It’s beginning to look like bikes won’t have a place in the revamped Penn Avenue corridor of north Minneapolis after pushback against a Hennepin County plan to divert them to a nearby street.
Three local bike organizations oppose the planned Queen Avenue bike boulevard that’s part of Hennepin County’s latest plan. A City Council committee is expected to approve a staff recommendation on Tuesday that the Queen alternative not be pursued.
The Penn project originated as a reconstruction designed to accommodate bus rapid transit, a limited-stop service in which riders buy a ticket before boarding. That's slated for 2017. That will reconfigure some of the streetscape.
A project steering committee in February supported a 38-foot wide roadway that would be allocated to a driving lane and a parking lane on either side. The street also would get a five-foot-wide boulevard and a five-foot-wide sidewalk on each side.
The group ruled out options that would include six-foot-wide bike lanes on all or part of Penn, but directed exploring Queen as an alternative.
So far, the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the North Minneapolis Bicycle Advocacy Council and the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition have opposed the county’s Queen layout.
What’s wrong with it? Queen isn’t wide enough for both bikes and cars, especially with parking and snow added in, said Alexis Pennie, a co-founder of the North Side bike group. Obstacles along the route also posed too many changes in the proposed route, said Will Lumpkins, another co-founder.
The bike coalition didn’t think the proposed investment in Queen was going to pay off with increased bike use, according to Ethan Fawley, its director.
The proposed Queen route would have run between 44th Avenue N. and Bassett Creek. But it would have dodged over to Russell Avenue at two locations, once to go around the Lucy Laney school grounds and another time at Willard Park. Between Willard and Olson Hwy., the route would have split into one-way sections on Russell and Queen. It also made a dogleg at the Penn-Broadway junction.
Bike advocates said they’re willing to forego a design they didn’t find workable. They said they hope that a Thomas Avenue bike boulevard that’s proposed in the city’s 2011 bike master plan will be built some day.
Linda Higgins, a county commissioner representing the area, said she’s disappointed that bike advocates turned down the Queen alternative, but said bikes feel victim to the limited right-of-way and competing priorities on Penn.
“I still think Queen is the way to go. I don’t think I’d like to be a bicyclist on Penn,” she said.