The secret is out. Drivers are needlessly, pointlessly blocking downtown intersections, causing backups of Metro Transit buses, as Bill Lindeke detailed in an article for MinnPost (“Is there a solution for the buses vs. blockers bottleneck in downtown Minneapolis?“).
The problem is acute at certain points, such as where Nicollet Mall meets Washington Avenue South in a T. During a weekday evening commute last week, I saw several cars come to a dead halt in the intersection and hold up at least three buses in each of three directions (for a total of nine or 10 buses). It took a while to clear and involved one of the buses backing up. Nothing in this picture was moving, or did move for several minutes, except the people on foot.
In the MinnPost article, Lindeke reports that “there are some ideas for improving the box-blocking problem. These include better signage.”
Yes! Better signage would be an excellent place to start. In fact, forget better — just put up any sign at all telling drivers not to block the intersection. It could be a fancy sign with a diagram as in Nick Magrino’s tweet:
But we’ve had this problem only since May, and maybe fancy diagram signs take longer, so how about a purely verbal sign? Something simple, in the vein of the “BIKE LANE CLOSED” sign a few blocks east on Washington. Those seem to pop up all over. The sign could say, “DON’T BLOCK THE INTERSECTION.” It could look like this:
That sign, in fact, stands a block away at Washington and Hennepin. It’s on metal feet so you can move it wherever is best. Get two of those made and put one on each side of Washington at Nicollet, facing traffic. Why has no one done this?