University Ave SE and 4th St SE Restriped in “Protected Bikeway Study”

University Ave Se And 6th Ave Se Facing West

Future protected bike lane on the far left, parking on the far right at University Ave SE and 6th Ave SE, facing west. Photo taken June 26. Photo: Author

Within the last two weeks, University Ave SE and 4th St SE, both arterial one-way roads, have been restriped to reduce the lanes of vehicular traffic and to start to create a protected bike lane in each direction on the corresponding roads. The bike lanes as of June 26 are only buffered bike lanes, without protective bollards, but plastic bollards will be, “installed over the next week or so,” according to Simon Blenski, the staff contact for the project from the City of Minneapolis. The expanded bike right-of-way creates easier connections from the Central-Hennepin area, through the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, and into Dinkytown and the University of Minnesota campus.

Parking has also been added in one lane. Previously, there was only parking on Sundays.

The changes are part of a “protected bikeway study” that started in 2016 with a documentation of existing road conditions.

University Ave Se And 4th St Se Protected Bike Lane Project Area

Protected bike study project area. Map: City of Minneapolis

Blenski confirmed that, “the plan there is to install bollards as well as additional bike symbols and green markings at intersections.” The project is “definitely still a work in progress” as on June 26, but work should wrap up within about two weeks.

University Ave Se And Se 2nd Ave Facing East

Future protected bike lane on far right, parking on far left at University Ave SE and SE 2nd Ave, facing east. Photo taken June 26. Photo: Author

One great feature of the upcoming protected bike lane is that it does not compete with parked motor vehicles. Facing towards the destination of traffic, the new striped lanes are parking, two lanes of traffic, then the current buffered bike lane. With bollards, motor vehicles will not park in or block the bike lane, except at intersections.

Parked Foodservice Delivery Truck At University Ave Se And 6th Ave Se Facing West

Parked foodservice delivery truck at University Ave SE and 6th Ave SE, facing west. Photo taken June 26. Photo: Author

Without bollards in place yet, there has been a recurring issue where delivery trucks park in the buffered bike lane for extended periods. In my observation time, I saw a large foodservice delivery truck and a UPS delivery truck both parked in the buffered bike lane along University Ave SE between Central Ave NE and I-35W. With bollards being installed within two weeks, this will hopefully be a short-term issue.

Check out the project page on the City of Minneapolis website. Photos of new bollards to come in update once they are installed!

Do you bike or ride a scooter along either University Ave SE or 4th St SE, or live in the area? What do you think of the final design compared to similar projects along Park Ave S and Portland Ave S? Share your thoughts and discoveries in the comments.


Project page information saved for posterity from the City of Minneapolis website:

Project Overview:

The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and MnDOT are evaluating ways to install a protected bikeway along University Avenue SE and/or 4th Street SE between Central Avenue SE and Oak Street SE. This is one of the busiest street locations for biking in the city and the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan identifies a future protected bikeway along this corridor. A protected bikeway will provide physical separation between bicycle traffic and motor vehicle traffic.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate different protected bikeway alternatives, understand related impacts and opportunities along the corridor, and identify a preferred configuration that could be installed in coordination with street maintenance projects programmed in 2018 and 2019.

Two primary alternatives are being explored:

  • A two-way protected bikeway on the south side of University Avenue SE (campus side), or
  • A one-way protected bikeway on both University Avenue SE and 4th Street SE

Schedule:

  • Fall 2016: Document existing conditions
  • Winter/Spring 2017: Evaluate bikeway alternatives, seek community feedback
  • Summer 2017: Identify preferred alternative
  • 2018-2019: Potential bikeway installation with programmed street maintenance

Project Updates

March 27, 2018

Following a technical review of the corridor and feedback from stakeholders, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and MnDOT are recommending the installation of a pair of one-way protected bike lanes on University Avenue SE (eastbound) and 4th Street SE (westbound) between Central Avenue SE and Oak Street SE. The recommendation is based on a number of considerations, including:

Corridor-wide considerations

  • The one-way design enhances the existing one-way conventional bike lanes on both University Avenue SE and 4th Street SE to have a buffer and physical separation
  • The one-way design minimizes tradeoffs with other uses along the corridor including impacts to transit operations, motor vehicle traffic flow, and on-street parking
  • The one-way pair can be implemented through signing, striping, delineators, and some traffic signal modifications, which allows for greater flexibility to modify the design after installation.
  • A two-way protected bike lane design on University Ave SE would require significant changes to curb lines, transit stops, and traffic signal infrastructure. These are critical design elements that require capital investments not currently identified in the City, County, or MnDOT’s capital budgets.

Considerations west of I-35W

  • The one-way pair allows direct opportunities for traffic calming on both University Avenue SE and 4th Street SE, with shorter crossing distances for pedestrians on both streets and fewer travel lanes on 4th Street SE
  • The one-way pair allows the opportunity to add a full time parking lane on 4th Street SE

Considerations east of I-35W

  • The City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County collected detailed observations of bicycle riding behavior on the east end of University Ave SE: Of the 1,500 people bicycling on University Avenue SE each day, approximately 6-9% of them are riding westbound (against traffic) either on the sidewalk or in the street.
  • While the recommended design is for a one-way bikeway on University Avenue SE, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County will continue to monitor bicycle traffic to consider future accommodations or improvements for westbound bicycle movements.

Next Steps

The three agencies are sharing the concept with stakeholders in spring of 2018, and will seek Council Approval for the project later in 2018. The project is proposed to be installed in the summer of 2019 in coordination with the Hennepin County resurfacing project on University Ave SE between I-35W and Oak St SE.

October 15, 2018

In anticipation the 2019 project, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and MnDOT are working on the designs of the bikeway design. Below is a summary of the design changes:

Bikeway

  • The existing bike lanes will be upgraded to be protected bike lanes on University Ave SE and 4th St SE between Central Ave NE and Oak St SE. The bike lane will typically be 6-7 feet wide and will be separated from moving traffic by a 2-5-foot buffer with flexible delineators. The protected bike lanes will be one-way in the direction of current traffic flow.
  • A southbound protected bike lane will be installed on Central Ave SE between 4th St SE and University Ave SE to provide a connection between 4th St SE and existing protected bike lanes on Central Ave NE, with connections into downtown.

Travel Lanes

  • The number of full time travel lanes will be reduced from 3 to 2 on 4th St SE between I-35W and 2nd Ave SE.
  • All other travel lanes will be maintained.

On-Street Parking

  • Full time parking will be added on the south side of 4th St SE between 8th Ave SE and 2nd Ave SE (approximately 100 spaces)
  • Metered parking will be removed on the west side of Central Ave NE between University Ave SE and 4th St SE (8 spaces)
  • All other on-street parking will be maintained.

Transit

  • The bus stop on University Ave SE at 7th Ave SE will be removed. Existing bus stops at 6th Ave SE and 8th Ave SE will be maintained.
  • All other transit service and stops will be maintained.

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12 Responses to University Ave SE and 4th St SE Restriped in “Protected Bikeway Study”

  1. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker July 10, 2019 at 3:05 pm #

    Would someone help me understand how the city chooses bollards over concrete curbs?

    • Monte Castleman July 10, 2019 at 3:52 pm #

      You can slap down plastic flim-flam sticks after a routine mill and overlay, or even just grinding off the old pavement markings and then you get a “protected” bicycle lane on the cheap. Real protection like concrete curbs, or even better a sidewalk level cycletrack would require complete reconstruction of the street.

      • Alex Schieferdecker
        Alex Schieferdecker July 11, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

        Not necessarily. The concrete curbs on 11th in downtown and Plymouth in North did not, at least to my knowledge, require a street reconstruction.

      • Stuart July 11, 2019 at 1:53 pm #

        I would be thrilled with Jersey Barriers which are cheap and easy to install

  2. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell July 10, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    I don’t believe any other developed country would consider these protected. I’m away from home and reference materials but I believe protected must include a solid barrier that strongly discourages vehicles from entering and prevents road debris from entering. The protection must also continue through all junctions which this does not do.

    As we’ve seen many times before (Starbucks @ Snelling and Marshall, etc.), flexible delineators frequently do not prevent vehicles from entering and they obviously do not prevent debris from entering.

    From what I’ve seen I don’t think that this project is a bad idea but it should not be called protected.

    Actual protected bikeways provide much greater protection from the dangers of vehicles both between junctions and most importantly through junctions, provide protection from road debris and are much more comfortable (feel safe) to ride on. Protected bikeways built to CROW standards will also buffer bicycle riders from road noise and bypass blow by either increasing the distance between vehicles and bicycle riders or slowing vehicle speeds.

  3. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell July 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    Likely the greatest danger with this design (and problem for winter riding) is the bike lane + turn lane mixing. How can that be made safer?

  4. Scott July 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    Glad this is happening, but converting these awful one-way pairs to two-ways streets would be better.

  5. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller July 11, 2019 at 10:22 am #

    I’m going to have to go over there and ride them, but the existing curb-side bike lanes suffered from really poor pavement conditions. I wonder if things are a little better farther out from the curb?

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller July 11, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

      As of this afternoon, there were flexible delineators installed between Central and 5th on University (although also a block of construction diversion in there). Much improved, but the road surface is still pretty bad.

  6. Andrew Evans July 15, 2019 at 10:13 am #

    It’s about time they decide to put some new stripes down on that stretch of road. Both streets were marked terribly, and at night seemed to have two sets of stripes down.

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