The July 17 Public Meeting on the Minnehaha Avenue Reconstruction was lively and informative. Many in attendance expressed a preference for a cycletrack design. There was also some discussion about pedestrian bump-outs and new green space where intersections are being redesigned, but the majority of the discussion focused on the cycletrack. Coalition volunteers distributed the following document, in response to some of the claims that have been made about cycletracks. (Myths-vs-Facts document)
A common theme of the public comments was that people do not feel comfortable bicycling themselves, or with their families on Minnehaha as it is now. The route includes many destinations such as restaurants, retailers, a movie theater, a brewery, and coffee shops, and residents are excited by the potential for a safer bicycling facility along the corridor. A cycletrack would make it much more inviting for the average resident to visit local businesses by bike, would provide safer commuting options, and would create a more direct connection between the Midtown Greenway and Minnehaha Park (and the surrounding trails).
County's cycletrack design needs work
Several people pointed out that the cycletrack as currently designed is not as safe as it could be. Many safety features are missing from the County’s draft design, including raised speed tables at minor intersections, and curb bump-outs to reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing east-west streets.
The County (through its representative from LHB) made it clear that this is the first step in the process, and that after a preferred facility type is selected, there will be time to make improvements to the design. Both design options were presented as rough drafts.
While the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition prefers a cycletrack design, we want to be clear: Refinements are needed in the County’s current design to maximize safety and minimize impacts to trees and parking.
Near the end of the meeting, County staff spent a few minutes explaining why they preferred the existing bike lane configuration to a cycletrack design. Speaking generally, staff acknowledged the safety benefits of cycletracks, but stated that in the specific context of Minnehaha Avenue, they preferred a bike lane. Judging by the reaction from the crowd, the staff explanation was unconvincing to many meeting participants. The explanation from County staff failed to address the following issues:
The harrowing near-miss experiences in the current bike lane configuration, as shared by people attending both public meetings
The public health advantages of a cycletrack design that encourages more bicycling
The safety-in-numbers advantages of a cycletrack design that encourages more bicycling
The desire for a bicycle facility that prevents the 20 percent of collisions that occur mid-block by putting more than painted stripes between fast-moving motor vehicles and bicyclists
Why safety elements that had been suggested by the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee were not incorporated into the County's draft designs
Please contact the following elected officials to ask about their position on the Minnehaha Avenue cycletrack design. To date, none of them have offered their positions. You can contact them using the following information:
Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 348-7884
Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy,Sandra.email@example.com, (612) 673-2212
Councilmember Gary Schiff, Gary.Schiff@minneapolismn.gov, (612) 673-2209