Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hiawatha Bike Trail Lighting

Last Friday night, a constituent of mine was attacked and robbed on the Hiawatha LRT Bike Trail. Here is the account he posted to the Seward E-Democracy list:

I was just mugged on that path last night in a very dark area near 24st. I was
biking south on the path from the cedar riverside area to the greenway. Around
24st two guys came out of the darkness on either side of the road and one of
them tackled me off my bike. They then proceeded to kick and hit me after I
They didn't take much. Not even my bike which is in pretty bad
shape from the crash. The drivetrain is messed up and the back wheel in now
untrue. Though they hurt me pretty bad and I'm also messed up from the
Because it was so dark I didn't get a good look at them and I think
that they were able to ambush me because of my headlight.
That area needs
better lighting and call boxes. Some approaching bikes scared them off while
they were trying for my phone. If that hadn't happened it would have been much
worse I'm sure.
Public Works submitted a proposal to the City's Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC) this year to install lighting on this trail and extend the trail from the Greenway south to 32nd St in 2013. CLIC zeroed this project out in their recommendations. However, I have heard from one of my CLIC appointees, who serves on the transportation subcommittee, that most of the CLIC members' concerns regarded the trail extension, not the lighting.

Here are the numbers that Public Works submitted to CLIC. The estimated cost of the lighting portion of the project is $1.2 million. The estimate for the whole project (lighting and trail extension) is $2.1 million.

There are a number of good reasons to light up this trail. The City's Bicycle Advisory Committee ranked it first of six potential projects the City could fund in 2013. It had a count of 800 cyclists/day in October of last year, more than the Greenway at West River Parkway, more than the bike lanes on Marquette and Second. We are investing through the Non-Motorized Transportation program to build a good connection between this trail and downtown, which we expect to increase usage even more.

If we are serious about increasing our bicycling mode share, people need to be able to rely on our infrastructure at any time of day and year-round. I have heard from a number of constituents that they do not use this trail after dark, because it feels so unsafe. And now it’s clear to me that this trail is unsafe as it is now. This isn’t just a transportation or environmental issue, it’s a public safety issue. And the more incidents like this occur, the less the trail will be used, in turn making it more unsafe and undercutting our good efforts to increase bike mode share.

We need to light this trail.


At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was recently supplied the link to this page. I, too, was attacked on the Hiawath Trail in the area between Franklin Avenue and 26th Street. Four individuals came out into the path as I was riding by and hit me with objects they had concealed. How dark that trail is at night is a disgrace. It's just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt if the path isn't improved.

Thank you for your continued efforts on the issue.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Mary said...

On July 5, 2007, my husband was attacked on that section: "Riding north on the Light Rail Trail, near the Franklin Avenue station, I came upon four young (~20s) men walking abreast, blocking most of the trail. I called out my customary "Comin' by on your left, please." The leftmost guy turned and punched me hard, with a closed fist, at the front of the right shoulder; a second blow to the head glanced off my helmet. I didn't fall down, so was able to ride away without further injury. I didn't understand what he yelled as he delivered the punches or as I rode away, but it included the famous f-word, and the other three were laughing." -- We still ride there frequently, and most of the other trail users are friendly, but the incident made us cautious about riding after dark.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This summer I've been working on the greenway giving trail surveys. The issue of crime isn't limited to the Hiawatha trail area. I've heard many horror stories from beer bottles thrown off the bridges at riders to people throwing big sticks in the spokes of riders' wheels and robbing them.

Has the option of having bike police patrol during peak hours of night crime on the greenway been considered? I feel that that would be the most effective. If that is out of the picture, perhaps working with a group such as the greenway coalition to seek out groups of people to patrol the trails later at night. Enough people have been impacted by crime on the trails that it seems that it wouldn't be too hard to get 30 teams of 3 or so to volunteer one night to ride up and down the trails for a couple hours... depending on when the peak time for crime on the trails is.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I ride this portion of the trail after dark, alone, or with my girl, I go in stealth mode: lights off and no coasting on the singlespeeds.
I figure if they can't see us or hear us we're less likely to get jumped.

NE Mpls

At 3:14 PM, Blogger christeen said...

I have thought about volunteer groups too, but bike safety is something the City needs to fund. Someone will be killed before too long. There are some sections that are really dark. Lighting is important not only to reduce the likelihood of getting attacked, but because it's currently impossible to see any obstacles that might be on the path. The money the BAC is talking about is really small in the larger budget picture.

One person being attacked is too much. If you've never been mugged, you can't understand how violating it feels. I seriously applaud the people on here who continue to ride the trail after being attacked on it. A well-lit trail will serve more than just the few bikers out there at night now; it will deter crime because people will be more visible, it will bring out more walkers and bikers because it will be less scary, and the increased numbers on the trail will create its own deterrent.


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