MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The city of Minneapolis is considering dropping the speed limit on residential roads, and narrowing other roads to make the city more friendly for walking and biking.
The legislative proposal was brought up during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
“For the first time ever, in the history of the city, we will have a bicycle- and pedestrian-related section,” said Robert Lilligren, Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council.
Lilligren says the proposal comes after seeing a spike in recent bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.
“It’s in response to some very high-profile bicyclist fatalities, and an alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities as well,” Lilligren said.
He says if there’s an overall theme, it’s about giving the city more flexibility and more authority on the streets of Minneapolis. Right now, the city is prohibited from having speed limits under 30 mph in residential neighborhoods.
“We think there are some residential streets, or other areas where it might be appropriate to have a 25 mph limit, or maybe even a 20, but we can’t do that,” Lilligren said.
The proposal also asks for changes to Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) standards. They want to allow the city to design and build streets that safely meet the needs of all who use them. This means we could see more narrow streets with bike lanes.
“Today we saw the impact of what narrowing lanes could do, it slows people down,” Lilligren said.
Also, the proposal could add bike lanes to prohibited areas, and the city is asking for clarification on yielding to bicyclists in bike lanes.
The change is good news to Aaron Rustad, a cyclist who uses his bike every day for work.
“I don’t have an issue with them lowering the speed limit,” Rustad said. “I just got hit a couple of weeks ago.”
Rustad said a driver not paying attention crashed into him while on his bike. He couldn’t repair the damage to bike, so he bought a new one.
“I think for the city, it indicates a maturing of the way we look at our streets,” Lilligren said. “They’re not always just about moving as many cars as quickly as possible.”
If the city approves the legislative proposal, the council will include it their 2013 legislative agenda. The council is expected to vote on the proposal before the end of the year.