By Will Dolezal
Minneapolis is a magnificent area for bike enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors or commute to work and it ranks among the highest percentage of bicycle commutes in the U.S. However, the impressive network of bike lanes in Minneapolis is not inclusive to everyone who might want to join in the good, clean fun. An exciting new initiative called “Bikeways for Everyone” aims to change this, making bicycling easier to enjoy and safer for all by implementing a connected network of cycletracks across the city.
Cycletracks are protected bike lanes separating bicyclists from vehicle traffic and pedestrians using a physical barrier such as a parking lane, median divider or marking posts. The physical barrier differentiates cycletracks from the painted bike lanes that can be found around Minneapolis. Cycletracks are ideal for the many of us who are uncomfortable biking in traffic and helps position bicycling as a feasible transportation mode for everyone who wants to ride a bike more.
If Chicago can do it, why can’t we? A new cycletrack on Kinzie Street (Chicago Department of Transportation).
Right now about four percent of Minneapolis residents bike to where they need to go. Although that’s an increase of 33% since 2007, and 500% since 1980, it’s not good enough. The city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for increasing the percentage of destination trips via bicycle to 10% by 2015 and 20% by 2020. Cycletracks are a proven way to help put Minneapolis closer to reaching these important goals. Bikeways for Everyone also address the main Land Use and Transportation goal of the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan: “To reduce automobile vehicle miles traveled in Minneapolis while improving accessibility, increasing transportation choices, and promoting and accommodating growth.”
Two Hennepin County roads in Minneapolis are being reconstructed soon and both are great candidates for cycletracks: Minnehaha Avenue in South Minneapolis and a section of Washington Avenue, the eastern gateway into downtown.
Bikeways for Everyone is taking the first steps in making these and other cycletrack developments possible. You can support the implementation of cycletracks in Minneapolis by conversing with your neighbors and friends on the topic and by contacting your Minneapolis City Council member and Hennepin County Commissioner. Here are some talking points you can use:
- I wanted to let you know that protected bike lanes (known as cycletracks) on Minnehaha and Washington Aveues would be a huge improvement in how these streets work for my family.
- I do not feel comfortable biking with my children on streets with just painted bike lanes. Traffic is too fast, and a narrower street with a separate, protected place for biking would be much safer for everyone.
- I would be more likely to visit local businesses if there were a cycletrack network throughout Minneapolis.
- Please do everything you can to make sure that Minnehaha and Washington Avenues are rebuilt with cycletracks, and that a Bikeways for Everyone cycletrack network is developed for all of Minneapolis.
Please take action today, and let us know you did! Contact Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Dolezal is a volunteer with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter Land Use and Transportation Committee.