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Two new Minneapolis bike boulevards to include traffic-calming devices

Traffic-calming devices designed to slow down motorists will be incorporated into two new Minneapolis bicycle boulevards scheduled for completion by late fall.

The Presidents and Stone Arch Bridge Bicycle Boulevards in northeast Minneapolis will have two miniature traffic circles, one concrete median and curb extensions that will narrow the road. The Southern Bike Connection in south Minneapolis will have four miniature traffic circles, one concrete median, curb extensions and speed bumps.

“Bicycling is prioritized on these streets,” said Shaun Murphy, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Minneapolis. “Motorists are still welcome, but the traffic calming is in place to keep motorists going slow.”

The traffic circles will be about 20 feet in diameter; most of the residential streets in Minneapolis are 32 feet wide, and will accommodate fire trucks and school buses.

“These are sized to fit a small intersection.” said Murphy.  “They will have landscaping in them maintained by local residents.  They should be a neighborhood amenity.”

There will be signage at each traffic circle to show motorists and bicycle riders how the navigate the intersection. Bicycle boulevards will also have large bicycle logos painted on the street surface.

The medians will be concrete and will run down the middle of the road.  They will be smaller than the center islands installed along Lyndale Avenue, for example, that have been planted with trees and grass.

“The medians are handy for people on bikes or on foot because they give them a spot to stop and wait for traffic to clear,” said Murphy who added that the “tricky part” of crossing a busy street comes when you get to the middle and have to wait for an opening in traffic.

Curb extensions and speed bumps have been used previously in Minneapolis to slow traffic. A system to choke off traffic is also being tested on 6th Avenue SE. This device narrows the street from 32 feet to about 12 feet, leaving room for only one car to pass at a time.

Southern Bike Connection

Green items are funded, red items are not funded

Southern Bike Connection

The new bicycle boulevards will be paid for with federal funds from the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program awarded to Minneapolis in 2008 and 2009.  The Presidents and Stone Arch Bridge Boulevards were awarded $455,000 with funds for the Southern Connection adding $400,000 for a total of $985,000.

“These fill pretty large gaps in the system,” said Murphy. Construction is expected to begin in September with both boulevards scheduled for completion in October depending on the weather. Together the two boulevards will total about seven miles. Minneapolis currently has 190 miles of bikeways.

 The Presidents Bicycle Boulevard in northeast parallels Central Avenue and takes its name from the three streets named after presidents that will carry the bike traffic: Tyler, Polk and Fillmore Streets NE. At East Hennepin the boulevard changes names and becomes the Stone Arch Bridge Bicycle Boulevard, which merges with the bridge at the river.

The Southern Bike Connection follows 17th Ave. South between Cedar and Bloomington Avenues before jogging to the west at Lake Nokomis and traveling along 12th Avenue South. 

Presidents/Stone Arch Bridge Bicycle Boulevard

(Formerly Fillmore bike walk street)
Green items are funded, red items are not funded

Presidents/Stone Arch Bridge Bicycle Boulevard

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Dan Peters on 07/23/2013 - 06:15 pm.

    Bikes used as traffic calming? Seriously?

    Given that there seem to be an equal number of eternally irate drivers as there are rude cyclists who seem to think traffic signals don’t apply to bikes, I am sure this will turn out well. Is Mpls going to install first aid kits on these narrowed streets?

    Maybe it would be a better idea to turn some of these streets into one-lane one ways, and turn the other half of the street into a dedicated bikeway. Mixing bike and car traffic on artificially-narrowed streets, in the hopes of using the bikes to ‘calm’ and slow down car traffic is a poor idea.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 07/23/2013 - 10:18 pm.

      design calms traffic, not bikes

      It is not the presence of bicycles that calms traffic, but the design of the street. The intention is to design a street that encourages motorized traffic to slow down, then route bicycle traffic to those streets to keep the cyclists off the main thoroughfares. This reduces interactions between bikes & cars, increasing safety. In this example, bicyclists are being encouraged to use 12th avenue, which will be a less appealing street for cars, due to roundabouts & bump outs. Instead, they’ll use chicago, bloomington & cedar avenues, which will be faster.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 07/23/2013 - 07:48 pm.

    First Aid Kits

    Dan, the rate of accidents have been going down as drivers and bikers learn to coexist on roads. I’m sure people will do just fine on the narrow streets without the use of first aid kits.

  3. Submitted by Keith Morris on 07/23/2013 - 08:08 pm.

    Umm, these are already narrow residential street.

    I think a better idea would be to ride on these streets in their current state, like I have several times, before opening that bottle of whine. These streets already have low volumes of traffic and I’ve had no issues on Polk, Fillmore, or 2th. I’m less familiar with S 17th St, but just look at it: It’s already a narrow residential street. The branding and additional infrastructure highlighting these streets as bike boulevards will mean less experienced cyclists will now have a street geared towards them and other cyclists will likewise gravitate more so to these streets than before. Motorists can always use those streets unless they’re dumb enough to expect to go as fast on a traffic-calmed bike boulevard. Not to mention bike boulevards can already be found around this city and others where they’re building more precisely because a “poor idea” it is not.

  4. Submitted by mark wallek on 07/24/2013 - 08:51 am.

    Bad planning

    All these bike accommodating streets, and all these ill educated riders who lack proper night illumination, which needs now to be standardized and made a requirement for riding after sundown. Additionally, bikers now need to be licensed to ride public streets, and a test of some sort is really in order given the foolish and caviler attitudes I see every day. I like seeing more bikes, but like idiot drivers who demonstrate a lack of awareness and concern, bikers of the same ilk are all too pervasive.

    • Submitted by Chris Farmer-Lies on 07/25/2013 - 12:05 pm.

      There is a standardized requirement for bike lights in state law – 169.222, subd. 6.

      Here’s why licensing bikes is a bad idea:

      1) Increasing the difficulty of getting on a bike will reduce the number of cyclists. If you actually want to see more people riding, requiring a license test to participate will discourage people from taking it up in the first place.

      2) Data shows that drivers and cyclists are about equally at fault for accidents in Minneapolis. This indicates that the problem isn’t with licensing, but with a certain number of people who aren’t careful enough on the roads no matter the vehicle. In fact, going on the assumption that licensing will make people safer road users, cyclists come out ahead – we’re equally to blame, but (most) drivers are already licensed.

      2) We license people to operate vehicles, not use roads.Classes of licenses generally correspond to the inherent danger in operating a vehicle. (because a bus has more potential for mayhem than a car) Most bicyclists probably already have a class D license, which means they’re familiar with the rules of the road while operating a much bigger, more dangerous vehicle than a bike. Again, this indicates that the problem is not with a lack of licensing or lack of knowledge, but carelessness on the part of all road users.

      4) Bicycling is more accessible than a car or even a bus in many places, more efficient than walking, and far cheaper than a car. It’s more affordable to people who don’t have the money for a car or bus but still need to get places, and these folks would be hit hardest by an arbitrary licensing scheme.

  5. Submitted by Matthew Brillhart on 07/24/2013 - 08:52 am.

    Resurfacing first?

    I think these bike boulevards are great, and I’m glad they won’t be competing with buses for space, like the Bryant Avenue Bike Blvd does south of Lake Street. I’ll never understand why that one wasn’t placed on Aldrich.

    As for 17th Avenue, does anyone know if the City plans on doing any resurfacing first, or will they simply put up the signs and subject bicyclists to riding on this: ?

    The stretch of 17th Ave between 40th and 46th is only slightly smoother than the surface of the moon. I welcome these investments in bicycle infrastructure, but could we just maybe try a little harder to time the improvements with resurfacing the roads?

    • Submitted by mark wallek on 07/24/2013 - 11:22 am.

      13th at Como

      Here’s another stinker in order to accommodate bikes. I would bet the entire design of that corner violates code.

  6. Submitted by Janne Flisrand on 07/24/2013 - 12:39 pm.

    More needed!

    How do we get some of these treatments on Bryant (an existing bike boulevard) between Lake and Franklin? Drivers often use it as a speedy way to get around Lyndale, and zip the 10 blocks. We could use a little more calming.

    (South of Lake is even more problematic, but these treatments would never fly there.)

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