Washington Avenue SE Revisited

As test trains already run, an in-service Green Line will be puffing honking, whistling, zooming, gliding, buzzing down Washington Avenue through the University of Minnesota campus shortly. Already there are issues.

Green Line on Washington Avenue SE - The Crane is becoming the state bird

Green Line on Washington Avenue SE – The Crane is becoming the state bird

  1. Signs, signs, everywhere signs. The more signs and signals there are, the less each sign means.
  2. Violators – as seen in the second figure, Metro Transit Police should be able to make up the line’s operating deficit by ticketing violators.
  3. Bus bunching abounds on the road, though one hopes it reduces once the LRT starts operating and the 16 and 50 (and maybe the Campus Connector) stop running.
  4. Signal timing – which leads to pedestrians ignoring the signals. (see also Signal Priorities should Signal Priorities)
  5. Noise, bells and whistles and honking and pedestrian warnings, and so on have significantly altered the ambient sound quality of the route.
  6. The road has hardly even been open to traffic and already the paint is disappearing. Paint is of course cheap, but either we need to invest in it more frequently or do something somewhat more substantial.
  7. The crosswalks are particularly slippery in winter. I am told this is being remedied.
Violations abound of cars in the bike lane on Washington Ave. SE

Violations abound of cars in the bike lane on Washington Ave. SE


I argued two years ago, when streets.mn was much smaller, that the car-free Transit Mall should be extended all the way from Walnut to University Avenue. It’s almost all six story walk-ups now, with nary a driveway needing to be accessed from Washington (and one assumes those will disappear shortly).

I suspect the violators problem will be reduced (though not eliminated) were Washington Avenue more clearly designated a transit/ped/bike mall for its entirety. Additional design features (but please no more signs) may help the road become more self-explaining to its users.


Modern Streetcar in Istanbul

Modern Streetcar in Istanbul

The signals are just absurd, and along the lines of advocating drivers and pedestrians wear helmets. The road should be open to pedestrians except when there is a train or bus, and even with buses, this should be doable as a shared space with a minimum number of signals (ideally zero, but perhaps something for trains, though lots of trains operate in perfectly civilized and safe areas of the world with many fewer signals). The ideal solution in my mind is that the signals are default to pedestrian phase (Barnes Dance) except when there is an explicit call from cross-traffic, emergency, or transit vehicles, flipping the tradition beg button philosophy.

(Yes, I know, liability).