Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Update on Minneapolis 2-Way Street Initiative


Last fall, Minneapolis took Hennepin Avenue and 1st Avenues in downtown from one-way streets to two-way streets. This was a big deal, both from people in favor and people who were horrified.

In the sense of promoting more people coming downtown, it probably was a net good – one-way streets confuse people who are not near them every day and who are in for a special event (theatre on Hennepin, a Twins game, whatev).

They’ve published an evaluation of the conversion. Because this study was performed by the same agency responsible for the conversion, there is a bit of a question of impartiality, but data is at the base of most conclusions:

  • Bicycle traffic is up, based on user-count metrics.
  • Allegedly, there have been no bike crashes on Hennepin since conversion, whereas prior it was known as one of the worst ‘bikeways’ in the city because it violated every principle of bicycle lane planning ever created. (I’m a bit dubious that it went from apocalypse to idyllic – I’m wondering about reporting, personally.)
  • The city claims people have figured out the odd parking/bike lane configuration.

When you dive into the stats, it turns out that bicycle traffic on Hennepin Avenue alone is down by about half. The increase is based on a combination of Hennepin, 1st, and Nicollet. Apparently, some people really liked the bike-lanes down the center configuration on Hennepin – a configuration that almost undoubtedly was a part of the crash statistics, and may have led to more serious crashes due to the physics of bicycle-vs-car based on lane placement and speed.

I think the parking zone/bike lane setup remains the most confusing element of the conversion. Flipping them around does put the bike lane in the door zone, but that’s a more common configuration, and motorists and cyclists typically know where they’re supposed to be in such a setup. The city have stated that they intend to paint all of the shared lanes for vehicles/bicycles green, particularly on Hennepin. Buffer zones are to be added between the bike lanes and parking zones on 1st Avenue to reduce dooring risk and facilitate use of the parking areas by handicapped vans with ramps.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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