Karla Elizabeth Hovde is a big fan of the new bidirectional protected bike lane on Bryant Avenue in south Minneapolis.

"I think making car lanes one-way has been a great example of the concept of traffic evaporation, in addition to an excellent bike path," she wrote on Facebook after the Drive asked people to comment on it. "It is a world-class street now."

The folks at the Colorado-based PeopleForBikes Foundation think so, too. The nonprofit named the lane running from Lake Street to W. 50th Street as one of the Top 10 new bike lanes built in the United States last year. It "reflects a forward-looking commitment to safer and more sustainable transportation," the organization said.

Though the accolade is a nice feather in the cap, the real reward is seen in the volume of bicyclists using the trail, said Kathleen Mayell, a city transportation planning manager.

"Bryant provides for a comfortable and safe experience for users of all ages and abilities," she said. "We hope to encourage people to use the bike network, and evidence from Bryant shows it's working."

Robert Dahlstrom said he uses the lane regularly, often using the path on bike rides with his three children.

"Minneapolis does need more like it," he said. "A lot more."

He may get his wish. The city has an ambitious goal of having 60% of all trips taken in the city made on transit or by walking, rolling or biking by 2030, and Bryant "helped us toward achieving that goal," Mayell said. "There are more projects like this to come."

The city recently completed a protected bike lane on 4th Street in downtown and is building one similar to the one on Bryant as part of the massive remake of Hennepin Avenue through Uptown. The city also is in the planning stages of the Northside Greenway, which calls for biking facilities on Irving and Humboldt Avenues between Van White Boulevard and 44th Avenue N.

Minneapolis has 16 miles of on-street protected bikeways as of December, according to the city's website.

Of course, the $27.6 million Bryant Avenue reconstruction project that included the bike lane isn't without hiccups and shortcomings. For starters, the city had to spend an additional $1.5 million to fix a stretch between 42nd and 50th streets after the original reconstruction left the roadway too narrow for fire trucks, snowplows and garbage trucks. Hovde wondered why the protected bike lane was not extended north another 1½ blocks to allow for safe connection to the Midtown Greenway. Others said it suffers from visibility problems at some intersections and has poor signage.

The biggest beef, wrote Lee Penn, who rides on Bryant occasionally, are some drivers who don't look for oncoming riders, "which feels sometimes dangerous."

Though not perfect, Michael Wojcik, executive director of the Bike Alliance of Minnesota, said Bryant is a good example of how simple improvements to infrastructure can lower the barriers and make it safer for those who bike, walk and roll.

"We believe these kinds of improvements lower the cost of transportation and make our communities more equitable," he told the Drive. "We are proud that Minneapolis is maintaining its leadership position in the best bicycling metro in North America."