MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of bicyclists in Minneapolis asked the city council Tuesday to make some changes to better separate bikes and cars.
The council will vote on Mayor Betsy Hodges’ budget proposal Dec. 10, which asks for $750,000 to build protected bike lanes across the city.
Hodges’ policy director, Peter Wagenius, says it is still up for debate which locations would be the first to get the changes if this money is approved, but the city will start with locations that have already seen bad accidents.
Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition member Amy Brugh and about 20 other members delivered 3,000 signed postcards from supporters to City Hall Tuesday.
She says research shows about four percent of people in Minneapolis commute on bikes, but more people might if they were protected by something more than a white stripe.
“Something like a bollard, a plastic piece that separates cars, a curb, a planter with plants in it could be helpful,” Brugh said.
Wagenius says the city hopes to add 30 miles of protected bikeways over the next several years.
“There’ve been some tragic incidents, some of which protected bikeways wouldn’t have prevented, but some of which we think we could have made a difference on with better amenities,” Wagenius said.
He says one of those instances happened in April of 2011 in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood. Twenty-five-year-old Kimberly Hull of St. Paul was hit and killed at the intersection of 4th Street and 15th Avenue Southeast, near the University of Minnesota.
Now instead of a thin, white stripe, larger green stripes create a more obvious warning for drivers.
“It’s not about bikes or pedestrians being more important,” Wagenius said. “It’s about bikes and pedestrians being more vulnerable.”
He says while $750,000 seems like a lot of money, it is a relatively small portion of the total public works part of the budget that is more than $300 million.
He said $11 million would go to improving bridges and about $48 million would go to help with paving streets.
Wagenius says the total budget for the city is more than $1 billion.