Some new options for accessing the popular and often crowded recreational paths at lakes Harriet and Calhoun drew scrutiny from a crowd this week at an open house near the lakes.
The main areas that are likely to see changes are the northeast corner of Calhoun, where foot and bike traffic and motor vehicles converge near the refectory; nearby Lake Street where planners propose taking one eastbound lane of the street for short stretch of protected bike lane, and the southeast corner of Harriet, where two parkways meet at a beach.
Otherwise, the roughly $3 million available from the Metro Council will be used for making access ramps at the two lakes compliant with disability access requirements, and rebuilding the roughest sections of the paths. The pathway work is proceeding ahead of approval of the draft master plan that's expected to be voted on by park commissioners this winter.
That's driven by a mid-2018 deadline for spending the metro money, and planner Deb Bartels said she hopes most of the work will be done in 2017.
The path alternatives may be viewed in detail as part of a public online survey on the options being conducted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The area that drew the biggest crowd was northeast Calhoun, also known as Bde Maka Ska. The big change there would end two-way bike traffic under Lake Street in a space now shared with pedestrians, something planners advocated during the extended Calhoun-Harriet master planning process that took about a year. They said the area is too congested to be safe.
Two options would ban riding bikes under Lake entirely, leaving a 16-foot two-way pedestrian walkway, although earlier planners said that bikers could still walk bikes through the area. That would be more difficult without bike lane connections to the walkway.
Bikers would be directed to cross eastbound Lake and adjoining westbound Lagoon Avenue at street level on companion bike and pedestrian paths. The means crossing two semaphore-controlled intersections. Planners said that those intersections would be time to provide coordinated crossing for cyclists. But no such coordinated signals now exist in the city.
The other option would run under Lake with a narrower two-way walkway paired with one-way bike traffic toward Calhoun, in keeping with the clockwise one-way bike paths at the lakes.
Meanwhile, further west on Lake, eastbound bikers would be routed onto what is now the outermost eastbound street lane. They would be separated from motorized traffic by a much more substantial barrier than the plastic posts the city uses for its protected bike lanes. Options pictured showed either a concrete barrier or an elevated metal railing.
At south Harriet, where Minnehaha Parkway meets the lake parkway, planners propose changes to ease congestion and to better separate southbound bikers and cyclists head for W. 50th Street.
Some other more substantial changes called for in the plan recommended by a citizen advisory commission will be considered later by commissioners. The most controversial would close the lower east road at Harriet, creating a two-way bike path more removed from the shore and inserting more stormwater treatment features. Some nearby residents fear an increase in traffic on the upper road.
Also pending among long-term changes would be moving the sailing school at Calhoun from near the refectory to the northwest corner, inside a rerouted parkway loop.