Hennepin and 1st Avenue: one-ways no more

Categories: Minneapolis


The City of Minneapolis will change Hennepin and 1st avenues into two-way streets. And the city wants you to voice your concerns about it at a public meeting this Wednesday. “These changes will affect property owners, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers,” says the City. But among that group, cyclists stand to feel the impact more than others. One idea still under consideration will place the Hennepin bike lane down the middle of the two-way street.

Let us lay weigh-in here with the utmost journalistic objectivity: This idea is stupid. Not stupid as in dumb, but stupid as in stupid-dangerous.

Left-hand turns are the among the most frequent causes of all cycling collisions in the city. Currently, cyclists traveling northbound on Hennepin experience near-death crashes from vehicles whipping a left out in front of them. This proposed idea pretty much doubles that threat.

It also would place cyclists traveling in both directions alongside the left-hand car lanes. And like the sunny Driver’s Ed student knows, the left-hand lane is the fast lane. Why city planners continue to think it’s good to place cyclists there is a mystery that puzzles us common folk more than Sarah Palin’s belief that a close proximity to Russia makes one adept at foreign policy. (And don’t give us the dooring argument. Such collisions account for a scant percentage of overall crashes in Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland and other cities where bicycles are viewed as something more than a toy.)

Don Pflaum, city bike coordinator and sometimes cyclist, says that while some agree with the take that such a change to Hennepin is dangerous, others have different views. He did not expand upon that. But said the ideas will be discussed at the meeting.

So to learn about these views, and to voice your opinions on the change, one should attend the public meeting.

Here are the details:

PUBLIC MEETING
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
5-6 p.m.
Central Library – Doty Board Room (top of escalator and to the left)
300 Nicollet Mall
Bike parking out front.


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