Neighborhood Greenways

One of the more interesting aspects of the recently completed Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan is the inclusion of a long-term vision to convert some local roadways to Greenways. The master plan map lays out a network of future Greenways (most facilities we’re currently referring to as Bike Boulevards are envisioned to transition to Greenways over time.

A rendering of the greenway plan, via TC Greenways

However, the Master Plan provides only minimal insight into what exactly this means or how it will be accomplished. From page 184 of the plan:

Create a network of “greenways” or “green streets” where roadways are converted to bicycle and pedestrian only corridors. Milwaukee Avenue is a good example of this concept. “Greenway” corridors may be constructed in collaboration with stormwater management projects. Care must be taken to ensure that the street grid is not severely compromised. (ENG-19)

The vision is more or less similar to what is being promoted by this group.

The City has nearly finished construction on one greenway conversion called the 37th Avenue Greenway, although I get the impression that the overall objective of this project was more about flood control than promoting biking or walking. In the Master Plan, the language acknowledges that the creation of greenways could have a larger overall impact on the roadway network if the existing grid is compromised – in the 37th Avenue Greenway, none of the perpendicular roadways or alleys are severed.

I certainly don’t oppose the creation of new trails through the City, and this is probably the only realistic option available since the City is fully built-out. However, I think severing the existing grid system will have impacts that should not be minimized, and public acceptance may be a tough battle for the City.

What do you think about converting existing roadways into greenways? Do the positive aspects (new trails, new parks) outweigh the negative aspects (severed grid, reduced motorized access to properties)?


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3 Responses to Neighborhood Greenways

  1. Matt January 3, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    The block across the alley from me is becoming a bike blvd. I'm very supportive of that. But I'm concerned that completely removing cars will turn off a lot of people. If someone was proposing removing cars in front of my street, I'd probably be upset even though I'm supportive of traffic calming and bicycle infrastructure.

    Maybe a compromise would be to redevelop the road as a one-lane one way with one side of street parking and bumpouts. Then use the extra ROW for green space and a dedicated bike path.

  2. Brendon Slotterback
    Brendon Slotterback January 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I agree with Matt. I'd rather see low-volume roads converted to reduce auto lanes and build protected bike infrastructure. My backyard example is 1st Ave south. I think this helps you reduce the serious backlash you will likely face when you propose eliminating all auto lanes on a street, and preserves the grid which is good for spreading out traffic (which is good for peds and bikes).

  3. Reuben Collins
    Reuben Collins January 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Even as supportive of cycling infrastructure as I am, I would also be annoyed to lose automobile access in front of my house. I am a big fan of maintaining the grid as much as possible.