Bike lane improvements in Whittier, Lyndale

Blaisdell bike lane
New bollard protection has been added to the Blaisdell bike lane from Franklin Avenue to West 29th Street. The lane now has bollard protection from Franklin to West 40th Street. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

Minneapolis is planning to make improvements to two key bike lanes connecting Southwest to Downtown.

Public Works is planning to beef up bike lanes on Blaisdell Avenue and 1st Avenue South between Grant Street and Lake Street in 2021, according to transportation planner Mike Samuelson.

“The goal of this is safer streets for all Minneapolis residents,” Samuelson said in a presentation to the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA).

Currently, Blaisdell has a one-way bollard-protected southbound bike lane between Franklin Avenue and 40th Street and a one-way unprotected northbound bike lane between Grant Street and 40th Street.

City planners are considering various options for improving the bike lanes, including adding physical curb protections and/or converting one-way lanes into two-ways, Samuelson said. Whether one or both streets will be designed as two-way bike improvements is still to be determined.

Lyndale resident Philip Schwartz said he’d prefer to see a two-way bike lane because it would enable easier access to destinations along Blaisdell without sending cyclists across Nicollet Avenue to reach northbound bike infrastructure.

Additional project goals include creating smoother connections to the Midtown Greenway and other bike lanes along the route and reconfiguring intersections to make them more bike and pedestrian friendly.

First Avenue South will be reconstructed between Grant Street and Lake Street in 2023, so the public works department will likely implement smaller improvements, like bollards, in the short-term, Samuelson said. When reconstruction occurs, the street will likely get curb protections, he said.

“While the plastic bollards are really great as a visual cue, they can’t physically stop a car,” Samuelson said.

Public Works plans on releasing a design concept for Blaisdell Avenue and 1st Avenue bike infrastructure improvements in May. Designs will go before the City Council for approval this summer and construction is scheduled for 2021.

Some in the LNA meeting said they felt it was already difficult getting around the neighborhood by vehicle and said they were concerned these additions would add to congestion.

“With these projects there’s always an element of tradeoff,” Samuelson said.