image of 4th with a 2-way bike lane

Reconstruct 4th Street the Right Way

image of 4th with a 2-way bike lane

How 4th Street would look with a 2-way bike lane

Philip Schwartz recently shared this letter with me and gave me permission to share it here. A vote is happening on is Tuesday, November 28th. Agree or disagree with him, instructions for how to weigh in are below.

As a daily user of 4th Street through Downtown Minneapolis, I have been excited and involved since planning its reconstruction started earlier this year. I remember at one of the first open houses, the option of a two way bike lane was on the table, and I have repeatedly expressed my support for that via the various feedback channels. Unfortunately, it appears that option is no longer being considered. Coupled with the loss of the existing contraflow bus lane, the ability for westbound travel will be removed from the new 4th Street, despite having plenty of space to work with.

While I understand the desire to maintain one way traffic for efficiency, one way travel does not make sense for human scaled transportation, especially in dense, destination rich areas like downtown. Surely, despite designing exclusively for eastbound travel, people will continue to ride westbound on 4th St for short jaunts to connect with another downtown bikeway or make a quick trip to another destination on the same street. Only now, it will be done either on the sidewalk or the wrong way in the bike lane.

image of 4th today

4th Street today

Unlike many other street reconstructions where right of way is more constrained, 4th Street has plenty of space to work with, especially since general traffic lanes are expected to be dropped. While I can’t be sure why a two way bike facility was not included, I do wonder if it has more to do with the complexity it would add to the design and engineering phases in order to create a more useful corridor. Rebuilding streets are a once in a generation opportunity, so let’s get creative and do everything we can to make our shared downtown spaces human scaled once again.

If you would like to provide feedback on this project, please contact members of the Transportation & Public Works Committee, which votes on the project this Tuesday.

About Janne Flisrand

Janne Flisrand spends her time thinking about how people interact with the space around them. Why do they (or don't they) walk or bike or shop somewhere? How do spaces feel? Why do people sit here and not there? Why bus instead of bike, bike instead of drive? What sorts of spaces build community, and what sorts kill it? Can spaces build civic trust and engagement?

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