Word on the Streets

Trouble finding bike parking?

Bikes parked on light posts, trees, and benches are an all too common sight on the 10th Avenue side of the Midtown Exchange Building. I'm hopeful that we can get a couple of bike racks with help from the City's Bike Rack Cost Share Program and building management.

Let your employer, apartment owner, and other business owners know about the City of Minneapolis's Bicycle Rack Cost Share Program. Apparently, the city pays 50% of the cost of racks and installation for eligible locations.

I live in the Midtown Exchange Building and while bike parking is good on the west side of our building, parking along the street on the east/10th Avenue side is virtually nonexistent. Visible and accessible bike racks along 10th Avenue would be a great improvement--especially since this is a popular exit off the Midtown Greenway. I let our building management know about the City's cost share program, and am hopeful that we will get a rack or two in the future.

Eliminating a Greenway Double Threat

We're making good progress working with Council Member Gary Schiff and City staff to improve safety where the Midtown Greenway crosses East 28th Street.  Greenway bicyclists (and pedestrians) know the difficulty of crossing safely here, near Hiawatha and the Sabo Bridge.  Until last fall, the greenway crossed two lanes of traffic in each direction, creating a "double threat" in which one car would stop but the other could drive through the intersection without seeing a person crossing in the crosswalk.

Recognizing the safety concerns of this configuration, the City's Department of Public Works (DPW) eliminated the outside travel lane last fall, installing a merge sign and painting cross-hatched lines on the outside lane.  Over the winter, the hatch marks wore off in the ice and snow and, sadly, early this summer a cyclist was struck and seriously injured in the crosswalk.

After an initial meeting with Coalition volunteers and Council Member Schiff, DPW staff conducted a study of the crossing to see if drivers were complying with the elimination of the outside lane. Counts showed that approximately 20% of drivers traveling eastbound (toward Hiawatha) are illegally using the outside travel lane, despite the sign and renewed hash marks.  I saw dozens of cars use the outside space when I stopped to observe the crossing for about 15 minutes this afternoon.

Untitled from Lisa Bender on Vimeo.

Our goal for the crossing is to include a physical barrier that would keep cars from using the outside area. In the long-term, we'd like to see a curb extension at least on the eastbound side. This would physically block cars from entering the area and also benefit people using the crosswalk by minimizing the crossing distance and making people more visible.  In the short-term, we've asked if candlestick bollards (like the ones used on First Avenue last year) could be used to ensure compliance with the elimination of the outside lane until a more permanent solution can be built.

City staff is currently working to estimate the cost of these solutions.  Given the volumes of bicyclists and pedestrians using this unsafe crossing every day, we will continue to advocate for both temporary and permanent barriers to keep the cars from using that outside space.

University of Minnesota Summer Update 1

I talked today with Steve Sanders, the University of Minnesota Bicycle Coordinator and learned a few things:

The new Bike Center is under construction in the Oak Street Ramp. The center, operated by the Hub Bike Coop, will feature secure parking, showers, bike maintenance, sales of commuter-related bike stuff, but (probably) no bikes for sale.  They are building a conference room for meetings and classes and expect to use it for League of American Bicyclists Rider Training and bike maintenance classes.  If all goes well, it should be open by the time school starts in the fall, with an official Grand Opening sometime after that.

The Dero Zap RFID system is expanding from the single test reader to a total of 17 readers on the East and West Banks and in St. Paul.  St. Paul has three now and will have a total of five.  A separate reader on the University Transitway will also count University riders.  The University Wellness program will be revamping their system for the fall and will be giving "points" for various healthy activities, including bicycle commuting.  These points will turn into discounts on health insurance premiums.

NiceRide is expanding:  In mid-August NiceRide will install three NiceRide kiosks on the St. Paul campus. They should be on the map soon.

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