Today Minneapolis unveiled a first for cyclists: bike lanes that are bright green all the way through the middle of intersections. The new green markings have been added to a two-block stretch of the bike lanes on 15th Avenue. The area connects the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus with Dinkytown. The green lanes are meant to make them more visible to drivers – especially those who are turning at corners. Four of the last six bicyclist fatalities in Minneapolis involved turning trucks. The green lanes also help bicyclists better understand where to ride in intersections. This is the state’s busiest on-street bikeway with an average of 3,500 bike trips every day.
When we were discussing the green bike lanes during our morning editorial meeting the conversation suddenly spiraled into a debate about the pet peeves some people have over sharing the roads with cyclists. Someone (who shall remain nameless) complained about people who bike on the road around the lakes in Minneapolis instead of on the path. “But they are one-way,” I screeched. “I’d have to go miles out of my way if I were to take the lake bike paths from my home to work,” I argued. The person didn’t empathize and I think we just agreed to disagree. But it got me fired up about the one-way paths. When riding your bike becomes more about getting from point A to point B and less about a leisurely trip with the kids, the one-way, clockwise loops are simply annoying. I poked around online today to see if others are on my side and I found a small Facebook group that wants Lake Calhoun to convert to a two-way path. I know there are probably several reasons the paths are one-way. Safety, consistency and cost come to mind. Or maybe I’m simply in the minority and more people believe the lake paths should be preserved for pleasure rides and not be taken over by two-wheeled commuters. What do you think?
Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.