Fix the One-Way Trails, Please

Me with the sibkid on the tag-along.

Me with the sibkid on the tag-along.

My 7-year-old sibkid “K” spent a week with me in the Big City so she could go to day camp. I registered K at a “nearby” program (that K loved). But Lake Harriet Upper Elementary School isn’t THAT nearby.

I’d hoped we could practice riding bikes initially, as K is still working on that skill, but approximately 5 miles is WAY further than the 50 yards that are still tough to eek out on K’s own bike, so I snagged a tag-along bike to extend our range.

Here is the route Google Maps recommended -- both directions. Note the difference in distance by side of lake.

Here is the route Google Maps recommended — both directions. Red arrows denote one-way trails along the routes. Note the difference in distance by side of lake, circled in blue.

The day before camp, I got bike directions on Google maps. I instantly realized… Google was sending me the wrong way on the one-way trail around Lake Harriet on the way there, AND the wrong way on the one-way trail around Bde Maka Ska (the middle one) and Lake of the Isles on the way home. None of these parkways even has a bike lane painted for people who need to bike counterclockwise.

Riding by myself, the extra mile each way is no big deal – the extra distance would add joy to my day. However, hauling K on the tag-along, given the wobbly/distracted balance and the extra 70 pounds and inconsistent pedaling, is mildly nerve-wracking when I’m not so used to hauling her.

I had three choices:

  1. ride the wrong way on the trail (a personal pet peeve),
  2. ride the extra mile, or
  3. take the parkway lane.

On the way south, I chose to take the parkway lane. The traffic is usually fairly light, and at 9 a.m. any rush-hour impatience is usually history. But it left me nervous, as there were always a few cars and the two of us traveled more slowly than I usually do when taking a lane. You never know when someone will try to squeeze by, despite the lack of space.

I grudgingly chose the long way around Bda Maka Ska on the way home. The parkway on the east side of that lake is hectic, and it forces you through the nightmare merging intersection of of the parkway/Lake/Lagoon.

When we got to Lake of the Isles, I chose option 4 for the route home: every day I found a different destination so I didn’t have to navigate around Isles. One day, we took the Midtown Greenway to a park. Another day, we rented a canoe for an afternoon paddle. You get the idea. One extra mile was enough for both of us.

Best I can tell, the MPRB commissioners assert the trails are “a recreational bike path system and not a commuter system.” Watching the MPRB Citizen Advisory Committee to the Calhoun-Harriet Master Plan members, the majority seem to strongly agree. They even claim “environmental” reasons while being blind to more egregious environmental stormwater and carbon offenders of streets and cars. (See section f. pp4-5 of these committee notes for additional detail.)

This blindness, on the part of the MPRB and of Minneapolis’ park-watchers, averts discussions of how to ensure they serve park users’ needs. For K and me, trying to access an elementary school, it meant they were adding uncomfortable miles to our route, preventing us from safely getting home, and forcing us to mix with drivers who wished we were elsewhere.

It’s time to make space for people biking in both directions.

 

The red highlights the hairpin turns. The blue shows the route we took.

The red highlights the hairpin turns. The blue shows the route we took.

Post Script: I noticed other ways the trails don’t work so well for those with less-than-practiced biking skills or unwieldy bike steeds.

There is a challenging uphill double hairpin turn heading south along the Isles/Bde Maka Ska channel, exiting the tunnel (circled in red at right). The last bend also requires yielding to riders coming downhill from the west. There was no way K and I were going to make that hill climb + hairpin turns, so I opted to ride on the walking trail and across a swath of sidewalk (in blue) to get back to the bike trail — where we belonged! We simply couldn’t manage the technicalities safely, so we didn’t.

I want to “follow the rules” and be a respectful rider so others know what to expect of me, my bike, and my riding crew. But to do, that MPRB needs to design trails that are ridable by us, and that don’t send us 20% further than the direct route.


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40 Responses to Fix the One-Way Trails, Please

  1. Monte Castleman
    Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    Lake Calhoun I don’t see why the parkway needs to be two ways in each direction (except for maybe parts of the south side), so it would be easy to use the extra space for another bicycle trail.

    Lake Harriet is already one way. You could use the lower parkway in the southeast. Just eliminating the parking lane would result in the lake being less accessible to people in cars and plenty of people parking on neighborhood streets. Is there an area that could be used for off-street parking? Is structured parking at the bandshell too expensive to even think about? Would a slightly wider two-way trail work in narrow sections?

    And the 10 mph speed limit needs to go. This is the only law I break regularly, primarily since bicycles don’t come with speedometers so I have no clue how fast I’m going.

    • Clark Starr July 22, 2016 at 9:16 am #

      I’m of two minds on this. We live relatively near Harriet and use the trails for recreation 85% of the time. For that purpose, I think one-way works. Without significant improvements (at, I can only imagine, significant costs) two way would be pretty hazardous. Lots of U10 bikers on those trails.

      As to the above comment regarding the speed limit, I feel the same way (conflicted). On the one way trails, not a big deal, but on the Minnehaha trail, at least 5 times (over the past two years) we’ve had people pass us very dangerously (trying to get past us and get back in line before the people coming the other way blocked them). Maybe that’s not a lot, but those were somewhat scary situations.

    • Janne Flisrand
      Janne July 22, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      I agree, Monte — there are some pretty easy, low-cost immediate improvements that could happen quickly, if someone decided to do something.

      I’m also in agreement on the 10mph speed limit, and if you read the strib article I linked with the Commissioner quote, it’s on that topic. They used a speed gun to see how fast people were going, and then also asked riders to guess their own speed before telling them what they’d measured. Two quote from that article, the first about individual perceptions, and second about what’s happening as a whole.

      “Bikers not being aware of their speed is one factor Ohotto cited for why repealing a fixed numerical limit makes sense. He used as an example one cyclist who stopped to ask him about his speed measurements Wednesday. He asked her to guess her speed. She guessed 5 mph to 8 mph. She was going 14 mph.”

      “Only one of 13 bikers he tracked was under 10 mph, going 8 mph. The fastest whizzed by at 20 mph. But even that biker wouldn’t necessarily have run afoul of the 1981 ordinance requiring “reasonable and prudent” speeds, given conditions. That’s because traffic of one bike per minute is hardly congested.”

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller July 22, 2016 at 11:03 am #

        I’m pretty slow and even I tend to average closer to 15 mph around the lakes (nice and flat).

    • Alex Cecchini
      Alex Cecchini July 22, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      Parking on neighborhood streets should not be a problem, in terms of existing capacity and distance to the lake/trails. Is there even any metered parking on any streets that meet up with the parkways?

      When we talk about parking and access, it’s important to remember that for every person arriving to these lakes in a car, there are 5?10?20? arriving or passing through by foot or bike. We have surface parking right near the major destination points (ex. Harriet Bandshell). Perhaps the Park Board should get rid of the ridiculously low annual permits for the two Harriet lots, meter the spots while reserving more handicapped spaces. I can think of way better uses of money for the Park Board than structured parking.

      • Monte Castleman
        Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 11:33 am #

        Do you have any statistics on how people arrive at the lakes? I don’t, but my observation is there’s a lot of people wanting to park on Harriet (although there’s usually a spot where the parkways aren’t immediately adjacent to the trails and you have to walk a block or two to get to them), a lot of people driving around it, and a lot of parking on neighborhood streets around them.

        • Julia July 22, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

          I know people who end up driving because there isn’t transit that gets them there or home when they want to go or they don’t feel comfortable biking there (bad intersections, the one ways, etc.). But I also know that most people I know drive around the lakes daily, using them as “shortcuts,” (not actually shorter when I’ve checked, just perceived as more pleasant–too bad driving on them decreases the quality of experience for those biking/walking/running/sitting/reading at the lakes) and of those individuals, literally none drives TO the lakes despite being frequent users (again daily) of the lakes.

          Honestly, given how poor non-car access is to our lakes from many parts of our city (even walking between Bde Maka Ska and Isles is crappy), the number of people who arrive by foot and bike and bus, often with canoes or tackle boxes or towels with them, is a testament to how much more attention and space we need to dedicate to safe and comfortable active/public transit access to them.

          How is walking a block or two a bad thing given that many people go to the lake to walk around it? At least at Isles, the directly adjacent parking is very lightly used, except near the dog-park (which doesn’t have Greenway or other walking/biking access) or by vehicles servicing the multi-million dollar mansions, most of which have alley access. Even then, we’re talking 20 cars total. If the issue is people use Bde Maka Ska or Harriet better, maybe instead of preserving car storage at the expense of recreational more and environmental quality, we should figure out what makes Isles less used and address that.

          It’s confusing to me that we allow drivers on our lakes at all frankly. What purpose does it serve? How does it benefit the common good or serve the public interest to use these public green spaces for cars? It increases air pollution where high concentrations of people are exercising (I regularly note at least 1/3 of parked cars idling when I walk the lakes & do counts–this doesn’t seem to vary based on weather), it has the high environmental costs Janne mentions, and it takes a ton of valuable park space away from the public who could use it for recreation and transit and dedicates it instead to storing cars or incentivizing cut-through commuting that should be funneled onto the highways. And this is a bit tangential, but getting rid of the drivers who aggressively verbally/sexually harass people or drive creepy slow behind us for blocks would be welcomed by many, and not just women.

          • Monte Castleman
            Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

            The main problem with providing some kind of shuttle service is the number of people taking bicycles to the lake. How many of those do you fit those on a shuttle? Also, getting downtown in order to board a shuttle would be an incredible hassle, much more so than the lakes.

            As for what good it does to allow people to drive around the lake, first of all, there’s driving for pleasure, maybe in an 57 Chevy, maybe a 2009 Prius. The Grand Rounds are a designated scenic byway, just like many other routes in Minnesota. Using a car to see the scenery is a well established tradition

            Secondly, driving around the lake is how you access parking. With most people in the metro owning cars, and it being difficult to nearly impossible for them to take transit to the lake even without bringing a bicycle or boat along, that seems like a good purpose to me. You might well ask what public purpose there is to have parking at the Minnesota Zoo instead of more animals.

            • Julia July 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

              The neat thing about bikes is that they have wheels and are transportation themselves, specifically designed to move from point A to point B. If we’re seeing people driving with their bikes to get to a city park to use them, we clearly have some broader issues in our infrastructure design. Perhaps people don’t feel safe with speeding drivers, perhaps routes aren’t well-marked, perhaps we lack other infrastructure that might support biking (like frequent public restrooms), or perhaps we need to think about how to provide similar quality bike paths throughout our region so people don’t feel they have to drive so far.

              Allowing driving in our parks seems to offer a similar kind of good as allowing unchecked smoking at children’s soccer games. I’m sure the individuals who partake do so for a reason (enjoyment, habit, sense of tradition, stress reduction, etc.), but it has a cost to society. In the case of driving around the lakes, this is a privilege and a luxury many don’t have access to, that comes at great expense to our city, to public health, and to the common good. I appreciate the tradition aspect of many habits/choices, but greater some point, say when balancing budgets, thinking about public health, and starting to deal with climate change, we revisit harmful traditions to try to glean from them what is worth keeping and abandon what is destructive. I’m all for a grand rounds trolley/bus system that would connect our parks (and neighborhoods) and provided dedicated access to all parks for all residents, as well as offer the same kind of scenic passive riding experience that so many (myself included) enjoy.

              As for boats, I have to say that I see people walking and biking their boats to the lakes every day during the summer. They’re also available to rent. And reclaiming our parks for people rather than cars wouldn’t necessarily prevent car access for those who use them to boat.

              • Monte Castleman
                Monte Castleman July 25, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

                Bottom line is you can build a nice bicycle trail in Richfield, or Maple Grove, or wherever, but you can’t dig another Lake Calhoun, so you’re still going to have people from outside of a reasonably bicycling area wanting to visit. Just like you can’t expect people to bicycle from Minneapolis to the Minnesota Zoo so we can put green space in the parking lot.

                As for “reclaiming our parks for people rather than cars”, there’s real people inside the cars. They’re not robots driving themselves around.

                • Alex Cecchini
                  Alex Cecchini July 26, 2016 at 8:39 am #

                  People from Minneapolis can bike to the Como Zoo, could have been a good template, maybe. There’s something baked in there about decisions regarding land use and transportation that led to a regional/statewide draw like the Minnesota Zoo being only accessible by car (but for a couple very infrequent MVTA routes). Seems kind of unfair that there are plenty of really high-quality “regional” parks in the suburbs completely inaccessible to people without cars from Minneapolis or St Paul (or even the people who live in the same town but can’t drive), yet the MPRB is tasked with providing ample, parking for visitors from out of the city who choose to drive.

                  And you’re right, there are people in cars. The point is that the amount of space needed to move those vehicles (thru-lanes) and store them (on-street and lot parking) represents an opportunity cost to serve more people. 20 parking spaces could be 2 more volleyball courts, or a public restroom, or a tree or two over some grass for picnics, or a second directional bike trail, or a stormwater retention area that improves lake water quality. And all of these things would actually allow more people to live near the parks and enjoy them without driving. Does the MPRB strike the right balance of space for cars vs recreation space? Hard to say!

                • Julia July 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

                  Parked cars rarely have people in them. Even the cars with people in them are a very inefficient use of space and resources for recreation in an outdoor space, and that’s ignoring the very real economic, social, and health costs of cars-in-parks.

                  Plenty of suburbs have lakes. Whether you can/should “dig another” one is debatable, but Isles and Loring are far from untouched and there are certainly other examples in the area. Even if they didn’t, these are destination lakes (Bde Maka Ska, Harriet, Isles) and the fact that they see so many visitors is all the more reason to revisit how those visitors are arriving, consider if there are better/more sustainable/less expensive modes of getting them there, and be very judicious is how land-use is allocated to maximize the public good. Making sure that an individual from Lake Grove Park can take a pleasure drive/20+MPH commute around the lakes for free just doesn’t make any sense from any rational planning perspective.

                  I understand people (particularly from further afield) want to visit in individual motor vehicles. That doesn’t mean that the rest of the population has to foot the bill AND sacrifice the space AND breathe the polluted air for their convenience or pleasure. We can figure out ways to more equitably share the high financial costs of a handful of privileged users. I’ve given a number of potential solutions to balance cost/benefit for all users and goals (inc. pleasure drives), which I haven’t seen addressed.

                  Real people are not tethered by some umbilical cord to their cars. There are activities we don’t allow (or allow in very limited circumstances) in city parks because the cost-benefit doesn’t work out in those particular contexts. We don’t allow hunting at all, we allow archery only in one very limited space, we have specific limited spaces for dogs to be off-leash, or for people to swim, or drink, or grill. We don’t allow ATVs or tent camping (as far as I know) or motor boats in (any/all?) lakes. We ask people not to feed ducks at some lakes. We regularly balance people’s individual desires with what is financially prudent and protects public health and the landscape of our parks.

                  I have yet to hear a compelling argument for keeping parking or unfettered free motor vehicle access around the chain of lakes, particularly when there is a high demand for use of that space from users whose recreational and transit choices support rather than harm public health while having much lower costs to both taxpayers and the environment.

                  • Monte Castleman
                    Monte Castleman July 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

                    Well, there’s a lot of lakes around, but not many with bicycle trails around, and none that have several lakes linked with bicycle trails, with bicycle. This isn’t just a city vs suburbs thing, how’s a family with two kids from say Northeast Minneapolis supposed to visit? Should we run a shuttle service that picks them up a their house with four bicycles and drops them off at the lakes? Should we dig three new lakes in the northeast so they’re within bicycling distance and don’t have to use their car?

          • Monte Castleman
            Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

            Isles is an incredible pain to get to by car. I think that is why parking there is utilized less than Calhoun or Harriet.

            • Monte Castleman
              Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

              Also, Isles doesn’t have swimming beaches, restaurants, or the band shell, all of which generate a lot of traffic that a lake with just trails doesn’t.

              • Julia July 25, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

                Agreed on both counts. Why aren’t we talking about changing that on Isles (or Cedar or others)? Isles has multiple public park spaces just to its north and yet these are rarely used in a way that treats them like the city-wide, rather than neighborhood-only, public places that you’d expect on a lake. Why not talk about changing the zoning around our lakes to at least allow for some more quasi-public spaces?

                I’m not sure how Isles is difficult to get to, but I do know there are a number of restrictive traffic rules that funnel drivers away from the lake and instead to Hennepin or other streets. Why are those in place and who does it impact?

                • Monte Castleman
                  Monte Castleman July 25, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

                  YMMV from places inside the city. From outside the city Harriet is really easy to get to because you can approach it from 46th, 50th, or Penn, all of which are not difficult to drive on (by city standards). Calhoun you can approach from 38th on the west or 36th on the east. Isles you basically have to take Lake Street or Hennepin to get to, both of which are combinations of unfriendly to drive on, lots of signals, and congestion.

    • Julia July 22, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      Why do the parks need so much free parking, at high environmental, public health, and maintenance costs? Why not focus on providing better/any public and active transit access? Right now, the lakes are very difficult to access for many residents, particularly those who are elderly and don’t drive. The lack of restrooms is appalling, as is the lack of dedicated safe walking facilities to/from/between the lakes.

      Lake use probably has relatively little overlap with downtown workday–if you really are set on providing parking, figure out a way to use the off-hours of those overbuilt parking ramps that litter downtown & connect them via transit to the lakes. Fund that as an interim measure as people unlearn car dependency or as we build out a robust and usable transit system & return to our historical walkable density/zoning.

      As far as the 10mph, I find that I break it without trying when biking a very normal pace. At the same time, the lake trails are also where I see little kids learning to ride, where my aunt biked on her recumbent into her mid-90s, and which are often shared with non-wheel traffic (people walking and running), as well as biking clubs aiming for speed & commuters, etc. The paths are insufficient to the task they’ve been set.

      • Rosa July 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

        making the lakeside roads limited-motorized – bikes, buses, mopeds, and anybody with a handicapped placard (and maybe residents with no other access to their homes?) and encouraging the faster bike traffic onto them, would leave the current trails for slower/less confident traffic without adding much in the way of infrastructure costs.

  2. Dana DeMaster
    DanaD July 22, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    Riding with my seven-year old on his own bike, as compared to riding with him on the cargo bike, has absolutely, totally changed my view of road safety. He’s a good rider and makes good decisions, but he is still seven. He doesn’t always hold his line, he gets confused at some intersections, he gets distracted.riding with children for actual transportation is a challenge. We mainly stick to trails and residential streets, but sometimes we need to use a regular bike lane. SCARY. I really understand now just how nerve-wracking riding a bike is for new riders of any age.

    • Clark Starr July 22, 2016 at 10:08 am #

      Mine is 7 too and you hit the nail on the head. Holding the line is not a core competency! But man is it fun to bike with him (huge recco for taking your kid to Lanesboro, those paths are awesome for kids).

    • Rosa July 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

      my kid is 11 now, he’s been mostly on his own bike the last several years (we had transition years where he rode his own bike but if we went too far/had a mishap, I’d haul him & the bike on my longtail) and my main worry these days is less him than drivers & other cyclists – people want to turn ahead/behind me as I go through an intersection, and they don’t see him or assume I’m just riding slowly for absolutely no reason and then nearly merge into him after passing me.

  3. Steve Brandt July 22, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Here’s an alternate suggestion for getting to Southwest that would get you close to the school on either off-road paths or bike lanes. Go east on the Midtown Greenway to Blaisdell. Take the Blaisdell bike lane south to the RiverLake Greenway at 40th, and go west to Harriet. Then go around Harriet to wherever you want to cut over to Southwest.

    • Janne Flisrand
      Janne July 22, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Steve, I think offering alternative, less-pleasant routes is a red herring. I’m offering an example where the one-way trails are a problem, not trying to trouble-shoot this particular route.

      The trails need to be two-way for many, many trips, not just mine.

      (FWIW, I considered all you’re route, but they were worse for other reasons.)

  4. Zoey July 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    I agree that the trails could be two-way. It seems like the cycle path could be widened just a bit, say 2′ or so, and that would provide enough space for lanes in both directions.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman July 22, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

      That’s what I was thinking. As I said above Calhoun doesn’t need two way traffic for people in cars and there’s the lower parkway on the southeast side of Harriet. But there are still constrained ROW sections. Keep in mind you wouldn’t get double the traffic, you’d half half the traffic in each direction plus some additional traffic that now can use it for transportation, which is probably a lot less than equal to the traffic that uses it now.

  5. Adam Froehlig
    Adam Froehlig July 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t see the one-way nature of the Harriet, Calhoun, and Isles bikeways as an inherent problem. I understand the concern for kids, but growing up, I used the lake paths often for non-recreational transportation….just rolled with it.

    Also, a big issue with converting them to two-way (especially Calhoun) is the sheer volume of bicycles, especially on good-weather weekends. You’d wind up with the very same “unsafe passing” hazards as Clark mentioned along Minnehaha, and on a larger scale.

    Could improvements be made? Certainly. The hairpin turn Janne mentioned has been bad for decades (and was even worse 25 years ago). The connection between Minnehaha Parkway and Lake Harriet still isn’t the greatest for bikes. But these fall under the “spot improvement” category.

    At least the direct connection from the Calhoun path to Dean Pkwy is paved now. That thing was barely dirt back in my day.

    • Alex Cecchini
      Alex Cecchini July 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

      I’d say that in almost all sections of the lake trails you could have a separate path for each direction of bike travel. That said, even if you merely widened the existing path and made it two-way, how dangerous are we talking here? How many collisions are there on the Midtown Greenway (or river trails), which has two-way bike traffic on a similar width of pavement and directional daily bike counts (not to mention pedestrians mixing on the same asphalt)? Does the MPRB even collect statistics for this? I can’t recall a news story in the past 5 years detailing an incapacitating injury on the Greenway from a collision.

      For me, this comes down to values. While many people do use the park trails purely for recreation, they are are best off-street bike infrastructure to get around town. They’re like a highway for bikes. We have almost never asked drivers to “just roll with” a route that would take them an additional 3-5 minutes out of their way – entire neighborhoods or rows of homes were demolished to keep road geometry as forgiving and direct as possible. It’s really not too much to ask that we do the same for people on bikes.

      • Adam Froehlig
        Adam Froehlig July 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

        As I recall, the Midtown is noticeably wider than the lake paths. Where you may have an argument is for widening the lake paths to the same width as Midtown, but that’s something you’d have to take up with MPRB.

        As for not asking drivers to “just roll with” a route, MnDOT does that all the time whenever they shut down a road for a weekend or longer for construction.

        • Julia July 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

          There’s a difference between asking someone to “just roll with” a route because you’re working on it for them and what you suggested, which is “just roll with it” indefinitely, for decades at this point, without reevaluating community/city needs and goals.

          I also grew up with the one ways. I didn’t feel safe biking on the west side of Isles for a long while, because it was often deserted and a friend and I had been forced off our bikes in a deserted park by a bunch of boys our age (tween) who tried to grope us as we ran away. I “rolled with it” by going east on Lake Street when I’d hit the north end of Bde Maka Ska, then turning north onto Hennepin. And I was taking the lanes there, because I’d been hit by a car turning right & looking left turning out of a gas station when biking on the sidewalk with my ten year old brother behind me (and the cops would yell at anyone biking on the sidewalks in uptown anyhow, no matter how slowly). So I’m glad that your experiences of “rolling with it” felt safe always, but for me, taking a lane of a three-lane stroad as a very small 17 year old girl felt like the safer/only option.

          • Adam Froehlig
            Adam Froehlig July 26, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

            I’m sorry you ran into the not-so-great situation there, but I think you and others are taking my “roll with it” out of context. I noted that that’s what *I* did. I wasn’t suggesting that others should do so as well. I understand some of the desire to change things, but as others have also noted, there are some valid reasons for keeping them one-way.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke July 25, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      The one-way trails are dumb. What percentage of people want to go the other way? Not half but more than a third.

  6. Mase July 26, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Making the lakes bike trails two ways is a no brainer. The problem is the paralysis of action so many great ideas have in Mpls. Pilot program, widen existing trail, make two separate trails, etc. Just needs to be done.

  7. eric July 26, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Man, I know I am late so sorry for folks who get alerts on this topic. I have super mixed feelings about this. It’s worth remembering that those are park/recreation trails which happen to be handy for commuting, not commuting trails which happen to be next to popular lakes. Without the youth/recreation bikers those trails don’t exist.

    I’d love to see 2 way traffic on the lakes, but I don’t think the greenway or CLT are worthy comparisons in terms of traffic vs trail width. Those sort of “commuter” trails don’t see a fraction of the youth/recreation bikers that the lakes see. In order to make 2-way work I’d almost think you’d need a second lane of equal or near-equal width, preferably divided from the existing lane by a strip of green space.

    • Janne Flisrand
      Janne July 27, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

      Eric, I was thinking recently about the definition of “recreational use.” Last weekend, I took a recreational bike trip with two friends, where we biked to our meet up point, rode 6 miles of MPRB trails to brunch, rode a different 6 miles of MPRB trails to our separation point, and then rode home on streets.

      Was that recreational or commuter trip?

      I was thinking about it because one of my companions was frustrated by the one-way trails, and also the poor connectivity between the trails and the streets (as we had to jump two curbs on our route where the trail didn’t recognize the intersection with on-street bike routes).

      So, yeah, those trails wouldn’t exist without recreational users. But what is a recreational user, anyway?

  8. eric July 28, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    I am thinking of the types of riders not the types of trips. Kids and beginners, the type of riders who really only use the lake trails for any sort of longish ride. I think those folks are rightfully the target “customer” for lake trails and any help those trails offer commuters is just sort of a side benefit more than anything.

    It’s worth reiterating that I am 100% on-board with your desire for 2-way lake trails. It would be convenient for me. But I am not so in love with 2-way paths that I’d make the lake trails any less desirable for kids and beginners.

    • Janne Flisrand
      Janne July 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

      Eric, I’m confused how that plays with my original story. The reason I want two-way trails is because the kid-rider you name can’t manage the one-way trails for her ride.

      I agree that we don’t want to compromise the trail quality simply to have two-way trails, but there’s no reason to think that we have to. There’s plenty of space in the parkways and lots of good ideas in the comments on how we could have awesome two-way trails. What we would need to compromise is the amount of space we (the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board, really) dedicate to parking and to enabling commuter and speedy pleasure driving around our lakes.

      • eric July 28, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

        The people I’m thinking of merely circle the lake, vs you and me who may only take a half circle as a means of completing a longer journey. We are the ones, the people who are taking functional trips, who would benefit. Which is great! I just don’t think we deserve priority over the park’s users. Over auto parking? I don’t know, not sure how people at-large get to the park but I do think that nothing is a better PR campaign for our city’s desirability than people from other places being able to come see how nice it is.

        It’s silly to keep on with a semantic disagreement. We agree at large. 2 way would be better. In fact I’m leaving the North Loop in about 10 minutes on CLT to Linden Hills and my trip will be a bit longer and more of it on roads exactly because the Lake Calhoun trail won’t serve my needs.

        • Adam Miller
          Adam Miller July 28, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

          Seems like the newest riders might not be able to make it all the way around the lake, and might benefit from being able to turn around and go back too.

          That said, when it’s just me being functional (unlike Janne, I don’t have a kid with me), it’s not that big of the deal to go the long way around the lake to get where I’m going. Which is to say maybe there’s more value for someone like Janne trying to get around with a young rider than someone who’s just in a hurry.

  9. GlowBoy July 29, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    Glad I live closer to Nokomis than Harriet/BSM/Isles, because Nokomis’ paths are two-way. I do like being able to choose which way to go, both when I’m going all the way around the lake and when I’m trying to get to destinations on the other side of the lake.

    Just two days ago I found myself riding the parkway along the north side of Harriet, because I wanted to get from Kingfield to Bde Maka Ska. I would like to have been able to ride the path, but it goes the opposite way so I had to use the parkway. Fortunately on a Wednesday morning I didn’t have to deal with any traffic, but that is one scary place to ride when it’s busy.

    I’m not saying I necessarily oppose the busier paths being one-way (at least during the warmer months, kind of how the rules for dual paths unofficially change in winter), but I think it’s unconscionable to not at least provide a bike lane going the other way. The lakes, being more than a mile across, are major obstacles to navigation so it’s often necessary to ride partway around even when they are not your destination. Nearby residential streets often curve around the lake rather than conforming the grid and are generally designed to not to be conducive to through traffic, or are just plain dangerous (Kings Highway!).

    The overall effect is to force cyclists to use the lakeside paths even when they don’t want to. To pretend they’re not important transportation corridors is a cop-out, just like failing to provide sidewalks along the edge of parks (e.g., Portland Ave next to Pearl Park in my neighborhood from 52nd to 54th), I guess because having a park is supposed to be so nice you don’t need a sidewalk?