Jul 3, 2008

Bike Advocacy Alert - Downtown MPLS

The City is holding an open house on some upgrades to Marquette Ave. and Second Ave. in downtown MPLS on July 8. Of course, I will miss this because of work related travel to Providence, RI, so I will instead whine about it here.

This photo shows Marquette Ave. at about 2nd Street or so, looking south, towards the IDS Center. You can see that we currently have two north-bound car lanes, a center "contra" lane for bikes that heads south, and then a bus lane that also runs south immediately west of the bike lane.

Post-improvement, Marquette will have two north-bound car lanes, two south bound bus-only lanes, and NO bike lane whatsoever. To accommodate cyclists, Nicolet Ave. (the next block northwest from Marquette) will be opened to bicycles 24 hours per day. For those of you not from MPLS, Nicollet Mall used to be a great pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown, famous for being the location where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat in the air.

The city restricted bikes on Nicollet and turned the thing over to buses years ago, which I still maintain was a piss-poor idea probably made by a transportation engineer over the objections of some landscape architect. The mall is currently loud and smelly from the buses, and siting outside at the bars and restaurants on Nicolet sucks, so getting them off of Nic and on to Marquette and 2nd is a positive development.

Because this is post is all about me, however, my main gripe is that the only way into my office building ramp (and this is the tallest office building in MPLS, btw), whether by bike or car, is on Marquette Ave. Unless the City has the wisdom to add a bike lane to the east-west streets we will end up with Nicolet being a bike artery to nowhere. They need to go the next step and add a bike lane on 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th similar to the one that exists on 9th Ave. and 10th. or cyclists will end up having to choose between a block of dodging the smokers and pedestrians or getting into traffic.

I plan to write comments since I can't make the open house, but if you are available, and ride downtown, you should make you voice heard. The City is planning a meeting to discuss the project on July 8th from 4-6pm in the mpls convention center room m101ab. The first link in this post (upgrades to Marquette) take you to the site on the City web page.

That's it. Have a funtastic 4th of July and enjoy your freedom and liberty for me!!

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