Tom Kluis

November 2015 - Nearly 230 miles of roadway crisscross Edina, and Living Streets Champion Tom Kluis is familiar with nearly every stretch.

Kluis, an avid runner, subscribes wholeheartedly to the idea that "the journey is the destination." "I'm just a naturally curious person," he explained. When his family moved to Edina from south Minneapolis in 2007, "I started running around the Countryside Neighborhood, exploring things close to us. Whenever I came across a street that looked unfamiliar but interesting, I'd run down that one just to see what was there."

As this circle gradually widened out beyond his neighborhood, Kluis began to track those runs in highlighter on a large map. After a point, hitting every road within the 16-square-mile city seemed like a logical end goal.
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For Kluis, this ambitious plan has some precedent. "Several years ago, my father, Farryl, walked up and down every street in Faribault." It enabled him to see his own hometown in a whole new light. "I'm sure that my dad was in the back of my head when I made it my mission to run all the streets of Edina."

Kluis picked up his fair share of tips and tricks along the way. Once he had thoroughly covered his own quadrant of town, he began biking each morning to the starting point of that day's run. When the fold-out map proved too ungainly, he began tracing his own mini-maps on Post-It Notes and transferring his progress over to the larger map when he got home.

On average, Kluis covers about five miles each run. In total, he estimates having logged approximately 1,000 miles within the city since 2007 - longer than the distance between Edina and Chicago and back!

Unsurprisingly, he is rapidly closing in on his objective. "I currently have the whole City done, except for a small bit near Cornelia Elementary School." He will cross the proverbial finish line this fall. "My wife has invited family members and neighbors to meet there to celebrate, and to run that very last block together."

Once his mission is accomplished, Kluis is likely to revisit some of his favorite stretches. While it is impossible to single out any one favorite, "I really like the Highlands Neighborhood, and up through the Rolling Green area. You see a number of animals on quiet mornings, the homes and landscaping are interesting ... and there are few cars." The area behind Bredesen Park is another favorite, for the same reasons.

In most areas, of course, motorist cross-traffic cannot be avoided, and runners need to be wary of inattentive drivers. For this reason, Kluis cites the existence of an infrastructure friendly to non-vehicular traffic as a key consideration when he assesses the attractiveness of a neighborhood to runners and walkers.

Well-marked crosswalks, and speed bumps where necessary, go a long way.

In addition, "we need to continue building sidewalks throughout the city, especially on busier roads that don't already [have them]." Such improvements are part of Edina's ongoing Living Streets initiative.

Kluis knows better than anyone that these measures reap dividends, even beyond the obvious. "Walking or biking through your area helps build relationships with your neighbors, and enables you to enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful city in a way that you simply can't if you [rely] on a car alone."