The Case of the Missing Lyndale Bike Connection

On the outskirts of many large, expensive, complicated public works projects, there are often examples of easy little things we could do to improve our cities for very little money. A couple blocks from my humble apartment, the City of Minneapolis is moving ahead with a rebuild of the Hennepin/Lyndale bottleneck that looks to be a real improvement for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Just south of that, though, is another thing we ought to do something about.

There is a small (one long block!) but glaring gap in cyclability on Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis between the Hennepin/Lyndale bottleneck and Franklin Avenue. The cycletrack that begins at Loring Park and travels along the east side of the bottleneck abruptly ends right after clearing the last freeway onramp.

Cyclist veers up into bridge

Cyclist veers up into bridge (click to enlarge)

Cyclists trying to head south through this area are confronted with three options:

1.) Go up and over the bridge to be connected to the Bryant Avenue Bike Boulevard

The Bryant Avenue Bike Boulevard, a nice facility, is two blocks to the west of Lyndale Avenue. It wouldn’t be super out of the way if you were biking north from, say, Uptown, taking Bryant and crossing the bridge to get onto the existing cycletrack to continue towards downtown.


Slingshot (Source: Bing Maps/MS Paint/B in Mr. LaMont’s Art class in 4th grade)

It is, unfortunately, pretty out of the way and a pain if you’re doing just about any southbound trip. Google Maps gives you these options to get from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church to Rudolph’s on a bike. I don’t get the sense that you’re encouraged to bike in the freeway onramp-like stretch of Lyndale that emerges out of the bottlebeck; your remaining options are cockamamie.



2.) Ride on the sidewalk

Loosely enforced

Loosely enforced

In theory, you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk here, per signage on the sidewalk in front of Rudolph’s. In the summer, when they have outdoor seating, it’s pretty tight. Anecdotally, this appears to be the most common response to the gap. I walked through it for a couple minutes taking pictures on a Tuesday and three people rode down the sidewalk. I don’t generally bike through this area (for obvious reasons) but I’ve done it several times on the sidewalk. It’s not a very big sidewalk and, as you can see in the middle picture, there are obstacles and pedestrians to contend with.

Dangerous anarchists

Dangerous anarchists (click to enlarge)

3.) Ride into oncoming traffic in the street

This is a thing that I’ve seen! Don’t do this.


An easy fix

What we should do, though, is just take out that whole lane of parking along the east side of Lyndale and extend the cycletrack to the Franklin intersection. We could do something real basic tomorrow–adjust some signage, put up bollards, and stripe a bit.

There aren’t too many parking spots–probably seven or so spaces if everyone is parked efficiently. There’s a Y-intersection with Ridgewood Avenue in the middle of the block. Presumably, the people who live in those two apartment buildings will not be happy about losing the handful of parking spaces that this strip provides. But, doing some math, there are ten units in the north building and eleven units in the south building, and it does look like there are pretty close to 21 surface parking stalls in the lot behind the two buildings. And, actually, on Google Maps there are but two cars parked along the whole strip. Walking along it yesterday, there were three cars parked there. Rudolph’s has a parking arrangement with a surface lot kitty corner from their restaurant.

This whole area is itching for redevelopment, as we saw with the ultimately ill-fated Franklin & Lyndale project that appears to be on hold for now. But at the moment, it’s not a particularly enjoyable intersection to use as a pedestrian, cyclist, or transit user. Lyndale Avenue from the bottleneck to Lake Street is a very large street. Trivia: Along with White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, Lyndale Avenue was one of the designated emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle.

A loophole! (Source: Hennepin County)

A loophole! (Source: Hennepin County)

It’s a county road! And so changing it is a little harder than changing, say, Bryant Avenue. However! According to the county road map, it would appear that this little chunk of Lyndale is actually not a county road, their jurisdiction starts south of Franklin.

So, this would be pretty easy to fix, right? We could stripe it in a weekend! I would volunteer. I don’t often bike through this area, but I do walk through it every few days. I would probably bike through it more often if it was more accessible, and I bet lots of other people would too. We could throw some planters and other nice things on there. Long-term, we should extend the curb out from the buildings and do bumpouts at Franklin & Lyndale. There could be trees! That perpetually vacant/sad retail space between Ridgewood Avenue and the apartment buildings would be much more attractive. The outdoor diners at Rudolph’s would probably have a better experience. That, though, costs actual money; we could do almost as well with some paint and some spunk.

Nick Magrino

About Nick Magrino

Nick Magrino grew up all over the place but has lived in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis longer than anywhere else. He has a new cat, Sweater, and does not use hashtags at @nickmagrino. He is probably on a bus right now.

72 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Lyndale Bike Connection

  1. Matt Brillhart

    Great job Nick. This is absolutely something that could be improved in short order, with pretty minimal funding (cones/paint). It’s too bad this section was just outside the scope of the bottleneck project, otherwise I’m sure people would have been screaming for it.

    Somewhat awkwardly, this is actually in Ward 7 (Lisa Goodman), since she represents “Loring Heights” on the east side of Lyndale, even though both Whittier & The Wedge are in Ward 10:

    I don’t know if that’s an actual barrier or not, but either way, let’s start asking both Lisas (Goodman & Bender) to make this a priority. It’s long been identified by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition as a critical gap.

    Let’s get this done in 2015. If the City won’t, we’ll just have to do it ourselves.

    P.S. I’m unhappy to report that I have taken options 1, 2, and 3 on this stretch. Most often Option 2, since I live east of Lyndale and I’m not insane enough to ride against oncoming traffic that’s gunning for I-94.

    1. Matt Brillhart

      Also, pro-tip for other Whittier residents/cyclists, the one-way pairs of Garfield (SB) & Harriet(NB) make excellent cycling streets, if riding on Lyndale isn’t your thing.

      Heading northbound to the cycletrack, I take NB Harriet Ave to 22nd to Lyndale to cycletrack. (22nd preferred over Franklin due to elevation changes)

      Going southbound I take the cycletrack to the Rudolph’s sidewalk to Franklin to SB Garfield Ave.

      It’s a pretty great cycling route, except for that one long nightmare block on Lyndale

  2. Rebecca AirmetRebecca Airmet

    Great post, Nick. And it seems like this would be a great time of year to try a proof of concept. The city could block off the parking lane with cones, and do some temporary signage, and presuming we see usage in November, that would certainly bode well for the rest of the year.

  3. Justin Heideman

    I don’t think this is a worthwhile investment to make. Lyndale and Franklin in this part of town are both terrible, dangerous streets to bike on. You’re much better and safer going slightly out of your way to Bryant to go South/West or Up to Groveland to East/North.

    Until larger and more substantial improvements are made on Lyndale and franklin, this is a bad idea.

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      But the point is that it’s not a big investment… paint, changing some signs, and some cones/plastic bollards. Maybe a couple thousand bucks at the most.

      I don’t think Nick is claiming that this short stretch is the complete answer towards a bicycle friendly Lyndale through Whittier, but the point is that it’s low cost and high return. That’s value, and that makes it “worthwhile” to me.

      1. Mae

        As one of the “apartment users,” I just wanted to comment. The south apartment building has 12 units, and six assigned parking spots in back (first come first served). Five spots when there’s a snowbank to contend with. Every night there are usually four cars parked out front.

    2. Reilly

      Even if one doesn’t care for the current Lyndale as a bike thoroughfare, this would at least serve as a nice connection from the downtown and Loring areas to the residential streets east of Lyndale (much as the bike bridge serves for the Wedge and Uptown).

  4. Dean carlson

    I agree with Justin above. Lyndale is such a nightmare to bike on. This solution gets you to Rudolphs. Then what? You then have to either cross over 2 streets to continue southbound or turn left at Franklin. Using Bryant to go SB then crossing at Franklin or 24th to get to Whittier makes a lot more sense, doesn’t pull you too far off your route, and is a whole lot safer.

  5. Casey

    I don’t see the big deal about going to Bryant. I have used this bridge so many times. Very convenient except for the Burch valet drivers you need to watch out for. Lyndale gets extremely packed with cars either going downtown or to the freeway that they line up before 24th. By removing that lane it would make it even worse.

    1. Matt Brillhart

      Bryant is not a viable option if you live in Whittier. Not only have you detoured 1/8 mile west (and then another 1/8 mile back to Lyndale), but you must now cross Lyndale itself.

      The fact that so many people are biking here today is proof enough. On a nice day, go sit at a patio table at Rudolph’s for an hour or so. You will see dozens of folks using options 2 and 3 as described above. Bike Walk Twin Cities has the data, I’ve even done the fall count myself at that location. The data confirms that this is a highly desired connection.

      1. Janne

        I did the counts at this site for years before you did. Both Franklin and Lyndale have high counts, despite how terrible they are. Nick is right that most people take the sidewalk, a good number that the street, and a free do that ramp gauntlet thing in one of the maps.

        I live west of here a couple blocks so the bridge is great for me, but if I’m getting groceries at the Wedge, I take the sidewalk. And i HATE bike riders who take the sidewalk, including myself.

      2. dean carlson

        I get the issue about crossing Lyndale to get to Whittier, but it can be done with the lights at either Franklin, 22nd, or 24th. But going out of your way 1/8 of a mile on bike is nothing. We’re talking 660 feet.

        1. Matt Brillhart

          To be fair, it’s actually a bit more than that due to the hairpin switchback on the bridge that must be taken at low speeds. Also, and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record too much, but people are biking on the sidewalk / wrong way in the street today. Do you propose we put up tire spikes or give them tickets? There is a clear infrastructure gap here, and the solution is relatively cheap. Why all of the resistance / support for the status quo?

          1. dean carlson

            I just think you are pushing the problem one block south to Franklin and Lyndale, where it will be even worse. S.P. below explains it quite explicitly. I do agree your solution is inexpensive and that people are now riding on the sidewalk or against car traffic, getting them to stop won’t be easy.

            Finally it bothers me that bikers (and I’m guilty of this too) will put themselves or others in danger just to cut a few feet or minutes off a bike commute. Taking Bryant flyover to 22nd or 24th is a perfectly viable way to get to Whittier and would not appreciably add to your ride. And just think, you get to ride past the Let It Be house!

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              I get annoyed with bikers on 12th Street riding the wrong way in the bike lane on a one way street, so I know what you mean.

              But I’ve been in this situation a few times myself, I’ve seen people bike on the sidewalk there all the time, they aren’t going to stop doing that, and this is cheap and easy. Seems like a good idea.

              I take your (and other’s) point it just leaves the biker at a busy intersection, but at least it gets them to a light where they can cross and bike on the appropriate side of the street. To me, that’s the reason why you do this. The existing bike facility needs to extend to a point where people using it can exit without having to bike into oncoming traffic or on the sidewalk.

              1. Rosa

                Part of that may just be poor signage. It took me forever to find the bypass even though I knew it was there – from a block away it looks like a highway entrance.

                It seems that was one of the places where the signage suddenly got much better this summer, but by this summer I knew where it was and wasn’t so dependent on signage, so I might be misremembering.

    2. Nick MagrinoNick Magrino Post author

      Keep in mind it’s a parking lane, not a driving and/or turn lane. The onramp onto I-94 is plenty long enough by itself for cars to queue up a bit.

      1. Matt Brillhart

        Not only is it just a parking lane, it doesn’t even provide very many spaces. There are essentially two distinct parking “bays”: north of Ridgewood (apartments) and south of Ridgewood (Rudolph’s).

        The apartment users, as Nick noted, do have off-street parking in back, as well as free parking on Ridgewood. Lyndale appears to provide 3, maybe 4 parking spaces at most here. No one will seriously miss them. If parking is tight on Ridgewood, I’d say it’s an excellent candidate for residential permit parking.

        Rudolph’s is slightly trickier, as one of the four parking spaces in front of their restaurant is handicap parking. The other three are limited to 15 minute parking from 8AM-Midnight. I’m not sure what that’s all about, as restaurant customers can’t really make use of that. Anyways, Rudolph’s has a big parking lot across the street, which may or may not be redeveloped. Rudolph’s may or may not relocate into that development themselves. Being in the same building as their parking would seem to be a huge benefit to their restaurant business. Either way, I’m sure we can accommodate a handicap parking space and a taxi/valet parking space around the corner on Franklin in the meantime.

        Let’s do this already!

    3. Rosa

      it’s a pain in the butt getting to stuff in Loring Park (like MCTC) from the east and south by going past Lyndale on the Greenway and coming back on Bryant. But then cutting straight north before Lyndale you have to cross 26th & 28th and Franklin – Franklin has the safety island, which is nice, but because cars turn on red off Lyndale, there are times when there are never breaks in traffic on Franklin.

  6. Shawn

    Great article….

    Please don’t try to site google earth images as evidence of street usage 😛

    Do you have a citation on how any residential area was ever considered as an emergency landing strip for the Space Shuttle?

      1. brad

        *specific* cite please. the wikipedia page you link to mentions it could theoretically land at most major airports, so why would they possibly pick an urban street instead?

      1. brad

        ah, ok. maybe Nick’s too young to remember that crazy stuff like that actually happened during the 80s…

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      Maybe that little mall would do better with some bicycle traffic… clearly there’s too much automobile traffic (and northbound only) to make it successful.

  7. Matt Brillhart

    Also, I think there’s a case to be made for converting the Ridgewood Avenue intersection to Right Out Only. Someone heading from NB Lyndale to their dwelling on Ridgewood could just as easily take a right on Franklin, left on Pillsbury, left of Ridgewood. That’s a pretty short and non-stressful detour for a motor vehicle.

    Heck, you might even find a number of Ridgewood Ave residents strongly in favor of making that change, as it would cut down on the number of speeding vehicles coming through. Not that it’s a popular detour route or anything today, but it would calm the street at very minimal inconvenience to residents.

  8. Doug TrummDoug Trumm

    I don’t think “I don’t feel comfortable biking on Lyndale so there should be no improvements for any one seeking to use Lyndale even for a few blocks” is a good argument. Especially when the investment is pretty minimal.

  9. Adam FroehligAdam Froehlig

    FYI, while this short stretch of Lyndale isn’t a county road, it’s still a Municipal State Aid Street, so state aid standards still apply. That said, There are two options to make this work and still be within state aid standards:

    – Use bollards to separate the cycletrack from the northbound travel lane.

    – A curb is doable, but would require a narrower cycletrack (I’m figuring 9ft) in order to provide the mandated curb reaction distance. Here’s a schematic.

    Regarding the comment that you shouldn’t rely on Google to gauge parking usage, I’d like to point out that there were 5 cars parked in the lane the day (in September 2014) that the Google Streetview camera car drove by.

  10. Steven Prince

    Unless you are going to take parking out all the way to 22nd, I don’t see how this solves any problems, except to put more bicycles on the sidewalk from Franklin to 22nd, which is not a good idea in my view.

    Also, making this short counterflow bike path (going south) means bikes coming off the bike path at Franklin and going where exactly? The Franklin – Lyndale intersection is already one of the most congested in the area.

    I don’t think you can call this a gap – its more a dead end. This short stretch is no worse than than Lyndale all the way to 26th Street. It is not a street that is safe to bicycle on.

    The Bryant alignment is not ideal for people going to Whittier (or the Coop), but the up-hill on Franklin east of Lyndale means few bike riders would ride this short segment of bike path (if added) only to get to Franklin, most will continue down to 22nd Street where the grade going east is less steep. The flyover bridge to Bryant to 22nd get you there now with a very short detour.

  11. Sean Hayford Oleary

    Although I definitely support making improvements, I think it’s a little disingenuous not to include the most predictable and (arguably) safest option, which is to use the lanes that connect between the off-ramp signal at Hennepin and WB 94 where they merge into southbound Lyndale. You mentioned this option, but simply dismissed it, noting ” I don’t get the sense that you’re encouraged to bike in the freeway onramp-like stretch of Lyndale that emerges out of the bottleneck.”

    The character of this connection is poor, and intimidating, but I don’t know that it has to be that way. A short one-way between an exit ramp and a destination street is actually quite common, and not usually as unpleasant as this one. For example: 2nd Ave or Stevens between 35th and 36th St, or Butler Pl and 9th St between Riverside and 25th Ave.

    In my opinion, the best approach to navigate this currently is to use the cycletrack until reaching the lights at the WB 94 exit ramp. Wait at the front of the line there (out of the way of other cycletrack users) and proceed to SB Lyndale. Since you include some illegalities in the options, you can make this option a lot better if a gap in traffic allows you to cross into the connection on a red. This would give you a significant head start over cars exiting the freeway to SB Lyndale.

      1. Sean Hayford Oleary

        Yes, you’re right, it is awkward to move over from that inner lane to the right with traffic merging from SB Hennepin/Lyndale. I still think this is the best (current) option, but I agree it’s not a suitable option for the future.

        1. Janne

          This strategy is terrifying, also to traffic-comfortable riders. It’s also so obviously designed for cars, no bicyclist would ever take it without having studied this intersection for hours. It’s unwelcoming. Not For Bikes.

          It’s as obviously Not For Bikes just like the Greenway is obviously Not For Cars. That doesn’t mean a few don’t take it anyway. But Bikes Don’t Belong.

  12. Peter D

    As a driver and cyclist who has biked and driven down these roads many times, I don’t believe this is a good solution.

    Look, not every road needs to be a good road for bikes. In Minneapolis we’re better off with certain roads for cars only and certain roads for bikes. In this part of town, Lyndale and Hennepin should be for cars, while every other road in between should be for bikes or residents. Lyndale is a difficult enough road for cars to manage, and there are is no room for bikes. Add in winter darkness and snow, and it becomes downright dangerous for bikes.

    Everyone is inconvenienced at some point in their commute, whether it’s by bike, car or bus. Bikes having to go 2 blocks over (on a very safe bike bridge to a road with little traffic and speed bumps designed for bikes) is hardly an inconvenience.

    Finally, if you’re coming from downtown to Rudolphs, just walk your bike on the side walk the last block. God forbid we inconvenience bikers so much they have to walk an entire block…

    1. Sean Hayford Oleary

      Remember, it’s not just about going two blocks out of your way. For Wedge-bound folks, many destinations are on Lyndale. For those of us using it for the longer haul, there’s a huge difference in speed.

      Bryant has 18 stop signs and 5 signals between Franklin and 58th Street, and the signals either favor the cross street (not Bryant), or they treat the two streets equally. Lyndale has 15 or so signals, but they heavily favor Lyndale in their cycle (it’s relatively unlikely that you’ll have to stop at them), and there are 0 stop signs.

      Biking from Loring Park to Richfield, I would say it takes me about 25 minutes via Lyndale or 40 minutes via Bryant. That’s more than a 50% increase in the time I spend — and I’m basically left to my own devices to get across Franklin, 26th, and 28th, while Lyndale has safe traffic control through these. I would say that the whole experience on Lyndale feels considerably safer than on Bryant between Franklin and Lake — I have a wide travel lane to myself, cars pass in the other lane at a safe distance, and I’m a safe distance from car doors. I’m extremely visible. On Bryant, everything is very tight, and you’re forced to ride in the door zone to negotiate with oncoming traffic. Plus the aforementioned lack of protection crossing busy streets.

      Not saying people shouldn’t use Bryant. When I have time to kill and want a more pleasant ride, I’ll take it (at least south of Lake Street). But there are a slew of good reasons why one might need to use Lyndale.

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        And at the risk of channeling Walker, I do not think you are necessarily representative of the typical biker. I don’t think many people who are not pretty serious bikers would feel as comfortable as you taking the lane on Lyndale. I wouldn’t.

        I ride from Loring Park to Richfield occasionally, but generally only on weekends. Bryant works nicely for me, in part because I do not feel at all apologetic about taking the lane on a street on which cars have been specifically told to share it. Although it works less when you’re stuck behind, or playing leapfrog with, a bus.

        1. Sean Hayford Oleary

          Actually, I agree, Adam. I know most people aren’t comfortable on Lyndale -I’m not even particularly comfortable on Lyndale between 38th and 31st, where it’s just one lane and a median.

          My point in mentioning the benefits (safer traffic control through busy intersections, more space to maneuver, faster) is just to emphasize why Lyndale. The destinations on Lyndale north of Lake are a good reason for the “local mile” argument, while the speed of Lyndale is a good argument for going a longer distance.

          I do not believe bicyclists have to choose between efficiency and being safe, at least not here. But they do currently have to choose between efficiency and feeling safe and welcome and comfortable. I don’t think that should be the choice; we should be able to feel comfortable where we ride without having to slow ourselves down 50%.

          1. Peter D

            In a perfect world, everyone would be able to bike or drive down a road without anyone else to share it with. This is why people like living out in bumfuck nowhere. Unfortunately, we live in a city with millions of people trying to get places in many different ways. Bikes, cars, buses, walking. That means sometimes people will have to wait for a stop sign or stop light. It’s a small price for us to pay in order to enjoy the benefits of a city.

            I dunno Sean, you come across as very anti-car. I don’t like cars either, but they’re a necessary evil and something the vast majority of people use. There are a lot of them on Lyndale and they go fast. They take up all of both lanes (along with busses).

            Why we can’t just come to agreement that Lyndale is for cars and Bryant is for bikes is beyond me. Same as going East-West – Lake Street is for cars, the Greenway is for Bikes. So going south, the biker has to be inconvenienced a bit. Too bad. Cars are inconvenienced all the time as well. It’s just a part of getting around in our society.

            I think it’s incredibly naive to think “As I bike 7 miles from Loring Park to Richfield, I should never have to wait at a light or be inconvenienced by a stop sign. Bikes should have the right of way the entire time.”

            1. Sean Hayford Oleary

              > “I think it’s incredibly naive to think ‘As I bike 7 miles from Loring Park to Richfield, I should never have to wait at a light or be inconvenienced by a stop sign. Bikes should have the right of way the entire time.'”

              I believe the gist of what I was actually saying was, bikes should have as good of right-of-way as cars. They shouldn’t feel compelled to go out of their way to go through 20 stop signs.

              There’s almost an argument to made for Greenway vs Lake St — since cars are actually excluded from the Greenway, and it’s an equal or faster option than Lake St. Bryant is not, and bikes share it with cars (and a high-frequency bus line).

              My riding on Lyndale is no more anti-car than a tractor on a rural highway, or a stopped bus, or a right-turning car delayed by pedestrians, or anything else you might choose to pass.

            2. Nicole

              The problem with saying “Lyndale is for cars, Bryant is for bikes” and “Lake is for cars, the Greenway is for bikes” is that sticky little issue of destinations.

              Not everyone is using these streets as a through route to get somewhere else. Sometimes (or often, as is the case for Lake St in particular) the place to “get to” is right on that street, and it should be safe for all users.

              These are city streets. Not freeways. They need to be safe and accessible for everyone.

            3. Matt Brillhart

              Peter, I kindly request that you read this:

              Let’s keep focus on the short trips within the neighborhood. Let’s say I’m eating at World Street Kitchen, and am heading up to Mortimer’s, both on the east side of Lyndale. There’s zero logic or benefit in detouring to Bryant (or Harriet Ave 2 blocks east). If I’m biking between destinations ON Lyndale, why on Earth would I detour away from it? Bicycles have a legal right to be there, even if it’s more dangerous than other streets. Lyndale Avenue may be “for cars” as you say, but bikes still have a legal right to be there, and they always will.

              1. Peter D

                Ah, the ol “legal right” argument. Sure, it’s a right, but it’s also pretty annoying and not all that smart. I could say it’s my right to smoke 10 packs of cigarettes a day, but I don’t because it’s dumb. You have every right to bike on Lyndale, just as I have ever right to say that those who do are selfish and obnoxious.

                Hoping over to Harriet from Lyndale takes about 30 seconds each way, making the 3 minute bike trip a 4 minute bike trip. Or you could walk the .7 miles, turning a 3 minute walk into a 10 minute ride. It’s hardly a price to pay for the convenience of an empty, safe street to bike on or a nice peaceful walk down the street.

                Part of having safe streets for everyone is everyone being where they should be. If it’s easier for me to drive down Bryant, I don’t because I know it’s for bikes. I sit in traffic on Lyndale like a schmuck because I’m in a car. If I’m on my bike, I bike down Bryant, even if it’s less convenient, because it’s the bike road. These detours cost me >5 minutes. Nobody’s life is so important they can’t spare 5 minutes to make traffic in the neighborhood go smoother.

                1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

                  “Nobody’s life is so important they can’t spare 5 minutes”

                  So then why are you so uptight about the hypothetical situation of being channeled behind a vehicular cyclist like Sean? Just take a breather and enjoy a slow drive through the neighborhood.

                  1. Peter D

                    Because I’m afraid of hitting a cyclist while I’m trying to turn left onto Lyndale and can’t see behind parked cars, buses or snow banks. It’s already a dangerous enough road. Bikes on it make it more so. I’m also afraid of the guys with road rage who can’t wait behind a bike getting pissed and don’t want to see a fellow cyclist get hurt.

                    1. Nicole

                      Peter, this comment is exactly WHY the changes Nick suggests in this article are needed. If you’re afraid of hitting someone while driving, something is wrong with the design of the road. Either the design speed is too fast, or not enough space is dedicated to the right things. Nick’s suggestion to reallocate inefficiently used parking spaces to make a safer cycling route would make at least this small section of Lyndale safer for all users.

                      Lyndale isn’t a freeway. It just isn’t. It’s a city street that needs to be designed for everyone in the city.

                    2. Peter D

                      I’m referring to further down Lyndale, not at Franklin.

                      And bikes won’t get hit if they simply stay on the bridge and go down Bryant.

                2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

                  I think there are also vast assumptions about safety here that may not be true. What’s less safe about Lyndale, exactly? Sightlines are as good, so cars can react to you. There is more space for cars to pass you. As I’ve mentioned, you’re not taking any chances at two-way stops. You are much farther from parked car doors if centered in the lane.

                  Intersections are generally where bicyclists get hit and killed. Avoiding dangerous intersections and choosing intersections which favor the road you’re on will probably make you safer.

                  The only thing that’s less safe about Lyndale is the speed of cars — which is curious, since of course Lyndale and Bryant have the same speed limit…

                  1. Peter D

                    There’s no way cars go the same speed down both roads. If there’s an opening, everyone’s going ~35 MPH down Lyndale. Bryant has speed bumps, making cars slow down to ~15 to go over, with not much room between blocks to speed up.

                    Intersections are the most dangerous part of Lyndale, as cars can’t see around parked cars if it’s safe to go or not. It’s hard enough to see an oncoming car, let alone bike when trying to merge to Lyndale. On Bryant the 4 way stops make cars stop for bikes. There are so few instances when 2 cars arrive at the same time though that you can pretty much Idaho stop your way all the way down Bryant.

                    But I agree – Bryant should be turned into a bike path. Not sure the feasibility of that, but it should would make things easier.

                    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

                      Yes, my speed comment was more for effect, to emphasize that much of the problem on Lyndale is bad behavior of motorists. (I have yet to see a single cyclist speeding on Lyndale 😉 )

                      The sightline issue is mostly resolved by bicyclists riding adequately far from parked cars — but I’ll certainly acknowledge that not all cyclists do that. Since cyclists generally travel slower than cars, you have more time to react to them.

                      If Bryant were as efficient as Lyndale (whether making it bike only, or just providing lights at major junctions timed to the Lyndale lights), I would be perfectly happy to use it rather than Lyndale for long-haul trips, although destinations on Lyndale might still necessitate short trips. But making Bryant as good as Lyndale is a much more expensive and difficult proposition than simply making improvements like the ones suggested in this article.

                    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      You seem to be talking about a very short stretch of Bryant. I don’t think there are any speed bumps south of 26th Street, and by the time you reach 31st, the cars aren’t any slower on Bryant.

                      You’re right about Idaho stops though. When I use Bryant, I don’t spend a lot stopping for stop signs. But I’m not in as big a hurry as someone commuting like Sean and there is less traffic on weekends.

                3. TM

                  So you’re advocating a ‘separate but equal’ kind of approach to transportation facilities, then? The kind where they are not at all equal in quality or usability for the designated groups … because I think we’ve tried that before in other areas with very bad results.

            4. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

              Since we live in a city with more transportation needs than we can cram into narrow rights of way, maybe we should talk efficiency. The absolute least efficient use of our scarce public right of way are cars. So maybe we should ban cars from Lyndale. I’m not completely joking.

              1. Peter D

                I’d love a society without cars. But it aint going to happen, so let’s stick to pragmatic solutions. The truth is the vast majority of people prefer cars, so give them one road in the neighborhood while bikes take all the others.

                1. TM

                  If you’d really love it, you wouldn’t decry any small attempt to move towards that world as ‘impractical.’ Dream a little bigger.

                  1. Peter D

                    The best way to build a bike infrastructure right now is to have it completely separate from the busy car streets. Hardcore bikers don’t mind biking on Lyndale, but you aren’t going to convert anyone on the fence about biking to work by saying “Look, you can just bike down Lyndale to get to work! Just take the lane – trust me, nobody will hit you even though they’re all flying past you at 35 MPH and it’s dark out.

                    Nobody is going to jump at that. What you do is say “Bryant is a road that’s now closed to cars except for residents with a permit to park in front of their house (it’s also a one way for cars now with parking on only one side, and a bike lane on the other). If you want to go to a business on Lyndale, you just go down Bryant, then turn at the side street to Lyndale, and walk the extra 10 feet. It adds maybe 2 minutes to your ride”

                    Then you get all cyclists, even the helmetcam wearing, 4″ inch wide, militant anti-car types to go down this road and stay off Lyndale. That shows the casual biker that everyone can use this road and it’s safe. Sure, it takes an extra 2 minutes to go out of your way, but it takes well longer than that sometimes to find parking in your car.

                    The hardcore bikers need to be recruiting more people to biking, but simply saying “take the lane, it’s fine” is pretty daunting to most casual bikers. Which is why separate but equal (yes, I went there, whoever compared it to Jim Crow laws is dumb) infrastructure needs to exist to get people comfortable with biking. Get rid of the traffic on Bryant and Harriet (along with, say 1st and Blaisdell near Nicollet), and make em bike routes while the main drags are for cars. Sure, bikes would rather have em, but when 90% of the people still travel by car, they’re going to win this fight.

            5. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              Because there are a lot more places that are “for cars” than there are “for bikes” and nearly all of the places people want to go are on those “for cars” places.

              And cars are very, very, rarely inconvenienced.

              And of course, Bryant is not “for bikes” either, as there are cars the whole way too.

        2. Rosa

          I’m not a “serious biker”, but I do have to get to class at MCTC from either Powderhorn or Seward on a regular basis. Sometimes the time savings is worth the terror.

    2. Nick MagrinoNick Magrino Post author

      Full disclosure, my general sense of things is that I’m probably less anti-car than the average content consumer. I drove a car a couple weeks ago. On the freeway!

      The thing here, though, is like that Matt and Janne say above, there are many many people who are currently biking south through this area. I would reckon that most of the people doing so are just people who ride bikes, rather than cyclists who comment about cycling infrastructure on the Internet. Which isn’t a swipe at more serious cyclists at all, just an observation that most people are making the decision that riding uphill up the switchback and over the bridge out of their way several blocks to get to Whittier and the Wedge is silly when you can just ride down the sidewalk for an awkward block.

      Taking out this lane of lightly used parking and putting in a block long bike connection with some paint would cost like…I dunno, a couple thousand dollars at most? Then people will cross to the other side of Lyndale and continue south, or head wherever. I’m kinda surprised by the reaction to this idea.

      1. Michael

        Ya the opposition to this is surprising to me as well. This is such an obvious gap that could easily be fixed by removing a few lightly used parking spaces.

        Also, I don’t understand why some think this option to access Whittier would be more dangerous than accessing it via the bike bridge. In that situation you still have to go through the Franklin-Lyndale intersection.

  13. TM

    Here’s an idea, why don’t we make all the commercial streets with the stuff people actually want to go to bike and pedestrian only, then turn the sidestreets into car sewers, but make sure they have less priority than bikes and pedestrians at crossings and that their connections involve going way out of the way to get where ever they’re going (the more inconvenient and absurd the better!). Maybe that little switcheroo will make Peter D happy, since we will have segregated traffic where bikes stay away from his lanes. Unless he only wants the *best* routes kept for cars, in which case the entire argument is extremely disingenuous.

  14. Keith Morris

    Lyndale is a joke of an urban street, as is Franklin and virtually every other urban commercial street in the city save Nicollet Mall and the “street” along the front of The Quarry: crosswalks galore,which pedestrians use and the proliferation of crosswalks causes slower, more cautious driving, probably also because there’s only one travel lane in each direction. Yet this kind of configuration is unseen anywhere else in the city on urban streets even though it works: why is that? Even some sprawling suburbs do a better job with commercial streets than us because they are actually designed as commercial streets, not suburban arterials which happen to run between a collection of businesses, i.e. just about every so-called “commercial street” in Minneapolis..

    “Lifestyle Centers” for example, by and large kick any city’s ass on safety and the perception thereof on their commercial streets. Back where I’m from that would be Easton. While some urbanists including myself are quick to brush these off as fake and full of of typical upscale chains and those laughable fake apartment windows on the second floors where not a single soul lives. However, I give them credit where credit is due: Hennepin, Lake, Lyndale, Central, even 13th NE can’t hold a candle to the layout of safe walkable streets of “downtown” Easton:,-82.9149309,3a,75y,19.56h,86.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1slBNAckhatl7Smog7GMWnVA!2e0

    It’s a narrow street with no stripe down the middle, two travel lanes, two parking lanes, and lots of large mid-block bumpouts, which is a feature not found on Nicollet Mall. Easton also packs in many times more restaurants and stores facing the sidewalks and when you tally these short blocks they exceed the length of the walkable portion of Nicollet Mall. Fact: a lifestyle center in the middle of Ohio offers a superior commercial street layout than any commercial street in Minneapolis. That just shouldn’t be, yet that’s the reality we’re facing.

    Now, granted the streets surrounding this highly walkable area are your typical stroads and this is where our city leaders unfortunately do not have the same understanding of walkable streets which developers of lifestyle centers somehow solely possess. That is, you prioritize pedestrians above cars on walkable commercial streets and all arterials must remain outside of that zone for it to succeed. In the context of a city that approach would mean these zones, aka every commercial street, prioritize pedestrians 1st and foremost with the street designs to prove it. Why lifestyle center developers understand this, but not city mayors and city councils beats me.

    You’ll notice I didn’t mention a word about bikes yet, but I didn’t have to: these streets are highly bikeable even without any bike-specific infrastructure. The shortness of the blocks, the numerous pedestrian crossings along them, the parallel parking, all of this leads to motorists driving at safe speeds: the kind of speeds that cyclists feel safe biking in. Imagine that!

    Oh yea, I am for the proposed change: I shop at the Wedge every now and then and I’m not a fan of having to take the lane while hauling groceries to ensure a motorist doesn’t cut me off before reaching the path. And while rolling down the sidewalk is awkward I can put up with it for a short block.

  15. Cameron ConwayCameron Conway

    Ideal long term goal= build this connection, then do a 4-3 conversion of Lyndale with a two way protected bikeway on the east side. Politically feasible in the short term or not, this is the solution. Who wants to convince Hennepin County that urban 4 lane roads need the boot?

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      Perhaps that person can convince the City of Minneapolis first, since this platinum bike-friendly city has an almost identical four-lane undivided street just to the west… if Minneapolis wants the county to drop lanes, they should lead by example.

      Also, not even sure that a 3-lane is necessary to make space for bikes. A layout similar to 1st Ave N (only, hopefully less awkward) might work well. Off-peak parking buffer, no parking allowed during rush hour.

  16. Keith Morris

    I would much rather not be stuck to one side of Lyndale: protected bike lane on each side would be ideal. But then I’d be biking on the roads anyway and would rather see more people biking, so a two-way on one side would be fine.

    Nicollet Ave along Eat Street is a good example of an improvement, though not a big one (not even any sharrows). It has noticeably more cyclists than Lyndale, Hennepin, and Lake, probably combined. If two travel lanes with a middle turn lane work there it’ll work elsewhere. The only other factor is that other streets don’t have a Kmart to lower the amount of cars passing through. If access were limited on these major streets simply with bollards that would go a long way to make them more bike-friendly. Still won’t compare to your lifestyle centers (or is that “centres”?).

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      Yeah, Nicollet has a few factors working in its favor. As you noted, it’s got a dead end at Lake Street, and to passenger cars, it also has a dead end at Nicollet Mall. Plus it’s flanked on both sides by faster one-ways that don’t have the dead ends. And the traffic volumes reflect that. Lyndale has about 24,000 ADT and the Eat Street portion of Nicollet has only 10,000.

      Another factor that may be pushing more traffic to Lyndale is the congestion on the regional freeway system. Lowry Hill Tunnel in both directions tends to get clogged, and the NB 35W to WB 94 flyover ramp is clogged any time close to rush hour. This may mean that more traffic is using Lyndale to access the west half of downtown that might theoretically use the freeways.

      Hennepin is even higher at 27,500 ADT. Likely because Hwy 7 and Excelsior Blvd both dump onto W Lake St with no access to downtown better than Hennepin. Were France Ave ever connected to 394, this could probably provide a faster and less disruptive access to downtown for SLP.

  17. Mike Beck

    As a Whittier resident, I NEVER take Lyndale home. If I’m coming from Loring Park or downtown, I cut over on 15th Street which has a bike lane. I can then cross into the ‘hood at LaSalle, Nicollet or 3rd. Lyndale/Franklin not only lacks acceptable bike infrastructure (and this proposal only solve a portion of it), but I consider Franklin to be too steep to ever be considered bike-friendly.

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