Chart of the Day: Minneapolis Bikeways 1997-2013

The animated gif is probably the most important thing that ever happened to historical maps. A recent powerpoint presentation to the Transportation & Public Works committee had an awesome series of maps showing the change in the bikeway network from 1997 to 2013 …(and beyond!) and I just couldn’t resist (and had some time on my hands) to make an animated gif out it. Behold the closing maps from Civilization as applied to bikeways in Minneapolis!

(The only annoying thing about animated gifs is sometimes you want to spend some quality time with a particular year, and unlike Civilization’s closing maps there is no pause button on a gif, so here’s a pdf of all the maps.)

Note that I included the Existing & Funded Bikeway Network map as a proxy for what has/is likely to happen in 2014. What do you think of the progress of bikeway construction in Minneapolis? Has the city missed any opportunities? Do you see this map as half-full or half-empty?

Alex Bauman

About Alex Bauman

Alex enjoys blogging on his iPhoneDroid while stuck in traffic on his 90 minute daily commute to Roseville from bucolic Staggerford.

20 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Minneapolis Bikeways 1997-2013

  1. Sean Hayford Oleary

    It’s a great trend to see illustrated. Although I think it might be reasonable to argue that elected officials and city staff tend to focus too much on total numbers of bikeways (or numbers of miles) and not enough on the ground-level connections and quality.

    I remain frustrated that the Portland Avenue bikeway ended at 60th Street, even though it would appear that most cyclists going that far south are continuing to Richfield. (They did so because it was inconvenient or complicated to address the Crosstown bridge.) A little farther north, bike lanes randomly disappear and reappear around one of the highest-traffic intersections — Diamond Lake/54th — because engineers wanted to preserve turn lanes for cars, and because the local council member demanded that convenient parking for Pearl Park be preserved.

    More infamously, on the one-ways, the excellent buffered bike lane disappears and the entire bike lane is jammed into the door zone near Lake St (ironically, in the area where there’s probably the most delivery vehicles and opening and closing of car doors).

    On the “RiverLake Greenway” (40th St, mostly) traffic control is horrendously unfavorable. I rode it once, and realized — except for the occasional bumpout — it was no better than riding on any other minor residential street.

    Our city is filled with these awkward — and often unsafe — shortcuts for the convenience of cars and cost-savings of the project. How can we illustrate bikeway quality in an objective way, so that that also becomes a metric to improve?

    1. hokan

      The county engineer who does most of the bike facilities said specifically that he won’t put in any facilities on the bridge, not even sharrows, because he doesn’t want to encourage cyclists to use the bridge.

      I suppose that means that using bridges are optional. If you find a bridge between you and your destination, just get a car.

          1. Sean Hayford Oleary

            Not too surprising, although I hope municipal pressure can change this. There seems to be a prevailing notion that if you don’t mark a facility, the problem goes away. (Hence not marking crosswalks to avoid creating a “false sense of security” for pedestrians.)

            Although sharrows might guide cyclists to the safest path, some engineers must prefer that bicyclists be less safe — so long as the engineers are implicated only by neglect, not by design.

    2. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      PS, I don’t agree about Riverlake (except for that one stop sign at the bottom of the hill that everyone ignores). I rather like the design, especially the diverters.

    3. Froggie

      Hopefully any potential Crosstown rebuild will address this, but the Portland bridge is too narrow and the distance between the ramps is too short to fit in both left turn lanes (needed) and bike lanes (desired/arguably-needed).

      The only other alternative would be to convert the ramp signals into a sort of split-phase setup for Portland Ave, so there wouldn’t be a need for left turn lanes on both sides. But I can easily see the traffic engineers determining that a split-phase signal would result in too much congestion spilling away from the interchange.

      1. Sean Hayford Oleary

        Seems a little strong to say that both left-turn lanes are “needed” while bike lanes are “desired”. But yes, I think any solution realistically has to not overly limit left-turn space.

        I think a green lane or sharrow-marked curb lane would be acceptable, at least in the short term. Narrowing the inner-lanes to 10′ and doing an advisory bike lane in the outer lane might work.

        A split phase would be ideal. Have you seen that done with a diamond interchange like this (that is, two adjacent lights)?

        My understanding is that Mn/DOT is interested in a better connection between 35W and SB Cedar/77. But since the Portland bridge was just redecked a few years ago, and there seems to be adequate space to widen underneath, I’m not clear if that project would include replacing the bridge.

        1. Froggie

          My choice of words for “needed” and “desired” is based on the reality of the situation. I also have decades of experience with this particular area as I grew up in it (60th and 10th).

          Short of rebuilding or widening the bridge (or building a parallel bridge as Monte suggests), a sharrow is about the only option available. Given that this is a CSAH route bridging over a state highway, narrowing the lanes is highly unlikely. That said, in the state statutes on roadway design that Matt loves trumping, there is a provision under which variances can be requested for urban roads if there is an engineering reason to do so.

          Still, I don’t think narrow lanes would work. My best guess, based on GIS calculations and MnDOT State Aid documentation on the approaches, is that the roadway width on the bridge is 48ft (with 8ft sidewalks on each side). Even with minimal 10ft inside and 11ft outside (for the curb reaction) lanes, you’d only have enough width to squeeze in a single bike lane.

          The distance between the ramp intersections is roughly 260ft. I don’t think that’s enough to squeeze in a 4-to-3 conversion. You’d basically have a 100ft long turn lane (roughly 3-4 cars) with only 60ft of transition. And if you had more than 3 or 4 cars waiting, it’d back up into the through lane.

          If some sort of signal timing scheme could be figured out, you could go with a different sort of 4-to-3 conversion, with one direction having 2 lanes and the opposite direction having a single shared through-left turn lane. This would be enough to fit in a 6ft bike lane on each side:

          I have seen something close to split phase in Concord, NH, at I-93/Route 9. This junction, though, is complicated by having signalized intersections immediately adjacent to the interchange, so that one’s passing through 4 signals in the span of 640ft. There is also VERY HEAVY traffic due to the NH state offices being nearby. So I don’t think it’s an apt comparison.

          1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

            No curb reaction distance is required when a bike lane (or parking lane) is adjacent to the travel lane. But you’re right, if it is 48′, even going down to 4x 10′ lanes leaves only room for 2x 4′ bike lanes.

            Sharrows may well be the best option (and actually would work reasonably well, I think, especially if green lane markings were an option). But in terms of planning and prioritization, I think it is worth acknowledging that that is a major concession from bicycle mobility to the convenient movement of cars.

            1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

              “No curb reaction distance is required when a bike lane is adjacent to the travel lane.” Seems someone thought it OK to take out bicycle riders, just not pedestrians (or to bounce off a curb).

              1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

                I was told by an engineer that curb reaction distance (despite the name) is largely about being able to bypass disabled cars on the side of the road — that’s why more space is required on 2-lane roads than 4-lane. Since a bicycle takes up less space and can easily be lifted out of the roadway altogether, it might not require extra space. Not sure if that’s the true intention or not.

      2. Monte

        I’ve never seen a diamond interchange operating on split phase. It may impact a few houses, but what about rebuilding it into a roundabout?

        I know serious bicyclists won’t like this, but as another idea, what about building a separate bridge for a multi-use trail on the east side to match the one south of here? That was done on Marschall road when they decided they wanted a trail alongside it a few years after building the interchange.

        1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

          For cyclists, I think replacing it with roundabouts to free up space on the bridge would be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. It is, I think, more intimidating to take the lane through a roundabout than it is on a straight, normal travel lane.

          The separate bridge isn’t a terrible idea, but it’s sort of an apples-and-oranges situation. Connecting the MUP is great (in fact, it will be extended south to 76th Street next year), but the Richfield MUP and greater Portland Ave bikeway are quite different matters. You can’t really expect a southbound bicyclist going from downtown to Richfield or Bloomington to make a left turn onto, and a left turn off of, a MUP to get across a single bridge.

          But if a MUP bridge were paired with sharrows or similar on-road guidance, that might serve a variety of users.

          By the way, a similar MUP supplement bridge will be added either this or next summer next to the 12th Ave bridge over 494/5. This will connect a new regional trail into Bloomington.

          1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

            Roundabouts are one of the safest types of junctions for bicycle riders in The Netherlands. Of course they have safe and comfortable segregated facilities of their own around or under the roundabout for motor traffic.

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