In our latest claim to fame we're not proud of but can't dispute, Minneapolis is home to one of the United States' worst locations for car crashes.
Nonprofit Go Safe Labs recently compiled 1.8 million accident reports from within the 48 contiguous United States in 2018 and 2019. Then, using latitude and longitude to chart each vehicular event, they found the worst of the worst—the 10 geographic traffic “hotspots” where the most accidents occurred.
The No. 4 spot, with a whopping 144 accidents, was a specific hell pocket in Minneapolis: a junction between Old Highway 65 and I-94.
If you've driven it, you know the place. It’s right by the Stevens Square neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown, and in the summer of 2019, it was mostly a jumble of exits woven between massive piles of dirt and construction equipment. See this Google streetview image for reference.
As a city, Minneapolis is nowhere near topping the list for sheer number of car accidents. That honor goes to Houston, with some 25,000 crashes in 2018 and another 22,000 in 2019. (It’s followed by Charlotte, Los Angeles, Austin, and Dallas.)
Strangely enough, all of the “hotspots” occurred in cities which didn't have citywide problems. The No. 1, No. 3, and No. 10 spots all went to problem areas in Greenville, South Carolina. No. 2 was in New York.
It’s hard to say for sure what was going on in these little Bermuda Triangles. There’s no denying that stretch of Minneapolis has been a difficult area to navigate in the past year or so. From closed lanes and exits to a parade of bulldozers, the area has been reduced to a skinny sandbox of obstacles.
Or, the study authors say, maybe some cities are more faithful than others at pinpointing where accidents happen. Some may be mis-reported, or even re-reported.
No matter how much driving in the city sucks, walking and biking in the city undeniably suck more. A study by city government found that although pedestrians represent 20 percent of the trips made in Minneapolis, they suffer 30 percent of its accidents and deaths. More than a third of the city’s crashes take place on 2 percent of its streets, among them Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue.
We have more accidents per 100,000 people than St. Paul, or even New York City, for that matter.
This may all sound like a bunch of pointlessly depressing data, but it has a purpose. Go Safe Labs is trying to help cities like ours be safer by outlining the shape and nature of our problems.
Now that we know where people are crashing most often, we should learn from it and see what we can do to fix it.