Hennepin and First
The good work of my office and others has paid off: as you can read here, the bike lanes on Hennepin and First Avenues in downtown will be connected together as one corridor for less-experienced cyclists.
Read here for more history on this issue. The short version is that First Ave will have a wonderful new two-way bike facility. The lanes will be a different color pavement, and run right along the curb. In off-peak hours, parked cars will form a barrier between cyclists and traffic. These lanes will be highly attractive to less-experienced riders. Hennepin will also feature a bike facility, but it will be a shared lane for bikes and buses and, on every other block, right-turning cars. Some people (like my Aide and other regular bike commuters) will feel comfortable enough in these lanes to use them, but many will not.
The issue was that, especially at the south end of the two projects, near 11th and 12th Streets South, there wasn't a good way in the first staff plan for cyclists to get from the one road to the other. This was a major problem, in my estimation, given the fact that we've got Non-Motorized Transportation funding for extensions of the Hennepin Ave bike lanes further south (and further north as well, into northeast/southeast Mpls).
Working with Council Members Lilligren and Goodman, we passed a motion directing staff to return to the Transportation and Public Works (TPW) committee with a plan for getting less-experienced riders from Hennepin to First and vice versa.
Today, they returned to committee with a great solution. For northbound riders, the bike-only lane will continue to 11th St, where cyclists will have a bike box they can use to turn left onto the existing 11th St bike lane up to First. For southbound riders, the high-quality bike lanes I described above will extend to 12th St, where another bike box will help them connect to a new one-block bike lane on 12th, which they can take to Hennepin.
These two changes help stitch together Hennepin and First into one high-quality, attractive bike corridor through downtown. The Bicycle Advisory Committee formally supported this plan at a meeting last week, and this morning TPW approved the recommendations unanimously. Construction on this project will begin this spring.
I don't usually do this (and maybe I should do it more), but I'd like to call out the three Public Works staffers who came up with this great plan: Jenifer Loritz, Steve Mosing and Mike Anderson. Good job.