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RiverLake Greenway 11th Avenue Diverter Redesign

I wrote a post back in November of 2010 about the RiverLake Greenway, the Twin Cities’ first serious attempt at constructing a bicycle boulevard. I was mostly pretty pleased with the bikeway, other than the diverter constructed at 11th Avenue. At the time, I called it “the only clear ‘miss’ along the corridor”.

Original diverter design

My biggest criticism of the diverter was that I thought (and still do think) that it was entirely unnecessary to divert traffic since hardly anyone drives here anyway (which is why the route was selected to become a bicycle boulevard in the first place). I argued in favor of a neighborhood traffic circle instead. However, it was also clear that the gaps intended to allow cyclists to pass through were much too large. This is what it looked like as originally constructed in November 2010:

Original 9' bike gap design.

At the time, I heard some chatter from unofficial sources that the gaps were intentionally made this wide (9′, apparently) to allow snow plows and police cars to fit through. Someone in this google group discussion claims that they were supposed to be 7′, but were constructed at 9′ incorrectly. At any rate, it was clear from the start that these diverters weren’t actually going to be effective at diverting traffic, since motorists were just driving right through the bike gaps.

This was quickly apparent to Public Works as well, who had the contractor add a couple of bollards to the middle of the bike gaps to keep cars out. The following photo was taken in September 2011 (I’m not sure how long the bollards had been in place by this point):

Temporary bollard. Photo via Minneapolis 81.

These bollards were effective at keeping cars out, no doubt, but they proved to be a temporary solution. By November of 2011, the gaps were fully reconstructed to be only 5′ wide, with bollards on both sides to keep cars out:

New 5' diverter design.

I applaud Minneapolis Public Works for following up after initial construction was complete. It would have been easy for them to just leave the original design in place. They continued to monitor the effectiveness of the design after construction and made adjustments twice when they felt it would improve the situation.

What do you think, readers? Have you been through this intersection lately? Which of the three designs do you prefer?

6 comments to RiverLake Greenway 11th Avenue Diverter Redesign

  • Phil

    This comment pertains to Riverlake in general. I’m not a fan for a few reasons. The biggest being the amount of unnecessary stop signs, hills, and when the two are combined. I’m not just talking about the stop sign at the bottom of the hill at 19th. There are a few other instances as well, one at Elliot Ave. I believe. Then there are the crossings that should be four way stops at 28th and 4th Aves. Another major issue that seems like an easy fix is when exiting the ped. bridge over 35W heading west, there is a large bump that could easily cause pinch flats (or having the contents of your bag lunch fly out of your basket) for those not paying attention. Traveling west on 38th St. after crossing Hiawatha, there should be a ramp to allow cyclists to turn left onto 30th Ave. S. (which is marked as a bike blvd, similar to how nokomis ave is marked to connect to 42nd St.) The lack of ramp creates awkward and dangerous situations at this busy stretch of 38th St. I’m sure there’s more that I am missing (like how the beg button at Cedar seems to be ineffective) but that’s it for now. I love the idea of bike boulevards and think Bryant works extremely well north of Lake. Maybe one day the Riverlake Greenway (or parts of it) could be converted to something like 37th Ave. N. I can only dream…

  • In St Paul, this change would have required 39 community meetings and 49992 pieces of neighborhood notification input.

  • Max

    Agree with Phil – that stop sign on 40th/Elliot really should/could be turned the other way; it makes more sense for traffic anyway, and with it being at the bottom of a hill on a bike route, it should be a no-brainer.

  • A similar excessive width issue exists on the access from Cedar Ave — theoretically, cars may not enter at that point, but i see cars turn into the 8- or 9′-wide bike entrance all the time.

    The new diverter is fine, but I think they could stand to visually clarify that bike should continue through the diverter. Sure, it says in small, nonstandard text below the very standard, very recognizable DO NOT ENTER sign that bikes may enter anyway — but it doesn’t make clear that bikes are not only allowed to ignore the sign, but should do so to keep on the bike boulevard. Pavement markings could make this particularly clear.

  • I think bollards are ugly, distracting in a residential neighborhood. Curbs alone will keep most drivers away, a few SUV’ers may driver over curbs, but not many.

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