There is a gentleman who rides the 747 bus from downtown Minneapolis to the TCF Corporate offices in Plymouth. This gentleman walks with a slight limp, a gait acquired through years of blue collar work performed while standing on concrete floors. When he walks from the bus stop north on Hennepin County Road 61 (Xenium Lane), he walks on the actual road. Plow spray often makes the recreational path next to Hennepin County Road 61 difficult to traverse, so he walks on the side of the road in oncoming traffic. If it is snowing, he walks down the center double-yellow lines (presumably to make himself more visible). Because of unsafe conditions for pedestrians along this Hennepin County street, the gentleman walks amongst 40 mph automobile traffic in the dark–five mornings a week– during the winter.
There is a nice lady nearing retirement age who rides the 758 bus from downtown Minneapolis to the corner of Hennepin County Road 102 (Douglas Drive) and Hennepin County Road 66 (Duluth Street). This nice lady does not walk as quick as she may have in her younger years, but she barely beats the crosswalk timer crossing Hennepin County Road 102 every afternoon. Right-turning automobiles turning from north to east and west to north frequently roll through red lights at this intersection, and she lives in fear of being struck by a right-turning vehicle every time she travels from the bus stop to her apartment. While she hasn’t been struck yet, the emotional and mental trauma of so many near-misses while crossing a Hennepin County street gives her considerable stress every afternoon–five afternoons a week.
Hennepin County streets are not safe. They are not safe in Minneapolis and they are not safe in the suburbs. They are not safe for cyclists and pedestrians, and they are not safe for motorists. Hennepin County streets are not safe for everyone.
We know Hennepin County streets are not safe because of the qualitative data. Stories like the two recounted above abound throughout the county. As more and more Hennepin County citizens continue traversing dangerous Hennepin County streets, more stories of accidents and traumatic near-misses are being told.
Here is my story: Most work days I commute to Plymouth–the 25 bus to downtown Minneapolis and the 747 bus from downtown Minneapolis to the TCF offices in Plymouth. From the TCF offices, I cross Hennepin County Highway 6 and walk north for a half-mile on Hennepin County Road 61. I wear a highlighter-yellow hat with a built in headlamp. My backpack, coat and gloves have reflective material sewn in and I clip my rear (red) bicycle light (set to pulse) on top of my backpack. Yet, twice in the past ten days I have nearly been struck by right-turning motorists failing to stop at a red light while I legally crossed in the marked crosswalk. Both times I was startled enough to jump and brace for impact, including one time when my hands literally touched the hood of the vehicle as the motorist brought it to a stop just in time.
Hennepin County streets are not safe. They aren’t safe for the blue collar worker in Plymouth. They aren’t safe for the downtown Minneapolis office worker heading home to Golden Valley. They aren’t safe for me. Hennepin County streets are not safe for everyone.
What is your Hennepin County streets story? Please share in the comments.