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Walk Much? Hennepin Co. Wants Your Opinion

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(credit: CBS) Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The many trails and paths in Minneapolis is a major perk for resident and pedestrian Garrett Peterson.

“To me, that’s one of the huge benefits of living in this city, and in this neighborhood, is there’s so many things that you can walk to in this area,” Peterson said.

But on the Franklin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, things can get tricky for walkers. Peterson travels it daily.

“Situations like this bridge really stand out when it’s a bad walking environment because, yeah, we walk all the streets around here. So we see it all,” he said.

The bike lanes make for skinny sidewalks and skinny lanes for drivers. And according to Rose Ryan, Hennepin County’s new pedestrian and bicycle planner, walkers have a list of fears.

“People are worried about…whether a driver is going to stop for them when they’re crossing the street or there’s a pretty wide road that they don’t feel very comfortable walking across,” Ryan said.

There are about 140 pedestrian accidents with vehicles each year in Hennepin County, which is why they’re launching a new program to cater to the needs of people who travel specifically by foot. This is a first for a Minnesota county.

One of the first projects on tap is the Franklin Avenue Bridge, where the plan is to make the sidewalk wider so more walkers can get through and not cross paths with bikers.

They are hoping to also add waiting places in medians to cut down on a violation many of us are guilty of – jaywalking.

It may seem minor, but Ryan says the consequences can be major.

“We still have pedestrian vehicle crashes, and the county is really concerned with safety for all of our transportation system users,” Ryan said.

In the coming weeks, the county is taking feedback on the state of the walking conditions. If you would like to chime in, clicking here.

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