Minneapolis Vision Eyes Streets with Fewer Cars

Minneapolis’ network of bike lanes is growing—and not just on side streets.

Many popular commercial corridors, including Hennepin Avenue in Uptown, will eventually cede part of the roadway to designated lanes for bicycles.

It’s the next step toward the city’s vision of streets with fewer cars and more emphasis on bicycles and pedestrians. The changes will come as the city works through millions of dollars in road maintenance projects in the coming years, prioritizing people who walk, bike or take transit as they redesign streets.

The shift, following the city’s adoption of the “Complete Streets” policy in 2016, is already fanning the debate between cyclists, drivers, residents and business owners about safety, traffic congestion and lost parking in front of shops and homes.

But there’s another concern: How can people with disabilities navigate these new streets safely?

“Before, people could deploy their lifts and ramps onto a sidewalk or boulevard — now, they’re deploying them into the street and into the bike lane,” said Margot Imdieke Cross, accessibility specialist at the Minnesota State Council on Disability.

Access is particularly challenging when bike lanes are protected from cars by poles or curbs.

Protected bike lanes are gaining favor in Minneapolis and across the country because they are safer for cyclists.

There are more than 400 such lanes nationwide, up from fewer than 80 in 2011, according to Colorado-based People for Bikes.

In Minneapolis, the plan is to consider adding bicycle infrastructure when streets come up for repair, such as resurfacing or reconstruction.

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

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