Joshua Houdek (center) from the Sierra Club North Star Chapter delivers Central Avenue bike postcards with Nick Mason from the Bicycle Alliance of MN and Bill Dooley from the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition
Progress has been made to improve bicycling conditions on Central Avenue, which is getting repaved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) this year between Washington Avenue in downtown to Columbia Heights. We thank Council Member Kevin Reich who is working to get further improvements, although it is clear that some existing Mn/DOT policies are making adding more bike lanes difficult. We recently co-authored a letter to Mn/DOT with allies from the Sierra Club North Star Chapter and Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and together delivered more than 300 postcards in support of bike lanes.
All the details below...
Recently, Mn/DOT staff shared what they see as their design for Central Avenue NE. There are certainly some positives to take for the effort over the last year:
Central will be the first Mn/DOT road in the Twin Cities to have bike lanes and the first with sharrows (edit: contrary to earlier info from Mn/DOT, it appears that this will be the third Mn/DOT road in the Twin Cities with bike lanes, but still first with sharrows);
Mn/DOT added in about 14 blocks of northbound bike lanes (between Broadway and 27th Street) and about 8 blocks of southbound bike lanes (between 18 1/2th Street and 27th) after initially not including any bike lanes; sharrows are included on the rest of blocks between Washington Avenue (where Hwy 65 is 3rd Avenue) and 18 1/2th Street;
Mn/DOT engineers came to several Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings to discuss the project and Mn/DOT Commissioner Tom Sorel personally responded to Rep. Phyllis Kahn when she inquired about bicycle safety improvements (thanks Rep. Kahn!)
But in the end, we cannot help but feel disappointed that Mn/DOT has not included more blocks with bike lanes. There are a couple areas where the road narrows and it would be hard to include a bike lane, but with more flexibility there could have been bike lanes on nearly the entire route without removing any parking that is ever used.
Council Member Kevin Reich is continuing to push to see if a solution can be reached that would include more blocks with bike lanes. He is working with Shaun Murphy, the City's new Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, who has put together ideas for how to add bike lanes on quite a few more blocks. It is pretty late in the game for additional changes now, but we hope that Mn/DOT can work something out with the City.
Delivering 300+ postcards to Mn/DOT
On Monday, representatives from the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota delivered a letter to Mn/DOT Commissioner Tom Sorel on Central along with 300+ postcards collected by the Sierra Club in support of bike lanes on Central. We hope that Mn/DOT will respond with some additional blocks with bike lanes and improvements for future Mn/DOT projects.