Improvements making Minneapolis a better biking city
Minneapolis is already among the top bicycling cities in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 2009 brought many improvements and additions to the City's biking network. During the year, seven miles of bikeways were built, either as reconstructed bike trails or new on-street lanes.
As of the end of 2009, the city has 44 miles of on-street bikeways and 84 miles of off-street bike paths. 2010 promises a bikeway building boom for bicyclists, whether they ride for transportation or recreation. During the 2010 construction season, 35 miles of on-street bikeways are being built. That’s nearly a doubling of on-street bikeways in the city in just one year. In addition, three new miles of off-street bike paths will be constructed.
Bike commuting continues to increase in Minneapolis, according to the U.S. Census Bureaus American Community Survey. Ridership numbers for 2008 rose 13 percent over 2007. This follows an even more substantial jump of 49 percent between 2007 and 2006.
The survey found that the number of Minneapolis residents who biked to work increased from an estimated 4,840 in 2006, to 7,200 in 2007, to 8,160 in 2008. About 4.3 percent of all Minneapolis commuters used bikes in 2008. These findings put Minneapolis second among the 50 largest cities in the nation, behind Portland, Ore., where an estimated six percent of all commuters bike.
This year’s bicycling accomplishments included:
- Riverside Avenue bike lanes – The entire length of Riverside Avenue was restriped in early November, adding bike lanes. These bike lanes connect Franklin Avenue with the popular Hiawatha LRT Trail, and they directly serve the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, Riverview Hospital, and the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. Riverside is scheduled for a complete rebuild in 2011. The new striping is a test to begin the planning process for the rebuild project, and the public is invited to send feedback to City staff on how the test is working.
- 18th Avenue NE bike lanes - th Avenue NE between Monroe Street and Stinson Boulevard was restriped with bike lanes. These bike lanes connect to the Northeast Diagonal Trail on the east, and as soon as 2010 will link to the 18th Avenue off-street bike path, when that path is built to the Mississippi River.
- Bike lanes on 1st Avenue N – st Avenue go from 2nd Street to 12th Street, through the Warehouse District.
- New shared lanes on Hennepin Avenue downtown – These are marked with shared lane markings, or "sharrows," through the Minneapolis theater district.
- Bike boxes – Minneapolis’ first bike boxes have arrived on 1st and Hennepin avenues. Six bike boxes help bicyclists to make left turns.
- West River Parkway bike path – This path has been rebuilt between Godfrey Parkway and Franklin Avenue, by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.
- Luce Line Trail complete – Bicyclists can now enter Minneapolis on the 60-mile seasonal Luce Line Trail, which goes to Golden Valley, Plymouth, and points west, now that Three Rivers Park District has completed the path.
- Midtown Greenway maintenance – Preventative maintenance was performed on 4 miles of the City's popular Midtown Greenway, as part of the City's Accelerated Infrastructure Program.
- Bike Walk Ambassador program – Ambassador staff engaged in over 150 events with nearly 10,000 face-to-face interactions with the public. They also coordinated Bike Walk Week efforts, with over 5,000 participants. Bike Walk Ambassadors provide education and outreach to promote bicycling and walking.
Looking forward to 2010, most new projects will receive funding from the federal Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program. Minneapolis is one of four pilot communities nationwide eligible for this federal funding, and the City has received $10.6 million to date to increase bicycling and walking trips while reducing driving. The City of Minneapolis looks forward to showcasing the results of the pilot in 2010 as part of an ongoing commitment to create a more bike and walk friendly city.
Improvements planned for 2010 include:
- Bike lanes, sharrows, and bike boulevards on 35 miles of streets city-wide
- The U of M Trail connecting the U of M Transitway with Bridge 9
- The Cedar Lake Trail to the Mississippi River, completing an 8-mile path to Hopkins
- Nicollet Mall reopens to bicyclists 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, as part of the MARQ2 project
- Bike sharing launches in Downtown, Uptown, and the University of Minnesota with 1,000 bikes available to the public at 75 locations
- The University of Minnesota opens Minneapolis’ second bike station at the Oak Street Ramp
- The Bike Walk Ambassadors initiate a Bike Walk to Worship program, a pilot Bike Walk Friendly Business award program, and a Train-the-Trainer workshop for youth educators
For more information on Minneapolis bicycling program, go to MinneapolisMN.gov/Bicycles.
Published Jan. 5, 2010