Hennepin and First
Public Works staff made an exciting presentation to the Transportation and Public Works committee this morning about the Hennepin and First two-way conversions and bike facilities. They've got a tremendous amount of data on the successes of the conversion. Traffic volumes are up. Bicycle volumes on Hennepin, First and the Nicollet Mall are up. Crashes are down. Crashes involving bicycles are down to literally zero. The facilities are working.
But staff have heard complaints from various stakeholders since the change. Cyclists have complained that the shared bike/bus/right turn lanes on Hennepin are badly marked, and that the cycle track-style facility on First is too narrow, without enough of a buffer from parked cars. Area businesses have complained about the ban on parking during the 4-6pm peak and the difficulty that their customers have had understanding the new parking rules (cars can only park to the left of the bike lane, which is unusual).
Public Works staff took these concerns seriously, and have come up with some great solutions. On Hennepin, they will be increasing the size of the stencils that indicate the bus/bike/right turn only lane and adding a green shared lane marking - our first colored bike facility ever. On First, the northbound car volumes that they expected never materialized, so they will be making the parking lane on that side of the street permanent - all day, every day. This frees up some space on the street, because parking lanes are narrower than driving lanes, and they are putting those extra feet into painted buffers between the bike lanes and parked cars. They'll be supplementing this buffer with some "candlestick"-style cones to further delineate the space.
I am extremely supportive of all of these refinements, which I believe will make both streets function better for every type of road user. I want to publicly acknowledge the great work of the people who made this possible: Public Works staff, including Steve Mosing and others; Council Member Lisa Goodman, who has been hearing the complaints from all sides and took an active role in seeking solutions; and Mayor Rybak, who got personally engaged on this and helped set the tone for the great solution that is moving forward.