The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition posted some info today about the upcoming Penn Avenue reconstruction project. According to the MBC, the City of Minneapolis is considering the construction of a two-way “Cycle Track” along the west side of the roadway. Here’s the initial cross-section concept:
I didn’t attend the meeting where this concept was presented, so I only know what the MBC included in their post, but my guess is that the phrase “Cycle Track” is being used rather indiscriminately. Based on this cross section, it looks more like a standard sidepath design.
Regardless, we need to see some detailed designs for how intersections will be handled before we can make any kind of judgement (as intersection design is the only real notable difference between cycletracks and sidepaths). Adam, the author of the post at MBC, indicated in the comments that the city staffers were open to discussion of things like raised crosswalks that might make this more than a standard sidepath design.
I would prefer to see on-street bike lanes over either a cycletrack or sidepath, but my understanding is that the city has more-or-less ruled out the possibility of bike lanes in both directions because they don’t want to move the sidewalks further into people’s yards, and they don’t want to cut down the existing boulevard trees (this is fine because I like trees as much as I like bike lanes).
If design details at the intersections don’t include any special details to distinguish this from a standard sidepath design, I’d prefer to see the 5′ sidwalk and the 7′ bikeway combined into a single 12′ path. 5′ is too narrow for a comfortable sidewalk, and 7′ is too narrow for a comfortable sidepath. This 12′ space will function as one large path anyway, with users of one facility spilling over onto the other, so I’d prefer to just build it that way on purpose. Providing a mixed-use facility instead of separated facilities shouldn’t increase any problems with bikes running over peds.
I like the design used along St. Anthony Parkway in NE Minneapolis for the Grand Rounds Trail. It’s a standard sidepath, except it’s concrete rather than asphalt (sawcutting the concrete joints is pretty effective at mitigating the jostling usually caused by joints). In my opinion, using concrete is more respectful aesthetically of the existing urban environment. Whether concrete or asphalt, the bike and ped spaces in this design should be combined.
What do you think of the proposed design? Are you planning to attend the meeting on March 6th to voice an opinion?