Thoughts About My First Community Meeting

I attended the May 18 community meeting concerning the proposed changes to street parking and bicycle lane marking on 54th Street and Diamond Lake Road.  As a relatively new resident of Minneapolis (2 years), and a retired summer recreational cyclist,  I was skeptical of the need for these bike lanes on the city streets, although I had no strong opinion favoring either side of the discussion. I was surprised by the intensity of emotion and anger that was expressed, and came to understand the real concerns of the business owners, church and school folks, and other property owners along the proposed path.

This is the first time I’ve ever attended such a community meeting, and at first I thought there was no solution–that one side would simply override the other to get what they wanted.   It was a beautiful thing to observe the audience and the meeting leaders (city staff and councilman John Quincy) move toward mutual agreement on an acceptable plan.  I felt proud of our community.  I felt that the planning group listened to those who would be affected by the changes, and came to the sharrow plan that was acceptable to both groups.  I thought that the one man who identified himself as both a commuter cyclist and a resident of the affected area made a significant contribution with his observations.

54th diamond lake 1

I still wonder if the volume of bike traffic is really enough to warrant these changes.  However, I have since reflected on the foresight of previous Minneapolis residents who set aside the land to develop the Grand Rounds, and realize that this, too, is an attempt to develop a larger plan for commuter cyclists. Commuter cycling may not be as alluring as the Grand Rounds, but is still an important asset.  When the full plan is finally established, I would expect the volume of cyclists to increase, and accompanying that will come the small-town feel of safety and neighborhood distinction that will be a positive draw for business and church alike. I look forward to attending other such meetings in the future.

On a separate note, I was biking yesterday on the Minnehaha path, and saw an accident as it happened about 100 feet in front of me.  A young girl, maybe 10 years old, tumbled onto the asphalt when her bike tire slipped off the 4 inch high edge of the new asphalt path that has been laid between the area where the path leaves the ravine and the Lynhurst Park area.  She jumped right up, surprisingly, and seemed to be fine.  However, I do hope that the city continues to spread dirt along the edges of that entire newly-laid asphalt, to level it up with the ground, to eliminate this type of accident.

lynnhurst park

31 thoughts on “Thoughts About My First Community Meeting

  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Obviously, I was not at the meeting and have not followed this issue, but a sharrow does not sound like a compromise to me. That sounds like a full win for the cars, the only sacrifice from which will be an occasional painted reminder, easily ignored, that bikes are allowed too.

    As for whether it’s needed, you really can’t ask what the volume of bike traffic is before there is bike infrastructure. By nearly connecting the Bryant bike boulevard (limited though that is as bike infrastructure) with two commercial nodes at Lyndale and Nicollet, you’d think this facility would attract a lot of bikers, whether commuting or not.

    I would think the key question is how frequently this parking is anywhere near capacity. Which is probably never.

  2. Nick

    How many cars are there driving in places where there is no infrastructure dedicated to cars?

  3. Joe

    That’s really disappointing news. Serves me right I suppose, for not speaking up about it, but I didn’t know it was happening. Bike lanes there would have been really nice. Sharrows change literally nothing for anyone.

  4. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    Is the sharrow compromise only near the business nodes, or for the whole length?

    I used to ride this roadway quite regularly, and I think it’s a poor candidate for sharrows. First, because parking is very intermittent — it’s hard to control the lane when it appears to overtaking cars like there’s a “perfectly good shoulder” you could be using. Second, because there’s a decent slope up toward the Lyndale end.

    Second, parking is very intermittent, so why would override the need for a safe biking space? I understand the desire to keep parking at the business nodes, especially by Lyndale. There, parking is used, and is important to the businesses.

    I’d also note that Diamond Lake Road has front driveways for all but one side of one block in this project area. Many of the driveways are over 100′ long. That is: your guests can park in your driveway (if you’re OK with that). If you’re not, they can park across the street.

    As to the general value of this corridor — Nicollet is designated as a future bike route in both Minneapolis and Richfield. It’s also the lowest-stress bike/ped crossing of the Crosstown, with no access whatsoever to the highway. Connecting to the Bryant bikeway — and ultimately connecting east to Portland Ave — would make a lot of sense.

  5. Patrick Garrity

    The newly laid path edge was infilled with dirt, yesterday afternoon. Also, this is my neighborhood. As a 50 year Minneapolis cyclist, I’m fine with sharrows on DLR. Both Lyndale & Nicollet commercial nodes, are severally lacking in parking (both bike & car). Although, I do acknowledge would increase cycling… By others.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      “Both Lyndale & Nicollet commercial nodes, are severally lacking in parking (both bike & car)”

      This is absolutely mind-boggling. Every business at the Lyndale node has off street parking except the ones between the fish & chip shop and the corner on the north side of DLR, with parking on Lyndale generally reasonably open and on Garfield readily available.

      But I’ll grant you that the Nicollet end is tighter. A sharrow for a block on that end might be a decent compromise.

  6. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    Count me also disappointed at the thought of sharrows (unless it’s just the blocks closest to Lyndale and Nicollet, but even that would be disappointing).

    Can someone who was at this meeting, maybe OP, clarify if sharrows will the the full stretch or just these two blocks?

  7. Scott Merth

    Just a quick question: Is there a functional difference between sharrows and a bike blvd, like Bryant? I find the sharrows/cycling conditions on Bryant to be acceptable, but maybe just because of the limited traffic (as a side-street). In other words, how would sharrows on Diamond be different than Bryant?
    That said, I still believe communities would benefit the most by dedicating lanes to other forms of traffic. After all, people on bikes generally go to the same places as people in cars…as long as there’s the proper infrastructure for it.

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      The definitions are a little hazy. Arguably, Bryant is only a Bike Boulevard south of 50th and north of Lake St — where there are no specific lane lines, nor a specific lateral position recommended for bikes. Between Lake and 50th, it’s a street with sharrows.

      I don’t think the design is fundamentally different from Bryant, but the traffic volumes are. Bryant is 2500 through most of the sharrow segment, 3000 near Lake St (but substantially less north and south). Diamond Lake is 9500 in this segment, higher to the east by the interchange.

    2. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      I’d say there is a functional difference, yes. On a bike boulevard, the sharrows really aren’t the facility – they’re just a painted reminder of the facility. The bicycle facility is really made up of the other elements – turned stop signs, mini roundabouts, traffic diverters, refuge islands or stoplights to facilitate crossings of busier streets. The sharrows are merely a reminder in that case.

      But in the case of a car-first facility such as Diamond Lake Road (or Woodley Street in Northfield, or wherever)… a sharrow is basically a reinforcement of “(uncomfortably) share the road” rather than something that really improves bicycle mobility.

  8. Forrest Hardy

    Thank you for these thought Susan. I was the planner involved in the W 54th Street meeting that night. Much of the volatility that night happened because many folks thought the typical section (which you included above) was to be the layout for the entire corridor, removed from any context. To get a better understanding of what the City is proposing see the following document:

    Also visit the project website:

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      That looks like a reasonable solution. Question: It looks like there’s really no eastbound bicycle facility in front of the church from Garfield to Grand. Is that accurate?

      Also, I’m intrigued by the 56′ curb-to-curb width on the DLR bridge above I-35W. I’m eager to see bicycle facilities on East 46th Street, but the 46th Street Bridge (also replaced during Crosstown Commons reconstruction) is likely not wide enough to support true bicycle lanes.

    2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      Appreciate you chiming in, Forrest. I cringe at seeing so many transitions to sharrows, but this project at least grabs the “low-hanging fruit” of the corridor. I am glad it continues across the 35W bridge.

      One detailed question: why no sharrows in front of the church? And is parking allowed 24/7 in those spots, or only on Sundays? (As has been done on other corridors near churches, like S 1st Ave, or along Nicollet Ave in Richfield.)

    3. Alex

      I’m confused — how do people traveling eastbound on bicycles get from Diamond Lake & Blaisdell to Diamond Lake & 1st Ave?

    1. Patrick Garrity

      Curious, my house is yellow outlined in your plan. What is the process, for notification of meetings regarding this plan? But for Susan’s posting, I’ve not heard of this project.

  9. Scott Merth

    Counting in google street view (small sample size, I know), there are a total of 24 cars parked on the street for the entire stretch. Many blocks, especially near the Western end of the project, have none. Does this parking count change much throughout the week? If not, then adding protected bike lanes won’t have much of a negative impact, as there’s one entire side of the road to park on. Just sayin.

    1. Patrick Garrity

      Since the MNDOT rebuild of the Crosstown, which brought increased neighborhood congestion, DLR is backed up from 35W to Lyndale in the AM. Evening rush hour backs up 3-4 blocks east of Lyndale. Parking during Church events is very tight. Of course, I walk to everything in my neighborhood.

  10. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    Susan, glad you participated in the meeting and wrote about it for Great post.

    I agree with others above that sharrows are not a solution. I didn’t get to look at Forrest’s link (thank Forrest) in too much detail but I am not at all a fan of door zone bike lanes. Even aside from the danger of being doored or hit by a driver going in or out of a parking space or someone simply driving down the street and veering in to the lane at the wrong time, I don’t know that they do much of anything to increase ridership.

    They work OK for people that currently ride—The Strong and Fearless—and maybe for a few of the Enthused and Confident, but not the rest. Actually, I take that back, many of the Strong and Fearless won’t get near door zone bike lanes due to the danger. They do not offer the subjective safety and comfort of a protected lane that will work for the vast majority of average people. A properly designed parking protected lane would be much better IMO.

    1. Patrick Garrity

      “many of the Strong and Fearless won’t get near door zone bike lanes due to the danger.” Yes, I agree, much danger in many bike lane! As part of the 1970’s cycling community, I worked for the right to take the the lane. However, I realize I’m unique, in that I don’t feel fear riding in the street. My wife won’t ride DLR. But, luck us, we have the parkway one block away.

    2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I don’t agree with the characterization of this as a “door zone bike lane”. I do agree when we’re talk 10/5/7, but this is 11/6/8, which is pretty reasonably proportioned — although a foot buffer between parked cars and bikes would be even better. Also, the only areas with bike lanes have few parked cars and low turnover — whereas the commercial areas, with higher turnover and more doors flung open, have a sharrow marking. (I certainly hope the sharrow will be centered in the lane, if the lane is not shareable, and a good distance from car doors.)

      Given the high number of driveways on the corridor, I would only want to see bikes to the right of parked cars under a full reconstruction scenario, with a curbed cycletrack or similar. Retrofitting it in with inadequate space makes passing difficult and sight lines dangerous.

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  12. Mark

    “I still wonder if the volume of bike traffic is really enough to warrant these changes. ” Surely better cycling infrastructure is supposed to get more people to cycle, rather than relying on high numbers of people cycling in the first place?

    I’m not sure why the cycle lanes were proposed anyway, separated cycle paths are what people should be campaigning for, and decent ones are suitable for anyone to use (including children!). I created this alternative layout which takes up the same width (I excluded the sidewalks) . Why settle for something that wouldn’t benefit everyone?

    1. Monte Castleman

      Well, would benefit everyone that happens to not be a motorist, who are probably the vast majority of users of the street.

      The two issues are, per federal guidelines the absolute minimum lane width for a collector street is 10 feet, and this is a mill and overlay, not a reconstruction. The time to think about making major changes in a street is when it needs to be rebuilt from the dirt up or there’s special funding, not when it needs a relatively cheap fix of grinding and replacing the very top layer of the existing pavement. I posted the same response to the Cleveland thread, where it’s also a mill and overlay, and moving paint around is entirely different in scope than major geometric changes to the curbs and such.

      1. Mark

        Fair enough, I stand corrected.

        However, something more decent than painted lanes could still go in, or at least have the cycle lane on one side go behind the parked cars. Based on the 10 foot minimum lane width, and the same roadway width as before, I have come up with another layout that would be feasible, and would provide much more subjective safety to people walking and cycling. If kerbs cannot be used, separation like wands can still be implemented easily – .

        By “everyone”, I mean that anyone can use the cycle lanes if they are of a good enough quality, and everyone would benefit from it. Providing high quality cycling infrastructure would enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle. Children can cycle to school, to friend’s houses, to the park, adults can cycle to work or to shops. This also has the effect of reducing the number of people driving, therefore less noise, pollution, and congestion. Good cycling infrastructure also benefits local businesses and has other positive economic and health effects. Implementing low quality infrastructure (like lanes that consist purely of paint) on the other hand, only cater to people who currently cycle, so the previously mentioned effects wouldn’t exist.

        What is wrong with implementing a higher quality solution, especially if it doesn’t affect anyone’s ability to drive and if the good quality infrastructure pays itself back?

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          Somebody else said it somewhere in this discussion (looks like it was Sean), but a bike lane behind the parks cars may not work well here where there are a fair numbers of driveways that could lead to conflicts between cars turning into them that can’t really see the hidden biker.

          1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini


            Though I’ll admit that without full reconstruction (where the cycle track is raised providing visibility and a curb ramp to slow turning cars) the challenges don’t entirely disappear. Green paint at driveway mixing zones and a little bit of daylighting by cutting short parking before the curb cut would help.

            This highlights the challenging nature of the path Minneapolis has chosen. It’s great that we want to roll out protected bike lanes via paint & poles over the next 5 years, supplemented by painted bike lanes & bike boulevards. The PBLs do a great job separating traffic along straight segments of street with few conflicts. But driveways and intersections become challenging with just paint/poles.

          2. Mark

            Perhaps, but a good solution must exist. The Dutch have managed to provide parking and cycle paths together – although they do use kerbs. An alternative to kerbs could be to do one or more of these:

            – Mark out proper parking bays and stop them a few feet either side of driveways, using wands to stop people parking over the hatched area
            – Colouring the areas of cycle lanes that are next to driveways
            – Painting clear markings on the outside of the cycle lanes with yield lines
            – Implementing easy to install “kerbs” such as things like these , these , small concrete blocks, or (as much as I don’t want to recommend them), Armadillos or these weird looking things . The point is to make car drivers think that they are entering somewhere that they aren’t really supposed to be, so that they have to slow down and give way.
            – Another option is to decide whether parking is really needed. Can people use their driveways, side roads or nearby car parks to park in instead of the road?
            – The best option of course, is to re-do the road properly and cyclepaths properly, to Dutch standards (yes, it won’t be cheap, but nice things cost money, and cycling infra pays itself back). The results would be amazing if infrastructure like that was all over the city.

            Alex – I completely agree (evidently, I wrote most of this before you replied!). If funding allowed, it would be a lot more time and cost effective to do it once and do it properly in the long term, than using money to make pole and paint protected lanes and upgrading them later. Then you simply maintain the cycle paths and upgrade them every 10-20 years.

            You could start with poles and paint first, then upgrade it to modern Dutch standards as soon as possible, but it does seem like a waste of money and would have less political support to upgrade it rather than doing it once. Just don’t allow your politicians and government to do what my country (the UK) does about cycling infrastructure though. Here, they waste money on absolute rubbish that benefits nobody, spend money for sustainable transport on things like traffic lights, and waste money on unproven and useless “innovative” cycling infra. The Dutch have experimented with cycle lanes and paths for over 40 years, and have continuously updated their infrastructure. You can simply copy their latest standards and benefit from the most modern and safest designs, without having to waste money and risk people’s safety on experimenting. Don’t settle for anything less for long term solutions! This could be very useful to read, but ignore the latest post, it isn’t an example of good cycling infra!

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