Our comments on draft protected bikeway plan

Potential Hennepin Avenue protected bike lanesThe City is inviting comments on their exciting draft protected bikeway plan. Please offer your comments via this online form. There is a public open house on Wednesday, April 29 4:30-7:30 at the Central Library.

Here are some of our initial thoughts on the draft plan.

Draft map of protected bikeway plan

Overall, we strongly support the direction of the plan. The plan is very exciting! This is a big deal and would really transform the safety and accessibility of biking to key destinations for people from many diverse backgrounds. 

North Minneapolis Greenway. There is an ongoing community conversation around the potential of a North Minneapolis Greenway. While engagement is continuing, the plan should list this as something like a "potential greenway" to honor the ongoing community work there and recognize that it would be a very significant addition to the protected bikeway system if the community decides to pursue.

3rd Avenue downtown. critical north-south protected bikeway Our preference for the through the heart of downtown continues to be a two-way protected bikeway on 2nd Avenue South or a pair of protected bike lanes on Marquette and 2nd. If neither of those options are feasible and 3rd Avenue is chosen, we want to ensure that 3rd Avenue is done very well. That needs to include greening and it needs to include connections to southern neighborhoods--neither of which are reflected in the draft plan.

Washington Avenue in North Loop. The current plan includes a protected bike lane on Washington Avenue from Hennepin to the University of Minnesota and also includes a protected bike lane on Plymouth Avenue North, but does not connect them with a protected bike lane on Washington through the North Loop. The County is implementing buffered bike lanes in this stretch in 2015, but the plan should recognize that this is at least a Tier 3 priority to upgrade to protected bike lanes.

Hennepin/1st Avenue N downtown. We recommend that the plan say that short-term improvements will be made to make the 1st Avenue North poorly implemented protected bike lanes function better and that the plan state that when Hennepin Avenue is reconstructed, protected bike lanes will be added on Hennepin and removed on 1st Avenue N. Hennepin will serve bicyclists much better than 1st and is feasible with curb work in the future. Moving the 1st Avenue lane would also provide more space for pedestrians on 1st. This long-term solution makes sense for the vast majority of stakeholders and should be planned for while also recognizing that in the short-term 1st should be made to function better.

1st Avenue S/Nicollet/Blaisdell corridor. The plan is a bit uncertain on the best route to connect downtown to southern neighborhoods like Whittier, Lyndale, and Kingfield. It current recommends continuing/improving 1st and Blaisdell/LaSalle as the bike routes here. Given that the vast majority of people in this area north of the Greenway are using Nicollet, we suggest that Nicollet be included as another potential option here north of the Greenway while Blaisdell and 1st would continue to be used south of the Greenway. We recognize that more work is needed to sort out the best route(s) in this corridor, but this plan should not eliminate Nicollet as an option for that.

Gap in connection at Riverside/19th/20th. The plan smartly includes upgrading 19th Street and then 20th Street in Cedar-Riverside to protected bikeways, but leaves a strange gap in connecting those two routes. Presumably that connection is intended to be made via the Riverside bike lanes, but we would like to see a more comfortable option to connect these two routes.

Minnehaha/Cedar/Franklin intersection. We support a protected bikeway on Minnehaha connecting between 20th and Franklin and improvements to this intersection, which is one of the worst in the city for biking and walking safety.

Policy around reconstruction projects not on the plan. We suggest that the plan include policy language that street reconstruction projects on streets not listed in this plan should still be evaluated for potential protected bikeways. This plan is targeted toward projects we can immediately anticipate and proactive protected bikeway investments, but shouldn't be seen as precluding protected bikeways on other streets if they make sense.

Maintenance. We do not support the maintenance information as presented in the plan. The plan provides excessive maintenance costs without defining policy around maintenance. We suggest that the plan be amended to include a directive for staff to work with stakeholders to determine a maintenance policy for the entire bikeway system (including protected bikeways, but not limited to them). 

Design standards for protected bikeways. We recommend that the plan state that the City will follow the NACTO Bikeway Design Guide when designing protected bikeways. This is the nation-leading best practice on protected bikeway design.

Equity for prioritizing. We suggest that equity be used as a key factor when prioritizing projects from this plan for implementation. The plan should also more clearly state that this is the near-term plan for protected bikeways and that additional work will be needed in 4-6 years to plan out additional connections to other parts of the city.

What do you think of our comments? What comments do you have?

Please offer your comments via this online form.

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  • Ethan Fawley
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