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Giving Trail Traffic Priority

According to this article at the Daily Planet, the Minneapolis Public Works Department is considering modifying the traffic control (stop signs) at several intersections along the Midtown Greenway.  Currently the intersections of the Midtown Greenway with James Avenue, Irving Avenue, and Humbolt Avenue are signed as 4-way stops.  In practice, relatively few users treat it as such.  As I pass through these intersections twice each day during my regular bike commute to work, my experience has been that most users (cyclists and motorists) treat the intersections as though the trail does not have stop signs.

joggers on midtown greenway

Joggers on Midtown Greenway by nealhohman on flickr

The article states that city engineers are going to make recommendations  by comparing traffic volumes on the trail with the traffic volumes on the roadways.

Shaun Murphy, Minneapolis Department of Public Works, Traffic Division explains the department’s decision. “We would like to bring equity to trails to treat trail intersections like car intersections by providing consistent application of the rules of intersection control.”

After traffic counts were made on the Greenway at the intersections of James, Irving and Humbolt Avenues, preliminary numbers indicated trail traffic was much greater than road traffic on James but more evenly divided on Irving and Humbolt.

This is an important advancement for both cyclists and engineers in Minnesota.  It is standard engineering practice for engineers to make traffic control decisions based on relative traffic volumes when two roadways intersect, but there are relatively few locations where bicycle and pedestrian volumes are higher than the intersecting roadways.  To my knowledge, there aren’t currently any locations in Minnesota where trail traffic is given right-of-way over motorists on intersecting roadways.  Even where trail crossings are marked as crosswalks (requiring passing motorists to yield to trail users in the crosswalk), the trails are still usually marked with stop signs.

There will be a public presentation at the next East Isles Residents Association monthly meeting – November 9th 2010, at 7:00 PM, at Grace-Trinity Community Church, 1430 West 28th Street.

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