In support of bike lanes and safer streets

The recent Southwest Journal article “Bike lanes, less parking proposed for stretch of Hennepin Ave.” highlighted many voices in opposition but too few in support.

We’re a young family living in CARAG who plans to raise our kids and grow old in Minneapolis. We own one car, but we primarily get around town with our son and daughter on foot, bike and by transit. We support the proposed changes to Hennepin Avenue, and then some.

The article and many concerned neighbors miss the strong policy and planning support for a bike facility on Hennepin Avenue. The city approved a nationally renowned Complete Streets Policy that explicitly puts the needs of people on foot, bike and transit — typically our most vulnerable and often economically challenged neighbors — above those driving and parking cars.

We agree with staff: The proposal will slow cars, improve walking conditions, make crossing easier, speed up buses and make biking more attractive.

Once completed, our family would have a safe, direct bike route into our favorite Uptown destinations. This design also sets the tone for a future Hennepin bike facility north of Lake Street to access even more destinations. This is precisely why the city chose Hennepin for bike lanes over other side streets in the Bicycle Master Plan.

The recent community meeting gave voice to many opposed residents, a group overrepresented by older homeowners. Our neighborhoods are majority renter and under 40, many of whom don’t own cars. But beyond that, kids who can’t legally drive and elderly who rely on biking, walking and transit to get around and stay healthy deserve a better Hennepin, too.

The city’s survey of over 400 residents reflects this need. The option with bike lanes and no parking had the highest support: 59 percent were “Very Supportive” or “Supportive.” Compare that to staff’s recommended design (50 percent) or the option of maintaining both side parking with no bike lanes (33 percent).

Our neighbors are begging for high-quality bike and pedestrian facilities on Hennepin. Let’s listen to them!

We actually want staff to consider a design that is even safer and more comfortable for people on bikes. The city could pursue a design with slightly narrower driving lanes, like many 65-foot-wide Dutch streets where the bikeway is raised and behind the boulevard space. Parking, drop-offs and business deliveries can be accommodated on both sides of the street, alternating with boulevard space for trees, bike parking, bus stops and pedestrian lighting.

Let’s build a Hennepin Avenue that’s safe for everyone, including drivers, by putting pedestrians and bicycles first.

Alex and Caitlin Cecchini