New Minneapolis bike boulevards aim to attract new class of bikers

Minneapolis is planning to add two significant lengths of street to the city’s system of bike-friendly paths and boulevards.

But these aren’t projects intended primarily for the already-spandexed. Instead, Minneapolis planners want the new bike boulevards to serve as a gateway for people who are intimidated by riding on streets with heavy car traffic.

The goal is to attract a new groups of people to biking in Minneapolis, said city Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy.

“We know that the commuters and recreational people will probably be attracted to this too, but this is really about getting people who are more timid in traffic out,” Murphy said. “It’s about trying to appeal to a wider array of people rather than a smaller slice or special interest.”

The planned bike boulevards in south and northeast Minneapolis are slightly different than previous efforts because they’re incorporating more devices that “calm” motorized traffic on the streets. That means things like bumped out curbs, traffic circles and speed bumps. Cars still will be allowed, and parking won’t really be impacted, but the instinct will be to drive more slowly and carefully.

Murphy said most of those design ideas were vetted by the communities they’re in. The Powderhorn neighborhood boulevard will have three traffic circles, all of which will contain gardens maintained by neighbors, while the Marcy Holmes segment doesn’t have any traffic circles because the design didn’t appeal to residents.

“With all traffic calming there’s positives and negatives,” Murphy said. “The best thing is to just go to the people who live there and say, ‘What are you comfortable with?'”

And it’s an added bonus that the seven miles of new bike boulevard flows into Minneapolis’ already extensive bike and pedestrian system, which includes 92 miles of on-street and 85 miles of off-street bikeways. The Southern Bike Connection hooks up with a trail around Minnehaha Creek while the boulevard in northeast leads right up to the Stone Arch Bridge.

The new Southern Bike Connection runs on 17th Avenue South between 24th Street and Minnehaha Parkway. It then continues south on 12th Avenue South.

The Stone Arch Bridge and Presidents Bike Boulevard in northeast Minneapolis starts at Tyler Street Northeast and zig-zags down to 6th Avenue Southeast.

The combined cost for the two projects is $985,000, which is covered by federal funds from the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. Construction on the projects is expected to be complete this fall.



  • Dan

    One million dollars just to make bikers more comfortable? Heavy traffic isn’t an issue on those avenues.

    • Presley Martin

      More comfortable = more bikers, healthier people, less medical costs, less pollution, and a generally more pleasant city environment for everyone.

      • mikeinmn

        Or more bikers that can’t/won’t follow the traffic laws and more clogging up of an already congested traffic system by reducing lane sizes and making for more E-W stops. We already have to live with Portland effectively being reduced to one lane either way and stop signs every block. No more! Very few bikers use the existing lanes in this area anyway, instead opting for the sidewalk. I regularly get run off the sidewalk by bikers failing to yield, much less using the existing lanes on the road. Why would we need to encourage more of this?

        • SeanHu

          I ride home on Portland regularly and see MANY bikers along that route.

          Do I really need to bring up how many CARS I see violating traffic laws every single day?

          • mikeinmn

            And you’re point would be? Have you noticed how many bikers actually STOP at lights or signs? How many actually signal their turns? How many actually yield to pedestrians? All laws that they’re not following. Look, I’m a rider myself, generally putting in 100 miles or more on a serious ride, plus riding wherever I can. Bikes have their own, poorly thought out, but specially carved lanes for them to be in and the should be used. Cars don’t and I can’t remember the last time I saw a group of cars riding on the sidewalk. I live ON Portland and there are FAR more bikes on the sidewalk than in their lane. Why carve up another road for no benefit?

          • SeanHu

            Here is my point. Have you noticed how many cars actually stop at stop signs? How many signal their turns? How many correctly yield to pedestrians? I can stand on any corner downtown and witness a dozen violations in 20 minutes.

            I was waiting at a red light with four other bikers in the bike lane on Portland on Monday.

            Which part of Portland are you talking about where it is two way with a stop sign every block? It is one way from downtown to 46th and there certainly are not stop signs every block where it is a two way-At least between 46th and Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington. Going by memory there is a light at 46th and 47th, then a light at Minnehaha parkway. Then a light at 54th and a block later at Diamond Lake road. Stops at 60th, the crosstown then 66th, 70th. You don’t hit an “every block” section until right around 494 and those have been there for decades.

          • mikeinmn

            Do the cars regularly drive on the sidewalks where pedestrian are? Can’t recall ever seeing that.

            I agree the motorists are horrid in this state, I take my life in my hands every time I go ride or run. I lived in NYC and LA for several years so I’m familiar with bad drivers.

            I don’t recall 55 being the new 30, stop signs becoming optional nor that pedestrians no longer have right-of-way, especially when crossing with the light but apparently I missed that in the news around here…

            The point ISN’T the cars, it’s the bikers.

            It wasn’t a car that hit me and laid me up for several weeks. It was the biker on the sidewalk instead of the specially laid down bike lane that he should’ve been using. He was a grown adult who should’ve known better. Bottom line is that it’s not needed and we have a LOT of more important things to spend money on right now.

          • SeanHu

            Outside of downtown and uptown bikes have a legal right to be on sidewalks, unlike cars.

  • rev

    Bravo! More bike safety!