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.