Safety on Lyndale Avenue is Long Overdue

Lyndale Webster 2

Photo of a recent Lyndale Avenue demonstration by Tony Webster.

On October 12th, Ted Ferrara was killed when he was struck by a car while walking across Lyndale Ave at 25th St in my neighborhood. I send condolences to his friends and loved ones. This a tragic event our community has long feared, and that we been working to prevent.

Nearly every person who lives in the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood (known to most as The Wedge) will tell you the thing they appreciate most about their neighborhood is its walkability. Indeed, with multiple schools, groceries, places of worship, doctors, dentists, co-working spaces, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, retail locations, parks, and lakes within an easy mile walk of any location inside our neighborhood, it is arguably the most walkable place in Minneapolis, perhaps even the entire state. Yet crossing Lyndale, Hennepin, or Lake, the busy streets that run through the neighborhood, can be a harrowing experience.

The 2017 Minneapolis Crash Study confirmed our experiences with data. Our neighborhood is home to three of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in the city. Since the release of that crash study, community members have been contacting our elected officials to complain about the unsafe walking, biking, and driving conditions. The reconstruction of I-35W and the use of Lyndale as an alternate route has compounded the problem.

29th and Lyndale is Especially Dangerous

Just a couple of weeks ago, at a city open house to discuss the redevelopment of a parking lot behind the Jungle Theater on the other side of Lyndale Avenue, city planners asked people to identify barriers to accessing the area. In response, there were so many colored dots marking the intersection of 29th and Lyndale as a safety hazard that you could no longer read any of the text.

While the Midtown Greenway hypothetically provides a safe, healthy, and easy way of accessing the LynLake business district at the Lyndale and 29th St corner, in practice it does not. If you exit the Greenway here, there is no crosswalk. That means that, for two blocks, there is no designated place for pedestrians or cyclists to cross a busy street with high-speed vehicles. Meanwhile, the nearest controlled intersection to the Greenway, at Lake St. and Lyndale Ave., has suffered the most crashes involving pedestrians in the entire city over the past 10 years.

Thousands of people live within a few blocks of this location, and thousands more utilize the Greenway by foot and by bike. There are scores of small, independent businesses that are a unique and rich resource, but the inability to safely cross the road negatively impacts our quality of life. And as there is also no crosswalk at 27th and Lyndale Ave, making it a the disastrous pedestrian situation that continues as you move north.

Barriers to Change

All along the street, with multiple extended areas that have no traffic lights and no stop signs, many drivers treat Lyndale as an expressway. The uniformity of public response at a recent city engagement event gave me hopes that something would be done sooner rather than later to address this problem. Imagine my dismay to hear that just a week later a pedestrian was killed walking from our neighborhood across Lyndale.

Lyndale Webster 2

Long-term and Short-Term Solutions

Our community members ask that a temporary solution for improving pedestrian safety between Franklin and Lake be in place by January 2020, and after that a more permanent solution by June of 2020. We are eager to support our local and regional leaders in meeting these reasonable safety requests.

In addition, we ask all of you who drive through our neighborhood to look up and to SLOW DOWN. No matter what the posted speed limit is, we know that driving over 25 in a high traffic, heavy pedestrian-filled area is lethal.

Furthermore, please reconsider any number of driving habits that make using our streets as pedestrians unsafe. Furthermore, please reconsider any number of driving habits that make using our streets as pedestrians unsafe: rights on red when parked cars block visibility, moving through intersections while human beings are still present in them, left hand turns without checking for approaching pedestrians.

And please, please do not run red lights and stop signs. This is a truly frightening act that has become the new norm. We can have all the improved safety laws we want, but if the people behind the wheel don’t take responsibility as drivers to care more for the lives of others, the injuries and deaths will continue to occur.

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9 Responses to Safety on Lyndale Avenue is Long Overdue

  1. Aaron Isaacs
    Aaron Isaacs November 9, 2019 at 7:42 pm #

    Northbound Lyndale from 24th to Franklin is also a prime candidate for a bus lane, both morning and afternoon. Also southbound approaching Lake Street in the afternoon.

    You’re certainly right about the difficulty crossing at unsignalized intersections. Hennepin has signals at 25th, 27th and 29th and that makes a huge difference.

  2. Andrew Evans November 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm #

    Part of the issue with traffic flow is left hand turns on Lyndale mid block or at signals. For instance a lane gets blocked if someone going south wants to turn into the co-op. It would be nice to put up barriers where there are double lines, and see if there is room for left hand turn lanes.

    Part of the solution is going to be traffic enforcement. Start giving tickets for light runners or speeding and the problem will get a little better. Right now there is no real consequence for any bad driving – unless there is an accident, and speed limits are mere suggestions.

  3. Ralf Thomsen November 13, 2019 at 10:44 pm #

    From the Strib article:

    Ferrara was “crossing midblock” while others with him were “holding their hands up to stop traffic,”

    This is quite a bizarre tableau. Why were his friends “holding up their hands to stop traffic”, rather than yanking him back to the curb? Could any reconfiguration of Lyndale have prevented this?

    • Andrew Evans November 14, 2019 at 9:35 am #

      Well there could be barriers separating lanes where there isn’t a crosswalk or signal. Talk to regulars at Bobs Java and that corner at 27th has been terrible pretty much forever. Put barriers up that prevent traffic from going straight or turning left at some of the non controlled side streets, and either barriers preventing pedestrians to cross or giving them islands on side streets.

      • Ralf Thomsen November 14, 2019 at 10:41 am #

        Perhaps a Jersey barrier divider down the middle would have discouraged Ted, or maybe not. If he was attempting a mid-block crossing with his friends holding up their hands and trying to stop traffic for him, he might have thought he could leap right over it.

        • Monte Castleman November 14, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

          Put a fence on top of the jersey barrier.

          • Andrew Evans November 14, 2019 at 1:52 pm #

            That would be ugly, but it would make the street safer for everyone to limit left hand turns and pedestrians crossing at controlled intersections.

      • hokan November 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

        There most certainly is a crosswalk at 27th. It may be an unmarked crosswalk, but it’s still a crosswalk.

  4. Ralf Thomsen November 14, 2019 at 2:26 pm #

    I’ve crossed Lyndale hundreds of times (perhaps more than a thousand) at the controlled intersections without incident. The idea of crossing mid-block never even occurs to me.

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