The City of Minneapolis has recently made some modifications to the striping on 28th St E at the at-grade Midtown Greenway trail crossing. This location was already striped with a zebra crosswalk, and a button-actuated flashing beacon is present (but rarely used) to enhance the visibility of the crossing. I applaud the City for recognizing the problems that exist at this location, and for making changes to improve safety.
28th Street was previously a 4-lane undivided roadway that carries about 7,100 vehicles per day (Mn/DOT, 2008-2009). Primarily, the City was worried about the risk of “double threat” crashes at this location.
In an attempt to correct this problem, the City re-striped the roadway to require drivers to merge into a single lane in each direction. The City installed “merge left” signs, and painted the outside lanes with a cross-hatch design to signal to motorists that they should not drive in the outside lanes.
Unfortunately, the strategy has only been partially effective. Most drivers merged into the center lanes as directed by the signing and striping, but many did not, and continued to use the outside lanes as travel lanes. I stood at this location for less than five minutes and captured the following photos:
While it’s probably true that compliance with the signs and striping is likely to increase the longer they have been in place (so long as the paint is still visible and not covered with ice/snow), I don’t think this is going to be an effective long-term strategy for the City. This location warrants the construction of a raised median large enough to provide a mid-crossing refuge for trail users.
In the mean time, if the City wants a cheap and temporary solution (which one can hope was the intent of the current striping plan), they should consider using more than just paint to encourage compliance. Other options include orange construction barrels, jersey barriers, reflectorized planters, or anything else that would physically require motorists to drive around it.