We enter our driveway from a snow-emergency route that got a much-needed repaving this summer. Yay!
At the same time, the phrase "traffic calming" kept coming up. Hmm?
A bit later, a bike lane was marked off on the street, accompanied by those white poles that add visibility to it — and act as impediments to cars backing out of driveways, cars turning from side streets onto the main street, and garbage and recycling trucks attempting to do their jobs.
Dismayed, I emailed Minneapolis Public Works to ask how it would be handling snow emergencies in this new configuration. I even naively asked whether the bike lane poles would be removed for the winter. Crickets.
Turns out I also should have asked how the city's fall leaf removal would happen in the new configuration. Answer: Everyone with a driveway on the main street got a sizable pile of leaves deposited at the end of their driveway and along the curb in general. I sent photos of this to Public Works. Crickets.
Most of those leaves were still in the gutters when the first snow flew. So there were even more leaves than usual to plow along with the snow. As for what would be done with the bike lane between us and the main street, we soon discovered that the implement used on the bike lane alternates between a sidewalk brush/plow and a pickup truck with a plow attached. The latter travels the bike lane both with the direction of traffic and against it. (I almost found out the hard way about the latter when exiting my driveway yesterday.)
The results of this plowing "system?" One pile of snow right at the end of our driveway and another on the far side of the bike lane for all to enjoy. This piling may be repeated more than once each snowfall.
I guess you could say that some traffic has been calmed. Even with all-wheel drive, we have to back out pretty dang slow to get over the dual snow bumps caused by the bike lane "snow removal." And there has been somewhat less speeding on our street (even before winter), as the two lanes left for car traffic are barely wide enough anymore.
Finally, nothing against bikes, but I haven't seen any using their new lane — although I did notice a biker enter my driveway to get to the sidewalk to ride on that.
So, the bike lane is very calm.
The residents are not. They have to clean the ends of their driveways multiple times after a snowfall. And the real danger on our street is the four-way stop where many don't stop — just two blocks from an elementary school. No changes were made to that.
How well did the city really plan these changes to our street? And why doesn't Public Works answer our queries?
Laurie Eckblad Anderson lives in Minneapolis.