The worst intersections in Minneapolis: Vol. 1

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Last June at the bicycle master plan meeting, several cyclists asked if the city planned anything for the intersection at Hennepin and Washington. Don Pflaum, the city’s bike coordinator, said they were looking into it. His answer elicited grumbles.

The intersection in question comes at the east end of the Hennepin bike lane, a two-way thoroughfare that speeds cyclists through downtown. It’s a great ride, but the finish leaves a cyclist feeling like Wile E. Coyote: suddenly, it’s like the earth just went out from under your feet.

The bike lane ends quickly and directs cyclists into oncoming traffic. It also places them on the left side of cars and busses turning left. When taking picture for this post, we saw one cyclist almost get nailed by a Jeep liberty. The SUV came with two feet of her. After the scare, the cyclist, left alone in the middle of the intersection, scrambled to reach the right side of the road, crossing three lanes worth of traffic.

Pflaum said the reason for the abrupt ending deals with funding and opportunity issues. He said the city often takes the opportunity to put in a strip of bike lane wherever it can, and sometimes that leads to less than ideal entry and exit points.

The only warning sign for the impending doom on Hennepin is on the far right side of the street. But if there is any traffic, the tiny black and white sign gets blocked from view. And if a bus pulls up alongside a cyclist, [see picture below] they’re pretty much trapped.

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Umm... enjoy the sky and try not to get hit?

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