Dangerous Intersection Profile: Lake & Lyndale

Originally posted on Our Streets Mpls as part of a series of blog posts featuring the most dangerous intersections in Minneapolis. 

The intersection of Lake Street W and Lyndale Avenue S had the highest total pedestrian crashes (24 crashes) according to the 2017 City of Minneapolis Pedestrian Crash Study. Lake and Lyndale is a signalized intersection with four lanes of traffic to cross on each street. (StarTribune video of the intersection). Bus stops are on all four corners serving routes 21 and 53 on Lake Street and routes 4 and 113 on Lyndale Avenue. Additionally, both Lake and Lyndale have thriving businesses and medium density housing at and near this intersection.

Intersection of Lyndale Avenue South and Lake Street

People crossing Lyndale Avenue at Lake Street in Minneapolis

I volunteered to write about Lake and Lyndale because it is the one I find myself at most frequently. Instead of relying solely on my own experience, I invited others to add their voices by answering a six-question survey.

While I do not like the width of Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue, I do like that at most times of the day I am in the company of fellow pedestrians. One of my survey respondents described the intersection having “Excellent building faces/storefronts and bustling pedestrian activity.” Businesses in the area may be interested to know that the way people feel crossing the street may impact their bottom line. A respondent mentioned that they stick to the corner of the intersection closest to their home because they don’t like crossing either Lake Street or Lyndale Avenue and it has impacted their willingness to support the businesses on those other corners.

Describe your experience walking/rolling through Lake & Lyndale

Thirty-four people took the time to describe the experience of walking/rolling at Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue.

  • Too wide to feel comfortable crossing
  • The kind of intersection you think about before you get there
  • Have to be extra vigilant/walk defensively/super cautious
  • Extremely hectic
  • Unpredictable walk/don’t walk patterns
  • Always frightening/harrowing
  • Always rushed
  • Chaotic, hectic, scary, worrisome, frustrating, annoying
  • A zoo
  • Do not feel safe
  • Gross
  • Feels extremely unwelcoming to people
  • Busy, crazy drivers, loud, smelly, dangerous, unpleasant

However, a few people preferred Lake & Lyndale to other nearby intersections:

  • At the exact intersection of Lake & Lyndale, I feel pretty safe compared to many other parts of the neighborhood. I feel less safe crossing lake at Bryant, Colfax, etc where there are no crosswalks and the traffic is so fast and nonstop.
  • I actually prefer it to navigating another nearby intersection Lyndale at 31st St, which in my opinion is extremely dangerous for pedestrians crossing 31st on the east side of Lyndale, due to the unsignaled left turn off of Lyndale.

Involved in crashes or close calls

When asked “Have you ever been involved in a crash or a close call as a pedestrian at Lake & Lyndale,” 20 people said yes and 14 people said no.

  • 2 or 3 times a car almost runs me over, either running a red light or turning and not seeing pedestrians.
  • Have nearly been hit on right turn on red most often when crossing Lyndale on North side of intersection (cars going from EB [Eastbound] Lake St to NB Lyndale) and increasingly crossing on West side (cars going from SB [Southbound] Lyndale to EB Lake St) and Southside (cars going from EB Lake St to SB Lyndale).
  • I have, on multiple occasions, had cars almost hit me while turning left at the intersection. It has always been while crossing legally with a walk signal.
  • 90% of the time I cross Lake Street on the West side of Lyndale, there is at least one vehicle turning left, inching towards me and typically blocking oncoming traffic. I even get honked at about 50% of the time.
  • A business van was turning onto Lyndale heading eastbound on the green light and slowed but didn’t stop as I was walking, so I had to stop to see if he was going to let me go. He finally did and then flicked me off after begrudgingly letting me by.
  • Southbound car on Lyndale turning west onto Lake street stopped at the light was only watching for vehicle traffic from the east and almost hit me and a number of other pedestrians that had the walk signal to cross Lake southbound from NW corner towards the SW corner.
  • Walking had the walk signal, a pickup truck turning onto Lake almost hit me.
  • Right-turning car almost hit me while I had the walk signal.
  • I was hit by a bicycle on the sidewalk.
  • Car drove up on the sidewalk on southwest corner almost hitting pedestrians.
  • Almost every time I’m there I have a close call with someone whipping around a corner at the intersection.
  • Just the usual slamming on the brakes because of red light runners.

Witnessed crashes or close calls

  • I’ve crossed the intersection hundreds if not a thousand times since Spring 2013. Most common are drivers turning right on red (looking at coming traffic for the opportunity to turn and not watching for pedestrians to their right); but also a similar item with left turns watching from approaching traffic and not paying attention to peds.
  • Usually, pedestrians using crosswalk almost getting hit by cars turning right, especially from southbound Lyndale to westbound Lake.
  • I see close calls all the time. Left and right turns from drivers into crosswalks are the close calls I see. Drivers speed through the intersection.
  • Right-turning car not slowing to turn brushed a pedestrian.
  • I’ve seen vehicles approaching the intersection in the left lane on Lake aggressively change lanes in order to dodge stopped vehicles attempting to turn left (especially in “no left turn” posted hours) who then have had close calls with pedestrians crossing Lyndale or cyclists already in the right lane on Lake Street.

Ideas for Improvement

Both the data from the report and anecdotal stories suggest that more must be done to improve the pedestrian experience at Lake and Lyndale. Some ideas:

  • Bump outs at each corner
  • No right turn on red
  • Wider sidewalks
  • Narrower car traffic lanes
  • Crosswalk moved way back from the intersection
  • Leading walk signal
  • Analysis for how to best place the bus stops
  • Remove parking spaces near the intersection
  • Slower speed limits for car traffic
  • Road diet (4 to 3 lane conversion)
  • Designated left turn lanes with turn arrows
  • Scramble crosswalk phase
  • Businesses at the corners promote people arriving by foot, bus, or by bike
  • City more engaged in snow and ice removal
Janelle Nivens

About Janelle Nivens

Janelle is an urban explorer who likes to challenge herself to walk long distances (40 miles is her record). She lives in southwest Minneapolis with Scott and their adorable dog Stewie and works at the University of Minnesota. Janelle documents what catches her eye on long walks in hopes of inspiring others to discover hidden gems in their own communities. Walk with her on Instagram, Twitter (@Janellie23), and FitBit.