Hennepin Avenue now has green shared lanes. Green shared lanes are designed for bicycles, buses, and right turning motorists. This is noted by text on the pavement, signs on the side of the roadway, and overhead message boards. A 4-ft wide green area is painted in the center of the right lanes with bike symbols and pavement text placed at each block.
How should I ride my bike on Hennepin?
The green area is intended to show bicyclists where to ride so they are more visible to motorists. The green color is designed to highlight the area where most bicyclists ride on the roadway. However, if you are riding your bicycle down Hennepin, you are not required to ride in the green area. You should always ride in a position where you feel most safe and comfortable.
How should I drive my car, truck or bus on Hennepin?
Buses and right turning motorists are allowed to drive in the right lane and in the green area. The green area is intended to make bicyclists more visible, rather than restrict other vehicles. However, right turning motorists must yield to thru bicyclists and should use caution if passing a bicyclist.
Narrow and Wide Lanes
To accommodate left turn lanes on Hennepin Avenue, the shared lane changes in width every other block (13.5 ft & 18.5 ft). When the lane is wide, motorists can pass a bicyclist if there is enough space. On blocks with narrow lanes, motorists and buses should not overtake bicyclists unless there is sufficient space in the left lane to pass them. If there is no space, please be patient and let the bicyclist use the full lane. Remember, Minnesota law states that a motorist must leave at least 3 feet when overtaking a bicyclist (MN Statute 169.19).
Working towards a better street
Hennepin Avenue continues to be a busy street for bicyclists. Bicycle counts in 2011 show that 990 bicyclists use the street each day. Public Works is working to respond to public comments and remaining concerns about the facility.
A 2011 study conducted by Public Works found that most bicyclists were riding in the green lane (79%-93% depending on the block). The study also found that the safety of bicyclists improved with the addition of the green lanes. Prior to the two-way conversion, Hennepin had a bicyclist-motorist crash rate of 1.03%. After the conversion and the addition of the green shared lanes, the crash rate fell to 0.4%. A survey of downtown bicyclists found that nearly 40% of people who bike downtown feel safer with the addition of the green lanes. About 30% feel that there has been no change in their perceived safety.
However, the same survey also found that many people who bike downtown still have some dissatisfaction with changes made to Hennepin. Some survey respondents expressed concern with the visibility of the green lanes and effectiveness of the markings. Others thought more education could be done to increase awareness and comprehension of the facility.
In response to these and other comments, Public Works is pursuing alternative pavement treatments to use in place of standard green road paint. The materials have tested well in cities like Madison, New York, Boston, and Portland and have the potential to be more visible and increase the effectiveness of the shared lane. In addition, an educational campaign is being developed for Hennepin and other new bicycle facilities in Minneapolis. Public Works is confident that these changes will help Hennepin Avenue become a better street for all bicyclists riding in or through downtown.
Last updated Feb. 1, 2012