On August 23rd, the Coalition hosted a Pop-Up Protected Bikeway on Washington Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, at Open Streets Downtown. The purpose of the Pop-Up Protected Bikeway was to demonstrate to riders, walkers, and community members what it might be like if there was a protected bikeway added to Washington Avenue. The Pop-Up was added to the existing bikeway on Washington, (that was just put in earlier that week!), to show riders what it might look like if barriers were added.
Additionally, a car was placed out on the outside of the protected bike lane to show a potential parking protected lane. Bikers were asked to try out the protected lane, and others were asked to engage in conversation about what they envision the future of Washington Avenue and biking might be.
Those who had an opinion they wished to share wrote on postcards that included a comment section. Overall, 233 postcards were collected and 165 had comments! In addition to the 165 comment cards, there was a Really Big Table (delivered via bike) that had large posters that comments could be left on (pictured right).
After the comments were recorded, they were put under a cluster criticism analysis. A cluster criticism is a method that involves picking out frequently mentioned words and identifying words that are close in proximity in order to discover a main theme or idea. Out of the 165 comment cards, there were six main words that were able to be identified as frequently mentioned, or “clusters”. These words were “more”, “safety”, “Washington”, “buffer”, “car”, and “protected bikeway/bikelane”. Once these six words/phrases were isolated, other frequently used surrounding words were found, and themes could be seen.
So, what were the main themes that came from these “clusters”? Ultimately, protected bikeways/bikelanes were mentioned over 100 times, and since the cards were asking about the future of Washington Avenue, it is clear that many people would like to see some sort of protected bikelane on Washington. Since Protected Bikeway/Bikelane was mentioned 100+ times, it was helpful to find emotionally charged words surrounding it- since it would better indicate what people felt about protected bikelanes. Overall, people felt strongly positive about seeing a protected bikeway on Washington in the future.
Furthermore, the other “cluster” words were indicators of how people felt about the protected bikeways and the future of Washington Avenue. Clustered around the word “more” were words like “bike lanes”, “bikers”, “safety”, and “protected bikeway”. All of these words appeared at least several times. It was evident that community members felt strongly about safety, as well, and believed that a protected bikeway on Washington would help improve the safety for both bikers and people driving. There were also many suggestions for a buffer or barrier, and many mentioned that they had negative feelings about cars.
However, it seems to be all about compromise. Most believed that whatever form of transportation one wants to take in Minneapolis should not only be accessible but also safe: for both bikers and drivers. Just from this cluster analysis on public opinion, it is looking like a protected bike lane on Washington Avenue would provide just that.
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