A Safer Hennepin Avenue Bridge Layout

We are (or should be) saddened to hear of today’s news of a motorist, suspected of being intoxicated, ramming their vehicle into the back of a Pedal Pub — without regard to our opinions of Pedal Pubs themselves. (See other posts)

Bicyclists, slow-moving vehicles, and other street users are allowed on the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, and should feel safe there. Chris Iverson notes over on his post:

“To be honest, I think the sidewalk space is sufficient for pedestrians, and is nicely separated from the roadway by a large, standard-sized bridge curb. This may be a good urban roadway design element in 1990, but not in 2015. The bridge needs an overhaul in order to carry all modes more safely. I would recommend, at the least, reducing lane widths to discourage speeding, adding buffers to the bike lanes, or reconstructing the surface to allow for a curb-separated bike lane in each direction.”

What could this look like? It appears that each half of the Hennepin Ave bridge is 56′ wide, including a 12′ sidewalk “above the curb.” Consider this hypothetical layout, which includes dedicated right-of-way for the proposed Nicollet-Central Streetcar, and/or a dreamed-of north-south LRT spine. It includes narrowed 10′ 6″ traffic lanes to reduce speed, and a 2′ buffer on one side before a curb. Above the moved-in curb, we could have a 3′ buffer (maybe with concrete planters with low-maintenance native plants) to keep bicycles and pedestrians even more safe and comfortable. Then we could have a 7′ paved buffered bicycle lane and a 10′ concrete sidewalk on the same level to round out this hypothetical layout.

Proposed Hennepin Ave Bridge Layout

Proposed Hennepin Ave Bridge Layout. Streetmix by author. Click for larger.

Matt Steele

About Matt Steele

Matt's passion is fostering resiliency in local transportation and land use decisions. He's at @matthewsteele.