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Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Present: Barbara Olson, Peter Vader, Neal Baxter, Donna Hemp, Julia Curran, Tamir Ali Mohamud, Abigail Johnson, Paul St. Martin, Christian Huelsman, Christopher Hoffer, Julia Tabbut, Olivia Hovland; Matthew Dyrdahl, Eric Bauer, Emily Kettell, Rattana Sengsoulichanh, Sarah Stewart, Heidi Schallberg, Millicent Flowers, Suzanne Murphy, Mackenzie Turner Bargen; Luís Dax, pedestrian

Resolutions

1--Girard Avenue Reconstruction

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports the innovative slow street design planned for Girard Ave. S. We are excited to see the curbless design and tabled intersections. We support having pedestrian-friendly signal timing. We would like project planning to include goals or timelines for transitioning to a full pedestrian/bike mall.

2—Grand St. NE Bumpout

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports removal of the slip turn and enclosure of the porkchop island. We ask the curb radius on the northwest corner to be tightened or bumpouts added to maintain or reduce the current distance. 

3—North Commons Park Sidewalk Gap

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports the effort to close the sidewalk gap in North Commons Park. We particularly support the addition of pedestrian access ramps at the T-intersection. We ask for pedestrian access ramps on both sides of Knox Ave. N. and Logan Ave. N. We appreciate the effort to maintain mature trees.

4--37th Avenue NE

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports the addition of a pedestrian facility on the north side of 37th Ave NE but believes if a shared-use path is going to be established it should be designed to encourage slower speeds for bicyclists and safe sharing with pedestrians. 

5—Roosevelt Safe Routes to School Project

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports the proposed Safe Routes to School plan for Roosevelt High School. The PAC especially supports the proposed midblock median between the school and the library, which should permit students to safely cross at a predictable location. 

6—Bloomington Avenue Pedestrian Safety Project

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee supports the Pedestrian Safety Project implementations at the 22nd and 27th Street intersections of Bloomington Avenue, particularly the shortened crossing distances afforded by medians. If a median is infeasible in the south segment of the 27th Street intersection, we recommend a fully striped crossing. We also recommend reflective materials or signage that encourages positive driver behavior. 

7—Resolution in Support of Jenny Bordon

The Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee enthusiastically supports the Minneapolis Health Department's nomination of Jenny Bordon for the 2019 Hubsmith Safe Routes Champion Award. In her tenure at the Minneapolis Public Schools, Ms. Bordon has overseen the growth of the district's Safe Routes program while constantly focusing on the equitable reach of the programs. Because of her efforts, more students are walking to and from school and during the school day. 

 
Chair Julia Tabbut called the meeting to order at 4:02 PM, and asked all present to introduce themselves.

Agenda—Matthew Dyrdahl

Matthew informed the PAC that the City Clerk's office wants to regularize the format of all agendas for the city committees. This priority is the reason for the unusual appearance of today's agenda. Matthew invited the City Clerk to the May PAC meeting, to share with us his reasons for the change.

Approval of the March Minutes

Barb moved the minutes; Donna seconded. Approved.

A Discussion about Signalization—Alan Klugman & Matthew Dyrdahl

Signals come up frequently in our meetings, as a general concern and as part of specific projects. Alan is here to tell us where the PAC can change current use of signals and where we cannot.

Alan works in the Traffic and Parking Division of Public Works, which deals with signals, crosswalks, and much else. In Minneapolis 811 traffic signals (more or less) operate to control traffic on our streets. All these signals are built to the standards of city government, and all are operated by Public Works. Until recently, our partner agencies have given the City a free hand in managing these assets. Lately, the County and our other partners have started giving the City more input in the use of traffic signals. Today's equipment gives us a lot of flexibility. We can change the signals many times per day, if need be.

MD: where do the traffic signals appear during development of capital projects?

AK: at 0% traffic signals don't appear. At 30%, our plans show where the signals will be. We usually re-install signals where they were already. At 60% design phase, we show the preliminary layout for the signals—placement, overhead bars, push buttons (or not), etc.

Some of our partners (Alan cited the County) want the City to remove a few signals. 

Christian: are there data on push buttons vs. automatic signaling?

AK: 350 of our signals don't need pedestrians to push the button to change to WALK. 450 require a push in at least 1 direction. Many intersections have a bias in favor of a “mainline” street, and at these the cross street light comes on when activated. ADA requires an APS signal at all intersections. So, the City is gradually changing all our signals to APS.

Suzanne: Complete Streets is not reinforced by the way the lights work, may I say.

AK: I'll waffle here and say that Complete Streets is still new. We balance the needs of all modes, and also take into consideration the effect of traffic stoppage on greenhouse gas emissions, for instance.

Curran: people tell me they drive because walking is so awful. How can citizens pass on street condition information to you?

AK: 311 works well for those comments, and you can send them to us via Matthew, too.

Hoffer: how much do signals cost to buy and maintain?

AK: $250,000 for a new set of signals (1 intersection), much more expensive than a couple of decades ago. Plus $10-15 K for the control box. They cost about $3000 per annum to operate, and the City has been able to extend the life of our signals 10-15 years beyond industry expectations, to 40+ years. We could use more operations staff; if we had more staff we could re-time the signals more often.

Paul: have you re-calibrated walk signal lengths to 3.5 feet per second?

AK: Yes, that's new. The old standard was 4 feet per second.

PV: and pedestrian proximity sensors are coming?

AK: not yet, but more intelligent systems will be here in a few years, possibly via your phone or video. We plan to test some of these “passive detection” systems soon.

Curran: can we unlink the network, and coordinate the signals to prioritize pedestrian needs?

AK: 95% of the signals are linked. We link them for vehicle efficiency, etc., using the busiest intersection as the base. Smaller groups of linked signals are possible, but we won't remove all the linkage.

Paul: what are the trade-offs involving greenhouse gas emissions and traffic flow?

AK: we have no data on that.

Paul: in St. Paul, we did some studies on gas exhaust reduction. More data on that would be useful.

Sarah: do bump outs shorten the cycle length?

AK: yes, as they shorten the crossing distance. Be aware that with some of our signals, the pedestrian walk light will come sooner if you push the button, sometimes almost immediately.

We have 25 or so leading pedestrian interval signals in Minneapolis. They move pedestrians into a visible spot in the street sooner; some data show that we've had fewer pedestrian injuries involving cars turning left. LPI hasn't affected ped crashes due to right turns. Also, the County favors flashing yellow arrows, the City doesn't. We think they aren't good for pedestrians.

Heidi: any plans to add LPIs?

AK: we want to, but haven't planned to yet.

Curran: can we phase out the left turn arrow?

AK: no idea. Lagging signals tend to leave cars behind. Leading left turn arrows pull more traffic through the intersection.

Abigail: you talk about how flexible the system is, but you don't seem to use the flexibility to advantage.

AK: the system is very complex, and each mode has its needs. Keeping transit flowing, greenhouse gas emission concerns, etc., command a lot of our attention.

Infrastructure & Engineering Subcommittee—Barb Olson

We had a busy meeting, with 6 projects to look at. 

First, the Girard Avenue Reconstruction, which aims to prioritize walking, and accommodate deliveries and passenger drop offs. A two-way curbless slow street is being designed, with a 16'-18' sidewalk on each side.

Barb read the resolution (#1 above); Neal seconded. Approved.

Next, Grand Street NE, where a bump out will connect with a “pork chop” already there. ADA crossings will be added on all 4 legs. The crossing distance will lengthen somewhat, due to only rebuilding one corner.

Barb read resolution #2 (above); Donna seconded. Approved.

A sidewalk gap in North Commons will be removed by taking a pedestrian path deeper into the Commons to save the trees. 

Barb read the resolution (#3); Neal seconded. Approved.

The fourth project is a joint one with Columbia Heights along 37th Avenue NE. The project adds sidewalk on the Heights side. Some PAC members want a bike lane here to reduce traffic lanes. We didn't like the design.

Barb read resolution #4 (above); Neal seconded. Approved.

A Safe Routes to School project will add 2 medians in 28th Ave. So., opposite Roosevelt High School. The medians should boost pedestrian visibility, slow traffic and shorten the crossing time. Barb read resolution #5; Christian seconded. Approved.

Lastly, we looked at a project along Bloomington Avenue. A median will be built on both sides of 22nd Street, and on the north side only of 27th Street (due to the fire barn on the south side of 27th St.). ADA ramps are included, too.

Barb read the resolution (#6 above); Donna seconded. Approved.

 

Programs & Policies Subcommittee—Peter Vader

We discussed the upcoming Transportation Action Plan community engagement, and how to maximize PAC input. We decided to gather PAC responses to the meetings at the May meeting of P&P, and craft a resolution to vote on at the June PAC meeting.

We also discussed recruiting new members to the PAC. The new term begins in July, and applications must be in by April 19. 

We also looked at a spread sheet containing our work priorities for the coming year, and ranked ideas according to how well they deal with the climate crisis.

Lastly, we proposed a preamble to affix to our resolutions, which will point out where projects fail to address climate change (from PAC's point of view).  The preamble reads: Per the PAC's IPCC resolution (December 2018), adequately constructed and maintained pedestrian thoroughfares are necessary to significantly reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. We find this project fails to meet these goals with the urgency required, for these reasons …

With the late hour, the PAC decided to reconsider this matter at another time.

Resolution in Support of Jenny Bordon—Sarah Stewart

Jenny Bordon, of Safe Routes to School, has been nominated by the Health Department for an award. Sarah asked if the PAC would consider a resolution supporting the nomination. Neal moved the resolution; Donna seconded. Approved.

Announcements

Julia Tabbut: The Park Board has asked for a PAC member to participate in a focus group on the Southwest Service Area Master Plan. Also, the Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) is looking for 4 PAC members to participate in their newly formed Sustainable Transportation and Land Use subcommittee. This group aims to develop a common environmental agenda among the City's boards and commissions in matters relating to transportation and land use.

Peter volunteered to join the SW Service Area group; joining the latter group will be Abigail, Neal, Barb and Julia Curran.

Christian: I will be leading a bicycle tour on Saturday, April 6, of public art. We're calling it Art in Alleyways, and we'll look at art in Whittier, Lyndale, Powderhorn and Phillips.

Neal moved to adjourn; Barb seconded. 

Approved, and adjourned at 6:01 PM.

 

Last updated May 2, 2019

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