Making Open Streets the New Norm

Open Streets on Lyndale Ave, 2012 (Photo by Jay Gabler)

After another successful Open Streets event on Lyndale Ave. last month, some members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee have developed a proposal that will encourage the City of Minneapolis to make Open Streets a more comprehensive and common occurrence.  BAC member Robin Garwood spoke at the Encourage, Enforcement, and Education Subcommittee meeting and explained a resolution that would recommend that the City streamline the development of Open Streets events throughout Minneapolis in order to meet the recommendations in the Minneapolis Bicycle Plan Implementation Plan.

As Garwood explained, there is inefficiency in the permitting process for Open Streets.  Currently, the events are organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition with funding assistance from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  For each event, the Coalition must apply for a permit and pay fees similar to a neighborhood hosting a block party.  The BAC members are hoping that the City would be willing to waive these fees in the future.

The most significant costs, which BAC members think could be reduced, are for the police officers who provide security at Open Streets.  The police detail is required by the City, but the Coalition must cover the hourly pay for the officers.  The proposed resolution will ask the City to replace some of the officers with Traffic Control Agents, which would reduce the hourly cost for personnel.  Furthermore, the BAC subcommittee proposes that Minneapolis sponsor the events, and therefore contribute public resources, since Open Streets are aligned with the City’s goals such as improving public health and increasing physical activity.  The subcommittee hopes to pilot this new permitting process for Open Streets that is planned for Lowry Avenue in September.

Do you have ideas on how to reduce costs and help expand Open Streets throughout Minneapolis?  Post them here!

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