Green digest // Seeking street solutions in 2012

Seeking street solutions in 2012

Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) has identified a dozen bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects it hopes to make “shovel-ready” by the end of 2012.

There are no specific funding sources identified for the projects — which include a redesign of Franklin Avenue between Dupont and 21st avenues — but the plan is to bring the design and engineering of each up to the point that they’re ready to go if and when funds become available, said TLC Bicycling and Walking Program Manager Steve Clark.

“We had a sense that one of the legacies we could leave was to kind of tackle these corridors that are more problematic and don’t have real simple solutions,” Clark said.

Clark was speaking of legacies because the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project, a federal grant that brought $21.5 million to the Twin Cities and helped fund the rapid expansion of the Minneapolis bicycle lane network, is close to done. TLC was selected by Congress to administer the project back in 2005, and now most of the remaining grant dollars have been earmarked for specific bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.

Recently, TLC went looking for projects that it could at least give a head start with some of the remaining grant funds. A list of more than 65 potential projects was whittled down to the dozen TLC will continue to work on in 2012.

“At some point we’ll have a new [federal] transportation bill, and there will be money for new projects,” Clark said, adding that local agencies like the Metropolitan Council also fund bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.

He added: “By having those plan sets prepared, it gives these projects … a much better chance of being funded, if and when the money comes.”

Of most interest to Southwest bicyclists might be proposals for Franklin and Hennepin avenues.

The Franklin Avenue project is the only one of the 12 actually in Southwest. TLC proposes redesigning the avenue as a “complete street” with new bicycle lanes, reconfigured motor vehicle lanes and pedestrian safety improvements.

On Hennepin Avenue, TLC proposes extending the existing Downtown bicycle lanes from where they currently end at 12th street to the Lyndale Avenue intersection. It would complete a connection between Downtown and Southwest for cyclists.

“There may be some challenging issues, so we want to hear from the public,” Clark said.

For more information on the project, or to submit your comments, go to the Bike Walk 2012 Street Solutions website, bikewalk2012.com.

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Walk more in February

Bike Walk Twin Cities is planning a social media blitz this month to encourage winter walking during its Winter Walkoff 2012.

Bike Walk Twin Cities’ own surveys show nearly three-quarters of Twin Cities pedestrians walk all year round, not just when the sidewalks are snow-free. To encourage more walking in February, and to get some new pedestrians out on the streets, Bike Walk Twin Cities will be using Facebook and Twitter to share stories about when and where people are walking.

Follow the Winter Walkoff at facebook.com/bikewalktc or on Twitter, where @bikewalktc will be using the hashtag #winterwalkoff.

Bike Walk Twin Cities is a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

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Winter wonder on the Greenway

The Midtown Greenway Coalition is hosting a mid-winter party for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The Winter Wonder Walk/Ride runs noon–2 p.m. Feb. 11 and will include free activities, food and music at various points along the Midtown Greenway. Pick up an activity map in the Sheraton Midtown Hotel where representatives from the Midtown Greenway Coalition, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, Bike Walk Twin Cities and Transit for Livable Communities will be stationed in a room just off the hotel’s Greenway-facing patio.

The hotel will be one center of activity for the afternoon. Fit Tourist biking and walking tours will depart the hotel every half hour, and cyclists can borrow a fat-tire bicycle from Freewheel Midtown Bike Center to attempt their snow bike obstacle course.

Nice Ride MN, the city’s bike-share program operator, will host a “How slow can you go?” contest to see who can pedal one of Nice Ride’s green bicycles the slowest while still staying upright. That event will take place on the Greenway between 10th and 11th avenues, which is also where one of the event’s two food stations will be stocked with snacks from Freewheel, Rye Deli and Lunds.

Further east, six recumbent tricycles linked together in a tricycle train will buzz up and down the Greenway near the Sabo Bridge. Common Roots Café and Peace Coffee will serve snacks and hot drinks in Brackett Park near 36th Avenue, where participants can sign up for three-legged snowshoe races.

For more information on the event, go to the Midtown Greenway website: midtowngreenway.org.

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected]