At its August 19 Engineering Subcommittee meeting, the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) passed a motion calling for bike lanes in both directions on the eastern portion of Lowry Avenue NE. Members also discussed engineering the intersections for the new cycle track on Washington Avenue South and the progress of the 26th and 28th Street Bicycle Improvements.
What’s Happening On Lowry Avenue
The sections of Lowry Avenue east of Central Avenue and west of Central are receiving distinct treatments.
The section west of Central will see a 4 lane to 3 lane conversion, allowing room for wider sidewalks for pedestrians but not enough for bicycle facilties. Planners encouraged bicyclists to use the parallel facilities on the 22nd Avenue NE bicycle boulevard or the proposed 27th Avenue NE greenway to travel east or west along the corridor. The BAC Engineering subcommittee passed a motion calling for comprehensive wayfinding to help bicyclists negotiate that routing away from Lowry in that section.
The section of Lowry east of Central, which is currently 2 lanes with parking on both sides, will likely get bike lanes on both sides after the subcommittee passed a motion to this effect. The low use of parking east of Central Avenue allowed planners to justify losing some parking to free up space for the bike lanes.
Pushing The County for Bike Lanes on Lowry Avenue
Carol Anderson with Hennepin County and another planner presented said the Lowry project's steering committee recommended eliminating some parking west of Central Avenue to make room for a climbing bike lane, and insitutiing a 4 to 3 lane conversion east of Central Avenue to allow for wider sidewalks (but no dedicated bike facillities).
East of Central Avenue, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition president Ethan Fawley recommended bike lanes in both directions instead of one buffered bike lane in the climbing direction only. He explained how this was possible by using 5-foot bike lanes in both directions and 2 slightly narrower 11-foot driving lanes, rather than just one 8-foot climbing bike lane.
Members voiced support for this idea, and Robin Garwood motioned to put dedicated bicycle lanes in both directions east of Central. That motioned passed unanimously. Members also passed a motion for significant wayfinding signage west of Central Avenue to help bicyclists to navigate this section of Lowry with no bike facilities.
Quick Word About Vehicle Count Projections
A BAC member asked for a vehicle count on Lowry Avenue and the planners didn’t seem to have the number immediately available. One planner eventually said Lowry Avenue at Marshall Avenue (the busiest part of Lowry) was projected to reach 18,000 using a seemingly modest half percent yearly growth.
Meanwhile, it seemed the other planner had located an actual real world average daily traffic (ADT) count on Lowry and apparently that was 9,100. So we might be missing something, but that modest .5% increase seems to be given a long time in order to double the traffic volume. If they were talking about the same section, 9,100 ADT would take more than 100 years to reach 18,000 with a .5% increase each year.
There are several problems with endless traffic growth projections, the most glaring being that they don't jive with the reality we've seen in a decade of stagnant and sometimes even shrinking traffic counts. Luckily, planners still went with a 4 to 3 lane conversion rather than using their dubious projections to scuttle another project seeking to work toward a multi-modal street rather than a car sewer.
Hennepin County Regional Master Plan
Kelley Yemen, Bike And Pedestrian Coordinator with Hennepin County, updated the committee on the county’s Regional Master Plan. Members complimented the plan and decided to mark up the map after the meeting and present their comments that way for expediency sake.
Washington Avenue Cycle Track
Jennifer Lowry with Hennepin County went over nitty-gritty of engineering the new cycle track on Washington Avenue South.
I’ll delve into just one detail they discussed: bicycle only signals. Apparently, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations would not allow a green bicycle signal at the same time as a vehicle turn signal. Engineers were grappling with how to deal with that federally mandate.
Robin Garwood brought up the treatment Montreal has on Rue Michel in which bicyclist get a few seconds of lead time through intersection thanks to pedestrian only signalization that bicyclists are encouraged (and legal permitted) to use too.
26th and 28th Street Bicycle Improvements
Fay Simer with Stantec gave the final presentation on gathering input on the planned improvements on 26th and 28th Streets in South Minneapolis. Planners are considering protected bike lanes and pedestrian bump outs and you can see the plans and comment here.