On January 16, 2013, I attended a second community meeting on the reconstruction of West 46th Street from Aldrich Avenue South to Dupont Avenue South. There were a handful of bicycle advocates at the meeting but the vast majority of attendees were non-cycling neighborhood residents. At a first community meeting late last year, the city of Minneapolis had proposed to add bicycle lanes on that four block stretch of road and remove parking on one side of the street. As I understand it, attendees at that first community meeting strongly objected to the parking removal and subsequent to that first community meeting the Nicollet East-Harriet Business Association took a formal stance against bicycle lanes on West 46th Street.
The city came to this second community meeting with two layouts for the reconstruction of West 46th Street. Layout 1 was similar to the proposal at the first community meeting in that it would put bicycle lanes on both sides of the street and remove parking on one side but would also reserve a parking bay at the 46th Street and Bryant Avenue South business node. Layout 2 would put in advisory bike lanes and retain parking on both sides. There was a lot of confusion about advisory bike lanes with attendees mixing advisory bicycle lanes with full bicycle lanes. The clear preference of the attendees was, if there has to be bike lanes, to go with advisory bike lanes. This occurred because the small business owners and their customers in attendance were afraid of losing parking spaces.
The meeting then moved on to safety issues with numerous attendees complaining about cars speeding on that stretch of road and many near car-pedestrian collisions at 46th and Bryant. The bicycle advocates tried to explain to the attendees that if you put in bike lanes and narrow travel lanes that auto speeds would decrease. Unfortunately, attendees had a hard time coming to terms with narrow travel lanes and reduced speeds. Many of the attendees just came to the conclusion that this stretch of road is just too dangerous for bicycles and that there should not be any bicycle facilities on the street.
This led a minority but vocal faction to push for a Layout 3 which would put in bike lanes on 48th Street instead of 46th Street. I do not like the 48th Street alternative for four reasons: 1) the street is too narrow for advisory bicycle lanes which would make this street an inferior bicycle facility; 2) the street is not on the Bicycle Master Plan; 3) the street would be substantially harder to navigate in the winter months; and 4) the street has an incline whereas 46th street is flat. It was not clear to me whether the city will call another meeting and present a Layout 3. My guess is that the city will take its lead from Council Member Hodges who was not at the meeting but had 2 aides in attendance. I would suggest if you have an opinion about bicycle facilities on West 46th Street that you contact CM Hodges with that opinion because the non-cyclist residents and business owners continue to weigh in on this project.
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