August 7


Hennepin ave The City of Minneapolis is converting Hennepin and 1st Avenues from a one way pair back to two way streets in a back to the future type move (check out the Minneapolis project site).  The two way streets were converted to a one way pair in 1980 because of air quality issues.  Business owners along the corridors have lobbied city politicians for years to convert the streets back to two way streets because they feel the one way streets limit their vitality and access. 

The politicians acquiesced against the recommendations of several traffic engineers.  The area will become more congested and going from one way to two way streets will double the number of conflict points for potential crashes. The air quality is expected to pass standards though.  The conversion will only take minor construction at a few intersections, the modifcation of the traffic signals along the corridors, a chip seal, and re-striping (painting).  The conversion is expected to be completed in early November.

1st ave Bike boxes will be incorporated along 1st Avenue, which will be new for the area.  New for the U.S. will be the parking lane configuration along 1st Avenue.  The cross section (from the City of Minneapolis) shows the outside travel/parking lanes.  During the middle of the day, the outside lane will have metered parking.  During the evenings and rush hours it will be a travel lane.  This isn't new, but having a bike lane between the parked lane and the sidewalk is new.  Montreal, Canada and several European cities have this configuraiton.  But based on the city's research, this will be new in the U.S.  I hope to see a before/after study as part of the project.

  • NYC has constructed several very similar protected bike lanes (Grand Ave, for example). The difference between the 1st Ave design and the NYC design is that NYC included a 2-3′ striped buffer between the bike lane and the parking. This may be the first protected bike lane without a painted buffer…
    I think the effectiveness of this design will depend a lot on how drivers park in the very wide parking lane. If they hug the left side of the parking lane (travel lane side) the design will effectively be very similar to NYC’s Grand Ave design. If they hug the bike lane side of the parking lane, cycling there could be an interesting experience.
    It will be very interesting to see how it turns out – and to see which cyclists choose to use the bike lanes, and which cyclists choose the general purpose lanes.

  • The reason the city is changing these streets to 2 way traffic is because of the loss of 3rd Avenue. 3rd Avenue was the only other south bound street connecting the warehouse district. The ballpark saw to that street being severed. Let’s just be honest here.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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