Bicyclists and motorists may need to be better separated in order to share the road.
The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition delivered more than 500 letters from downtown Minneapolis users and residents last week to officials requesting that the city and Hennepin County add protected bike lanes on Washington Avenue.
A protected bicycle lane, or cycletrack, is a bike lane that is physically separated from both pedestrian and car traffic with the help of curbs, planters, trees, plastic bollards or a combination of buffers. Protected bike lanes already exist throughout Europe, as well as in New York City, Washington, Chicago, Portland and other U.S. cities.
The county already plans to reconstruct five blocks of Washington Avenue within the next two years.
According to a statement last week by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, "This presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build protected bike lanes on Washington with a blank slate and for little additional cost."
Here are some of the excerpts from letters in support of the separate lanes:
"A protected bike lane would help keep bikers like myself safe and help Minneapolis stay in the top spot as #1 bike city." - Blake, 55410.
"I am . . . FREQUENTLY asked to take people to establishments on Washington Avenue and it is very nerve-wracking w/o a bike lane!" - Pedicab driver
"I work in the emergency room downtown and frequently see victims of bicycle accidents which may have been prevented by having clearly marked and separated bicycle lanes." - Lindsey, 55414, downtown resident and employee.
"I use my bike to train to support the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Keep me and my fellow bikers safe." Lieutenant, USMC, 55414.
"I ... need to use Washington Ave frequently to get from one side to the other. I do not have a car and bike all the time to get to & from work / everywhere. Please put in safe bike lanes. It will make my parents worry less." - Caroline, 55414.
"I have season tickets to the Guthrie and work at Orchestra Hall. The livability of downtown is extremely important to me. A bike lane/cycle track would have a calming effect on a wonderful downtown neighborhood and destination." - Julie, Richfield.
Vintage gets a second look
The fashions of the 1970s could soon make a resurgence on the streets of Minneapolis.
That's because the City Council is taking several steps to encourage the growth of second-hand stores and flea markets, the latter of which is now illegal in Minnesota's largest city.
Last week, the council eliminated a longstanding requirement that prevented "second hand goods" stores from locating within 1,000 feet of each other. During the same meeting, Council Member Gary Schiff announced said he is proposing a change that would allow for flea markets in Minneapolis.
"Reuse and recycle, vintage and collectible stores, these are popular concepts now, especially in a city like Minneapolis that promotes sustainable living," said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who authored the second-hand goods change. "And it's time to do away with outdated rules."
Current city ordinances do not allow for flea markets. Farmers markets may sell nonagricultural products, but they cannot account for more than 25 percent of total sales. Yard sales are categorized separately (no residence can hold more than two a year).
"Council Member Glidden has set the stage for flea markets to be allowed in Minneapolis, thanks to these [second-hand goods store] changes," said Schiff, who purposefully wore a $1 vintage tie to Friday's meeting.
Schiff said flea markets would be allowed on commercial land and would be barred from selling more than 25 percent agricultural products. He hopes to have the new rules in place by the end of the year -- if they pass muster at the Council -- in time for markets next spring.