There is an important public meeting about Hennepin Avenue on April 25. Please come and share your thoughts! We hope to see protected bike lanes as well as improvements for walking. Here's a look at the draft concept the City will be sharing Monday--it includes protected bike lanes!--and some thoughts on how details really matter for Hennepin.
Hennepin Avenue Public Meeting
Monday, April 25, 4-6pm (presentations at 4 & 5pm; come anytime)
Minneapolis Central Library
We hope you will come and support protected bike lanes and more walking improvements.
The proposed concept for Hennepin that will be presented Apr. 25 is available here (see page 12). There are four different proposed concepts for different sections of the street:
This uses a "floating bus stop," which is regularly regarded as the preferred way to design protected bike lanes and buses. An example (Photo by Adam Coppola Photography):
Some thoughts on the proposed concept:
- Yeah Protected Bike Lanes! We are very glad it includes protected bike lanes. We think this is a benefit for a number of reasons!
Walking environment critical: We are very committed to a design that makes Hennepin more people and walk friendly. The details matter a lot for the walking experience. This concept offers the potential for that, but we feel there is more work to do. Some thoughts:
- Making sidewalks wider: Generally, 20-foot sidewalks can, and should, be maintained (even with the protected bike lane addition). The traffic lane widths being shown match current State Aid Standard requirements, but those standards will be changing in August to allow for narrower lane widths in line with national (and MnDOT) best practice. We think that 10-foot and 11-foot lanes respectively (and a 1' "curb reaction" distance) should be used on Hennepin, which would allow for the 20-foot sidewalks to be maintained. Narrowing lanes a bit also helps widen sidewalks in other blocks as well.
- Narrower crossing distances! With reasonably slightly narrower lanes, the design could further narrow the crossing distance from today's 56'-60.5' down to regularly 44'. That would be a BIG difference for pedestrian safety and reduce the likelihood of another tragedy like happened earlier this year when a person was killed crossing Hennepin by a turning driver.
- Bus stop details: The design details where there are bus stops will be really critical. While those details aren't being worked out now, we think it is important for stakeholders to have the confidence that they will be worked out. We recognize that both the "floating bus stop" and protected bike lane width will need to give a little where there are bus stops to ensure robust sidewalk space is maintained there. Since many people congregate at bus stops currently, it will be helpful to have a better bus stop for that waiting that is separate from the sidewalk. It will also be important to support slower biking in those areas and design to reduce any conflicts. The details also matter a lot where there are theater entrances and other congregation points. The protected bike lane must be done to support safety in those area. We know it can be, but more examples would be helpful even at this earlier stage.
- Need streetscaping: Streetscaping is super important on a street like Hennepin. This street will succeed or fail largely based on the quality of the experience for people and that depends on trees and other greening, lighting, street furniture, and other placemaking elements. We hope that funding will be found for streetscaping beyond the basic for any street. Hennepin is a special street and that should be recognized. The Plan-It Hennepin plan and future Downtown Public Realm Framework provide excellent guidance for that. It's also worth noting that local stakeholders paid for upgraded streetscaping less than 20 years ago, which will be removed as part of the reconstruction. We agree with them that asking them to pay the total cost again when the reconstruction takes out those improvements doesn't seem fair.
- We appreciate staff doing the detailed traffic analysis and recognizing where one fewer traffic lane can mean little travel time impact. We would support a more transformative approach to Hennepin (i.e. even more people focused or dedicated bus lanes), but know that would need to be driven by other community stakeholders.
- We thank Public Works for engaging people at this concept stage--something relatively new for the city. It makes a big difference! We also are committed to working with the stakeholders to make sure this design and any new protected bike lane works well for everyone.