Mpls. Bike Coalition presses for Minnehaha cycletrack ahead of public meetings

This is an example of a two-way cycletrack in Montreal, Quebec. The Minneapolis Bike Coalition wants Hennepin County planners to add one to Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis. (Photo via Flickr from BikeTexas)

Hennepin County is planning a major reconstruction of Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis, and planners are asking the public for advice about how to handle bicycle traffic along the busy corridor.

The county has come up with two options: an off-road, two-way cycletrack like the one pictured above, or buffered bike lanes on both sides of the street.

The Minneapolis Bike Coalition wants a cycletrack, and the group is urging cyclists to attend one of the public meetings county planners are holding. The first is at 5 p.m. tonight at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. The second will take place at the same time and location next Wednesday.

Cycletracks are designed to physically separate bicyclists from vehicle traffic, and studies have shown bicyclists feel safer riding on streets that have them, which can boost ridership. But Hennepin County planners say constructing a cycletrack will require some sacrifices: Minnehaha Avenue would lose about 50 parking stalls and about 50 trees with the two-way cycletrack versus the buffered bike lanes. Planners said the cycletrack would also require changes to snow-removal and street-sweeping routines.

But the Minneapolis Bike Coalition says the cycletrack can be designed in a way that minimizes the tree and parking losses.

Though the coalition prefers the cycletrack, it also says the county’s design for the bike-lane option is problematic, because the parking lanes for cars would be more narrow. That might not seem like a problem, but what happens in the winter with the snow drifts? The coalition says it will just lead to cars taking up too much room and blocking the bike lanes.

The Minneapolis City Council is expected to consider the Minnehaha Avenue redesign in October, but construction likely would not begin until the spring of 2015.