The 3 bus has several different letters associated with route variations, the A, B, C, E, S, U and K. All of the routes run along Como Avenue in Minneapolis, except for the K. The K runs a few blocks south of Como, along Kasota Avenue. It connects transit riders to jobs in the corridor from high use transfer locations (downtown Minneapolis), but the design of the street leaves basic urban elements missing, while using resources to make an unnecessarily wide roadway. Reallocation of space and resources could lead to a more urban, better street for many users.
Following the bus route west from 15th Avenue SE to Highway 280, I biked and took photos of all the bus stops,and of the bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
The first few stops have mostly leased light industrial, office park style buildings on the south side, with single family homes to the north, separated by a small boulevard and side street. The street does have bike lanes along this stretch (although they have a good inch and a half drop off from pavement to gutter in some places), and is about 36 feet wide (stepped off, with an approximate step size of 22.5 inches… I need to buy a tape measure). It feels like a somewhat normal street, just without sidewalks and with some railroad tracks occasionally instead.
When the road turns southeast, it widens considerably, from the 36 feet above to nearly 45 feet. The bike lanes are removed and the industrial buildings now surround the roadway, leaving the Como neighborhood’s south edge behind. Also a sidewalk/path on the south half of the street starts, at this point the path is in relatively good condition.
The road turns back east, and the path, no longer directly in front of any building, is overtaken by grasses and weeds, with the asphalt making a traversable surface, but not a pleasant one.
And at the second to last bus stop, some photos of the surrounding landscape.
The lack of sidewalks, and the state they are in when they’re present in the corridor should be of concern. MetroTransit does run buses down here, the buildings are setback from the street and they are spaced far apart, walking is a must if you are to transit to any of these jobs. When the street is up for reconstruction I would recommend that the city try to narrow the road considerably, not to the point of a local road, or even a collector, but there are currently 22 feet wide driving lanes, that’s wide, even for engineers, as 16 feet is a maximum in current traffic manuals (prevents two wide operation in one lane). Rebuilding a thinner road would save the funds and the space for sidewalks to be placed. The transit service of the 3K is not very high, with about seven round trips a day running through the corridor. It is an access bus, bringing transit dependent people to jobs in these office parks and light industrial areas, but we still must provide for anyone who is disabled, or just has unsure footing, access to these jobs as well. Adding the sidewalks would allow better access for the transit users and ensure they aren’t relegated to walking in the road, where large vehicles commonly go at speeds approaching 40 mph.
Places like Kasota Avenue are in every city, there will always be a need for industrial and warehousing spaces, there will always be a division of some company that wants its office to be in a more suburban setting. While we cannot eliminate these less urbanist friendly land uses (and the jobs that they provide) from our metro, or even our core cities, without economic hardships, we can ensure that they still provide basic access for people who are not driving, by choice or by need.