For the past few months a local group of community stakeholders, nonprofits, and neighborhood organizations have been discussing the possibility of creating a north-south Greenway through Minneapolis linking Downtown to the Midtown Greenway and deep into South Minneapolis. Today we are one tiny step closer to making that vision a reality!
In the summer of 2015 (July-September), surveys were created, distributed and collected by local cultural organizations, and analyzed by members of a newly formed Southside Greenway Exploratory Committee comprised of representatives from local groups. With the help from a Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) grant the committee was formed in 2015. The objective of the committee was to explore the option of a North-South Greenway connection from Downtown Minneapolis to South Minneapolis.
Our goal for the Southside Greenway is to connect and provide neighbors the opportunity to shape their streets to be safer, greener, and more inviting places to bike, walk, and live.
The Greenway has a potential to connect 12 parks and trails from Downtown to South including Gold Medal Park, Powderhorn Park, and the Midtown Greenway. The Greenway would be a gateway for safe bike and pedestrian travel, and connect communities along the route.
The Exploratory Committee administered surveys with the hope of gauging neighborhood interest for the potential project. A total of 162 surveys were completed and returned. The results were representative of different neighborhoods and cultural organizations, including 50% of survey takers identifying as white, 20% as African American, 20% as Latino, less than 5% Native American, Asian, or two or more races.
The overall survey response was overwhelmingly in favor of the project.
While there were options for “I don’t like it” or “I hate it!”, no respondents selected either.
In addition to having a majority of the respondents say they loved the project, many of them also selected that they would use the Southside Greenway “multiple times a week”, followed closely by “every day” or “once a week”. There were few that stated that they would use the greenway either “once a month” or “once a year”, and one that said they would “never” use it. Several commented that they “wanted to make this happen, and soon”, and a common theme was that people already utilize the 11th Avenue bike lanes, so the greenway would make a safer addition to their commute. Respondents also clarified that their top three reasons for being interested in the project were:
- Mobility Options/ North-South Route
The proposed route would begin as far north as Gold Medal Park in Downtown Minneapolis and travel south all the way to Highway 62 in South Minneapolis. The proposed Greenway could utilize examples from:
Protected bike lanes
Street-to-Park conversion greenway (like Milwaukee Avenue in Seward)
The design would reflect each area’s allowances and restrictions. For instance, on streets that have heavier traffic, bike and pedestrian ways would be utilized as protected bike lanes, and have either planters or bollards to separate them from cars. In more residential areas, a street-to-park conversion may be considered, which, in addition to sidewalks and a bike lane would maximize the amount of greenspace on a block and residents would be able to access their cars through an alley or garage.
While the route is not final, this project would provide a big asset to Minneapolis and already has sparked a lot of exciting conversations among neighbors as to its potential. The City has a great network of parks, and this would string together these green spaces and make them more accessible to residents. It would also provide a gateway to the Midtown Greenway, meaning that there would be a viable East-West route connecting to a North-South route for the Southside community. The Greenway could also potentially traverse the campus of Allina Health Care, a major employer in South Minneapolis. The result of removing some of these travelers from their regular vehicle commute would alleviate congestion on busier streets and 35W.
To learn more about proposed routes, please click through to our report, here.
Here is a route option:
Not only will this project help commuters link to places that they need to go, but it will also likely help them tie into their very own communities. The elimination of a street or a calming of traffic breaks down barriers that normal neighbors may have in between them. The street becomes an extension of the home and encourages people to come out of their houses and interact with one another. The addition of the Southside Greenway could create a network of happier, healthier, active, involved, connection and caring communities in Minneapolis. The Exploratory Committee has suggested three follow-up actions to the survey:
Establish a Southside Greenway Council
Review the route with public agency staff and key stakeholders
Install a one-year pilot program on 4-5 blocks of the proposed route, location dictated by the community
The surveys are a good indication that the project would have strong support in the neighborhood, and help set the tone as the project continues to move forward.
Ways to Get Involved:
If you would like to get involved in the Southside Greenway Exploratory Committee, attend the first of four quarterly meetings on January 20th, for information click here. If you cannot attend this meeting, the next one will be on April 20th.
Check out the website for more information on the project at www.mplsbike.org/southsidegreenway.
Finally, read the full report online by clicking here.