians he took the initiative to paint a crosswalk in an area where pedestrians felt particularly vulnerable on 8th street downtown.

“It’s not safe out there. And that is because of the design of our roads, not because of the drivers themselves. So we need to zoom out and look at the roads themselves,” said Deffenbaugh.

The group will meet at 5:30 Wednesday nights at The Source Coffee Roastery and Taproom to go through the data and prepare a report for the city. They invite anyone interested to attend.