Bike Safety Whack-A-Mole on Midtown Greenway

A group of bike commuters in Minneapolis are taking a glass half empty approach to the new crossing of Hiawatha. While the Hiawatha bridge will help bikers avoid 6 lanes of traffic, they’ll now have to deal with 4 lanes of traffic on 28th St withotu traffic signals. More precisely, there is a planned yellow flashing light but nothing to stop car traffic in either direction.

Here is a shot of the area where the bridge comes back to street level and crosses 28th:

Future Midtown Greenway Route

Frankly, I don’t see a particularly difficult area to cross. Especially compared to crossings further West in St. Louis Park. However, here’s the take of a fellow bike commuter from MPLSBikeLove.com:

When a popular local cyclist dies at the 28th Street intersection because one car barreled on through the blinking yellow light, while two lanes of 28th Street traffic stopped and waved the cyclist through, we’ll have a big memorial effort, the city will be eager to put up a suitable crossing light, and donations will pour in so that we can have a proper traffic signal. But why should we have to suffer through the tear-jerking TV and newspaper coverage when we could just cut out that dead middleman altogether?

Let’s just have a “Pre-Memorial” campaign in “pre-Memory” of you, me, the promising young grad student from the U, the funny kid who always loved to bike …. Our “Pre-Memorial Fund” can raise the 50 grand that an ideal traffic light would probably cost, and get a system with the two features cited above.

This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t support a below or above grade crossing that would allow me to keep my momentum. But as far as safety goes, the sight lines are pretty long and traffic from the East is coming off a turn so shouldn’t be moving particularly fast.

If I was to predict a bike-car accident on the Midtown Greenway, I’d go with one of the at grade crossings to the East of Minnehaha. The sight lines suck and cross traffic has little warning about the trail. Especially from the South.

3 thoughts on “Bike Safety Whack-A-Mole on Midtown Greenway”

  1. Do you think they could improve the situation by adding a LOT of signage? You know, “bikes ahead!”, “look out for the bikes!”, “non-motorized crossing ahead!”, “brake for bikers!”. That sort of thing. Would that help?

    –Steve

  2. First, I’ll get my sarcasm out of the way–(1) there is a popular local cyclist? (2) I think we should build the bridge longer and extend it across the length of town…no, instead we should have the city install jet packs on our bikes so we can fly above those evil cars.

    Okay, seriously now…these bikes, are meant to be ridden on roads in addition to trails. Trails are a luxury, we are spoiled here because most cities have few, if any, trails and bikes have no choice but to share the roads.

    So, the real source of the problems are (1) cars that are unwilling to share ‘their’ roads–slow down and adjust to bikes and follow the rules of the road which specify the bike right of ways; and (2) bikes that are also unwilling to follow these same rules of the roads (like crossing only at crosswalks and running stop signs and red streetlights).

    Both of these ‘special interest’ groups then go to local govts and demand more rights and segregation from the other group infringing on their rights. Classic american, passive discrimination, unwilling and unable to get along with others who they are quick to paint as inferior beings who should just deal with it. Well, guess what, this is a cultural battle and you will never succeed merely by demanding more off-road trails because at some point all bikes have to use the road. What is required is to change the culture of both groups to find ways for everyone to understand and follow the agreed rules to share roads safely.

    Might I suggest we look at Europe, they have been doing this 10 times longer with more bike traffic on narrower roads.

  3. Steve, it probably would help, but it seems like we need to know if there is a problem before determining a proper solution. Outside of a couple hours in the evening when traffic can be high due to the 1-way nature of 28th further to the West, there really isn’t that much traffic on that street.

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