Protected bikeway plan clears hurdle

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The City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee has approved an update to the city’s bicycle master plan that includes plans for 48 miles of new protected bikeways.

Protected bikeways include some sort of barrier between the cyclist and vehicles on the road, such as an off-street trail or a lane lined with traffic posts or planters. Examples in Minneapolis include the Cedar Lake Trail, the bike lanes on Plymouth Avenue Bridge and lanes on 1st Avenue.

Projects included in the update to the bicycle master plan are separated into three tiers based on priority. Tier one projects include 15 miles of new bikeways. Many have already secured funding, but an additional $2.4–$3 million will be needed to implement them.

Protected bikeways moving ahead this year include Oak Street from East River Parkway to Washington Avenue Southeast; Plymouth Avenue North/8th Street Northeast from Fremont to 5th Street Northeast; and 26th and 28th streets from Portland to Hiawatha.

The city’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2013, calls for 30 miles of on-street protected bikeways by 2020.

The update to the bicycle master plan is a big victory for biking advocates who have lobbied City Hall to support expanding the city’s network.

City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10), a longtime biking advocate, said the new bikeways will have “huge implications for the city” because they will make it easier for people to take short trips around the city, improve air quality by resulting in fewer cars on the road and improve public health by encouraging more physical activity.

“This is the next generation of biking in Minneapolis,” she said.

City Council Member Kevin Reich (Ward 1) said the vision for the city’s biking network is another bragging point for a city often applauded for being bike friendly.

Minneapolis recently made it on a Denmark company’s list of the 20 most bike friendly cities in the world.

The full Council will vote on the bike plan update July 10. 

(Below: The long-term vision for the city’s bicycle network.)