04/07/09

New Bike Lanes Come to Riverside AvenueNew Bike Lanes Come to Riverside Avenue

The paint is fresh on new bike lanes on Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis. This improvement will be celebrated by the hundreds of bicyclists and pedestrians who travel the route daily. This corridor is a destination parade, including three campuses (the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, St. Catherine University), medical facilities (the U of M Hospital, Health Partners clinic) cultural centers, and many restaurants and businesses.

The bike lanes are possible because of a “road diet” – converting four travel lanes to three—two travel lanes plus a left-turning lane. And voila -- enough designated room for on-street bike lanes. These new lanes help bicyclists travel more safely to all those destinations.

What is especially appreciated along this corridor is the fact that these bike lanes are slightly wider than six feet. (Many bike lanes in Minneapolis are only 5 feet wide - the minimum standard) What a difference that makes in terms of level of comfort! There is plenty of room to avoid the door zone of the parked cars and the cars in the lane over seem to be travel at a slightly slower speed as well, making sharing the road a real pleasure.

These new bike lanes almost got postponed and may not have been added if not for some forward thinking by the City Public Works Department. The Riverside project was originally awarded Bike Walk Twin Cities funds in 2007 for a project that connected with other project awards that will eventually connect Riverside Avenue to Franklin Avenue, across the river and to additional facilities on 27th Street Northeast that will connect to University Avenue. Earlier this year a re-assessment of maintenance needs pushed the schedule for a full reconstruction of Riverside Avenue up to the years 2011-12. Obviously, expending significant funds on a street that would be torn apart in a couple of years would not be a wise investment.

However, understanding that this is a key bicycle and pedestrian corridor, in addition to being a key project for Bike Walk Twin Cities program evaluation, the city decided that doing a simple re-painting of the roadway would be a low-cost interim solution that would immediately benefit bicyclists and pedestrians and allow us to measure the results of the “quick-fix” approach.

More on-street markings are coming, and will help orient motorists caught off-guard by the transformation. Meanwhile, pedestrians have fewer motor vehicle lanes to cross and bicyclists have some well deserved space.

Thanks, Minneapolis.

Cited Source: 
Bike Walk Twin Cities E-Newsletter