Bike boulevards: They are simple. They are cheap. And Minneapolis finally has some federal money to "build" them on city streets. That it's taken this long to get them is a puzzle. No matter. The city will drastically improve it's cycling infrastructure with their scheduled addition.
Among the several streets slated for a boulevard is Bryant Avenue in Uptown. For cyclists, the street already acts like a bike boulevard, minus the signs and blinking warning lights between the crossing at 26th, 28th, and Franklin.
Bryant, along with four other corridors in Minneapolis, has been selected as a preliminary bike boulevard. The creation of bike boulevards is part of the ongoing Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, a federal source of funding that grants $21.5 million to Minneapolis government agencies for the improvement of bicycling and walking routes in the city and surrounding areas. Other preliminary sites include the RiverLake Greenway (40th Street east of 35W), 22nd Avenue NE, 5th Street NE, and Filmore Street NE.
A bike boulevard is a street where bicyclists are encouraged to ride in the road along with cars, not in a separate bike lane. This can be achieved on streets that are alternative routes to busy streets, where automobile traffic is not as heavy. Shaun Murphy, the Non-Motorized Pilot coordinator, noted that one of the city's goals is to get more people riding bikes and he feels that bike boulevards are a step in the right direction.
"The goal is to make people more comfortable on their bicycles," he said. "We know that not everyone wants to be on a busy street because they're worried about their safety. They don't want to get hit by a car."
Basically, you take the sleepy streets that run alongside major arteries and put up signs that encourage bikes to travel on them. It gives cyclists a "back-alley" way of riding through the city. And it reduces their interaction with cars. It's a win-win.
But later in the article, Murphy explains the city only has $150,000 of federal money to spend on bike boulevards. And really, that's the problem with cities/state/feds everywhere. Few have the nuts to actually drop serious money on non-motorized infrastructure... you know, the shit that ends up benefiting cars.