Making Franklin Avenue Work Better for Everyone Making Franklin Avenue Work Better for Everyone

By Joan Pasiuk, Bicycling and Walking Program Director

Franklin Avenue, from Hennepin Avenue on the west to Minnehaha Avenue/20th Avenue on the east where existing bike lanes begin, is ripe for retooling as a critical cross-city corridor. The need is documented on every major city and county comprehensive plan and evidenced by high crash rates. The challenge is to rebalance existing right-of-way while recognizing funding realities and user tradeoffs. The goal is a complete street to better serve bicycling, walking, transit, and motor vehicle users.


Bike Walk Twin Cities funded an engineering study of this segment of Franklin as one of twelve plan sets, dubbed Bike Walk 2012 Street Solutions. These preliminary plan sets can build public and jurisdictional support to more quickly implement projects as funding becomes available.

Multiple Bicyclists Riding on Sidewalk Adjacent to Franklin Avenue


The planning work underway involves the tough job of applying principals established in the Hennepin County Complete Streets Policy to a county road, city street, or/hard-working corridor designed for motor vehicles (daily traffic volumes:  motor vehicle -- 6,300 to 19,500; pedestrian  -- 163 to 3400; bicycle - 120 to 1066). Good minds are at the table. The City of Minneapolis Public Works, Hennepin County engineers, city council members, county commissioners, Native American Community Development Institute, Sierra Club, Hope Community, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee, neighborhood groups from East Isles to Seward, many residents, and numerous other stakeholders have participated in a planning process over the past several months. 

Unmarked Franklin Avenue Crosswalk with No Curb Cuts


At the last public meeting for Frankin Avenue the consulting engineer, Toole Design Group, offered the draft feasibility study. The recommendation-based on an analysis of level of service, crash history, parking use, public input, speed study, and video monitoring-is for a non-uniform cross-section approach throughout the corridor (meaning that with variations of curb-to-curb space and parking requirements there is not a single configuration that will work for all segments). The design recommendation includes a road diet with more consistent use of center turn lanes and opportunities for medians and some buffered bike lanes. Note that the feasibility study turns attention to intersections and crosswalks (pedestrian signals, refuge islands, etc.) but does not begin to deal with substandard sidewalks, a significant issue along stretches of the corridor. The recommendation requires design waivers for travel lane width from MnDOT and Hennepin County, a potential hurdle to implementing proven treatments under especially restrictive county and state standards.

This planning work is the ground-floor effort to create a complete street. The resulting recommendations are now in the hands of city and county officials who can make Franklin Avenue work better for everyone. Stay tuned.


Franklin Ave

I'm a long-time Franklin avenue biker, pedestrian, and bus rider. Yes, it's not a fun street for either biking or walking. The section just east of Chicago Avenue did get better after one (at least partial) re-design and paving a few years ago. Has this re-design "failed"? If so, what was learned from the failure (or success). Does this section need to be re-done?

Most of the time now I aboid Franklin on my bike and use the Mid-Town Greenway. But it would be great if Franklin were a more viable option, because short trips mean detours if I use the Greenway (which also has a too-limited number of entrances/exits).

Franklin Ave

Thanks for working on this. It's frustrating to ride this important route from east to west and experience the on-again, off-again bike lane and then have it disappear altogether after crossing under the light rail. It seems like a road diet could afford enough space for a cycle lane along much of the road. And I'm sure implementing it would result in way more cyclists using Franklin. (I certainly avoid it when I can take the Greenway, but it is sometimes way out of the way).

Franklin is an especially important bike corridor in snowy and icy weather when the Midtown Greenway is icy -- but even more challenging then because the lanes are only as wide as the snowplow. Marking and keeping clear a designated cycle land (or at least sharrows) would make this a much better option. As it is, it's kind of like choosing the lesser of two evils on an icy winter morning.