The Minneapolis Bike Coalition continues doing the kind of work the rest of us sit around thinking we should be doing right before we break out the chips and salsa and hunker down for a Netflix marathon of Breaking Bad. Last week, they delivered over 500 hand-written letters asking for protected bike lanes on Washington Avenue to Councilmember Lisa Goodman, Mayor Rybak, and County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. All of the letters were penned by downtown residents—exactly the kind of people the city is trying to attract more of into downtown. (The city hopes to double the area’s population by 2025.)
You can find an outline of the Bike Coalition’s plan (as well as a stellar argument in favor of it) here. One important component of any makeover the corridor receives is mentioned briefly in the post, but probably bears more emphasis/consideration. From the piece:
[From Hennepin Ave. to 5th Ave. South], pedestrians have to walk along a relatively narrow sidewalk with no buffer, close to seven lanes of fast-moving traffic. Large office buildings with blank walls lend a feeling of isolation to the few pedestrians who walk along this stretch today.
A protected bike lane, especially if built with a raised curb, would create an active buffer for people walking along the street, not only separating people from moving cars, but bringing life to the corridor. A wider sidewalk would have many benefits, but with no activity-generating uses, there is the danger of creating totally unused dead space in the heart of downtown.
Any successful plan for bringing life to Washington Avenue will have to involve the city reaching into its tool belt in an active effort to attract pedestrian-friendly businesses to the corridor, or else it risks remaining one of the aforementioned “dead spaces” with which this blog is so concerned.