Bike advocates delivered about 3,400 postcards to Minneapolis City Hall on Tuesday to put pressure on city leaders to maintain plans to fund protected bike lanes.
Mayor Betsy Hodges has proposed $790,000 to install protected bike lanes in 2015, along with money to maintain them.
Several hundred residents of the Eighth Ward, in south central Minneapolis, signed cards stating why they want the protected lanes, which typically are divided from traffic lanes by a physical barrier. That was the most for any ward. The Fifth Ward, in north Minneapolis, had the smallest stack of cards, with 65 residents offering support for the lanes.
The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition delivered cards from each ward to a City Council member or a staff member, and to mayoral aide Peter Wagenius. They’ve been collected over the past eight months at events such as the six Open Streets events, where pedestrians and bikers have exclusive use of a major street for several hours.
The postcards let cyclists put their support for the protected lanes in their own words. In the Eighth Ward, resident Faith Kumon wrote, “I want to bike to work downtown without feeling terrified during rush hour.” Another ward resident, Jacquelynn Goessling, added, “I love not being killed when I ride.”
Meanwhile, the city’s bike plan revision, which will specify where to put those protected lanes, is expected to be ready for comment during the first three months of the new year. Only one such project is relatively firm for 2015. It adds bike and foot lanes to a portion of NE. Broadway.
Some bike advocates have suggested that Minneapolis is falling behind other leading biking cities in not moving faster on the protected lanes, which are intended to help riders feel more protected from vehicles and encourage more people to ride. The city has adopted a goal of creating 30 miles of such lanes by 2020, which was advocated by the coalition.
The postcards were delivered to City Hall in a plastic file box on a bicycle trailer hauled by Ethan Fawley, executive director of the coalition.
Fawley said the mayor’s money could create two to five miles of protected lanes, depending on the degree of protection involved. Options include plastic tubes, stronger bollards, curbs, planters or raised lanes.
The money for protected bike lanes made it through the council’s budget review session without any effort to remove it. The council is expected to give its final approval to the budget next week.