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Neighborhood Greenways

One of the more interesting aspects of the recently completed Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan is the inclusion of a long-term vision to convert some local roadways to Greenways. The master plan map lays out a network of future Greenways (most facilities we’re currently referring to as Bike Boulevards are envisioned to transition to Greenways over time.

However, the Master Plan provides only minimal insight into what exactly this means or how it will be accomplished. From page 184 of the plan:

Create a network of “greenways” or “green streets” where roadways are converted to bicycle and pedestrian only corridors. Milwaukee Avenue is a good example of this concept. “Greenway” corridors may be constructed in collaboration with stormwater management projects. Care must be taken to ensure that the street grid is not severely compromised. (ENG-19)

The vision is more or less similar to what is being promoted by this group.

The City has nearly finished construction on one greenway conversion called the 37th Avenue Greenway, although I get the impression that the overall objective of this project was more about flood control than promoting biking or walking. In the Master Plan, the language acknowledges that the creation of greenways could have a larger overall impact on the roadway network if the existing grid is compromised – in the 37th Avenue Greenway, none of the perpendicular roadways or alleys are severed.

I certainly don’t oppose the creation of new trails through the City, and this is probably the only realistic option available since the City is fully built-out. However, I think severing the existing grid system will have impacts that should not be minimized, and public acceptance may be a tough battle for the City.

What do you think about converting existing roadways into greenways? Do the positive aspects (new trails, new parks) outweigh the negative aspects (severed grid, reduced motorized access to properties)?

6 comments to Neighborhood Greenways

  • Dang it, I was just about to write this post. I do not support severing the grid (for autos), but I do think there are some treatments that could make the street very low speed and even discourage non-residents from driving on it. The bigger issue is what you do at intersections (isn’t that where most accidents occur?) I assume cross-traffic has to stop, but what else can be done to make crossing safer?

  • @Brendon – you should write the post anyway.

    It sounds kind of like you’re describing Bicycle Boulevards, which use all the usual suspects in the traffic calming discussions (neighborhood traffic circles, bumpouts, speed tables, raised intersections, colored pavements, etc.) Correct me if I’m wrong – are you imagining something different than what the City has been calling Bicycle Boulevards (low volume streets designed to discourage motorized through traffic)?

  • I suppose I am more interested in “bicycle boulevards”, although I think you can go further with traffic calming than we have dared in the midwest (see woonerf) while still maintaining access for (slow moving autos).

  • Tony

    The link to the 37th Ave Greenway is broken.

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