Nov 12, 2009

Minneapolis Ignores Bike Commuters

With the Marq2 Project, I began to suspect that Minneapolis could care less about providing safe accommodations for bike commuters downtown. We have now recently undergone a lane conversion on Hennepin Ave. and 1st Ave. in downtown Minneapolis. It's got a lot of the cycling community up in arms because what was promised seems to differ a bit from what was actually delivered.

Here's the concept for First Avenue:

Looks nice, huh? Here's the Plan for First Ave. that the City presented to us:

Here's the reality of the conversion on First Ave.:

This has been a problem from the get-go, with cars encroaching on the bike lane, passengers opening doors into bike lane (and even if they looked for cyclists, the side view mirrors are set for the driver, so they can't see cyclists in the mirror from the passenger seat), and drivers wondering into the bike lane to plug the parking meters. At least now, thanks to pressure from the cycling community, the City is starting to ticket cars in the bike lane, but relegating bikes to the gutter (with no chance of avoiding the door zone) is a bad, bad idea.

Of course, the reason we have this situation is that the City does not have the balls to restrict on-street parking on First Ave. or take away a lane for cars. This begs the question of whether or not Minneapolis deserves all the accolades they get being such a bicycle-friendly city. Yes, we have a greenway and some multiple use trails around the lakes, but although we have recreational amenities, bike facilities for commuters are poor, especially downtown. I wish we could get the cycle-friendly awards revoked until this gets fixed so our elected officials could not point to this and feel good about themselves.

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